Posts Tagged ‘nuts’

Date sweetened Granola- mmmmmm!

I very much doubt I could live without oats. Such a wonder-grain. I love them. Creamy, versatile, and packed full of fibre: insoluble fibre to speed up the old “transit time” (you with me?), soluble, to mop up any harmful cholesterols it happens upon, and to help maintain good blood sugar levels.

We have made granola for ages at home by simply warming up honey and some¬†sunflower oil (not too much, mind), mixing in oats, and toasting it in the oven (watching it carefully, as honey burns easily) This is as simple as it gets, and you can add in nuts, seeds, and dried fruit each time you eat it. This version is far less sweet, for our dates-only Lent ūüôā¬† It is however,I find,¬†sweet enough when eaten with raisins etc and a chopped sweet banana.

*(Every self-respecting person who wishes to get their “cream” from non-factory plant sources should have some of this marvel in the fridge. It is simply unroasted cashews, soaked until soft, and liquidised with water at a ratio of 1:1¬† (or slightly less water)- until silky-smooth. For more details read this post) The cashew cream adds a certain kind of richness and makes it taste kind of creamy-caramelly.

I mix all the ingredients well and then¬†finish it¬†in my food dehydrator because I can forgot about it and it doesn’t burn.

Don’t curse me for using less conventional methods (it’s in my blood now) and furthermore, I cannot comment on oven- cooking times.

In short, not a very informative post, then.

But there are plenty of alternative healthy granola recipes out there (and by “out there”, I mean, on here– the internet)¬†¬†They really are not difficult, and you can make some amazing gourmet granolas, for a fraction of the cost, and completely control the amount and type of sweetener that you use.

I have my granola¬†with chopped banana and almond milk and it is fantastic! It would also be lovely sprinkled over fruit salad with some “live” yoghurt.

Made a little sweeter using apples, dates, cinnamon, and honey, and some nuts/seeds/and dried fruit, it would make a fantastic crunchy snack to nibble on, guilt-free.

I miss honey¬† ūüė¶¬†¬† But date sweetened treats are growing on me. I think if I had tried this no sugar-no-honey-no-wheat-no-yeast Lent thing a few years ago I would have died (or someone else may have!) But I have grown into new habits slo-o-o-ooowly. . For¬†some people, dietary changes¬†may be a radical overnight thing. For me, slow changes have worked best.

Our granola stash, ready bagged in portions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend!

 

An addition to the post “Nut Butter Flapjacks”: Peanut Butter version

Thanks to an almond butter fanatic called Heather, I was introduced to the delight of baking flapjacks/granola bars without using butter or margarines; not to the intent of making them lower fat, just to the intent of using whole-food plant fats, ie nuts. The recipes are here, and I can highly recommend them.

However, some of the ingredients may be kind of costly; macadamias for example, or maple syrup. While you can make any kind of nut butter, using less expensive nuts (unroasted almonds to name one kind), the other thing is that you need a food processor, and not everyone has one.

Here is a delicious variation for all you peanut butter lovers that I got from a book called The Yoga CookBook. I cannot remember their actual quantities, but these are mine. The best option would be 100%-nothing-else-but roasted-peanuts-butter.  Failing that, the next best thing would be a no added sugar or salt version like Whole Earth.

  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter¬† (100g)
  • a scant 1/2cup of honey (100g)
  • 1/4 cup of wholewheat flour
  • 1¬† 1/2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Melt the peanut butter and honey in a pan, stir in all other ingredients. These quantities are good for a smallish tin like this:

Watch them and take them out the minute they have a light golden brown edge.In my oven it took literally 5-7 minutes at 180 degrees.  Obviously like all flapjacks they are a little soft when out of the oven but they are fine when cool, honestly. If you overcook them they will be horribly dry.  These are really good!

Horchata: Tiger-Nut Milk

Does anyone remember tiger nuts? We always had some in our snack cupboard when I was growing up, and they always illicted a “What are those?” from school friends.Then they kind of….disappeared.

¬†I absolutely loved them, and a good few years ago I had a “Whatever happened to tiger nuts?” moment, and discovered that, ONE: my favourite ever Spanish drink, horchata, was actually a nut milk made of tiger nuts (or chufas, in Spanish). TWO: You can no longer buy them in the UK unless its in a fishing supplies shop. Carp love them apparently. (They are toxic to carp when unboiled, fishermen beware).

This year in Spain I did actually remember to get some to bring home. I decided to turn a blind eye to my niggle about whether there was a human consumption issue, since they suddenly disappeared off health food shop shelves years ago?? Now, I am so sad I didn’t buy more, as I had forgotten how much I love them. Maybe I shall frequent some angling shops but somehow I feel a bit wierd doing that to be honest.

Chufas are quite hard and chewy, though you can soak them first. If you wish to make horchata, soak overnight, and then blend very well in a liquidiser. A ratio of 1 cup of nuts to 2-3 cups of water. Sweeten to taste,  with dates or honey, and strain the pulp out. (The Spanish version sweetens with sugar, but if  I had wanted to drink sugar, I would have brought back bottles of the (by-the-way-amazingly-delicious) shop version. I am seeking a chufi-experience that is a little more healthy.

They are very rich in fibre, they have a similar fat make-up to olives (high in oleic fatty acids), and are very high in the essential minerals phosphurus and potassium. They are also rich in Vitamins C and E. In short, rather much better than a bag of crisps.

If you can¬†get over¬†buying a mid-morning snack in an angling shop, I would encourage you to try these yummy little tubers. If not, next time you are in Spain pop into a local “Frutos Secos” (little shop selling nuts, and other crunchy snacks, including a “healthy” amount of sweets and lollipops)- and ask for chufas.

A tu salud amigos!

Cashew and Maple Flapjacks, thank you Heather!

Just as I was wondering “Can you substitute nut butters for butter and margarine in a flapjack?”, somebody sent me a link to this creative girl who has a food blog. She has a bit of a thing about almond butter. Hence the name¬† of her site is Heather eats Almond Butter. And yep, you can make oaties/flapjacks/granola bars with nut butter!

 

Follow the above link for the original recipe. My slightly different version is below. Creamy oats,¬†rich home-made nut butter, maple syrup. I think I am in heaven. I tried two versions which were both gorgeous. And we all know what they say about oats for breakfat. Seriously. I reckon you could eat this for breakfast and still feel pretty virtuous. After a run maybe? ūüôā

  • The fats in this recipe come from nut butters, so you will need a food processor to make your nut butter before you begin. I did one batch with macadamia nuts, which happen to be very fatty, so it turns into nut butter within minutes. The second batch was with cashew nuts which takes longer, maybe about 7 minutes. Almonds take around 10 minutes. I did a post about making nut butters here. With the cashew nut butter I add a tiny amount of oil so the bars do not end up too dry, but I did not do this with the mac nuts, they are far richer. (alternative way of saying fattier!)
  • The sugars.¬† Pure maple syrup. The recipe Heather does calls for 1/2cup but I reduce it to 1/3cup, mainly because I was almost out of syup and man, that stuff is expensive. It was still sweet enough for me, but maybe if you are used to “regular” sweet treats, go for the full 1/2 cup. The other version I made uses honey. If you use honey, reduce to 1/4 cup, because it is so sweet and it is quite overpowering in flavour. The other disadvantage with¬†using only honey is that the underside burns as quick as look at it.¬†The maple syrup version is definitely the nicest, but obviously, ouch on the food budget. There is also a liquid sweetener called agave nectar, priced somewhere between honey and maple syrup. I don’t think it’s especially “natural”, but some people like to use it.
  • The Dry ingredients are – obviously- oats, but in one version I also use dessicated coconut, and you could use alternative grain flakes if you do not get on well with oats.
  • The add-ins. (Optional) Choose from raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dates, dried pineapple,nuts, seeds, chopped dried apricots etc

Version 1: Cashew Nut  and Maple Flapjacks

  • 1/2cup of cashew nut butter (made with 3/4cup cashew nuts, unroasted)
  • 1/8c mild-tasting oil (I used walnut oil)
  • 1/8t salt
  • 1/2c maple syrup (or 1/3c if you wish to use less)

Blend well in the mini chopper/food processor. Add:

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of add-ins of your choice (I used raisins/cranberries/walnuts)

Press into a square tin 6inx6in, and press flat.However, I preferred a loaf tin (abt 7inx3in) so they came out deeper. Refridgerate.

PAUSE. You can seriously just eat these now as no-bake fridge bars, they are soooo good! Left overnight they become very firm. However, if you wish to bake them, just pre-heat oven to 180 C, and bake for around 10minutes or until edges are light golden.

version 2: Macadamia Nut and Honey Flapjacks

  • 1/2 macadamia nut butter¬† (made from 3/4 cup mac nuts. About 75g)
  • 1/8t sea salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 c¬† dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2c add-ins (I did not use any. Actually…¬†¬†no, I threw in a very few pieces of date.)

Process the nut butter and honey first and then mix in the dry ingredients until well incoporated. You can now press them into a tray, but I just made cute little oval shapes with the 1/2T measuring spoon.

Refridgerate until firm, overnight if you wish to eat them as no-bake fridge flapjacks. If not, after about 30 minutes, take them out and bake. These burn really easily with just the honey, beware. My little egg-shaped bites took 5 minutes at 180 C and the bottom was already about to over-brown. But look how cute!

VERDICT. Definite Keeper!

Late addition: There is another version for peanut butter lovers here.

Worshipping at the altar: Cashews

Come, let us create!

This is one of the reasons I LOVE unroasted cashew nuts. For years I only ate them “honey roasted”, and it wasn’t until I ate them in their bare naked glory that I realised I had never tasted them. Their sweet creamy taste was hidden under all that sugar! They truly are a delight to create with, because of their subtly sweet creaminess. Blended with water, they become a base for an endless array of dairy free delights. (I just used delight twice in the same paragraph. I am not a writer. I don’t know that many words. But I do feel delighted when I contemplate the cashew, what can I say?)

So! The tumbler in the photo above is 2 1/3 cups of cashews. That’s approximately 250g, maybe a little less. (1cup=100grams, approx) I soak them overnight to soften them. Though it can be done without soaking, I just try to be kind to my blender. It’s a part of the family.

Then, I blended with 1¬† 3/4 cups of water. (measuring cups. That’s about 450mls)There really is no magic ratio.¬†1:1 is fine for a dressing, and do it with less for a thicker consistency.¬† The mixture in the picture is about the consistency of full fat natural yoghurt.It will thicken a little in the fridge, aswell.

So when it is blended with water it is a creamy,fluffy, snow-white, slightly-sweet-to-neutral tasting silky smooth….delight. This is now a base for lots and lots of creations. For example:

  • Blend in a nice juicy medjool date, a pinch of salt and a vanilla bean for some dairy free cashew cream to put on your fruit salad.
  • Blend with a squeeze of lemon and/or a dash of apple cider vinegar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, a few fresh basil leaves, and finally, when all is blended up, one last whirl with some dill, for a ridiculously good ranch style dressing. Just add one wholehead of romaine lettuce and a punnet of cerry tomatoes! It is so good!
  • As above, but with a couple of soaked sundried tomatoes for a different but equally delicious dressing.
  • If you initially blend up with even less water, you have a thicker base for DIPS. You may find it easier in a food processor if you use less water.
  • Add fresh lemon or lime juice (or some apple cider vinegar) for sour cream, delicious with raw tomato salsa.
  • Add to soups instead of cream.
  • Add to rice dishes and risottos at the end; I make my rice dishes with brown rice, and by adding some of this, it makes it more creamy and akin to¬†arborio.¬†You may wish to add in some onion powder and sea salt to perk it up.
  • Make yourself a raw “cheese” sauce, using nutritional yeast.
  • Make yourself some delicious kale chips. You truly have to try these to discover how good they are!!
  • Make a chocolate dipping sauce for strawberries. There is a recipe here, but I have not tried it yet. I will though.
  • This also happens to be the wost wonderful base for ice-cream. I will post more precise recipes for this when I am able.

Is there anyone out there reading this who reverences the cashew like I do? If so, how do you eat yours???

*You may have noticed, these are not recipesas such. I have just given you basic ideas of all the ways you can use your cashew cream. Well, I have barely scratched the surface, but it’s a start. Recipes will appear as I have time to post. But really…this is not meticulous baking, and it’s certainly not rocket science, it’s all about taste testing and tweaking it until you like it. Happy experimenting!

Almond Milk

White like cows milk…but that’s about it in terms of similarities..¬†This can be¬†easily made at home with a blender, packed with nutrients, and all from plant sources, full of beneficial fats.¬† Perfect if you follow a dairy-free diet, a vegan diet, or, if you want to avoid saturated fats… drink this! You can make all kinds of milky resembling beverages using nuts, seeds, and even grains, like oats,and rice.

This one is almond milk. I love almonds. Almonds are amazing. They are high in monounsaturated fats, the same kinds of health-nurturing fats associated with olive oil. Several large studies showed that nut consumption results in a heart disease reduction risk. How great the reduction obviously depends on what it is substituted for- you cannot just eat rubbish and add 7 daily almonds and expect to enjoy a radical change. But according to one of these studies, the risk was reduced by up to 45% when the nuts were replacing saturated fats (found primarily found in meat and dairy products).

They have also been shown to reduce cholesterol, and contain large amounts of magnesium and potassium, and the antioxidant Vitamin E. Oh, and calcium; about 40-50mg in 12 almonds. So don’t delay, milk an almond today.

Or maybe tomorrow…because it’s better if you soak them first. They become softer, and it makes them easier to digest by all accounts. I have eaten plenty unsoaked and it’s never seemed to have any adverse affects, but they contain (in the skin) enzyme inhibitors which kind of protect the nut or seed until it has everything it needs to grow. Soaking in water is like the signal for the beginning of germination and those enzyme inhibitors are de-activated so to speak.

  • 1 cup almonds, soaked overnight and rinsed.
  • 4 ¬†cups water.¬† (Use 3 cups for richer milk)

Blend well. Strain through a nut-milk bag, (purchase online for a paltry few pounds) or a cheesecloth, or in the absence of these, a knee-high. A clean one please, or better still, new.

That’s it. It really does take minutes. To this you can of course, add a pinch of salt or a date, or a squeeze of honey; I personally like it as it is.

Uses……

  • Add one banana, some honey or 2 dates, and blend.
  • Eat on delicious sprouted wheat cereal, cinnamon or otherwise. Here
  • Blend in some fresh or frozen berries for a heart-friendly fruit shake
  • Add raw carob/cacao powder with some sweetener for a nutritious chocolatey shake. Add a handful of cashews or a ripe banana for extra thickness.
  • Pour over crunchy, nutritious home-made granola. Recipes to follow.

Now of course you have the left-over almond pulp, which can be used to make a delicious savoury dip/pate. This is actually my favourite part of this recipe. It is in a seperate post. Read on….

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