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.
Hummus is of Egyptian and Levantine in origin. But this simple mix of pureed sesame seeds and chickpeas has been devoured all over North Africa, Middle East and the Mediterranean for centuries. It makes a delicious dip, no doubt. I haven't made Hummus for a long time - I wondered why. It is quite tasty and so easy to prepare. I had it with wholewheat flatbreads called chapathis, and it made quite a nice snack.
I remember having Hummus with baked pita chips in Philadelphia when we had visited one of my husband's colleague Gaurav and his wife in 2014. We drove from Bluebell where we lived to Philadelphia which was just an hour away. Philly is a vibrant happening city, if you look past the dark alleys and certain unappealing areas.
The recipe below is for a basic Simple Hummus. You can also add coriander leaves to get Coriander Hummus or grilled Red pepper to get Red Pepper Hummus.
Ingredients (yields 2 cups )
1 can of chickpeans (15 oz)
1/2 cup of roasted white sesame seeds ( or 2 tbsps Tahini)
1 small clove of garlic
2/3 cup EVOO
2 tbsps lemon juice
1/4 tsp cumin powder
2-4 tbsps water (if needed to make the paste smoother)
2 tbsps olive oil
A dash of paprika
2 olives and a small sprig of coriander leaves
1)First, grind the sesame seeds into a paste.This is essentially the Tahini. This ought to yield 2 tbsps.
2) Then, put all the other ingredients and the tahini into a food processor and process untill the whole mixture forms a light brown thick paste. DO NOT use a blender as it takes forever to grind and you'll find yourself adding more and more EVOO or water to grind to a smooth paste.
3) Serve in a small bowl, garnished with swirls of EVOO and a dash of paprika nd the olives and coriander leaves.
4) Enjoy it as a dip for vegs, pita chips and more!
A widely reported Harvard study has pointed out that a diet rich in red meat shortens lives. Should'nt we all gravitate towards wholesome clean plant based sources of protein - namely nuts, legumes, soy products?
We all know the benefits of taking soy products namely :
Reduces hot flushes
Reduces the risk of developing certain cancers
Reduces the risk of developing Cardiovascular Diseases
Prevents artheriosclerosis (fatty deposits in arteries)
Prevents premature ageing
Helps to decresae bone loss in perimenopausal and menopausal women
Tofu is a widely enjoyed food made from soybeans and it is a wonderful example of how a simple food like soybeans can be woven into a natural noursishing inexpensive substitute for meat. A great source of calcium and and Vit E , tofu is often called the 'poor man's protein'. But is tofu nutritious enough to replace meat or even eggs?
To make tofu as nutritious as meat, you have to ensure you eat more tofu to meet the recommended dietary protein levels. To get the same protein benefit of 150gm of lean meat, you should consume 290gm of tofu. Regularly eating that amount of tofu provides an equal amount of energy, protein, total fat, carbs and fibre. But the most benefits will be evident in lower total cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and low density lipo protein (bad cholesterol) if you eat tofu instead of meat.
Firm tofu is also a great subtitute for eggs. For 1 egg, just mash 1/4 cup firm tofu. Tofu doesn't fluff up like eggs but it does have a perfect texture for eggy dishes. I came up with this Easy Tofu Scramble as a substitute to Egg Scramble. It looked just like the real thing! If you are allergic to eggs, this would make a great breakfast option.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 and 1/2 blocks of firm tofu, crumbled
1 medium onion, chopped finely,
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Bird's eye chilli, sliced (optional)
1/3 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/3 medium zucchini, diced
2 tbsp light soy sauce
chopped scallions and extra bird's eye chillies, sliced for garnish
Baked almonds optional
Fry the onions in oil and then add the minced garlic and sliced bird's eye chilli.
After a few minutes, add all the vegetables and light soysauce and allow them to cook and absorb the soy sauce.
After the vegs are cooked around 3-5 mins, add in the tofu and baked almonds (if using)and give it another 3 mins of cooking.
Garnish with scallions and more sliced bird's eye chilli before serving.
Yesterday, March 26th was an important day. Apart from the fact that it was a dear friend's birthday, March 26th also marked the day when I had a first taste of demonstrating my cooking skills LIVE! Imagine that!! I showed a group of 16 ladies in my Siglap community in Singapore as part of my grassroots reach out - how to prepare this easy delicious nourishing Chinese Vegan Hot & Sour Soup. A bit hesitant and a tad nervous at first - because there I was, an Indian showing how to prepare a Chinese dish to a group of mostly Chinese ladies!! What in the world would they not know which I would??
Truth be told, I wasn't even planning to demonstrate this month's cooking class. These cooking demos are conducted during the last Sat of every month and we are always are on the lookout for demonstrators or culinary experts to show us how to cook a particular cuisine every month. Last month, we had a lady, Nora, who showed us how to make Choc Almond Slices under Baking theme. This month's theme was Chinese cooking. Devoid of instructors, Alice my fellow committee member, volunteered to conduct this month's class. I was actually 'sucked' in to fill in the extra time because her dishes would take a very short time.
Since we are on this page, can I add something about Alice? Alice is a born orator and her love for cooking was so evident during yesterday's cooking class. She was 'alive' with her chatty description of all the ingredients and engaged the participants very well. I am having a kind of writer's block here because I just can't come up with the right words to describe her demo style. All in all, she was a blast!!
But I must say, me being roped in was a blessing in disguise. I had an exhilarating experience! My nerves calmed down after the first few mins and soon I was giving them tips to make it to their preference. Everyone liked the soup and one exclaimed it was so easy to prepare and yet so tasty!! It was whole new experience for me. I was quite high on endorphins late into the night :)
1/2 (half) tbsp. canola oil
4 dried shitake mushrooms
12 dried tiger lily buds
2 cups of hot water
2 cups of room temperature water
½ a block of firm tofu, cut into thin strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chilli padi (bird's eye chilli), sliced (or more if you prefer spicier)
1 and 1/2 tsp mushroom seasoning
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tin braised peanuts, drained
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp water
1/3 cup spring onions, chopped
Extra sliced chilli padi for garnish
1 tsp sesame oil
Wash the shitake mushrooms and tiger lily buds and then soak in 2 cups of hot water for 30 mins.
After 30 mins, cut the stems off the shitake mushrooms and discard. Slice the caps thinly. Cut the tiger lily buds in half. Set both aside. Strain and reserve the soaking liquid.
Heat the canola oil in a soup pot and fry the minced garlic and sliced chilli padi till fragrant.
Then add the mushroom seasoning and stir for a minute.
Then add in the reserved soaking liquid, 2 cups of water, rice vinegar and light soy sauce.
Let it come to a boil and then add in the sliced shitake mushrooms, tiger lily buds, braised peanuts and tofu strips.
Let the whole soup boil well for another 2-3 mins.
Then pour in the cornstarch mixture and then the soup will thicken.
Just before serving, garnish with chopped spring onions, sliced chilli padis and swirl in the sesame oil.
You can add in a variety of other ingredients – silken tofu instead of firm tofu, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms etc and if you prefer a non-vegan soup, you can swirl in 1 beaten egg at the end. Or you can even substitute the 4 cups of water with chicken stock if you would rather opt for a non vegetarian version.
You need to whip up a quick curry for your family? And you want something vegan too and with tofus? This is pretty much your best bet. Can be cooked in 30-40 mins including preparations.
Anyone who loves peanuts would go nuts over this fried rice! It's chewy in texture and tastes even better the next day.
Peanuts add protein to this dish. Grilled tofus can be added to add even more protein.
Ingredients ( Serves 3 as a main dish)
1 cup Jasmine Rice, cooked
1/2 cup brown rice, cooked ( See Note 1)
2 tbsps canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sambal oelek ( chilli paste) ( See Note 2)
1 tsp mushroom seasoning
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
2 small carrots sliced thin
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
Light soy sauce ( See note 3)
Extra coriander leaves for garnishing.
Heat a pot with the canola oil.
Fry the onion and then the garlic till golden brown.
Add in the mushroom seasonings and sambal oelek.
Fry for 2 mins and then add the carrots and celery. Let cook for 3-5 mins.
Add in the rice, nuts, coriander leaves and soy sauce to season. Combine well.
Serve warm garnished with coriander leaves.
1) Add the brown rice for that extra health punch. White Jasmine goes well on its own too. Just remember to cook both types of rice a little firm so it helps in the mixing. Otherwise, it will get all mashed up and end up looking like porridge!
2) You can omit the chilli paste if you prefer a less spicy dish.
3) I leave the amount of soy sauce to your preference.
Who doesn't love onion rings? Golden crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Burger King was my favorite place to get my onion ring fix but didn't get to savor any here in Bluebell. The weather doesn't permit us to go out a lot. We are pretty much hibernating at home.
Two weeks ago I was at Barnes & Noble , the bookstore at Plymouth Meeting while my girls go were at their vocal and drum lessons at Guitar Center. I came across this wonderful vegan cookbook by Chloe Coscarelli. It has all these wonderful Italian recipes all vegan.
I decided to purchase the book out of a whim because I wanted to try out all the recipes. Little did I know that I would be attempting to become a vegan in a week's time!
I tried out this Vegan Baked Onion Rings. It was a hit at home but it wasn't easy to coat the rings without the crumb mixture getting clumpy. You might need to prepare more crumb mixture as needed.
I used whatever ingredients I had at home since I couldn't go sourcing for Italian breadcrumbs in suburbian Bluebell! I also added Parsley flakes to give the rings color.
Ingredients ( serves 4)
2 cups breadcrumbs
2 tsps salt
1 tsp red Chilli flakes
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1.25 cups water
1 large onion cut into 1/2 inch slices
Preheat the oven to 450 deg F ( 230 deg C)
Prepare 2 baking trays and spray cooking spray or spread olive oil on the base to prevent the onion rings from sticking.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and water till a thick paste has formed. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with salt, red chilli flakes and parsley flakes. Divide the mixture into two bowls.
Separate the onion rings. Dip each onion ring into the flour batter and then coat in one of the bowls of the breadcrumb mixture and place it on the baking tray. Do the same for the rest.
Very soon, the breadcrumb mixture will get clumpy. Discard this bowl and move on to the other bowl.
Bake for 5-10 mins till golden brown.
Serve with your favorite sauce.