tahini

FENNEL AND CABBAGE SLAW WITH CASHEW LEMON DRESSING

FENNEL AND CABBAGE SLAW WITH CASHEW LEMON DRESSING

Being a Czech I do love a cabbage based salad. I am sure I have mentioned it on this blog a few times. I will admit that if there is a bowl of freshly shredded cabbage I can’t keep my hand out of it. I love that crisp sweetness of raw cabbage. Unfortunately the sweetness disappears when cabbage is cooked.

Cabbage may seem to be one of the most boring, ordinary vegetables but as a member of the cruciferous vegetables it has shown some cancer preventing properties amongst many other health benefits. The anticancer benefits are only present when cabbage is eaten lightly steamed or raw. Forget the overcooked cabbage that was traditionally served by British grandmas alongside the ubiquitous Sunday roast (luckily I have never experienced that).

Raw cabbage salad is the perfect way to reap the vegetable’s health benefits and the beautiful sweet taste. Unlike many green salads this one will keep in the fridge for a few days. You may just have to add a bit of lemon juice to enliven it up.

I have added fennel and carrot, both vegetables I adore raw and, for a bit of sweetness, couple of apples. Tarter variety will work well to offset the sweetness of the other vegetables. Dressing is a creamy concoction of cashews, tahini and lemon, kind of a variation of mayonnaise. Chill in the fridge before serving. (PS will taste great with veggie burgers)

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FENNEL AND CABBAGE SLAW WITH CASHEW LEMON DRESSING

ingredients
half a medium white or green (not Savoy)
2 medium tart apples
1 large bulb of fennel
3 medium carrots

Dressing
1 cup cashews (soaked for at least 30min)
1/2cup water
2tbs tahini
1tbs maple syrup
3 tbs cold press olive oil
juice of 2 medium lemons
salt nad pepper

method
  • Using a food processor (or a sharp knife) shred the cabbage thinly. It will yield around 3-4 cups of shredded cabbage.
  • Next thinly shred the fennel and grate the carrot, and apples.
  • Mix all vegetables together and set aside while making the dressing.
  • To make the dressing put the cashews, tahini, water, maple syrup, olive oil and lemon juice into the food processor and process till smooth. Stir into the salad.
  • Season with salt and pepper.


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NOT SO TRADITIONAL BABA GHANOUJ

NOT SO TRADITIONAL BABA GHANOUJ

When I was little, probably the age my daughter is now, my grandmother brought home a couple of aubergines (aka eggplants). This was the first time we met, me and aubergine of course. My grandmother did what all Czech people do to vegetables, she breaded it and fried it, schnitzel style. I remember not really enjoying the aubergine.

That night, I had a dream, you might call it a nightmare (it was for a seven year old girl). In this dream I was chased by a gigantic aubergine. Yes you can laugh but this traumatic experience caused me not to eat aubergines for many years (or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t enjoy it?).

Many years later, in my 20’s, I had an aubergine again and I have never looked back. It is definitely the vegetable I would take with me onto a dessert island. It is incredibly versatile, an amazing base for many veggie meals, it feels and taste substantial. If cooked properly it is beautifully silky and takes on all the flavors it has been cooked with.

It is very easy to cook aubergines wrong, I have been served undercooked inedible aubergines in restaurants (and I always let them know!). Don’t serve an aubergine unless it is squashed easily under very little pressure with a wooden spoon or a fork. It needs to be melt in your mouth, soft and silky.

Here is one of my favorite aubergine recipes, baba ghanouj (or baba ghanoush). It is popular in many Middle Eastern countries, you can find it in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and via Turkey even in Bulgaria. Traditionally this recipe is made with lashings of olive oil, but I love my oil free version. If you really wish you can always drizzle a bit of good quality extra virgin olive oil over the top to make it more authentic.

Baba ghanouj is perfect for a mezze meal, light lunch or just as a dip with some pitta chips and a nice glass of wine. I believe this is a recipe to serve to an aubergine hater, just don’t divulge the main ingredient.

babaghanouj


NOT SO TRADITIONAL BABA GHANOUJ

ingredients
2 aubergines (medium to large)
1 Tbs tahini
juice of 1 lemon (or to taste)
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt
handful of parsley, finely chopped

method
  1. First prepare the aubergine. Leave the aubergines whole just prick several times with a point of a sharp knife (this will prevent any possible explosions). If you are using a grill (broiler) preheat it to its highest setting, place aubergine onto a aluminium foil lined baking tray and place the aubergine about 1 inch away from the grill. You can also use your gas hob, place the aubergine straight over the flames. I do prefer the grill method, you get a more evenly cooked aubergine.
  2. Turn the aubergines often and cooked until the aubergine collapses. Feel the aubergine using tongs, it should feel very soft when squeezed gently. The skin should be charred. Under the grill it should take about 20-30min.
  3. Let the aubergine cool.
  4. When the aubergine has cooled down, slit the skin down lengthways and scoop the soft flesh out, discard the skin. Place the flesh into a food processor.
  5. Add the tahini and garlic and process until you get a puree with still few chunks left in it (no baby food).
  6. Add the lemon and salt to taste and chopped parsley. Place in a serving bowl.
  7. If you really have to you can drizzle some olive oil, but other great toppings are cumin, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts or paprika.
  8. Enjoy!

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ROASTED CARROT HUMMUS

ROASTED CARROT HUMMUS

Couple days ago I started to read The Spectrum by Dr Dean Ornish. Fascinating read! I love the man’s philosophy, spirit but also the fact that everything he suggests is backed by science. And any man who can do a TED MED presentation with a baby in his hands certainly gets my vote.

Dr Dean Ornish has amazing results in slowing the progression and even reversing heart disease with lifestyle changes. His method is even available on Medicare in the USA. Quote from The Spectrum:
“ Our research has shown that your body has a remarkable capacity to begin healing itself - and much more quickly than people once realised - when we address the underlying causes of illness. For many people, the choices we make each day in what and in how we live are among the most important underlying causes.”

No surprise I was eager to read today’s big news article (in several papers) :
Tomato pill could save lives. Indeed a new “tomato” pill has been developed, it contains lycopene in amounts equivalent to eating 6lb of tomatoes daily!!! That, I do admit, would be a very difficult thing to do. The trial has been on a small scale but scientist are very optimistic, predicting this pill could save thousands of lives. Further trials are of course needed.

Ateronon (the pills name) has shown to improve the function of the endothelial cells and boost their sensitivity to nitric oxide. Dr Dean Ornish’s, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn’s or Dr Joel Fuhrman diets will do the same. No need to wait for Ateronon to come to the the market just follow the advice of one of these doctors.

Even if this pill does prove to be as successful as the scientist behind its development tell us, there may still be a downfall. People like to pop a pill instead of improving their lifestyles, it is the easy way out, but not s solution. I believe it is Dr Fuhrman who said : "You can't medicate your self out of a bad diet." I certainly prefer the benefits of a healthy diet over any pill.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2258035/Wonder-pill-harnessing-health-secret-Mediterranean-diet-cut-risk-strokes-heart-attacks-fight-cancer.html


carrot-hummus


ROASTED CARROT HUMMUS

Makes about 2 cups

ingredients
3 medium carrots
1 tin chickpeas, drained, chickpea water reserved
1 garlic clove
1 Tbs tahini
1 Tsp ground cumin
juice of half a lemon (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
large handful of chopped fresh coriander

method
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Cut the carrots into carrot sticks
  3. Line a small baking tray with baking paper. Add the carrots and 4 Tbs of water. Roast for about 30 min or until carrots are caramelized and softened.
  4. In a food processor or a blender combine the carrots, chickpeas, tahini, cumin, lemon juice and process till quite smooth, adding the chickpea water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
  5. Stir in the chopped coriander.
  6. Enjoy!
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OUTRAGEOUS BEETROOT FALAFEL

OUTRAGEOUS BEETROOT FALAFEL

Falafel, together with hummous, may just be the most famous Middle Eastern food. It originates from Egypt but is equally home in Israel, Palestine or any vegan household around the world. Traditionally, falafel is made from chickpeas, broad (fava) beans or mixture of both. These are soaked, ground, spiced and deep-fried.

Falafel, apart from the deep-frying, is extremely healthy. These spiced morsels are high in protein and fibre while also rich in many minerals and vitamins such as calcium, magnesium, iron, folate and others. Usually served in a pitta pocket or flat bread together with salad and tahini dressing it makes a perfect plant based meal.

As much as I respect traditions I decided to try and up the stakes, beef up that nutrition content and lower that oil content. My beetroot falafel looks outrageous with its deep dark red colour, and lusciously moist. Baked in the oven it is also free of oil. I used tinned chickpeas rather than soaked uncooked ones, mainly because I didn’t use the deep frying method of cooking, but convenience was definitely a factor too.

You can serve these in the traditional way in a pitta bread, or on top of a salad. They will also make fab canapes. There is no better accompaniment to falafels than tahini sauce. Just to be different I made 2 different tahini sauces. The other day I acquired some raw black sesame tahini and I thought using next to the traditional creamy coloured tahini would create a great contrast on top of the red falafel morsels. No pressure here, making just one tahini sauce is perfectly fine, just double the quantity. Any leftovers are great as salad dressing.


beetroot-falafel

OUTRAGEOUS BEETROOT FALAFEL
Makes 18

ingredients
falafels
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of fresh coriander (cilantro), about 2 handfuls
salt
2 medium carrots
3 small beetroot (mine were 160g /5.6 oz together)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs black sesame seeds
1 Tbs white sesame seeds
1 Tbs tahini
40g (1/3 cup) gram flour

tahini sauces

3 Tbs regular tahini
2 Tbs lemon juice
2-4 tbs water

3 Tbs black tahini
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs water



falafel-mix

method

  1. In a food processor combine the chickpeas, garlic, fresh coriander and salt.
  2. Process together, this will need a lot of stopping and scrapping down the sides. The texture should be a mixture of creamy smooth with some coarser pieces. See the above picture.
  3. Place the chickpea mixture into a mixing bowl.
  4. Finely grate the carrots and beetroot. I used my box grater for this job as my food processor doesn’t grate finely enough.
  5. Add to the chickpea mixture.
  6. Next add the cumin, tahini, sesame seeds and gram flour.
  7. Using your hands mix thoroughly.
  8. Form the mixture into walnut size balls and slightly flatten them.
  9. Place into the refrigerator for half an hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 180C.
  11. Line a baking tray with greaseproof (parchment) paper and place the falafels on top.
  12. Bake for about 15min, turning halfway through the baking time.
  13. While the falafels are baking make the sauces. Just simply mix the tahini and lemon together adding water until the desired consistency is acheived.
  14. Enjoy.




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SMOKEY BUTTERNUT SQUASH HUMMUS


Last week many newspapers printed a very similar article about hummus being a high calorie snack. World Cancer Research Fund was concerned about us being misinformed and lacking knowledge of what is a high calorie food. Of course high calorie foods contribute to obesity and thus cancer and other diseases. Hummus was branded one of the bad boys at some 332cal per 100g (half a supermarket pot). For comparison a jam doughnut has about 252 calories per 100g. I am not sure which hummus WCRF is talking about but I found calorie count from 177 to up to 317 for plain hummus.

Now hummus is a very ancient fellow. First recipe dates all the way to 13th century and I doubt it was a cause of obesity in 13th century Egypt. It is a very nutritious snack, containing iron, Vitamin C, B6, folate, fibre, calcium and protein (unlike the jam doughnut). I know which I would choose, I swear I will always love hummus no matter what bad press it (unjustly) gets.

You should read nutritional labels if you are concerned about the calorie content of your food, or you can just make your own hummus. It is easy chickpeasy.

SMOKEY BUTTERNUT SQUASH HUMMUS

I make all of my hummus without the olive oil. Omitting mere 2 Tbs of olive oil saves you 238 calories and 17g of fat per recipe. But by all means add couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to this recipe if you want to. This explains why my photograph is not all shiny as most pictures of hummus are as they get drizzled with olive oil. Looks good in a photo but I prefer to eat mine without the oil.

You can use this hummus as a spread or dip, but warmed up it replaces mashed potatoes beautifully.

ingredients
1/2 (about 400g) butternut squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs (heaped) Tahini
1 tin of hummus, drained liquid reserved
1 tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
juice of 1 lemon
more smoked paprika to sprinkle on top

method
  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Place butternut squash chunks in a roasting pan add the half tablespoon of olive oil and with your hands mix thoroughly. Season with salt. Roast for about 30min until edges of butternut squash start to caramelise and are soft when pierced with a skewer. Let the squash cool down.
  2. In a food processor combine the squash, chickpeas, garlic, paprika, lemon juice and salt. Add some of the reserved liquid.
  3. Process till smooth adding more liquid if needed.
  4. Transfer to a serving, bowl sprinkle with more paprika and enjoy.

Humus 1
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