30-sec Blender Bisque: Raw Capsicum Cashew

My god, does it get any easier than this?

Fresh?  Check.  Nutritious?  Check.  Delish?  Check, check check!

Capsicums are high in fibre, vitamin B6, C and A, with a 149g serving delivering a whopping 317% of your RDI for Vitamin C and 93% for vitamin A.  Like most vegetables, it’s low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.  Capsicums also contain Vitamin K, thiamin, tiboflavin, niacin, potassium, manganese, Vitamin E  and folate.

I made this for dinner the other night.  I’d barely gotten over ‘hump day Wednesday’ and just couldn’t be ass-ed doing much of anything.  The cashews give a nice thick creamy texture.  They’re a tried and true substitute for cream – whether in soups or desserts.

have blender, will cook.

have blender, will cook.

Raw Capsicum Cashew Bisque

2 chopped red capsicums
handful soaked cashews
1/2 cup water
sea salt, to taste

Blitz ingredients in powerful blender.

I then garnished with some shredded zucchini, but you can put whatever you like on top!

Best enjoyed immediately, but I took leftovers for lunch the next day and it still tasted yum.

creamy capsicum cashew bisque

creamy capsicum cashew bisque

The Dairy Debacle + 4 vegan alternatives

One of the most successful cons out there is that dairy does a body good.

I used to consume copious amounts of it, mistakenly believing I was preventing osteoporosis in later life, that it was good for my overall health.

Dairy products are marketed as high calcium foods that assist in strengthening bones.

However the most ideal foods for bone health are foods that are not only high in calcium, but reduce calcium loss in the body.  Namely… fruit and veg.  Fruit and veg also contain boron, which assists in reducing calcium loss.

Dairy is an acidic food, along with meat, white flour and sugar.  Studies show consumption of an acid-producing diet will lead to four times more bone fractures.

Acidic foods age and degenerate your skin.  Eeps!  Those expensive miracle creams are wasted if your diet is highly acidic.

Have you ever wondered when you’re feeling under the weather, why the doc tells you to up your liquids (clear soups, herbal teas, water) and steer clear of dairy?

Two reasons.

In order for our bodies to digest lactose (lactose is the sugar found in dairy), we need an enzyme called lactase.  From when we are 18 months to 4 years old, up to 95% of this enzyme is lost.  So put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Undigested lactose + acidic nature of milk = breeding ground for intestinal bad bacteria = higher cancer risk

Dairy products produce mucus, and the body’s natural self-defense mechanism is to develop a cold or an ‘allergy’.

Dairy does not deter osteoporosis.  Its high protein content leaches calcium from the body by sucking calcium sources from the bones to balance the pH in our blood.  Foods even lower in calcium such as meat and eggs cause even greater losses.  This explains why blood tests show you have adequate amounts of calcium if your diet is based around dairy and meat.  It is no coincidence the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis (USA, Sweden, Finland) are the biggest consumers of meat, milk and other animal foods.

A host of other problems have been linked to the consumption of dairy: acne, anaemia, anxiety, arthritis, ADHD, autism, cancers of the breast, prostate and ovaries, fibromyglia, heartburn, indigestion, IBS, joint pain, colic, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and Crohn’s disease.

It’s not all doom or gloom though, folks.  The good news is there are plenty of alternatives.  It’s all about substitution!

DAIRY ALTERNATIVES

I thought I would feel deprived until I discovered the joys of milk alternatives such as almond milk, cashew milk, hazelnut milk, oat milk… even mung bean milk!  Same story with cream and condensed milk – swap over to coconut, nut or tofu based substitutes.

When it comes to yogurt, I am about to experiment with making my own.  If you can’t be bothered then COYO is delish, found in many health food stores and some IGAs.

Cheese – There are plenty of ready-made alternatives out there whether you want.  Brands such as Notzarella, Vegusto and Tofutti are pretty tasty.

As for icecream, buy sorbet or get creative by making your own.  There’s so many recipes out there, with most of them being comprised of some sort of non-dairy milk, tofu, or frozen bananas.  Coco Luscious makes a range of ready-made non-dairy ice creams which are *to die for*

Below are some tried and tested recipes for dairy alternatives.

Basic Almond Milk

1 c raw almonds (soaked overnight in filtered water)
3 c filtered water
optional: agave or stevia, vanilla extract, cinnamon

Discard soaking water and rinse nuts.  Place nuts in blender and add filtered water.  Blitz until smooth.  Add sweetener to taste (optional).

Place a bowl on kitchen counter.  Slowly pour milk into a nut milk bag and catch liquid in bowl.  Squeeze nut milk bag gently until no liquid remains.  What’s leftover in the bag is almond meal you can use for crackers, cakes, cookies, replacing flour etc.  Leftover almond meal can be frozen for later use.

homemade almond milk

homemade almond milk

Pour strained milk into glass mason jars and store in the fridge.  Keeps for 3-4 days.

Tip:  A favourite of mine is using hazelnuts.  Smells rich and chocolatey.  Add cacao powder and 1 tsp vanilla essence to make chocolate milk.

Raw Cashew Cheeze

1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked)
1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons water
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice or vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
freshly ground pepper
Drain nuts and place them food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup water and the rest of the ingredients, and mix until thoroughly puréed, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl every so often.

Add a little more water if necessary and blend again to adjust the consistency; the cheese will get a little more solid as it sets.

Transfer to a bowl, cover, and let stand somewhere cool for 24 hours before placing in the fridge, keeps for 5 days.

Rawmesan (Parmesan alternative)

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
sea salt

Blitz almonds in food processor until crumbly and resembling grated parmesan.  Add in nutritional yeast and sea salt to taste.

Sprinkle on top of pastas, pizza, salads…  Refrigerate unused rawmesan in airtight container.

Raw Pistachio Icecream

1 ripe avocado
4 chopped frozen ripe bananas
2 tablespoons agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
1/4 cup pistachios

Throw everything in a food processor with the ‘S’ blade.  Process until smooth.  Scoff!

Happy experimenting 🙂

Warren G: A scholarly take on veganism

This is a profile of a man who now calls Fremantle home, after living in cities such as New Orleans, New York, Minneapolis, Melbourne, Townsville and Perth.  He has been vegan since 1974, and is who I’d classify as being extremely advanced in the kitchen and more knowledgeable still about all things veganism.

I’ve sampled many of his delectable creations, such as whipped cashew and pear dip, chia guacamole, cauliflower ‘rice’, sprouted quinoa salad and was even given an impromptu ‘Sprouting for Dummies’ crash course.

His fascinating and detailed story spans over 5o years.

The Basics:
A 63 yo, New Orleans-born Cornell University-graduate, Warren Gossett is the son of a pharmacist and school teacher.  He was a computer programmer for the University of WA prior to retiring in 2005, and still occasionally tutors primary school and first year university students.  He spends his time engaging in the private study of  whatever interests him: mathematics, chemistry, physics, music, dancing, history.

Warren had a typical American diet up until he was 16.  This was highly processed fare such as hot dogs, bacon and eggs, Kellogg’s Cheerios and Wheaties, fried chicken, ice cream, buttered corn, fairy floss, lemon meringue pie, and Whitman’s sampler chocolates.

Vego since: 1966
Why go veg?
A mystical experience in August 1963.  I read a public library book which talked about the selfishness of killing animals and the karma it created.  I first read the word vegetarian.  I finally applied the idea to myself in 1966 when I finished high school, moved away from home and could start choosing my own food easily.  Except for about five months in 1972-73 when I decided to accept a girl friend’s diet I have been a vegetarian or vegan ever since.

Note that I started out as a vegetarian for what could be called spiritual reasons.  I knew nothing of the other reasons for being a vegetarian and I had never heard the word vegan during this college phase (1966 – 1972).

I was a summer hippie in California 1967 and 1968 and had brown rice and macrobiotic food the first time.  Now of course I avoid alcohol or drugs.

I came across a book call Dweller of Two Planets by Phylos the Thibetan (Frederick S Oliver).  It turned out to be a fascinating explosion of mystical philosophy from 1899 California.  It suggested a beautiful path that we followed through this life and many lives because reincarnation was central to the book.  I was in!  There were mentions of the value of studying vegetarianism, astrology and numerology as well as science.  I did so over the years.  The reason given for vegetarianism was that it was selfish to kill animals and the karma it created was bad.  You couldn’t compensate the soul of an animal for the loss of its life experiences. Compensating a plant soul was possible or at least more possible.

This has remained a key part of my philosophy and mystical view of life over the last fifty years.

Vegan since: 1974
Why the next step?
When looking for a new house to share I met potential housemates.  One was a vegan and gave me two books when we met, along with  with another guy, to consider the house-share possibilities.  We never lived together nor met again but this meeting had a lasting influence on me.  The last things for me to give up was goat cheese and choc chip cookies.

I was especially influenced by Viktoras Pisces Kulvinskas’ second book in 1976, Survival into the 21st Century.  I learned about and tried fasting, sprouting alfalfa, mung beans, fenugreek and sunflower seeds.  He mentioned exotic things like wild food, unfired food, fruitarianism and breatharianism and the Aquarian diet.  Now instead of Kulvinskas’ term unfired food we usually say raw food.

At the 1978 North American Vegan Society convention in rural Pennsylvania I learned about sprouting, factory farming, vegetarians in sports and first heard of a group called Sea Shepherd.

“I learned there wasn’t just my one reason for being a vegetarian or vegan, spiritual, there were several others: ethical (animal rights), economic (it was cheaper), ecological (less polluting and better for biosphere), health (many factors), and aesthetic (wasn’t it more beautiful?)”

the effervescent Mr G

the effervescent Mr G

Influences: The books were Love Your Body by Viktoras Pisces Kulvinskas and Mother Nature’s Guide for Folks Who Like to Eat by Dick Gregory.  The arguments in the books convinced me that I didn’t need to eat dairy products and that the dairy industry was harmful in several ways.  I had already given up eggs because of boredom, concern about cholesterol… plus I had too many of them in college.

Philosophy: Still oriented to mysticism and science.

A typical day’s meals:  My diet is easy to arrange.  I just go to Coles, Woolworth’s or occasionally Manna Wholefoods, Peaches or Kakulas Sisters and get vegan things.

Idiot-proof meal?  I like organic pasta and black eye peas, they’re my fail safe meals.  I also like rice, potatoes and pumpkin.  I’ve discovered that celery is very versatile:  It lasts well in the fridge and can be consumed raw, cooked for 20 minutes or juiced.

 “I moved to Australia in 1980 to eventually work as a computer programmer.   Some people in Minneapolis had thought Australians drank a lot and ate a lot of meat so how would I fit in.  My mother assumed it was part of my travelling phase and I’d be back in six months. But I knew it was a warm country with lots of fruits and vegetables.  I had enjoyed the two week holiday in New Zealand and Australia I took earlier that year for my 30th birthday.”

Warren’s Whipped Cashew Dip

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews (soaked for 30mins)
2 pears (goldrush)
optional: vanilla extract, lemon juice, agave / stevia (to taste)
Throw away soaking water from cashews.  Peel and core the pears.
Blend in a food processor until smooth (about 3 minutes).
Taste – add optional ingredients if your tastebuds want and blend again.
Add filtered water if you like a thinner dip.

Serve with vege crudites, crackers or toasted bread.