Got a recipe for that? How recipes are overrated

Got a recipe for that? How recipes are overrated

Cooking has strong cultural and traditional ties. Recipes are passed down from generation to generation. Secret oral instructions privately circle a home kitchen. Some home cooks inherit boxes of hand-written recipes on index cards. Others employ arguments and cook-offs between sisters, brothers, mothers and cousins at family gatherings. And yet others never set foot inside a kitchen until they live on their own as an adult.

Whatever experience you may bring to the table, as it were, start from what you know. Here on AVF, we used to detail recipes with exact measurements. But the more we cook, the more fun we have using the eye method, as well as the dash method. I explain these two methods on cooking without a recipe below.


AllVeganFoods Jacoue at NEEWS loves to eye salads.
Jacoue at NEEWS loves to eye salads.

The eye method

About 10 years ago when I was still eating fish, my brother would ask me for a Hawaiian poke recipe. Nowadays I prefer vegan plant-based poke, and you will see a series starting here on that soon. At any rate, I drove my brother crazy because I never gave him the exact measurements, nor a proper recipe with ingredients, let alone measurements (I've always been that kind of, throw whatever you've got into the bowl kind of cook).

Got a recipe for that? How recipes are overrated! Click To Tweet

Every time he asked me exactly how much of an ingredient to add, my response was always, “Just eye it; you'll get the hang of it.”

Well sure, there's a little more to it than that. For those who have been using the eye method for many years, they don't give it a second thought. Cooking and baking are like muscle memory, to the trained eye. 

The metric and imperial systems are always a consideration (and a royal pain in the butt) when making recipes. Using both systems often makes recipes look overwhelming – and, of course, the risk of making a mistake doubles.

When you ‘eye it’ you use the volume system.”Pour a good amount could be anywhere from a quarter of a cup to a few cups, depending on how large your recipe is and what the ingredient is specifically. Don’t worry too much, though. This is how you learn to adjust your recipes through tasting rather than measuring – how you learn to have a good eye.

Our friends over at Taste of Home have some good tips on how to wing it when you don’t have your measuring cups:

The dash method

Another way to share a recipe  is just to list the ingredients of a dish. That’s how chefs exchange secrets. They are not bothered to give measurements, as they know the foundations of how to cook – well, okay, not a surprise, it is their job after all.

When you ask one of these pros to give measurements, they may simply say, use a dash of this and a dash of that. Bartenders can be notorious for using the dash method, as you can see here:

https://www.womenwhotiki.com/bartenders

 You’re getting the idea now.

Here’s a helpful video from my favorite vegan cooks over at The Happy Pear. They are fans of practicing the art of cooking, not just following a recipe:

.

Let’s take a closer look at a few more measuring references:

  • a handful, a few handfuls
  • to taste
  • the juice of a fruit
  • a dollop
  • a pinch
  • a dash 
  • a smidgen

These are called vague measurements. On a funny note, you can buy measuring spoons for the last three at https://amzn.to/2NgZwHw

A handful of cooked chickpeas does not weigh the same as a handful of parsley, so you may want to eye your measurements rather than weigh them.

What vague measurements to you commonly use?


Anyone up for a Too-bean salad sandwich?

Anyone up for a Too-bean salad sandwich?

The birds living at the New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary in Rhode Island are the inspiration for naming of this salad. The cockatoos love healthy snacks, and when I shared this one with Kongo Bird, he dove into it. So, I thought it would be a cute play on words, for the two beans of cubed baked tofu and chickpeas, or garbanzos. You can find the recipe for the baked tofu at the end of this post under “sources”.

Eat chickpeas not chicks

When I was a carnivore, I used to eat a lot of chicken salad. I made it different ways – curried with raisins, or with walnuts and cranberries – it always had a creamy base to it. Now that I am vegan I started to explore different kinds of creamy salads. Salads I can spoon into a pocket, definitely a comfort food for me.

The two beans in the salad are baked cubed tofu and chickpeas. Try smashing a few of them so it holds together better. A handful of grape tomatoes and a stalk of celery provide a nice contrast in color and texture. Some leftover parsley needed to be used, so I chopped that up and threw it in, too.

Italian Herb Mix Baked Tofu





Oven Baked Italian Herb Tofu from OhMyVeggies
Check out this loose recipe: Two Bean Vegan Salad with Oven Baked Tofu. Click To Tweet

I remember visiting a friend down in South Carolina awhile ago and going to the neighbors for dinner. The neighbor had a big bowl of potato salad with some interesting ingredients in it, like peas. Sue said, “Yeah, I put about anything I have in it.”

Then I added a spoonful of the vegan pesto from Trader Joe's and a spoonful of Vegenaise. If I ever have more time I may try making a homemade mayonnaise recipe I found on YouTube. The base is navy beans and vegetable oil. The only thing I don't like about Vegenaise is the canola oil. It doesn't stop me from buying it though, because it tastes so good. Besides, I'm getting less and less comfortable using cashews, so any other alternative ingredients work for me. See why in “sources” at the end of this post.

Too Bean Vegan Salad with Chickpeas - Garbanzo tomatoes and celery.


Here below is VeganLovlie's video how to bake vegan mayonnaise. It looks delicious with the white beans.

Make your own mayo that rocks the house!

I found that chopped up celery gives a nice crunch. It replaces onion, without the aftertaste of onions. As I write this, it is late spring with chives and scallions, green onions, in season. These have a lighter taste than regular onions, so you may enjoy mixing them in as well.

A few raisins add sweetness. Yum!

My blogging partner reminded me that celery is not welcome in her home. She said “I would replace your celery with radishes.”

Okay, radishes, celery, I don't judge. What would your optional crunchy veg be?

I also decided to splurge and add two twists of the black pepper mill and a sprinkle of pink salt.

Two Bean Vegan Salad


As you can see from the image, I chose to use a pita pocket. Lately I've been on a flat bread, or unleavened bread Kik because I know they do not have eggs or dairy added to them. Perhaps even subconsciously I am thinking about the yeast, I don't know.

Whatever your choice of bread or grain, let us know! I didn't have any greens, but I may have added some arugula or spring salad leaves. Come to think of it, this salad has chopped up kale in it, too.

As my friend Sue from South Carolina says, “Throw whatever you've got into it.”

In Joy!

Ingredients:

  • Chickpeas – either from a tin or soaked and cooked. Not raw or soaked only.
  • Italian herb-baked tofu, cubed
  • Celery and/or radish
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Kale, chopped or your choice of leafy greens
  • Parsley or your choice of herbs like chives, basil.
  • Anything else you want to throw in, like chopped up walnuts, raisins or cranberries
Cockatoo living at New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary in Rhode Island.
Cockatoos love salad, so I named my two-bean salad, Too-bean.

Sources:

‘Blood cashews': the toxic truth about your favourite nut

Italian Herb Baked Tofu

4 Health Benefits of Amaranth and 5 Recipes

4 Health Benefits of Amaranth and 5 Recipes

Amaranth is a food cultivated by nature to be highly nutritious, versatile. It is also full of health benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. Such foods cannot be man-made or otherwise synthetically produced. Which makes these nature made wonder foods something you should be adding to your diet right away.

What Is Amaranth?

Amaranth, or amaranthus, refers to over 60 species of tall, green plants that sport vibrant purple, red, or gold flowers. Its name comes from the Greek ‘amarantos’ which means ‘unfading’ or ‘one that does not fade.’

This plant does live up to its name for the flowers are as vibrant and beautiful as ever. Also after they are harvested and dried. Often found as a beautiful member of showy gardens, amaranth has been around for centuries. It was a staple for the Aztec Empire and used for both food and ceremonial reasons.

While it is commonly thought of as a cereal grain, amaranth is not exactly a “true” whole grain. Yet, thanks to its glowing nutrient profile, it is often lumped together with other cereals due to its versatility.

Health Benefits of Amaranth

1.     It’s Packed with Vitamins and Minerals:

    There is a long and winding list of health benefits found in amaranth that does wonder for the body. Amaranth contains over three times the average amount of calcium than most plant foods. And is also a great source of

  • potassium
  • phosphorous
  • iron
  • magnesium.

These nutrients are important for:

  • regulating your appetite
  • building strong bones
  • cleansing
  • oxygenating the blood
  • and a host of other housekeeping functions for bodily systems.

This is also the only grain that has been shown to contain vitamin C. Which is well known for boosting the immune system and aiding in the fight against disease and illnesses.

2.     It’s An Excellent Source of Protein: Amaranth is also an excellent source of protein. It contains much more protein than most other grains and contains lysine. Which is an amino acid often missing from whole grains. When added to a diet, amaranth offers boosted energy levels. And promotes bowel regularity and a healthy metabolism. It also contains lunasin, a peptide that was before identified in soybeans. It was thought to help prevent cancer and reduce inflammation. That is present with certain chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

3.     It Promotes Heart Health: Studies have shown that amaranth is a whole grain that can potentially lower cholesterol effective. Through various studies conducted over the last decade, findings have shown that, when fed to chickens, the amount of bad cholesterol in the body was lowered significantly. This study was duplicated in Canada, the U.S., and Russia, and each study offered similar results. While promising, whether amaranth will have the same effect on human’s remains open. But, it can’t hurt to add this to your daily heart-healthy regimen.

4.     It’s Gluten-Free: Today, gluten-free diets are popular and sought after. Those with Celiac disease must follow them, but those without Celiac disease have also found them to be a healthy option in their lives. Many find that cutting out gluten makes them feel better, lighter, and more alert. Luckily, adding amaranth to your gluten-free diet is easy. It can be used as a great substitute for other grains used in a dough to increase elasticity and allow for leavening.

Make This Versatile Plant A Part Of Your Lifestyle

For centuries, amaranth has been used by humans for many different reasons. Besides to the listed health benefits, just about every inch of this plant can be used for something.

The seed is an excellent source of protein and is easy to cook and the seed flour is ideal for healthy baked goods. The leaves, roots, and stems are also consumed as leafy veggies in many parts of the world and used for cooking and various dishes. They can be steamed, mashed, or seasoned and added to a favorite dish.

Besides being used as food, the amaranth plant is also used for aesthetic reasons. The gorgeous flowers of this plant have been used for dye as a source of a deep red dye that comes from the flowers. It is also used for ornamental reasons in gardens or in homes and is grown for both its beauty and its many uses.

If you want to order Amaranth online you can get them at Amazon

I have collected 5 Amaranth recipes, they are all my list to-try.

  1. Vegan Amaranth With Spinach-Tomato-Mushroom Sauce , cool website, you can choose between Metric or US.
  2. Protein Power Lentils and Amaranth Patties, another great website with many vegan and raw vegan recipes.
  3. Amaranth Breakfast Cereal
  4. Quick ‘n Easy No-Bake Protein Bars, if you don't know her website already, you are in for a treat 🙂
  5. Smoky Amaranth Black Bean Burgers w/ Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.

Enjoy!

 

5 Tips for Lazy Vegan Cooks

5 Tips for Lazy Vegan Cooks

Sometimes you don’t have the time or are simply too lazy to cook – no shame in either. Even in lazy periods we still want to cook healthy vegan meals; the trick is to be well prepared. The following list for lazy vegan cooks comes from my experience of more than 45 years of lazy cooking, with interruptions of time-consuming meals and cooking classes.

At the end of this post, I’ve added links to sources that have helped me cut corners without sacrificing a healthy diet.

1. Spices: spice up your food! not only does the right combination of spices make your meals taste like from a five-star restaurant, they also have healing effects. Here are some of the basic spices I keep on hand:

  • Himalayan salt black pepper
  • Black pepper pink peppercorn (or a good pepper mix)
  • Pink peppercorn (or a good pepper mix)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili flakes
  • Cumin
  • Smoked paprika is another great staple spice I like. It's a must for “vegan bacon”
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon

2. Herbs: I do not cook without herbs. Same as spices, apart of tasting great they also contain healing properties. The best are those you pick in the wild; if you live in the country or an area with natural surroundings, check which herbs grow there. In the mountains, you will often find oregano; in the forest you will often find red clover, burdock, yarrow and Dandelion. Remember leaves from berry bushes are excellent too. My dry herb collection is:

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Coriander
  • Bay leaf
  • Flaxseed (yes flaxseed is a herb).

3. Sauces: like teriyaki, soy, mustard, balsamic vinegar and “oyster sauce” are great starters in marinades for plant-protein sources like tofu, beans or tempeh. They are also brilliant in salad dressings.

4. Satisfying ingredients: This means staying away from processed foods and choosing fresh or frozen vegetables and grains instead. I don’t recommend canned/tinned foods, they are not good for us; as an example canned tomatoes, nothing wrong with the tomatoes it’s the packing that’s the problem – the BPA (Bisphenol A), tomatoes are highly acidic, it draws out more of the BPA into the food from the lining. Tomatoes in bottles or glass containers are fine.

5. Take a cooking class: When you have been trained by a chef, you will be able to cook faster and pair foods in more interesting and healthy ways. It's well worth taking a class. Maybe you can find a local class that will be fun to meet and learn with like-minded folks. There’s also quite a few online classes, Udemy has high-quality e-cooking classes, I recommend “Raw Vegan Desserts – Gluten and Dairy-Free” and “Online Vegan Vegetarian Cooking School”.

Last but not least, the following are 5 vegan recipes for lazy cooks. Click on the recipe name to get to the recipe.

1. Vegan Peanut Noodles

2. Three Bean and Sweet Potato Chilli

3. Ten Ways to Stuff a Sweet Potato

4. Guide to Make Homemade Pizza – Healthy just use pita bread as the base.

5. Five Easy Way to Spice Up Rice & Beans

 

Sources:

BPA: http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm064437.htm

Edible plants in a forest: http://katlupesblog.blogspot.fi/ (in English)

Online classes, not only cooking classes! Udemy Classes
and here's a great vegan course: Online Vegan Vegetarian Cooking School

42 Vegan Spinach Recipes!

42 Vegan Spinach Recipes!

It is so good for you, full of fibre42 best vegan spinach recipes and beta-carotene, but it seems sooo uninteresting.

The taste is nice but you can't just toss it in everything and hope for the best, can you?

Well, the answer is that you almost can!

I was searching for new ideas on how to use it. And hopefully in a kid-friendly too, and stumbled on this pot of gold: None less than 30 ways to sneak the green little leaf in your food.

All the way from Avocado,Kiwi, Spinach smoothie, to spinach, lentil, ragout.

Just be aware that the recipes are vegetarian and not vegan (most are though) so be sure to use a vegan alternative to cheese and pasta among other things, or just get inspired to use it in the dishes you already make, like I did.

Just follow the link to get to the recipes: http://www.vegkitchen.com/tips/healthy-and-delicious-spinach-recipes/

Mountain Climber and Vegan?

Mountain Climber and Vegan?

Can a serious mountain climber be vegan? Kuntal Joisher who is a software engineer and has climbed Mount Everest says:

I just returned from a trip climbing the north side of Mount Elbrus, the highest peak on the European continent, located in the Caucasus Mountains. Most people whom I met on my trip to Russia were skeptical of my diet during the expedition. See, there are a lot of climbers out there, some of who have even summited Everest, but I'd venture to say that very few of them are vegetarian, let alone strict vegans.

I am a strict vegan climber who attempted to summit Everest this year on a purely vegan diet, and I just summited Elbrus.

Surprisingly, most of the people I met in Russia, including my guide team, had never even heard the word “vegan.” Russia is considered to be a predominantly meat and dairy country due to the harsh weather. Because they can't imagine any meal without either of these items, my new Russian friends were wondering how I would be able to climb the mountain without eating meat or consuming dairy, recommended climbing dietary staples.

Read the article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Image Courtesy: Rupert Taylor-Price (www.flickr.com/photos/38154080@N00/534748923), Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic | Flickr