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Thursday, July 20, 2017

NEW NO-COOK CREAMY LOW-FAT VEGAN MAYONNAISE WITH OR WITHOUT EXTRACTED OIL (can be soy-free and/or nut-free)

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I had a cooking accident last week.  I was getting ready to make my low-fat vegan mayonnaise and it had been a morning of solid cooking by the time I got around to it.  I was tired and perhaps a bit distracted and, before I knew it, I had dumped the water meant to be used for cooking the cornstarch and agar powder into the blender along with the milk, seasonings and oil!  That recipe will not work unless those two thickeners are cooked first.  I didn't want to throw out the other ingredients and start over, but I didn't know what else to do.  Then I had a brainstorm-- why not try using Instant Clearjel® instead of the starch and agar? If it didn't work, I would start over, but, if it did, I would avoid throwing out the ingredients.  Not much to lose.

So, I added 4 Tablespoons of Instant Clearjel® (sounded about right) and 1/2 tsp. of guar gum (you can use xathan instead, if you like-- I usually add 1/4 teaspoon to my cooked version).  Then I turned on the blender and, whoosh!!... it almost immediately turned into a creamy, thick mayo.  Success!  




So, if you would like to try an even easier, faster version of my Low-Fat Vegan Mayo with No-Extracted Oil (or the variation with no nuts, but a small amount of oil), read on.


INSTANT CLEARJEL® NOTES AND SUPPLIERS (July 2017)
In this recipe, DO NOT use the regular Clearjel® meant for making jam and pies and needs to be cooked.  Instant Clearjel® does NOT need to be cooked.  It is carried on amazon.com, hoosierhillfarm.com, barryfarm.com and King Arthur Flour for US customers. It has been available in Canada primarily from baking supply wholesalers, but,  good news for Canadians-- amazon.ca finally carries Instant Clearjel®! (Make sure you add a note to your order specifying that you want INSTANT Clearjel®.) According to their website, Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver, BC carries it, too, but I'm not sure if they do mail order (their website is under construction right now).
For information about these thickeners, see
http://sharealikecooking.blogspot.ca/p/clearjel-page-clearly-best-thickeners.html (According to this source and others, Instant Clearjel® and Ultra Gel® are both NON-GMO.)



Printable Recipe
BRYANNA’S NEW NO-COOK CREAMY LOW-FAT VEGAN MAYONNAISE WITH OR WITHOUT EXTRACTED OIL (can be soy-free and/or nut-free)
Servings: 32;  Yield: about 2 cups

There are about 90 calories in a tablespoon of regular non-vegan mayo and also in Vegenaise Original or Earth Balance Mindful Mayo. There are 45 calories per tablespoon in Vegenaise Reduced-Fat, 35 in Spectrum Eggless Light Canola Mayo, but only 10 to 25 calories per tablespoon in this mayo (depending upon whether you use nuts or oil, respectively; see Nutrition Facts below recipe for both versions),  so you can indulge yourself!  
NOTE: This was calculated using generic soy milk, but I calculated it (with Living Cookbook software) using various non-dairy milks and they were all in this range-, except when made with canned full-fat coconut milk.  See below for Nutrition Facts when using oil or nuts with soy milk or other non dairy milks in cartons, and also when using canned coconut milk with nuts or oil.

NOTE: If you are allergic to nuts, use the oil option.

Ingredients:
1 cup any creamy non-dairy milk, Original type-- doesn't have to be unsweetened 
1/4 cup raw shelled Brazil nuts, (roughly chopped before measuring, or raw macadamia nuts, or raw cashews (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained)
        OR 1/4 cup oil (But, remember, if you use canned full-fat coconut milk the calories will go WAY up if you use oil in place of nuts.)

4 tablespoons Instant Clearjel® (See Ingredient Notes in text above.)
1/4 to1/2 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum (depending on thickness you want)
10 tablespoons cold water (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (my favorite), plain rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, or lemon juice (or a combination of any of these, dpending on your taste)
1 1/2  teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (mustard powder) 

OPTIONAL (for a slightly "eggier" flavor): 
1 teaspoon The VEGG Vegan "Egg Yolk" powder 
     OR use Indian Black Salt (Kala Namak-- it actually looks pale pink) instead of 1/2 teaspoon of the salt called for above

Instructions:
Add the non-dairy milk and soaked, drained nuts (or the oil) to the jar of a good blender.  Blend as long as you need to make a smooth "cream". 

Add all of the remaining ingredients to your blender jar in the order given above. Blend until the mixture is thick and creamy-- this will happen quite quickly.

Scoop the mayo into a clean pint (2 cup) jar with a slim spatula (there may be a little bit extra, which you can scoop into a tiny jar or sample cup), cover and refrigerate.  It will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. 

Nutrition Facts when made with raw cashews:
Nutrition (per serving): 10 calories, 5 calories from fat, less than 1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 33.7mg sodium, 16.5mg potassium, less than 1g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, less than 1g sugar, less than 1g protein, 0.3 points.

Nutrition Facts made with 1/4 cup oil:
Nutrition (per serving): 25 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 33.8mg sodium, 16.5mg potassium, less than 1g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, less than 1g sugar, less than 1g protein, 0.7 points.

Nutrition facts when made with raw cashews and canned coconut milk:
Nutrition (per serving): 20 calories, 17 calories from fat, 2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 30.4mg sodium, 22.5mg potassium, less than 11g carbohydrates, less than 11g fiber, less than 11g sugar, less than 11g protein, 0.6 points.

Nutrition Facts when made with 1/4 cup oil and canned coconut milk (NOT a low-fat option!)
Nutrition (per serving): 80 calories, 76 calories from fat, 8.8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 30.6mg sodium, 22.6mg potassium, less than 11g carbohydrates, less than 11g fiber, less than 11g sugar, less than 11g protein, 2.3 points.

VARIATIONS:
MISO MAYO: Omit the salt and add 3 tablespoons white miso. 

ROASTED GARLIC MAYO: At the end of blending, add 1 head of roasted garlic, squeezed out of the skins.

ONE MORE! Do you prefer a Miracle Whip-type spread to mayonnaise? Try this: 
Use 3/4 to 1 teaspoon mustard powder and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon organic sugar or agave nectar to the recipe. (Sugar levels in this type of recipe vary, so start with this and then let your taste dictate the results.)  

Enjoy!




Sunday, July 9, 2017

FINAL VERSION: PALM OIL-FREE VEGAN BUTTER-Y SPREAD FOR EATING, BAKING, COOKING (NEW, EASY, CRUELTY-FREE )

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I promise you, this is the LAST and FINAL version!


First there was my "Buttah", back in 2012 (was it really that long ago?!), which was a solid product, spread well, but would stay in a block like dairy butter. Then, earlier this year, I developed two different versions for two different posts of an easier "Butter-y Spread", made with less cocoa butter (or coconut oil as a possible alternative) than what was used in "Buttah", a sort of "tub butter", if you will. I used the method for vegan soy mayonnaise (developed by Seventh Day Adventists many years ago)-- dripping liquid oil into soymilk, which contains lecithin, an emulsifier-- but the minus the vinegar. The last version that I blogged about-- an amalgamation of the two earlier posts (which I have since removed)-- was in May of this year. It was good, but I still wanted a slightly firmer version and an easier method. Back in June of this year, it occured to me that maybe the new "mayonnaise" method might work with my old Buttah recipe, and would definitely be an easier, less fuss method for a firmer product. I figured that it might also coagulate better so that there would be no danger of separating and having to stir it while it firms up in the freezer, which happened about half the time. I also checked the cocoa butter percentage of the three products (the original "Buttah", the "tub version'"of Buttah, and the new Butter-y Spread), in order to see which recipe contained the least amount of cocoa butter while still producing a fairly firm product. My reason for this concern is that cocoa butter is very expensive in Canada now, partially due to the low Canadian dollar, and partly higher postal fees to the USA. I prefer to use cocoa butter instead of the easier-to-obtain coconut oil because it is a great deal lower in saturated fat than coconut oil, and it produces a more solid product, being a very hard product. It turns out that the original firm version of Buttah contained 3.02g cocoa butter per tablespoon, the tub version of Buttah contained 2.3g per tablespoon., and, surprise, surprise, the new Butter-y Spread contained 3.6g per tablespoon! I realized that, since the new Butter-y spread contains less liquid oil, the cocoa butter content is actually higher per tablespoon. So, I tried using the ingredients for "tub version" of Buttah, rounding the weight of the cocoa butter in the recipe out from 81.6g to 82g, and using the new "mayonnaise" blender method from the new Butter-y spread recipe. (The amount of monunsaturated fat-- the most important kind-- in this recipe, made with cocoa butter, is more than twice the amount as the combined saturated and polyunsaturated fats.) I also further streamlined the Butter-y Spread by adding all of the ingredients except the oils into the blender with the soymilk right at the beginning, so that I didn't have to add them later-- it works just fine and saves a step! So, this worked beautifully and the result was actually more firm that the original "Tub Buttah". It also worked better in baking, since it has a higher overall fat content than the softer Butter-y Spread.
My friend Brenda Wiley again experimented with my new recipe and reported back. She gave me some good advice about describing the method, and the salt content. (She used Whole Foods brand Original Soy Milk.) Many thanks to Brenda!!
I hope you will give this new, easier method a try!

PS: WHY PALM OIL-FREE? It's important-- trust me! For information on the palm oil problem, ingredients and equipment, and about the different types of fats, see this page. And here's a recipe for palm oil-free and trans-fat-free shortening, as well.)



BRYANNA'S PALM OIL-FREE VEGAN BUTTER-Y SPREAD FOR EATING, BAKING, AND COOKING (NEW, EASY, CRUELTY-FREE )
© Bryanna Clark Grogan 2017. All rights reserved. (Revised July 9, 2017)
Yield: 2 1/4 cups/36 tablespoons
This is an inexpensive, delicious and easy-to-make butter-y spread that is low in saturated fat.  It’s firm enough to use in place of butter or solid margarine in baking, though it may work best for some baking if it’s frozen first and used quickly. This spread has a consistency like a firm tub margarine.
NOTE: Silk and So Delicious brands use cruelty-free coconut products.
See WHY CRUELTY-FREE COCONUT OIL? At end of recipe document.

Ingredient List:
1/2 cup soy milk (I use Silk Organic Original)
OR other plant based milk for drinking or coffee that is creamy and not thin (rice milk is too thin)

OR Silk or So Delicious brands of Coconut Creamer (Original)
2 tsp liquid soy or sunflower lecithin (Use 1 Tbs if you use a non-soy plant-based milk)
(See lecithin shopping notes below.)
1/2 tsp lemon juice (Unlike vinegar, lemon juice produces a lovely, mellow, delicate flavor.)
3/4 to 1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp guar gum or xanthan gum (Use 3/4 tsp if you use a non-soy plant-based milk)
1 1/4 cup neutral tasting oil
2.9 oz.(82g) cocoa butter (preferably steam-deodorized), melted
        NOTE: Instead of cocoa butter, you can use 1/2 cup cruelty-free coconut oil, melted (see brands here).  But, remember, the result won’t be as firm as it is with cocoa butter and it will add saturated fat.
Only the weight of the cocoa butter is given in the ingredient list, for the simple reason that, after much  experimenting, it was discovered that it is the weight of the cocoa butter that is the essential measurement, so the best practice is to weigh it accurately before melting. Measuring the melted, liquid cocoa butter in cup measures does not ensure a predictable result in the final product.



PS: This scale has a function to erase the weight of the container, so that you get the weight of the product only.

NOTE: Try to use organic, fair trade cocoa butter, if you can.  If you live in the USA, this is a reliable vendor with decent prices--Chocolate Alchemy.
Affordable prices are harder to find in Canada, so you might want to try using an organic natural, UN-deodorized cocoa butter, which is cheaper, from a health food store [wafers or chunks].  It's such a small amount that the chocolate odor may not make a difference, depending on your sensitivities. Online, this one is a good price and this one, too, if the shipping is by Canada Post. Food grade cocoa butter, including organic and sometimes fair trade, is often available online from organic soap-making and cosmetic suppliers, so,when Canadian dollar is low, I purchase it from this Canadian company.


Instructions:

Important Note: After weighing, I melt the cocoa butter (or coconut oil) in a gravy pitcher (one that holds 2 cups) or something similar, with a spout or lip, in the microwave for a couple of minutes at medium heat. If you prefer, place the pitcher in a saucepan with hot water and heat over medium heat until it melts. Either way, remove carefully using a potholder. Add the neutral oil to this and use the pitcher to pour the mixed oils into the blended mixture slowly, but NOT drop-by-drop, as you would when making soy mayonnaise. A pitcher will give you more control for pouring, and less chance of spilling.  


Pour the milk (or creamer) into a high-speed blender container, add the lecithin lemon juice, salt and xanthan or guar gum, and place the cover on it, with the central cap off.  Mix the liquid oil with the melted cocoa butter OR coconut oil, if you must) together in a 2-cup pitcher-- see Important Note above. Turn the blender on to Low speed and pour in the mixture of the two oils slowly into the milk until all of it is used up. (When I say “slowly”, that’s what I mean-- a slow steady stream, but NOT drop by drop, and NOT in just a miniscule stream. If you do it too slowly, the mixture may thicken too soon, and then separate. If it “globs” up too soon, turn the speed of the blender up and quickly add the rest of the oil mixture. Now, increase the speed of the blender to a little bit. Blend for a short time, just until it thickens to the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. (Blenders differ in power and speed, so you may have to experiment.) 


Use a slim silicone spatula to scoop the mixture into two shallow refrigerator containers with lids, or any kind of butter dish with a lid. Scrape as much of the blended mixture out of the blender container as you can.

If it separates around the edges in the blender and doesn't "glob up", don't panic! It can be whisked back to normal during the cooling step, if necessary, but this has only happened to me once or twice. Do as follows:



If your mixture is not as thick as pictured above and has separated a bit around the edges, scoop it into 2 shallow containers (each able to hold slightly more than 1 cup) and place in your freezer on a level surface. After 10 minutes, using a small wire whisk, stir the mixture around the walls of the container and then into the middle. This is to mix the colder portion of the mixture around the sides in with the warmer mixture in the middle. Freeze another 10 minutes and repeat the mixing. Check after another 10 minutes and repeat if necessary. You shouldn't have to do it again. Let it freeze solid and then you can place one container in your refrigerator if you wish, or keep both in the freezer.
(For advice about cleaning the greasy blender container, see the end of this page.)

Using the spatula, smooth the tops of the Butter-y Spread in the containers.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours before using. You can also freeze it (you can scrape the Butter-y Spread off the frozen mixture very easily), or freeze it until the mixture is firm and then refrigerate.


Makes 2 1/4 cups or 36 tablespoons

Nutrition Facts for spread made with cocoa butter (Serving size: 1/36 of a recipe/0.5 ounces/1 tablespoon)
Nutrition (per 1 tablespoon): 90 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10.1g total fat, 1.94g saturated fat, 5.21g monounsaturated fat, 2.44g polyunsaturated fat, 0g Trans Fatty Acids, 0mg cholesterol, 40.6mg sodium, 4.7mg potassium, less than 1g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, less than 1g sugar, less than 1g protein, 2.6 points.

RECOMMENDED TYPES OF OIL TO USE IN BUTTER-Y SPREAD

LIQUID LECITHIN:
For a Soy-Free Buttah-- Organic Sunflower Liquid Lecithin:  
Upaya Naturals (This is a Canadian site, but they sell to Americans, too.)
bluemountainorganics.com (USA) (raw liquid lecithin)

Organic Liquid Soy Lecithin:
Mountain Rose Herbs (This is a US site, but they ship internationally.)
MyWorldHut.com (US site)

WHY CRUELTY-FREE COCONUT OIL?
See this article for a list of cruelty-free brands of coconut products and other products that contain coconut oil.
See photographs at this article:
"Life in chains: Heartrending pictures of caged Indonesian monkeys being sold to coconut farmers"
Published earlier this year, the most comprehensive article I read, Pay Coconuts, Get Monkeys, gives us an idea  of what life is like for these monkeys, how valuable they are economically, and how legal loopholes enable trainers and “zoos” to essentially get away with animal abuse and neglect.
Early on in the piece a man called Noi Petchpradab, who has been training macaques to harvest coconuts for thirty years, was interviewed and discusses daily life for these working monkeys: "When they are not working, the animals are chained to tree stumps, which Mr. Noi said is due to their aggressiveness. They are given three daily meals, consisting of rice mixed with Lactasoy milk."

The article also goes on to say:
"Due to their ability to work for long hours, the macaques are capable of collecting 600-1,000 coconuts per day, compared to only 100-200 for humans. On a few occasions, he admitted, the monkeys are so tired they faint.
This practice will surely continue as long as there is both a market for coconut oil and consumers who are ignorant to the fact that this is even happening. Also, there will always be an economic incentive for people in these areas to use monkeys as performers as long as tourists are willing to spend money to visit them."


CLEANING YOUR BLENDER CONTAINER AFTER MAKING YOUR "BUTTER-Y SPREAD":
My friend Brenda Wiley said that she had a heck of a time cleaning the greasy blender container after making this.  She was using Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap, which I also use as an all-purpose cleaning product, but not for dishes.  She said she had to wash the container about 3 times. I have not had this problem, and, no, I do not use Dawn!  I use Nature Clean Dishwashing Liquid (I like the Lavender & Tea Tree Oil one  -- there's an ingredient list at the link) and very hot tap water and have never had a problem.  (Nature Clean is a sulphate-free Canadian product and you can buy it online or in most supermarkets and drug stores in Canada.) Before I add the soapy water to the greasy container, I rinse out as much of the greasy residue as possible with hot tap water, using a bottle brush in the corners.  I dump that out and add more hot water and a generous squirt of the dishwashing liquid.  I scrub the inside with the bottle brush and rinse with more hot tap water. I looked online for some US products that looked similar.  This looked like a good one, and the price seemed reasonable: Natural HomeLogic Eco Friendly Liquid Dish Soap, Powerful, Pure Non-Toxic Cleaning; Plant & Mineral Derived.  It's available on amazon and their website gives you other locations.  Brenda bought some and said it works like a charm! If you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comment section-- thanks!
Enjoy!


Monday, June 19, 2017

PERUVIAN-STYLE RICE AND VEGETABLES WITH VEGETARIAN "SCALLOPS"

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It's been a long time since I last blogged.  I guess I just needed a break.  I'm happy to say that some inspiration is returning and I've been playing around with veganizing some more Peruvian recipes.  (In case you're new here, my father was Peruvian and I still have family there.)



My Abuelita's (Grandmother) house in Miraflores, Lima (it is now a restaurant).

My late father, Alejandro Jaime Urbina
The Urbina Family in Lima, Christmas 1954; Abuelita in the center, my father in the back row on the far right, standing behind my mother; my sister Karin on the far right in the first row, on the floor; and I am just behind one of my little cousins, who is third from the left on the floor.

Peruvian food is delicious and colorful.  It is a heady mixture of the cooking and foodstuffs of the indigenous people, the invading Spanish, African slaves, and immigrant from Italy (the second largest European group in Peru after Spanish), China and Japan.  I've veganized a number of Peruvian recipes on this blog and in workshops, but still have a long list to get through. (If you type "Peru" in the search bar of this blog, all of my Peruvian food posts will come up.)

Sometimes it can be difficult to find Peruvian ingredients outside of large cities, so it's not unusual for me I have to improvise, while striving to preserve authentic flavor. (I live on a little island off of Vancouver Island on the West Coast of British Columbia.) I do my best and try to stock up on authentic Peruvian condiments, etc. when I make one of our infrequent trips to Vancouver.  

Anyway, on to the recipe! Peruvians love seafood, and the following recipe is a vegan version of a well-known and popular Peruvian rice and seafood dish.  (Rice was brought to Peru by the Spanish, by the way, and is served at almost every meal, often in the company of the indigenous potato!)  I hope you enjoy it!



Printable Copy

BRYANNA'S ARROZ CON CONCHAS VEGETARIANAS
(PERUVIAN-STYLE RICE AND VEGETABLES WITH VEGETARIAN "SCALLOPS") 
Serves 4
This makes a satisfying light supper on its own, or an excellent side dish for a more elaborate meal. I use less fat than they would in Peru, by the way.

1-2 tablespoon olive oil and/or vegan butter
about 24 vegan "scallops"-- made from mushrooms, tofu or gluten-based "Sea Meat" **(See below recipe for making mushroom scallops; see this page for how to make tofu scallops, and see this page for how to make my "Sea Meat" scallops.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
3 tablespoons Peruvian aji amarillo paste (See Notes at end of recipe for where to purchase and also a possble substitute.)
1 cup thawed frozen corn kernels (In Peru these would be large white kernels, but I use North American yellow corn kernels.)
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced small
1 cup thawed frozen green peas (or thawed shelled frozen edamame [green soybeans])
2 cups "Sea Stock" (vegan "seafood" broth-- see recipe below)
1/2 cup dry white wine, OR 1/4 cup Pisco (Peruvian grape brandy) or dry sherry
3 cups cooked long-grain rice (This can be a white rice such as basmati or jasmine, or a brown version of either one, or converted/parboiled rice.)
1 cup EACH diced red bell pepper and orange bell pepper
salt to taste
For Serving:
chopped fresh cilantro, or Italian parsley, or a mixture of mint and basil
lemon or lime wedges

First of all, heat the vegan butter and/or oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet.  Add the "scallops" and saute until they are lightly browned.  Remove the "scallops" from the pan and set aside.

Add the next 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until softened.  Stir in the aji amarillo paste (or substitute).  Add the diced carrots, peas, wine and "Sea Stock". Cook, stirring now and then, for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is somewhat reduced.  

Add the cooked rice and the diced peppers.  Toss well and keep cooking, uncovered and stirring now and then, until the rice has soaked up some of the liquid. Taste for salt and add as necessary.  Stir in the sauteed "scallops".  Heat briefly and serve sprinkled with cilantro or alternates, with wedges of lemon or lime to squirt over the rice as desired.



Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 400 calories, 101 calories from fat, 11.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 423.6mg sodium, 729.9mg potassium, 62.5g carbohydrates, 6.9g fiber, 11.1g sugar, 10.5g protein, 11.8 points.

NOTES:
You can use my Tofu "Scallops" (recipe at this link), or my "Sea Meat" (gluten-based) "Scallops", recipe at this link), 


















or Mushroom "Scallops":

Making Mushroom "Scallops":
Many recipes these days call for using thick slices of stems of King Oyster mushrooms  or King Trumpet mushrooms.  They are expensive and very hard to find where I live, so this is what I do:
I use large ordinary white mushroom caps, or even cremini mushrooms, stemmed, and cut out rounds with a small biscuit cutter. (PS: I use the scraps for mushroom soup.)



Then scrape off  the gills with a grapefruit spoon.

And peel off the brown skin (if you are using cremini mushrooms) with your fingernails (it comes off easily).




Aji Amarillo (the dried version of aji amarillo/Peruvian yellow pepper is often called aji mirasol):
In the USA you can purchase Aji Amarillo Paste in many Latin American food stores, or online Latin American food purveyors, or on amazon.com.
In Canada, it's overpriced on amazon.ca, but, if you live in a large city you can probably find a Latin American food store that carries it, or order it online from this Vancouver store chain.  
A substitute might be a Jamaican Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce mixed with pureed roasted large yellow bell peppers (Scotch bonnets are "fruity" like aji amarillo, but much higher on the heat scale!)




BRYANNA’S VEGAN “SEA STOCK”
Yield: 4 cups
This is a handy recipe for vegan “sea-meat” recipes.
From: http://www.veganmainstream.com/2014/01/23/homemade-vegan-seafood-satisfies-some-nostalgic-cravings/

6 cups hot water
10 medium dried shiitake or Chinese black forest mushrooms
1/2 oz dried kombu seaweed
2 teaspoons light miso
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetarian “oyster” sauce (see recipe and info on commercial brands below)
1 teaspoon salt

Simmer the mushrooms and kombu, covered, in the water for 30 minutes. Strain in a colander. Save the mushrooms for another dish, if you like. Discard the kombu. Stir in the miso, vegetarian “oyster” sauce, and salt. Dissolve thoroughly. Strain through a fine sieve. Refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/2 cup): 18.6 calories; 6% calories from fat; 0.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 318.5mg sodium; 75.3mg potassium; 4.3g carbohydrates; 0.6g fiber; 1.5g sugar; 0.7g protein ; 0.3 points.


VEGETARIAN “OYSTER” SAUCE:
Chinese oyster sauce is a favorite flavoring, thick, rich-tasting, and slightly sweet. I use the vegan version frequently to coat plain tofu for use in stir-fries and fried dishes instead of chicken, and, of course, it’s essential in some Chinese dishes. As well, it can add rich flavor to homemade seitan/grain meat. If you can’t buy it, it’s easy to make a very acceptable substitute (see below).

You can find commercial vegetarian versions, made with mushrooms, in some Asian groceries and large supermarkets (and online, including at amazon). Sometimes it is labeled “vegetarian oyster sauce” or “mushroom oyster sauce". It is also marketed as “vegetarian stir-fry sauce” (Lee Kum Kee brand-- a very common one). It keeps for a long time in the refrigerator. However, it can be difficult for people in some areas to find, so I am giving you a recipe for a homemade version.

BRYANNA’S HOMEMADE CHINESE VEGETARIAN MUSHROOM “OYSTER” SAUCE (ALSO KNOWN AS “VEGETARIAN STIR-FRY SAUCE”)
Makes 18 liquid oz., or about the same as a commercial bottle

NOTE ON MUSHROOMS: For the dried mushrooms, you don’t need expensive shiitakes—just use the inexpensive dried Chinese mushrooms (or Chinese forest mushrooms) that are easily available. Snap off the stems and discard them, then grind the mushrooms to a powder in a DRY, clean blender or coffee/spice grinder.

1 1/2 cups boiling water
6 tablespoons ground dried Chinese mushroom (see note above)
6 tablespoons Chinese brown bean sauce or paste
OR use 5 tablespoons mild brown miso + 1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 generous tablespoons brown sugar,
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in
1 tablespoon cold water

Blend all of the ingredients EXCEPT the dissolved cornstarch in a blender until as smooth as possible. Pour into in a medium saucepan and heat to boiling over high heat.  (IMPORTANT: leave the plastic cap out of the center hole in the blender lid and cover it with a folded towel, so that the hot liquid doesn’t explode.) Add the dissolved cornstarch and stir until thickened. Cool and store in a covered jar or bottle in the refrigerator. Since it is quite salty and sweet, it should keep for several months.

NOTE: You can, alternatively, microwave the mixture, with the cornstarch, in a medium bowl and cook on 100% power for about 1 minute, then whisk. Repeat until thickened and store as above.

Enjoy!



Thursday, May 11, 2017

REVISED EASY PALM OIL-FREE, CRUELTY-FREE VEGAN BUTTER-Y SPREAD (SOY OR NON-SOY & OPTION FOR FIRMER TEXTURE)

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What do I mean by "cruelty-free"?  Read on...



**NOTE: This is an amalgamated, revised and updated version of my two previous posts on making this easy and delicious homemade vegan Butter-y Spread.

Some of you may know that I devised a palm oil-free (and coconut oil-free) vegan "butter" (which I call "Buttah") back in 2012.  I devised it as part of my plan to eliminate palm oil from my diet for environmental reasons and also for the animals harmed in the growing worldwide industry. (You can read all about it here and the printable recipe is here.) "Buttah" is a solid product which can be used in baking and as a spread, or for cooking. Though I use it sparingly, we love it and it has been a hit with vegans and omnivores alike.

Here's the "but" part-- My "Buttah" is made with oil and cocoa butter (organic and steam-deodorized so that it doesn't smell like chocolate).  It only needs a small amount of cocoa butter compared to liquid oil (which makes the fat profile healthier than most spreads). But cocoa butter, and especially organic and fair trade cocoa butter, is getting more and more expensive and the steam-deodorized organic block type that I have purchased in the past is getting hard to find.  With our low Canadian dollar, it is really expensive!


I have some of that cocoa butter left and I will use it for "Buttah" to use occasionally in (and on) special baking.  (I use oil- sometimes frozen-- and much less than most recipes call for, in my pie crust.) But I wanted a spread for toast or pancakes, and no commercial vegan spread that I can find does not contain palm oil or a derivative or two.   


One day it occurred to me that I should try the old method (which I believe originated with Seventh Day Adventist vegans many years ago) of making a vegan mayonnaise by drizzling oil into some soymilk while blending, then adding the appropriate seasoning. Evidently, the natural lecithin in the soymilk enables the oil and soymilk to coagulate into a creamy, spreadable mass.  (I had made this in the past, but now use my very lowfat vegan mayo, which can be made with only 1/4 cup oil for a slightly-over-2-cup batch, or with 1/4 cup of certain nuts instead of extracted oil.)


So, I tried making a "butter-y" spread using that method, adjusting the flavoring, of course, and adding a bit of liquid lecithin and vegetable gum powder to make it less apt to separate. It worked! This new spread looked to be a winner-- a.) inexpensive, b.) quick and easy to make, c.) keeps well, and d.) tastes yummy, with a good mouthfeel. 


But I wanted to also make a soy-free version for anyone allergic to soy, so I tried it with almond milk and also with a low-fat coconut-based unsweetened creamer, and it didn't work as well, simply because only soymilk contains the lecithin that seems to be the key to thickening this product. However, with slightly more lecithin and vegetable gum (guar or xanthan), which I included to keep it it from separating so easily, it worked out reasonably well.


However, I then decided to try using solid coconut oil in place of 1/4 of oil in an attempt to make the spread a bit more solid and less apt to separate. It was definitely an improvement!

Truth to tell, I prefer not to use coconut oil very often, despite the craze for it, because of the saturated fat. (No, I am not convinced that saturated fat is good for us! See this article and this one, and also this column from vegan RD Ginny Messina.) There are also many concerns with coconut oil producion, of which most people are not aware.

Photo from this article
We vegans try to "do no harm".  But, when the "developed" world goes crazy for a particular product, it often has a huge impact on the farmers who raise it, the soil and other aspects of the environment, deforestation, loss of habitat for and endangerment of indigenous species of animals, etc., without any real improvement in the lives of the producers on the ground. This is the certainly case with palm oil, which now replaces hydrogenated fats in so many items worldwide, as well being used in cosmetics, cleaning products, etc.  (See the end of this page for more info on the palm oil problem.) And now there are even harmful effects being seen from our addiction to avocados-- for more about this issue see this articleand thisand thisand this, and lastly, this one.  But we also need to be aware of the coconut issue. Please read the info in WHY CRUELTY-FREE COCONUT OIL? at the bottom of this post.  And see this article for a list of cruelty-free brands of coconut products and other products that contain coconut oil. Silk and So Delicious brands use cruelty-free coconut products.

Enter my friend, Brenda Wiley. She told me that she has been making my Butter-y Spread recipe with cocoa butter instead of coconut oil, making a more solid mixture that doesn't separate if not frozen. Since my recipe calls for only 1/4 cup of the solid fat, the price of cocoa butter is not such a cost issue as it is with the larger amount called for in my "Buttah" recipe. (Only 1/3 the amount of cocoa butter is used in this recipe compared to the "Buttah" recipe, which is why the more solid "Buttah" is better for certain kinds of baking.)



I used cocoa butter in my last batch of Butter-y Spread (see photo above) and it works beautifully-- no need to keep it frozen. I have added this option (noting the weight of the cocoa butter before melting) to the recipe below. Thank you, Brenda!


(NOTE: Because we try to keep our fat intake reasonably low, we don't always use a butter-type spread on toast, etc.  Often, we simply use low-sugar jam or my low-fat "Corn Butter", or a low-fat vegan "cheesey" spread of some sort.  But, sometimes a thin film of "buttery" goodness is a good thing. This new Butter-y Spread contains 84 calories per tablespoon ( about the same as in my "Buttah", compared to about 100 for dairy butter or Earth Balance.)



The Butter-y Spread made with liquid oil and coconut oil: soy version on the left, and the non-soy version on the right, frozen so that you can just scrape some of the spread off the top. It's best to keep this frozen so that it doesn't separate.

CLEANING YOUR BLENDER CONTAINER AFTER MAKING YOUR "BUTTER-Y SPREAD": My friend Brenda Wiley said that she had a heck of a time cleaning the greasy blender container after making this.  She was using Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap, which I also use as an all-purpose cleaning product, but not for dishes.  She said she had to wash the container about 3 times. I have not had this problem, and, no, I do not use Dawn!  I use Nature Clean Dishwashing Liquid (I like the Lavender & Tea Tree Oil one  -- there's an ingredient list at the link) and very hot tap water and have never had a problem.  (Nature Clean is a sulphate-free Canadian product and you can buy it online or in most supermarkets and drug stores in Canada.) Before I add the soapy water to the greasy container, I rinse out as much of the greasy residue as possible with hot tap water, using a bottle brush in the corners.  I dump that out and add more hot water and a generous squirt of the dishwashing liquid.  I scrub the inside with the bottle brush and rinse with more hot tap water.  
I looked online for some US products that looked similar.  This looked like a good one, and the price seemed reasonable: Natural HomeLogic Eco Friendly Liquid Dish Soap, Powerful & Pure Non-Toxic Cleaning | Plant & Mineral Derived.  It's available on amazon and their website gives you other locations.  If you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comment section-- thanks!

New version of Butter-y Spread made with liquid oil and a small amount of cocoa butter (instead of coconut oil) for a more solid texture and no separating.  This works well with either soy or non-soy versions.

BRYANNA'S NEW, EASY PALM OIL-FREE VEGAN BUTTER-Y SPREAD (Soy & Non-Soy versions; made with liquid oil and a small amount of either coconut oil or cocoa butter)
© Bryanna Clark Grogan 2017.   All rights reserved.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

This is an inexpensive, delicious and easy-to-make butter-y spread to use on bread, toast, muffins, etc., in sauces on and cooked vegetables.  It may not be firm enough to use in place of butter or solid margarine in some baking-- though it may work if used in a frozen state. Originally, I added just a small amount of coconut oil to the liquid oil so that it firms up better. Refrigerated, the non-soy version is softer than the soy version. Refrigerated, the soy version is similar to a tub margarine in consistency. Both may separate a bit in the refrigerator after a few days, but can be stirred back to smoothness. Frozen, both are firm and can be scraped with a knife to use on toast, etc.)  
In my last batch, I used melted cocoa butter instead of coconut oil and that makes a firmer product, with no separation.
NON-SOY VARIATION:
Instead of soymilk, use Silk or So Delicious Coconut Creamer (Original), which are both cruelty-free, or you can use a creamy sort of plant-based milk that has a pleasant taste. (Rice milk is too thin).  NOTE: Silk and So Delicious brands use cruelty-free coconut products. 

See WHY CRUELTY-FREE COCONUT OIL? at the bottom of this post.


Frozen non-soy version made with a small amount of coconut oil
If you use coconut oil in the non-soy version, use 3/4 tsp. guar gum and 1 Tbsp. sunflower lecithin, but it's not necessary to use the larger amounts of these if you use cocoa butter, no matter which type of milk you use.


Ingredient List:
1/2 cup soy milk (I used Silk Organic Original-- have not tried it with homemade soy milk yet)  (see recipe intro for non-soy version)
1/2 Tbs soy or sunflower lecithin
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp guar gum or xanthan gum
3/4 cup neutral tasting oil
1 1/2 oz.(44g) steam-deodorized cocoa butter, melted to make 1/4 cup OR 1/4 cup cruelty-free coconut oil, melted (see brands here)
Important Note: I melt the cocoa butter or coconut oil  in a small cream pitcher in the microwave for a couple of minutes at medium heat. If you prefer, place the pitcher in a small saucepan with hot water and heat over medium heat until it melts. Either way, remove carefully using a potholder. You can add the neutral oil to this and use the little pitcher to pour the mixed oils into the blended mixture with more control and no spilling.

NOTE: Use organic, fair trade cocoa butter, if you can.  If you live in the USA, this is a reliable vendor with decent prices--Chocolate Alchemy.
Affordable prices are harder to find in Canada, so you might want to try using an organic natural, UN-deodorized cocoa butter, which is cheaper, from a health food store [wafers or chunks].  It's such a small amount that it may not make a difference. Online,  this one is a good price and this one, too, if the shipping is by Canada Post.

Instructions:
Pour the milk and the lecithin into a high-speed blender container, add the lemon juice, salt and xanthan or guar gum, and place the cover on it, with the central cap off.  Mix the liquid oil with the melted cocoa butter or coconut oil together in a small pitcher (like a cream pitcher)-- see Important Note at end of Ingredient List. Turn the blender on to Low speed and pour a thin stream of a mixture of the two oils slowly into the milk until all of it is used up.  (When I say “slowly”, that’s what I mean-- a slow steady stream, but NOT drop by drop.)

Increase the speed of the blender to High. Blend for a short time, just until it thickens to the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise.


Use a small silicone spatula to scoop the mixture into  one or two shallow glass refrigerator containers with lids, or a larger butter dish with a lid. Scrape as much of the blended mixture out of the blender container as you can. Smooth the top.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours before using. You can also freeze it, or freeze it until the mixture is firm and then refrigerate.
Makes 24 Tablespoons

Nutrition Facts (Serving size: 1/24 of a recipe/0.5 ounces/1 tablespoon.)
Calories 84.17, Calories From Fat (100%) 84.04, Total Fat 9.45g, Saturated Fat 2.5g, Monounsaturated Fat 4.2g, Polyunsaturated Fat 2.24g, Trans Fatty Acids 0g , Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 41.29mg, Potassium 7.01mg, Total Carbohydrates 0.2g, Fiber 0.07g, Sugar 0.13g, Protein 0.15g , Vitamin A 0.02IU, MyPoints 2.46 



WHY CRUELTY-FREE COCONUT OIL?
See this article for a list of cruelty-free brands of coconut products and other products that contain coconut oil.

See photographs at this article: "Life in chains: Heartrending pictures of caged Indonesian monkeys being sold to coconut farmers"

Published earlier this year, the most comprehensive article I read, Pay Coconuts, Get Monkeys, gives us an idea  of what life is like for these monkeys, how valuable they are economically, and how legal loopholes enable trainers and “zoos” to essentially get away with animal abuse and neglect.

Early on in the piece a man called Noi Petchpradab, who has been training macaques to harvest coconuts for thirty years, was interviewed and discusses daily life for these working monkeys: "When they are not working, the animals are chained to tree stumps, which Mr. Noi said is due to their aggressiveness. They are given three daily meals, consisting of rice mixed with Lactasoy milk."


Photo from this article
The article also goes on to say:
"Due to their ability to work for long hours, the macaques are capable of collecting 600-1,000 coconuts per day, compared to only 100-200 for humans. On a few occasions, he admitted, the monkeys are so tired they faint.

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/8gWEsNL-RJc


This practice will surely continue as long as there is both a market for coconut oil and consumers who are ignorant to the fact that this is even happening. Also, there will always be an economic incentive for people in these areas to use monkeys as performers as long as tourists are willing to spend money to visit them."

More articles:
http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/news/monkeys-harvesting-coconuts-thailand/

http://www.eatplantsnotanimals.com/animal-related-issues/uk-companies-confirmed-to-not-use-coconuts-picked-by-monkeys/

http://animalplace.org/did-a-monkey-pick-your-coconuts/

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/10/is-your-coconut-oil-cruelty-free/



Monkey being sold in Indonesia; photo from this article


Tourists photographing monkeys made to perform; photo from article in Bangkok Post
Sincerely,