Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Joy of Coconut Oil

The Joy of Coconut Oil

My latest favourite product is coconut oil. Because we don’t use any dairy products, I’ve been trying so hard to find a suitable substitute for butter – not an easy task! I’ve baked with a few different oils and found that both olive oil (‘light tasting’) and rice bran oil are good substitutes, though I can still taste a difference, and the results are never quite satisfying. And…I was really missing Vegemite!! Because anyone knows you can’t eat vegemite without butter, right? Until…I found coconut oil. Talk about amazing.

So after some experimentation, I discovered that two types of coconut oil can be used in different ways. Firstly, there is the ‘standard oil’. It tastes like coconut, but not really strongly. Although you do need to buy the ‘good stuff’ and different brands taste better, in my humble opinion. The brand that I prefer is JT’s Coconut Essence – Pure Coconut Oil. It’s cold pressed (good) and organic (very good!). It has a slight coconut taste, so is beautiful in baking.

Then there is the ‘tasteless’ option. And this is where it gets kinda exciting. Because if you spread this stuff on toast or crackers, then add vegemite, I swear it’s almost the same as using butter. The brand I’ve discovered, that is the bomb as they say, is Biomedicals Certified Organic Coconut Oil (Tasteless). I use it as a butter substitute (when I don’t want the coconut taste) and it’s beautiful in both raw and baked recipes. And just in case you haven’t come across coconut oil yet, it’s actually solid when kept cool, which is why it can be spread.

And the best thing is, that coconut oil is incredibly healthy!!! Which makes me a happy Vego Mama. Both of the links I’ve provided have lots of info. I will add a disclaimer here and say that of course, coconut oil is a fat (and it’s a saturated fat), so it needs to be used sparingly, as with any other fat. But…the health benefits are said to be in abundance, even in small amounts. And I’m a big believer that cutting healthy fats out of your diet so you can remain skinny is neither healthy nor sane. But that’s just me : )

I’ll add a couple of coconut oil recipes soon - a vegan chocolate pudding that we’ve been experimenting with, and some biscuits that my friends said are ‘to die for’.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Heavenly Red Quinoa Soup

So…it’s been a while folks! Life has been busy, busy. I’ve moved house and made some big changes within my business, which is all wonderful, though rather full on! Anyway – I’m back on board and excited to start blogging more regularly. I do believe I have my mojo back hehehe.

Here’s a great ‘comfort food’ recipe using my new obsession ~ red quinoa. It’s so amazing -  for vego’s and non-vego’s alike. It has a heartiness that really satisfies, and is super nutritious to boot.

Enjoy! :)

Heavenly Red Quinoa Soup

I      2 cups ‘chicken’ stock substitute – or enough to cover ingredients liberally
I      1 cup red quinoa, rinsed well
I      2 tablespoons olive oil
I      1 large onion, diced
I      4-5 cloves garlic, minced
I      1 stalks celery, diced
I      1 carrot, peeled, diced
I      1 can diced tomatoes with juices
I      1 can kidney beans
I      1 can corn kernels
I      1 cup frozen peas
I      A couple of handfuls of baby spinach
I      salt & freshly ground pepper

This recipe can be done 2 ways. If you have a slow cooker, begin preparing in the morning and allow the slow cooker to do its thing. Otherwise, simply make this as you would with any soup – in a large pot with a heavy base (so it doesn’t stick). Instructions below are for a slow cooker.

1.    In a frying pan, heat olive oil and add onion. Fry until slightly brown, then add garlic.

2.    Meanwhile, if using stock powder, boil the water, then add to stock power in a jug and mix & set aside (if using fresh stock, heat on stove or in microwave).

3.    Add celery and carrot and fry for about 5 mins.

4.    Add the onion mix and all of the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker (except salt, which toughens beans if added early) and stir very well.

5.    Cook on high for 2 hours, then on low for 2-4 hours (or on low for 6 hrs). If using the automatic setting on the slow cooker, simply set the dial and let the cooker do its thing. Stir once in the middle of cooking, if you are around.

6.    When ready, stir in salt to taste, turn off cooker and let sit for 10-15 mins. Serve.

Please let me know in the comments below, if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to blog about, in relation to vego’ism.

I’ll be back soon with some more great recipes…