Monday, November 4, 2019

MY NEW (UPDATED) HOMEMADE VEGAN PARMESAN-- DELICIOUS, EASY TO MAKE, INEXPENSIVE

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UPDATE in recipe below.

Yikes! It's been about 2 1/2 months since I last blogged!  But, I haven't stopped cooking or thinking about new recipes. As I wrote about in earlier blogs, I'm on a low-glycemic diet for early stages of diabetes, which sincerely I hope will not get any worse. So, being stubborn, I do alot of research and experimentation. Sometimes it's fun and we end up with something delicious, and sometimes it goes in the compost! A learning experience! 

These last couple of months, I've spent quite alot of time working on some new vegan cheeses. To tell you the truth, I've been a bit fed up with cashews, cashews, cashews when it comes to vegan cheese!  For one thing, they are expensive, especially the fair trade, organic variety.  For another, they can be ethically compromised (See 
https://bit.ly/2oLeHgM for more on these issues.)  My aim was (and is) to make a vegan cheese that is delicious, easy to make, inexpensive and made with easily-obtained ingredients, and without the need for culturing.

I ran across 
Martine's groundbreaking recipe for Vegan Steamed Rice Cheese at lowcarb-vegan.net/vegan-steamed-rice-cheese/  I tried it right away-- it was easy to make and tasty!

BUT, it was made with white rice flour, which is not particularly low-glycemic. I got the idea to use some sort of bean flour, along with some high-resistant-starch potato starch instead, and it worked beautifully. I added more nutritional yeast, along with some white miso (for a fermented flavor), onion powder and garlic granules, for more flavor. Even better!

My far-away Australian Facebook friend Fran was also working on such things and we shared our successes and failures. I hoped (and still hope) to make a cheese that melted, but I'm still working on that. But, one day I got the idea to grate this very firm, tasty cheese and it seemed to me to be a delicious and much less expensive alternative to commercial vegan "parmesan" products.

I'm working on some other versions of this type of cheese, which I will post very soon. But I wanted to share this one with you right now because we're so pleased with it.  Let me know what you think!



Printable Recipe


BRYANNA'S VEGAN STEAMED BEAN FLOUR "VEGAN PARMESAN"
(Low-glycemic, high in protein and fiber, nut-free, soy-free)    
Makes enough to fill at least two 142g Earth Island/FollowYourHeart Vegan Grated Parmesan-Style Cheese shakers.

Low-Fat Option : I have made this cheese with NO OIL, using 1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsps. 
water and it turned out just fine!

This very tasty cheese is high in protein from bean flour, and is low-glycemic. It's also a great source of resistant starch (which acts as a soluble fiber). Potato starch [not the same thing as potato flour, BTW] is also very high in resistant starch and makes for a VERY firm cheese, suitable for grating or pulsing in a food processor. (See https://bit.ly/2PJhaU9 for info on resistant starch, which improves insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, reduces appetite and has various benefits for digestion.)

Updated July 2020
Ingredients:
    • 1 1/4 cup pea flour OR chickpea flour (OR white bean flour, OR a mixture) 
NOTE: White bean flour version will look like the picture above; chickpea or pea flour version will be more yellow. 
    •  1/3 cup, 
slightly packed-down potato starch 
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/4 cup melted refined coconut oil (preferably Fair Trade, organic)
       PLUS 2 tablespoons neutral tasting oil
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tablespoon white miso (also called Shiro miso-- may be more beige than white; see this article: https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-white-yel-79637 )
    • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
    • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic granules

Steps:
    1. Pour 2 cups water into your steamer pot, InstantPot or pressure cooker, equipped with a flat steamer basket in the bottom.

    2. Put all the ingredients into the jar of your blender, and blend until it forms a completely smooth, milky mixture, without lumps or visible oil droplets.


This is the Pyrex mold that I use.
   3. Pour the cheese mixture into a greased or parchment-lined Pyrex, metal or ceramicmold. Choose a mold that will hold 2 cups, with about 1/2 inch of “head room”. 

Place the mold onto the steamer basket.  I fold a long piece of aluminium foil lengthwise into a wide strip and use  it to lower the mold onto the steamer basket. This makes it easier to remove the hot mold from its close quarters after it's cooked, too!



4. Steam the cheese for about 45 minutes (or 25 minutes on Steam function in Instant Pot, or pressure cooker).  Release pressure in the InstantPot or pressure cooker after cooling down for about 20 minutes. 


Use the aluminum foil to lift the hot mold out of the pot onto a cooling rack.



After the steaming, the cheese will still be a bit soft. Don't worry, it will firm up once it cools. If a thin layer of water dripped onto the cheese from the pot's lid, drain this off carefully.

5. Let the cheese cool to room temperature and then cover it and put it into the fridge overnight to firm up.


 
Once it is firm, you can release it from the mold and store it in a lidded container for a week or so, or you can freeze half of it, well-wrapped. The cheese tastes best if you leave it to firm and develop flavor for a day or two before eating.
  You can grate the cheese on a box grater, if you wish, 


but I use a food processor. I cut the block into small squares and place them in a food processor. 



Pulse until they are chopped and then process until it looks like commercial grated parmesan. Taste it-- if you like, you can mix the ground cheese with a bit more nutritional yeast for a stronger flavor-- but add it a little bit at a time.

   
 Scoop the resulting "granules" into two shaker bottles-- I use two 142g Earth Island/FollowYourHeart Vegan Grated Parmesan-Style Cheese shakers. Or, if you prefer, cut the block in half,  process one half, and freeze on half, well wrapped, for grating later.




Enjoy!


Saturday, August 17, 2019

MY "SAUCY NEATBALLS" RECIPE: EASY, VERSATILE, INEXPENSIVE

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Neatballs in sour cherry sauce

Neatball Pho containing baked and cooled Neatballs that have been browned and simmered in the Pho broth.
Neatballs coated with a curry sauce
This is a vegan "meatball" recipe that I developed over 10 years ago (yikes!) and meant many times to share on this blog, but, somehow, never got around to!  The recipe was originally supposed to be included in one of my books, but that never happened.

I love "meatballs", not only because they taste good and are so versatile, but also because so many cuisines boast at least one, and often dozens, of delicious recipes featuring them.  Real comfort food, the world over!

You can make several times the recipe at one time and freeze them for future meals. One time I was very ambitious and made 150 Neatballs in one morning! Here are some photos:






Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S BASIC SAUCY NEATBALLS
Servings: 5 
 Yield: 25 neatballs

These Neatballs, when removed from the oven, resemble rather dry, round cookies. However, when they are simmered in broth, or in a sauce of your choice, they plump up and have a texture almost alarmingly meatlike! 

You can add whatever appropriate spices and herbs that would go with the final dish you are making, or just make the basic version. The recipe can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.,  if you would like to freeze some for a later date. Serve with pasta, rice, bulgur, quinoa, etc., or bread.

Dry Mix:
1 1/2 cups textured soy protein granules (TVP)
3/4 cup pure gluten powder (vital wheat gluten)
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (not dried), packed down
1 1/2 tsp garlic granules
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
herbs and spices, to your taste
Wet Mix:
1 1/4 cups plus 3 T. cold water
3 Tbs soy sauce or tamari
1 1/2 Tbs ketchup
1/2 T. vegan gravy browner, such as Kitchen Bouquet (for color)
Flour for coating
Cooking spray or oil in a pump-sprayer
Optionals: For ethnic recipes, you can add some chopped vegetables (well-drained or squeezed, if very wet), grated ginger, fresh garlic, vegan parmesan, chopped green onion,
etc…..

Instructions:
Mix together the Dry Mix ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk the Wet Mix ingredients together and pour into the Dry Mix, adding whatever optionals you like. Cover and let the mixture set for at least one hour. If made ahead, the mixture can be refrigerated for several hours or days before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Roll the mixture into 25 equal-sized balls, squeezing firmly. As you can see in the photo below, you can also shape the Neatball mixture into oval "kofta" shapes for Middle Eastern recipes. Dredge in flour to coat all over. 


Place the balls on an oiled cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray or oil from a pump-sprayer. Bake 20 minutes-- smaller neatballs may need only 15 minutes cooking time. 


The "Neatballs" will look quite dry, as I mentioned, but this is their advantage-- when cooked in a sauce, they become plump and tender, but don't fall apart. Cool thoroughly.
They can be frozen  at this point and then cooked in a sauce or soup at a later time, if you wish.  

To cook the dry, baked Neatballs in a sauce:
Drop them into a pot containing about 5 cups of your preferred sauce (commercial or homemade-- homemade should be fully-cooked), mixed with 2 cups of water and brought to a simmer. If necessary, add a little more liquid to the sauce, in the form of wine, broth or juice. Simmer them for at least 20 minutes, during which time the Neatballs will "plump up". 

OR, if you are planning to use them later in recipes 
coated in a sauce, or to use them in a soup, cook them in a pot containing simmering vegan broth of your choice to cover. 



















If they have been simmered in broth for future recipes, remove the Neatballs from the pot with a strainer spoon, rinse them off gently, and let them cool thoroughly. They can then be frozen. Otherwise, add them directly to a soup, or  browned in a bit of oil and coated  with a sauce of your choice, such as a curry sauce.




Baked, simmered (in broth) and cooled Neatballs that have been browned.

My Version of Italian "Wedding Soup" ("Minestra Maritata" or "Zuppa Maritata"), containing baked and cooled Neatballs that have been browned before simmering in the soup.
Try this delicious Vietnamese Pho recipe, using Neatballs instead of the vegan "steak":




Nutrition Facts (calculated using low sodium soy sauce and ketchup)
Nutrition (per serving; 5 Neatballs): 
195.6 calories; 3% calories from fat; 0.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 404.9mg sodium; 86.3mg potassium; 19.7g carbohydrates; 0.7g fiber; 1.9g sugar; 27.4g protein.

Enjoy!





Wednesday, June 26, 2019

BRYANNA'S (UPDATED) LOW-SUGAR CHICKPEA CHOCOLATE SPREAD, TWO WAYS

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(UPDATED on June 30, 2020.)


I haven't been blogging lately, but I have been cooking and researching!  My new doctor sent me to an internist a few weeks ago and I've been told that I am not pre-diabetic, as I was previously told by another doctor, but I am actually diabetic. It's not so bad as to need insulin, and my glucose levels have actually gone down, but I do need to be more strict about my diet and exercise. So, I am still on a low-glycemic diet, of course, but also counting carbs and sugars, and I am getting back into walking, weights and other exercise, now that my shingles nerve pain has lessened quite substantially (after 6 months!).

So, a lot of my time has been taken up with research and experimentation, as you can imagine!  It's not that hard for me to resist the temptation of white bread (my husband's homemade, with some oats and wheat bran in it), pizza, and desserts, etc., because I am determined not to ever have to use insulin, to lose some weight, and to still make food that is delicious and health-promoting. Sprouted grain bread is my choice now, farinata instead of pizza dough (see https://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.com/2014/04/farinata-italian-chickpea-flour-pancake.html ), fruits for dessert, and the odd 
homemade low-sugar treat.

That said, I love chocolate and I don't want to give it up!  I can have a bit of dark chocolate (at least 71% chocolate) for a treat, but I want to create some chocolate recipes at home, too.  I had heard about chickpea chocolate spreads and, since I always have a supply of cooked chickpeas in my freezer, I decided to try making some.  Below is my recipe and, with two options for sweeteners,  and Nutrition Facts.  

If you have to be very strict about sweets, you could use your favorite sugar-free sweetener. Personally, I really dislike stevia, so I would use sucralose (Splenda) for a sugar-free product. After much research, I don't see that using those products once in a while would cause any harm.  The most important thing, in my opinion, is to work steadily towards curbing your taste for sweets.

Anyway-- enough chatter!  Here's the recipe!



My husband and I are enjoying this yummy spread on toast, or on apple slices-- small amounts, of course. It's not as sweet as Nutella, for sure, but I now prefer less sweet.  (You can check out the nutrition facts for my spreads at the bottom of the page,and there is a photo of the nutrition facts from a jar of Nutella just below.) UPDATE: You can make chocolate milk by blending 2 tablespoons of the spread with a cup of your favorite plant-based milk-- I used an immersion/stick blender.

BRYANNA'S CHICKPEA CHOCOLATE SPREAD, TWO WAYS
Makes 1 7/8 cups (2 cups when made with Date Paste)
15-16 servings-- 2 T. each serving

This delicious spread is a much more nutritious and dairy-free, palm oil-free option than Nutella, and also less expensive. (See Nutella nutrition label just below, to compare with both versions I have devised .) It's not as cloyingly sweet as Nutella, but the chocolate flavor is deeper and more pronounced, which is a plus, in my opinion!


See Nutrition facts for Chocolate Chickpea Spread made with syrups, or with date paste, at the end of this post. NOTE: When made with Date Paste, the spread is not quite as sweet, but calories, carbs and sugars are somewhat lower.

1 1/2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained (14-15 oz. can)
4 tbsp nut butter (I used peanut butter this time)
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 cup Date Paste [about 5 ounces] -- see just below for Date Paste recipe 
OR  1/3 to 1/2 cup of Splenda [sucralose-- a sugar alcohol]
1 tsp vanilla extract
OPTIONAL, if the paste is too dry: 1 tbsp water

Blend all of the ingredients in food processor until very smooth.  Store in jar in the refrigerator in a tightly-closed jar for up to two weeks.

HOMEMADE DATE PASTE  (Makes 3 cups)
NOTE: I use organic Deglet Noor pitted dates, but you can use pitted Medjool dates, if you like.
***You can also use the more inexpensive, tightly-packed block of pressed baking dates from your supermarket, but you will need to weigh the dates -- 15.25 ounces for this recipe. You may also need to add a bit more hot water when processing.***

2 cups (tightly packed) pitted, chopped dates (See Note above)
3 cups boiling water


Soak the dates in the boiling water in a COVERED heat-proof bowl or batter bowl for about 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, combine the soaked pitted dates and water.

Process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl to make sure all of the dates are pulverized. Add a bit more water if the mixtured is too thick.  It should be thick enough to mound up on a spoon, not runny.

Store the date paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or you can freeze it in amounts that suit your cooking or baking needs.

NUTRITION FACTS

For recipe using Date Paste:
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories105
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4.7g6%
Saturated Fat 1.1g6%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 105mg5%
Total Carbohydrate 14.7g5%
Dietary Fiber 3g11%
Total Sugars 6.4g
Protein 4g
Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Calcium 11mg1%
Iron 2mg9%
Potassium 132mg3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Recipe analyzed by 

For recipe using Splenda (sucralose-- a sugar alcohol):

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories80
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4.7g6%
Saturated Fat 1.1g6%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 105mg5%
Total Carbohydrate 8.1g3%
Dietary Fiber 2.4g8%
Total Sugars 0.8g
Protein 3.6g
Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Calcium 11mg1%
Iron 1mg8%
Potassium 132mg3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Recipe analyzed by 


Enjoy!