Friday, 4 January 2013

2012 Recipe Roundup: The Yogi Vegetarian top 10 Recipes, How-tos and Ingredients of 2012

Spot the seven posts taken from the lists below in this collage!

2012 was quite an eventful year for us; as well as doing lots of cooking and blogging about it, we contributed to a recipe book which was published last Spring, we organised and catered for two 3-day Hare Krishna Festivals, went on holiday, worked hard at our jobs, went running regularly, helped our kids- and bit our nails!- through numerous exams and did continued to do up our house.... no wonder we get tired sometimes! Blogwise, The Yogi Vegetarian continues to grow steadily in popularity in terms of pageviews, though it hasn't got an enormous number of followers to date. There is a new series to go with "Ingredient of the Month", How-to", published on the 10th of every month. The Yogi Vegetarian now has its own Facebook page and YouTube Channel, so do please pay these a visit if you haven't already. We also started another blog last month, Vegan on a Budget, which focuses on cooking fresh, seasonal food for less. So to round off 2012 and start 2013, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at which recipes, how-tos and ingredients were the most popular on The Yogi Vegetarian in 2012. Here goes:
(click on the post titles to read them)

10: Vegetarian and vegan Cornish pasties
9:   Baked eggless frittata
8:   Buckwheat "free from" cookies
7:   Sticky prune cake
6:   Almond frangipane fingers- gluten free
5:   Crumble topping
4:   Peanut butter almond flapjacks
3:   Blinis- eggless buckwheat pancakes
2:   Coconut cardamom oat squares and the top favourite is...
1:   Strawberry tofu cheesecake
Since the  top 8 are sweet, baked recipes, I can only conclude that you all have a sweet tooth, and that new baking recipes are the most searched-for, especially vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free versions of classics like frangipane and cheesecake! My overall favourite of last year has to be Vegan Marshmallows, though; as they happened quite by accident and caused such a flurry of excitement in the house!

Ingredient of the month:
3: Extra-virgin olive oil
2: Xylitol 
1: Nutritional yeast 

3: Quick and easy tofu 
2: Basic eggless cake 
1: Radish flowers 

Other non-recipe:

3: Finnish birch sap-the new aloe vera juice? 
2: Why offer food to God? 
1: Health benefits of eating and drinking from stainless steel

We hope these links are useful to you, especially if you missed out first time round. If you have any ideas for us to create recipes or how-tos, research ingredients or post about any other food-related topic, please do let us know via the comments. Happy cooking!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Ingredient of the Month 16: Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds

There are many different varieties of pumpkin

Pumpkin soup, one of the easiest and most delicious ways to eat them

We all know those huge orange pumpkins which appear in the shops every October and end up being carved into lanterns, but there are many other types too, which are even more delicious. Baked pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soups... these are some of the most popular ways to serve pumpkin. As we are currently munching our way through our Winter stash of homegrown pumpkins, we thought it would be interesting to learn more about the nutritional benefits of pumpkins and pumpkin seeds...

Pumpkin flesh is usually deep yellow-orange, and varies in moisture content according to the type of pumpkin. The bright colour is due to its high beta-carotene content, which aids in the cleaning up of free radicals, harmful substances within the body which can cause disease and premature ageing. Pumpkin is also good for your eyes as it contains lutein and zeaxanthin which guard against the formation of cataracts and the harmful effects of free radicals on the eyesight. Pumpkin is a rich source of Vitamin A, which helps boost the immune system. (This applies to the seeds too.) Vitamin C is also to be found in pumpkin flesh in relatively large amounts, and can help protect against cancer, but it is both sensitive to heat and water soluble so you need to cook carefully to get the most out of this nutrient from your pumpkin. Eating pumpkin flesh and seeds can be great for your teeth and bones, too, as they are rich in magnesium. Pumpkin also contains zinc and potassium, which support many functions of the body, and zinc can improve your skin and even increase bone density- great news for anyone worried about osteoporosis. As you might expect, pumpkin flesh is full of fibre and therefore good for the digestive system and lowering "bad" chloresterol. It has even been recently found that two compounds found in pumpkins may reduce blood glucose levels, and so help diabetics improve their condition. The L-tryptophan in pumpkin flesh can trigger feelings of wellbeing and so may be useful in preventing depression.
Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are now generally well-known for being a "superfood": that is, containing high levels of essential nutrients and disease-preventing substances. Pumpkin seeds oil, made from roasted pumpkin seeds, is thick and greenish and used traditionally in central and eastern Europe in soups and potato salads. It contains essential fatty acids, including alpha-linoleic acid, which is good for combating stress, preventing diseases like high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer, and reducing blood chloresterol levels. It can also boost the skin and brain. Pumpkin seeds are also high in protein: 1oz contains about 7g. The phytosterols in pumpkin seeds can lower the risk of prostate cancer, and the beta-carotene in both pumpkin flesh and seeds produces an anti-inflammatory effect which, with regular comsumption, can prevent arthritis. It is also said that 5-10g of pumpkin seeds eaten daily will stimulate the kidneys to flush out toxins and help prevent kidney stones. In China, pumpkins are also used to treat tapeworms and other parasites. (I'm not sure if this is the seeds, flesh or both.)

Pumpkin Recipes:
All this talk of the benefits of pumpkins has probably left you eager to start cooking up some delicious and healthy pumpkin-y treats; if so, look no further, as there are a few recipes to start you off right here in this blog:


Monday, 31 December 2012

Banh Mi Chay-Vietnamese street food re-posted for The Mad Scientist's Kitchen "Street Foods of the World" Event

Archana of The Mad Scientist's Kitchen, and  Pari , creator of  "Only" series on her blog Foodelicious have made and hosted this great event, "Only Street Food of the World" which promises to showcase some diverse and fascinating cuisines to enrich our culinary vocabularies- in other words, I'm really looking forward to learning some new stuff come the roundup, and I'm proud to have this as my first post of 2013/ last post of 2012 (depending on where in the world you are)! My contribution is this delicious sandwich from Vietnam, which blends South East Asian and European traditions due to Vietnam's French colonial history.

Fresh raw veg makes this a healthy snack choice

Add generous amounts of everything to your sandwich!

I should say something about the history of this street food; actually, this now world- famous sandwich is more likely to be found in its vegetarian/ vegan version being given out in Buddhist temples on festival days rather than on the street, (usually it's made with meat) but in an alternative universe where everyone is vegetarian, this would definitely be a popular street snack too. I chose seitan as the protein here, but I have heard it is also very good with tofu. Banh mi is made with baguette and mayonnaise, which were introduced to Vietnam by the French. (I would have preferred to use wholemeal bread, but I couldn't get any on the day I made this.) I made my mayo with tofu rather than egg, and I have used Korean kimchi as the vegetable pickle which I think lends itself very well to this sandwich, so my version of banh mi is truly a fusion dish.  You can add any salty, spicy vegetable-based pickle you wish- matchstick raw veggies and chilli  in miso is one idea that's in keeping with the banh mi's oriental roots..

This recipe serves 4 people, and needn't take long if you have made or bought the seitan and tofu in advance:
1 long baguette/ French stick, cut into 4 pieces which are then sliced lengthways
 Seitan made with 1 kg flour- click here to learn how to make it
A half quantity of tofu-miso mayo- click here for the recipe
1/4 long cucumber
1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)
Grated daikon (mooli), or -as shown here- a mix of grated pink radish and celeriac is good
kimchi- click here for the recipe- or miso mixed with chilli. Add these according to your taste, as they provide the spicy kick to this sandwich.
  • Bake the seitan in a shallow ovenproof dish with some of the leftover stock from making it at 200C until liquid is absorbed, turning once. Slice.
  • Meanwhile prepare the salad veg. as shown in the picture above. The cucumber needs to be sliced thinly and the radish shredded.
  • Make the mayo in your blender and set aside.
  • You can either keep the seitan warm and also warm the bread, or serve the banh mi cold, as I did. (Cold seemed right because of the raw veg.)
  • Assemble the sandwiches by slathering the bread in mayo, laying on the seitan slices and topping with salad and pickle/ chilli miso.
  • Make sure your sandwich is full to bursting with crunchy veg, succulent seitan,oozing mayo and spicy flavours!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Cashew and Soya "Cheese" Roule- vegan

Looking good on the cheeseboard...

...makes a yummy vegan snack with wholewheat crackers and olives- or you could  serve it with raw crackers

The scientific approach to food triumphs yet again- and this time brings us a "live", probiotic vegan "cheese" that tastes a bit like a tangy goats' cheese and is good enough to grace any cheeseboard. It's a To our knowledge, you can't buy anything like this in the shops yet. Even the non-vegan members of our family enjoyed this on crackers along with their regular dairy cheese. It's actually really easy to make, and you don't need a dehydrator as long as you have a warm place for the "cheese" to culture. A food processor, grinder or blender for the nuts would help, though, unless you use ground almonds. If there is any drawback to this vegan cheese, it's that it does become sharper the longer it's kept- 3-4 days is probably its lifespan unless you want it really sour. This recipe makes enough to leave some plain and make the rest into an attractive "roule"-type cheese, so you may need to halve the quantities if you cannot eat it all within a few days.

300g cashews
240ml unsweetened soya milk
2 level tsps probiotic powder (a supplement available from health food stores or online) 
a pinch of seasalt
dried basil and/or oregano
coarse seasalt
coarse black pepper
(or some sweet or hot smoked paprika)
  • Grind the nuts in your food processor until they resemble a fine flour, but have not yet turned into a nut butter.
  • Drizzle in the soya milk gradually, stopping when the mixture resembles a thick cream.
  • Now stir in the probiotic powder.
  • Put into a container with a loose-fitting lid and leave in a warm place or dehydrate at 43C for about 24 hours.
  • Stir in the pinch of salt and leave to firm up in the fridge.
  • At this point you can shape it into a roll and coat the outside in herbs, salt and pepper to your own taste; you could even try smoked paprika.
For another nut cheese, see here