My younger daughter has recently turned vegan. She is all of 14 years and as a mother I was and am still worried about her nutrition and her development.
Riya started her vegan quest a month ago avoiding eggs, claiming that the chickens are packed tighly in cages without any space to move around and they are stacked in levels so that the poo of the chickens above falls on the chickens below. She felt so sad for the chickens being caged this way just so that they can produce eggs for us. Of course that jolted me. Here is my daughter who loves eggs in any form. Without much of a choice, I agreed and persuaded her to go egg free but still have milk products. She was fine with that for a month.
Last week, she read that cows are impregnated purposely with sperms so that they get pregnant to produce milk. The cows are always pregnant! Imagine being always pregnant throughout your childbearing years? That got her all riled up. Her fight for these poor animals who are being managed inhumanely skyrocketed. The many videos and posts in Instagram supporting vegan lifestyle didn't help as it only made her more wilful. She couldn't stand to watch us having milk and eggs and started trying to convince us to go vegan too. She even went on to say that she will not date a guy who eats meat! 'Imagine kissing him after he eats beef or pork? Ew!!' She has stopped all makeup that tests on animals and is now against all leather products as well. She wants to become a vegan activist when she grows up. That's my spirited younger daughter! My thoughts are why wait till you grow up? Why not start a vegan group for teens in Singapore? I hv pitched my ideas to her. Let's see where she takes them.
I was against her veganism at the beginning as I was worried about her development but now after seeing how passionate she was about these poor animals, I only can support her and ensure her growing body's nutritional demands are met in other ways. She has become more conscious of what she is eating and ensuring that there is enough protein through nuts and tofu. I supplement her diet with multi vitamins which she now takes without complaining. Her junk food bingeing has stopped as well because she discovered there is milk in all cookies and snacks.. My chips packets remain untouched and unopened for so long. She claims she has lost all taste for junk food. She is so mature and serious about this whole issue that I'm surprised how could she be only 14?
I have scouted around for special vegan bread for her ( did you know that all baguettes are vegan?!), special vegan ice cream etc. I also found out there are special supplements for vegans. Fish Oil from algae and flax seeds. Thanks to my docent friend and also a vegan advocate Christine Zeng.
But there is always the nagging worry at the back of my mind about her health. Will she recover quickly when she falls ill? What about when she reaches child bearing age? Only time will tell.
My first vegan recipe I'm featuring, after this development at home, is vegan pancakes. They don't taste like the usual with butter and eggs but it passed. Riya appreciated the fact that I'm making special dishes for her to support her vegan diet. Should I ask for more?
Ingredients (6-8 large pancakes)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
2 tbsps fine sugar
3/4 cups canola oil
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup blueberries, rinsed
1. Mix the dry ingredients, followed by all the wet ingredients. Whisk well.
2. If the batter is too thick, add more soy milk to thin it.
3. Add the blueberries.
4. Heat a small frying pan, drop a few drops of canola oil and swirl them around the pan.
5. Once the pan is hot pour enough batter to coat the base of the pan. Drop a few drops of canola oil on top, cover and cook on medium heat till you see the sides cooked with holes all around.
6. Flip and cook the other side, this time uncovered. It should turn golden brown on both sides.
7. Serve warm with maple syrup.
Has anyone missed my recipes? I apologise for my hiatus but I have not had time to blog my recipes for the last 3 months. I didn't have time to even try new recipes with my own twisted version of them. But I made time for this recipe as it simply had to be posted.
My older 16year old girl had just completed her mid-term exams and was bored with too much time in her hands. She decided to venture into the kitchen to try her hand at baking instead of her usual scrambled eggs or spinach banana smoothies. She came across this one bowl easy brownie recipe and turned out fabulous! Never mind my kitchen which looked like a tornado has just passed through. Never mind the cleaning I had to do after. I enjoyed it tremendously. This recipe is really worth sharing here on my blog. Of course, I replaced 1 cup of caster sugar with a mix of 1/2 cup caster and 1/2 cup brown sugar, to avoid that cloyingly sweet aftertaste.
The key to getting really choclatey ooey gooey fudgy brownies? A few points to note :
Yields 18 squares
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tbsp canola/sunflower oil
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract/essence
1/2 cup plain/all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
A few crushed pieces of walnut/cocoa buttons (if you prefer nut-free brownies)
1. Preheat oven to 175deg C. Spray cooking spray onto 10 x 6 inch flat brownie baking tin and line with baking paper. Set aside. Whisk the melted butter, oil and the sugar for 1-2 mins.
2) Add the eggs and vanilla essence and whisk further for another 1-2 mins.
3) Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Do it over the butter egg mix for a one bowl less clean up baking.
4) Add the sieved flour and cocoa to the butter egg mix. Mix well but do not over mix. You can add walnuts at this point.
5) Pour the batter onto the prepared baking tin.
6) Top with cocoa buttons or more crushed walnuts. Bake at the top shelf for excatly 21 mins. Remove, let it cool for 10 mins and cut into squares. Enjoy for a sweet after dinner treat.
There are tons of pancake recipes out there. Why is this recipe so special? Well, this recipe is from my sister June who passed it to me years ago. It has been very well received for years in my family and friends. It’s a simple basic recipe for fluffy soft melt in your mouth pancakes and so many other variations can be made out of this one basic recipe. Like you could add mashed bananas, blueberries or raspberries or choc chips etc. I added chop chips this time round at the request of my younger Daughter Riya.
Ingredients ( for 6 pancakes)
1 cup self raising flour
2 tbsps caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup fresh milk
2tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Other additions ( Optional)
1) Mix all the dry ingredient first and then add all the wet ingredients.
Get a pancake pan ready and when hot, grease it with a mix of butter and canola oil. Pour the batter in and add the chop chips on TOP. Drizzle a few drops of butter and canola oil mix.
2) When the bottom looks light brown, flip over and let it brown on the other side.
Enjoy with a drizzle of maple syrup on top and butter on the side.
Dates are in season again as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is upon us. Fasting is mandatory in Islam for all Muslims and we must not eat or drink (not even a sip of water) from sunrise to sunset. It is certainly a very testing month of our faith for all Muslims but we somehow manage and soon the 30 days get over and we get back to our regular eating. Dates are always eaten when breaking the fast at sunset because dates are highly nutritious (dates are very rich in iron, manganese, potassium and copper). It is recommended to eat 2-3 dates when breaking fast because dates provide the body with natural sugar, helping to restore the low blood sugar after fasting all day. And it helps to kickstart the digestive process.
So, I happen to be in a supermarket the other day and was thrilled to see boxes and boxes of dates displayed all ready for the approaching fasting month. I quickly grabbed two boxes and brought them home only to have my husband requesting a loaf/bread/cake or bars using the dates. You see, its always a challenge to please my husband's taste buds when it comes to confectionaries because he is so particular about the usage of butter, sugar and eggs. So whatever recipe I come across online, I have to tweak it to replace the butter (for this recipe I used coconut oil), eggs and reduce or sometimes completely omit the sugar. And I am not always successful.
The following recipe gives a no-butter no-egg Date and Walnut Oatmeal Crumble - essentially a date and nut filling sandwiched between two layers of crispy crumb mixture.
Ingredients (Yields around 18 crumbled squares)
For the Crumb Base and Topping
1 3/4 cups rolled oats (or even fruit-free muesli)
1/2 cup brown granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup coconut oil
For the Date Filling
250 gm dates
1/4 cup brown granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup grated white coconut
1) Firstly, you have to pit and chop the dates into small pieces. This is the most time consuming step of this whole recipe.
2) Then, place the chopped dates, water and brown sugar into a small pot. Boil till the dates become soft and mushy. This will take roughly 5 mins on low heat. You can mash the date mix to speed up the process.
3) Then, add in the chopped walnuts, grated coconut, vanilla and coconut oil and give it a good mix.
4) Switch off and let this date mixture cool.
5) Take a medium sized mixing bowl and add all the ingredients - plain flour, rolled oats or fruit free muesli, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and coconut oil. Mix it well and divide into 2 portions.
6) Spread out half the crumb mixture into a greased 10inch by 6inch glass baking dash.
7) This will be followed by the date filling. Use your fingers, to spread it out evenly, if you need to. That's exactly what I did!
8) Top off with the remaining crumb mixture and spread it out evenly.
9) The side view.
10) Bake in a preheated oven for 30-45 mins at 180 deg C or 350 deg F. Once baked, let it cool down bwfore slicing the block into squares.
11) It wasn't easy to cut into perfect squares because of the sticky date filling but they tasted so delicious! The sweet filling complemented the not-so sweet crumb mixture very well.
Vietnamese spring rolls are made using thin rice papers as the base, filled with vegetables, cooked meat and boiled rice vermicelli. These spring rolls are not fried like the regular Chinese spring rolls (Egg rolls). Fresh herbs are essential to the quality of these spring rolls. They are then dipped in a spicy tangy sauce and enjoyed as a light refreshing snack or an appetizer.
During my cooking class last weekend, I was introduced to these spring rolls by another instructor Ann who made them using pork and shrimps. When I asked her if I can make it vegetarian, I was met with a reply 'Yes but it won't be nice!' Well, obviously, she is quite ignorant of the culinary advances in vegetarian cuisine. But a participant in the audience quipped, 'But Ms Nilo, you are such an experienced cook. I am sure you can come up with a vegetarian version which would be equally or more delicious!'. What a wonderful accolade and appreciation of my cooking skills. Thank you Lucy, I really appreciate your compliment. It is a definite boost to my culinary confidence.
Grilled tofu strips will be good substitute for the meat. Remember, you hv to work quickly as the rice papers are very thin and will turn sticky quickly. It will be difficult to roll thereafter. These rice papers and hoisin sauce can be found in any Asian store.
Ingredients (for 6 spring rolls)
6 pieces of Vietnamese rice paper (see picture below)
6 pieces of lettuce leaves, medium sized
1/2 cucumber julienned
1/2 carrot julienned
50 gm rice vermicelli, boiled and strained
12 pieces of mint leaves
Ingredients for the Dipping sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 red bird's eye chilli
Ingredients for the Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp crushed peanuts
1) Get all the ingredients ready. From top left in clockwise direction - julienned carrot, julienned cucumber, lettuce leaves, mint leaves and in the centre, boiled rice vermielli.
2) Get the rice papers out of the packet and get a cutting board ready for the rolling.
3) Dip the rice paper in a bowl of water, lift and place it on the cutting board. Moisten the inside of the paper as well.
4) Place the mint leaves and the julienned carrot in alternate fashion on top. This is important so that end appearance of the rolls will be pleasing to the eye. Then place a lettuce leaf in the middle. Place strands of julienned cucumber and rice vermicelli on to the lettuce leaf. If you are also using tofu, place the strips here. Roll up this lettuce leaf.
6) Tuck in the sides of the soft rice paper. Be gentle as it can tear easily
7) Start rolling from the bottom, tuck inthe sides and finish rolling to the top.
8) Roll the others the same way. To make the dipping sauce, place the sugar, lime juice and soy sauce in a small bowl. Whisk them all together till the sugar dissolves. Add in the sliced red chilli and serve with the rolls. In another bowl, pour the hoisin sauce and top it off with crushed peanuts.
Okra Onion Fritters or Okra Pakora is best served when you really need a new variation of using okras. I came up with this when at one time my fridge was loaded with okras and i was looking for a way to unload them. A hit with my girls but not so with my husband (he is not fond of anything fried), Okra Onion Fritters is an easy snack to prepare and the whole dish takes only an hour, including marinating time.
Ingredients (Makes 20- 30 small batches)
7 big okra pods or 10 small ones
1 medium sized onion
1/2 red Chilli
6-7 curry leaves
1/2 tsp minced or pounded ginger
4 heaped tbsp rice flour
4 heaped tbsp besan flour
1/2 tsp Chilli powder
3/4 - 1 cup water
Salt per preference
Slice the first four ingredients very thinly. It is important the okra slices are very thin. Otherwise, you'll get a raw okra taste even after frying. Place all in a mixing bowl.
Add the ginger, both the flours, chilli powder and salt.
Wear a disposable glove and use your hands to give all the ingredients a good mix. Leave it aside for 30 mins for the flavors to mix and marinate.
Heat a deep pot of oil and fry the okra onion mix in small batches.
Serve warm with any of your main meals. Or as an appetiser or a snack to accompany your tea or coffee.
What follows is a twist to my earlier recipe on 27th Jan 2015 Grilled Feta Cheese and Potato Cutlets ...I have simply added cauliflower florets instead of just having plain potato cutlets. The cauliflower blended well and we could hardly make out that it was hidden in the cutlets. Another great way to integrate vegetables in kid loving great snacks. These delicious cutlets always add a wonderful addition to our meals. You won't comprehend what I mean until you taste it for yourself :)
(Makes 18-20 cutlets)
2 medium potatoes
200 gm cauliflower
1/3 cup of chopped scallions
1 cup of feta cheese crumbles
2cups of bread crumbs - 1 for mixing with the cutlets and another cup for dredging
1 cup of skim milk
Oil for grilling
Steam the potatoes and the cauliflower seperately till soft and then mash well.
Mix the mashed potato and cauliflower with scallions, feta cheese, 1 cup of bread crumbs and salt. Watch out for the salt as Feta cheese comes with its own salt load.
Shape into 2 inch patties and then dredge in the skim milk and then breadcrumbs after.
Grill on a low pan with minimal oil on medium to high heat till golden brown on both sides. Again, because of its rather delicate nature, handle the flipping very carefully.
Enjoy with, well....with anything !!
This dish uses very few ingredients that costs so little but it sure does pack plenty of flavor! Plenty of heat too - goes very well with Jasmine Rice for a simple meal.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 tbsps. canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced/pounded
1 red bird's bye chilli, sliced
1 tbsp. mushroom seasoning
2 tbsp. light Soy Sauce (or more per your liking)
13 oz (375gm) Sugar Snap Peas, deveined
1 block of firm tofu, cubed and grilled
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Heat the oil in a big wok and start frying the garlic and bird's eye red chilli.
Once lightly browned, add the seasoning and light soy sauce.
After a minute, add in the sugar snap peas and grilled tofu cubes.
Let the flavors infused with the vegetables and cook until the sugar snap peas are bright green in color. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Serve immediately with steaming Jasmine Rice and with scallions and extra sliced bird's eye red chilli on the side.
Vegetable Fritters or Pakoras are a favorite among Indians. Predominantly served as a snack during tea times, parties or gatherings, these vegetable fritters are basically vegetables dipped in a combination of Bengal gram flour and rice flour batter with other ingredients and then deep fried. Oven baking these fritters will give an equally good result. Alternatively, you can try using Air Fryer.
These vegetable and tofu skewers will brighten up any barbecue or parties. An easy marinade and an even easier way to get all the ingredients grilled, Who wants to bite into uncooked mushrooms or onion? Simple Fried Rice as a side dish helps to complete the meal. Vegan and Vegetarian. Gluten and Dairy Free.
These skewers can be prepared and cooked in 30 minutes (or an hour if you are marinating longer) and the simple fried rice prob another 30 mins? This whole meal can be prepared in an hour flat. In fact, I constantly challenge myself to cook a meal, be it lunch or dinner, in 1 hr. Do you think I succeed?
Ingredients for Vegetable and Tofu Skewers( 4 sticks)
1 small zucchini, sliced medium thick
8 white mushrooms, stems trimmed and washed
1/2 yellow onion, cut into big pieces
1/2 block of firm tofu, cubed medium
2 red baby bell peppers, sliced medium thick
Oil for grilling the tofu and Vegetables.
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
3 tbsps EVOO
Freshly Ground Pepper
Method for Vegetable and Tofu Skewers
Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl.
Immerse all the vegetables and tofu in the marinade and keep aside for 30mins to an hour. The longer the better as the flavors would have then infused in the vegetables and tofu.
After an hour, take a grilling pan and heat 2 - 3 tbsp. canola oil. Grill the vegetables and tofu, turning over, until they are cooked and tofu is golden brown on all sides.
Pierce the vegetables and tofu with a skewer in an alternating fashion.
Serve warm with a Simple Fried Rice.
Ingredients for Simple Fried Rice (Serves 4)
1.5 cups of Jasmine Rice, cooked and cooled
2 tbsps. canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely
3 Garlic cloves, pounded
1 cup of mixed vegetables (carrot, peas, beans and lima beans)
1 tbsp. sambal oelek or any other chilli paste.
1 tbsp. mushroom seasoning
Light Soy sauce per your preference.
Method for Simple Fried Rice
Heat a deep pot and fry the onion and then the garlic till light golden brown,
Add in all the seasonings and the mixed vegetables and cook for 5-10 mins.
Put the cooked rice in and combine well.
Serve warm with any vegetable and tofu dish.