Raw. Decadent. Thick. Pudding. Psyllium?

Spot the odd one out.  Psyllium… first off, what is it?

Psyllium is usually sold as psyllium husk in powder form. You can find it in health food stores, and its stocked in IGA, Coles and Woolies too.  Its often marketed as a colon cleanser, a reliable and natural remedy for constipation.  So sexy – not.

This recipe came by accident.

My intention was to make chia pudding, but instead of reaching for the chia seed container I poured in psyllium husks instead!  D’oh!  My mistake turned into a discovery… pysllium has the same effect as chia seeds poured into liquid, mixed and left to set.  Thickens to a pudding or jelly very nicely!

Why I didn’t realise this earlier I don’t know.  I’d known about psyllium for quite a number of years, but the usual M.O. of taking psyllium is mixing a tablespoon with water or juice, or sprinkling it over cereal.  As I’d never had a problem with *ahem* regularity, I didn’t investigate further uses and applications.

At a fraction of the price of chia seeds, I’ve found a new egg (1 tbs psyllium + 2 tbs water) and agar-agar replacer for raw treats.  Win!  For my gluten-intolerant bakers, you can morph baked goods into gluten-free versions by substituting psyllium for regular flour.  I imagine it would give an extra ‘lift’ when baking.  Taking advantage of its thickening ability, it could be added to soups and stews to generate a creamier consistency too.

psyllium pudding

psyllium pudding

Important notes:  make sure you drink extra water to ensure the psyllium can move easily through the colon. Its fibres absorb waste in the stomach and carry it out from the colon.  Psyllium should be taken on an empty stomach.  Regular intake is said to promote weight loss as it shifts stubborn built-up body toxins.

Without further ado, here’s a pudding recipe even a man can’t stuff up.

Raw Cacao Coconut Pudding

1-2 tbs psyllium husk (start with 1 tbs if you’re not accustomed to taking psyllium)
stevia or agave, to taste
2-3 tbs raw cacao powder
2-3 tbs shredded coconut
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used oat)

Mix ingredients into a large mug or small bowl.  Let it thicken – leave for an hour or so.

As it was a blistery cold and windy night, I heated the oat milk and poured it in.  The heat enabled it to thicken instantly.. probably less than a minute of stirring it.

I had a thick rich gooey chocolatey treat – minus the guilt!

What other flavour variations can you come up with?

Hope you’re staying warm and toasty … till next time.

pudding in a cup

pudding in a cup

Raw Vanilla Matcha Cheesecake with Sprouted Mung Bean Crust

This is by far my most experimental creation yet.  I must have been channeling Heston Blumenthal in a serious way!

I love my raw cheesecakes as much as anyone else, however the generous use of nuts in both the crust and the filling leave me feeling a little heavy.

I wanted to maintain the slight crunch factor characteristic of crushed nuts and thought sprouted mung beans would be a good substitute.

Mung beans are a common dessert in Asia, able to be served hot or cold and usually accompanied with generous lashings of sweetened coconut milk.

In keeping with the Asian influences, I opted for a regular vanilla filling using silken tofu, and sprinkled matcha powder on top.

For those that don’t know, matcha is finely milled or finely ground Japanese green tea.  The difference is you are consuming the whole tea leaf, not just the liquid from steeping it.  Therefore its nutritional benefits far outweigh traditional green tea (10x more in fact).  Here’s a concise matcha article which is quite informative – on a bodybuilding website out of all places!

In short, matcha….

  • Is packed with antioxidants including the powerful EGCg
  • Boosts metabolism and burns calories
  • Is a natural and effective detoxer
  • Mood and concentration enhancer
  • Rich in fibre, vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium
  • Fights against viruses and bacteria
  • Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar

Raw Vanilla Matcha Tofu Cheesecake

Crust:

1 1/2 cups sprouted mung beans
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped soaked dates (reserve liquid)
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

protein-rich mung bean crust

protein-rich mung bean crust

Filling:

250g silken tofu
2-3 tbs coconut oil
1 tbs vanilla essence
3 tbs agave
reserved date liquid (to taste)
1 tbs lemon juice

To make the crust, simply food process all the ingredients until they come together.  Press the resulting paste into a springform pan and put in the freezer to harden while you make the filling.

Blend or food process the filling ingredients.  Taste test and adjust seasonings.  If it tastes a bit “tofu-ish” add more lemon juice and agave.

Once you’re happy with the taste of the filling, spoon it over the prepared crust.  Leave in the freezer to firm up, approx 1-2 hours.

Sprinkle with raw matcha powder for an antioxidant hit!

P.S. I mixed then froze leftover filling and mung beans… it’s like mung bean vanilla icecream!

raw vanilla matcha cheesecake

raw vanilla matcha cheesecake

Buckwheat Baller: Raw coconut lemon

I did a previous post on buckwheat and its nutritional benefits.  The recipe within was inspired by Coco Pops (in the US I believe they’re called Cocoa Krispies) breakfasts of years gone by.

Now turns out I sprouted a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittle bit too much.  What do do with an oversupply of sprouted buckwheat groats?  I already scattered a few handfuls over lunchtime salads to give them an extra crunchy protein boost.  Then my sweet tooth beckoned – without fail – around 3pm.

So after much rummaging around in the pantry, I decided to make buckwheat balls mixed with two tried and tested flavours: lemon and coconut.

coconut + lemon buckwheat balls

coconut + lemon buckwheat balls

Raw Coconut Lemon Sprouted Buckwheat Balls

1 1/2 cups sprouted buckwheat groats
1/4 cup oat pulp
zest and juice of 3 large lemons
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbs coconut oil
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped and soaked dates (reserve soaking water)

Now, these measurements are estimates.  Use your judgement and check the texture and taste as you go.

Place soaked chopped dates, coconut oil, vanilla essence, zest and lemon juice in the food processor.  Whizz until combined.

Add the rest of the ingredients and process again.  If you find the mixture isn’t coming together, add coconut oil – this acts as a binding agent.  Taste-test to see if it needs more sweet date water.  If it’s too wet, add more shredded coconut or oats.  If it’s too dry add either date water, lemon juice or coconut oil.

Scoop one tablespoon at a time and roll into balls.  Store in the fridge.

The lemon zest makes me feel like I’m taking a breath of fresh mountain air every time I pop one in my mouth.  At least… that’s what I tell myself!

Enjoy!

P.S.  I had leftover oat pulp from making oat milk.  I’m sure rolled oats will work just as well.

Kefir: The hush-hush nutritional gem of the Caucasian Region

First off, I bet a few of you are wondering what the heck is kefir?

Kefir is a probiotic drink made with either kefir grains or a powdered kefir starter culture.  There are two types of grains, milk kefir and water kefir.  Milk (dairy) kefir grains are (duh!) used with milks such as goats milk, coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk.  Water kefir is used with sugar water, fruit juice or coconut water.

Kefir grains are comprised of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship.  NB:  It is not an actual ‘grain’ such as wheat or oat,  ‘grain’ merely describes the appearance of the culture.  Think cottage cheese.  It looks very similar!

milk kefir grains

milk kefir grains

The dominant micro-organisms in kefir are Saccharomyces kefir, Torula kefir, Lactobacillus caucasicus, Leuconnostoc species and Lactic Streptococci.  These beneficial micro-organisms are what makes kefir stand out from virtually all other cultured milk products.  Typical cultured milk and yoghurt products on the market today usually use only one, and rarely more than three species in the culturing process.  Furthermore, the heat-treating manufacturing process characteristic of these products kills the beneficial live ferments.

Centuries old kefir was first discovered when the shepherds of the Caucasus mountains noticed the fresh milk they transported in leather pouches would occasionally ferment into a tarty beverage.

Mystery surrounds kefir as legend has it that kefir grains were gifted to the Caucasus people from Mohammed, who instructed them on how to use the grains.  Mohammed forbade them from teaching others how to prepare kefir, or passing kefir grains to anyone else, because they would supposedly lose their ‘magical strength.’  This may explain why kefir grains and their preparation are shrouded in such secrecy.  Check out the historical tale involving a beautiful woman, Irina Sakharova, who reportedly enticed the then-prince of Russia into giving her kefir grains.

Ferments (sauerkraut, kim chi, kefir, kombucha, miso, tempeh et al) are said to be an essential part of overall nutrition. These ‘super-metabolizers’  assist in gut health, increase digestability of foods, minimise constipation, preserve foods, and increase nutrient assimilation.

Kefir’s Health Benefits

New York Times best-selling author Dr Perricone is also a renowned healthy aging expert and dermatologist.  He rates kefir as one of his Top 10 Superfoods, reporting the drink has been “famously credited with the extraordinary longevity of people in the Caucasus.  Hospitals in the former Soviet Union use kefir—especially when no modern medical treatment is available—to treat conditions ranging from atherosclerosis, allergic disease, metabolic and digestive disorders and tuberculosis to cancer and gastrointestinal disorders.

A number of studies conducted to date have documented kefir’s ability to stimulate the immune system, enhance lactose digestion, and inhibit tumors, fungi and pathogens— including the bacteria that cause most ulcers. This makes a lot of sense as scientists have since discovered that most ulcers are caused by an infection with the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori and not spicy food, stomach acid or stress, as physicians erroneously believed for years.”

Veering off the traditional dessert route, this take combines the tartness of homemade coconut kefir with the sweetness of mangoes.  I had chopped mango stored in the freezer already, due to a buying frenzy in the summer months!  You can use whatever fruit is in season.

The chia seeds thicken the mixture into a pudding or custard consistency, and reminds me of the sago pudding served in Chinese restaurants during yum cha.

coconut + mango + chia

coconut + mango + chia

Coconut Kefir Chia Pudding

500ml homemade coconut milk kefir drink
handful of diced frozen mangoes
heaped tbs of chia seeds (how many tbs depends how many puddings you want to make)
stevia, to taste

Mix chia seeds and stevia with coconut kefir.

Pour approx 150ml of coconut chia mixture in each serving glass or bowl.

Drop in a few diced frozen mangoes in each glass.

Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to thicken.

Optional: decorate with drizzles of agave and some fresh mint leaves to garnish.

Coconut Kefir

2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup milk kefir grains

I simply made the coconut kefir drink by combining approx 1/4 cup milk kefir grains with 2 cups coconut milk.

This was left to ferment in a tightly closed glass jar for 24 hours (in the pantry).

I then strained the milk kefir grains and put the fermented milk in the fridge, reusing the kefir grains for another batch.

If it’s too tart for your tastebuds, you can add some agave or honey to the strained milk.

The resulting taste is very similar to the drinking yoghurts widely available in Europe.

Took these babies to a friend’s house for dinner where it brought back all-too-distant memories of sun, sand, surf and mango daiquiris!

tropical kefir pudding

So a vego and an omnivore walk down the aisle…

Can a happily committed, loving, healthy relationship be maintained between two people with opposing dietary habits?

My answer is a resounding “YES!”

Of course, there are variables that come into play.  Personal characteristics such as sensitivity, understanding, the degree of respect and acceptance each has for the other and willingness to compromise to name a few.

I wouldn’t trade in my meat-eating hubby for anyone else on God’s green earth.  Although we are polar opposites in many ways (ethnically, culturally, traditionally, personality-wise etc) we share commonalities in the ways that matter.  The ways that enable you to last through the years, the invisible forces that bond, strengthen and nourish.  I’m talking about values, morals, long-term goals and aspirations.  My 2 cents: you gotta be on the same page in this regard… as a clashing between these fundamental elements are likely to be deal-breakers.

It would be infinitely easier for a vego to be in a relationship with another vego, no doubt about it.  Things such as the weekly grocery shop, deciding what to make for lunch or which restaurant to go to would be a simple, painless process.  For a while hubby’s battle-cry when it was his turn to make dinner was “So… a salad for you then?”  Good grief, I never thought there would come a time when I was sick of salad.

But it came.  And reared its ugly head.  After some ‘lively’ discussion, it came to light  it was not carelessness or laziness on his part, but confusion, bewilderment and unintended ignorance that was the problem.  This is why men don’t ask for directions, preferring instead to drive around dazed and lost!  After giving him a crash course on Vegan Substitutes and Staples 101, referring some handy websites his way, and arming him with a veganised shopping list – he has flourished and done me proud.

No longer does he ask me if I want salad for dinner.  No longer does he look befuddled when making quinoa.  No longer does he make an ‘ewww’ face when I ask him to try my kale smoothie.  I tell you, his coconut tofu flan would’ve bowled over the MasterChef judges (recipe below).

I shove as many veg as I can into him, he’s drastically minimised the amount of meat he consumes, I veganise his favourite dishes, he makes sure there’s something on the menu I like before we decide where to eat.  See this pattern?  It takes two to tango.

I don’t crucify him for having a cheat meal… I just smirk when he returns, muttering he ‘feels like crap’, that ‘it wasn’t worth it’ and he’s ‘dying for an apple’.  It’s an ongoing gradual process.  The cheat meals happen more infrequently as time goes by.

Hubby likens our relationship to a quote from a Rocky movie.

“I dunno, she’s got gaps, I got gaps, together we  fill gaps.”

Now, I don’t usually refer to Sly Stallone movies.  However I must attest its accuracy.  It describes us to a T.  Two contradictory personas, each slowly toning down the other until a blissful medium is reached, and there are no more gaps.

I don’t see him as a ‘meat-eater’.  Instead, I see a man who only wants the best for me and loves me unconditionally – I see my best friend, my biggest supporter, my hubby, my heart.  Someone who will always give me the last bit of chocolate.  Someone who still opens doors and pulls out chairs for me.  And that my friends, isn’t what’s most important at the end of the day?

Hubby’s Coconut Flan 

Syrup:
5 tbs raw sugar + 3 tbs water

Pudding:
2/3 cup firm tofu (crumbled)
2 tbs agave
1 tbs syrup mixture
1 tsp coconut extract
pinch salt
2 1/2 cups rice or almond milk
1 tsp agar agar powder

To make syrup: Bring water and sugar to boil in a small saucepan over low heat.  Simmer uncovered 5 mins.

Working quickly, put tofu, 1 tbs prepared syrup, 2 tbs agave, coconut extract and salt in the blender.  Set aside.

Pour remaining syrup evenly into 6 moulds or small bowls, making sure to coat the base and sides evenly.

Into same saucepan, bring non-dairy milk and agar agar quickly to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 mins.

Carefully add this hot milk mixture to ingredients already in the blender.  Immediately blend to a smooth cream, stirring down any bubbles.

Pour blended mixture into coated moulds/bowls and skim off any foam.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To unmould: dip bottom briefly into boiling water, then turn upside down onto a plate.  It should slide out easily.  Pour any remaining syrup over the pudding.

If you’re feeling fancy decorate with fruit or mint leaves.

Since 2006

Since 2006