Glutenfree Vegan Easter Bundt Cake

Happy April, happy Easter!

Time is rushing. The new semester is knocking at the door and one quarter of 2015 is already done. I received the great news that I passed a huge exam and I’m beyond relieved.

As it’s the Easter weekend I decided to bake something. It has been far too long, and since I’m off gluten baking became a merely rare occupation of mine. I used to love baking – like seriously!! Easter and carrots go hand in hand to me. Carrots are among my favourite foods. They are handy, all-year-round available, healthy (1 cup carrot slices contains about 113% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin A, and also good amounts of biotin, vitamin k, fiber and B vitamins) and so versatile! I love them plain, steamed, mashed, pureed, grated in oats, dipped in hummus and used in cake.

So here we go …. Glutenfree Vegan Easter Bundt Cake

The recipe is a mix of several recipes I used before. I adjusted ingredients and proportions according to my own preferences so it became a new recipe. It’s an all-occasion cake with medium texture, not too moist but neither dry. There are nuts involved that create a nice and tart crunch. The nutty flavour is further enhanced by some buckwheat flour.

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The recipe serves about 8 portions

The ingredients are:

  • 200 g of gluten free flour (~ 1.6 cups)
  • 100 g buckwheat flour (~ 0.8 cup)
  • 100 g sugar (0.5 cup) 
  • 3 tbsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100 ml vegetable oil (~ 0.42 cup)
  • 200 ml soy milk (~ 0.85 cup)
  • 100 ml water (~0.42 cup)
  • some vanilla powder / essence 
  • 1 large grated carrot
  • a nice amount of mixed chopped nuts. I used pistachios and cashews! (please more than I used in the picture!!)

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(The weird cup measurements occur due to conditional conversions. Conversion factors are different depending on the particular ingredients as they are of different desity)

Preheat the oven to 350° F / 160° C if needed. Modern ovens don’t need this, so it’s totally okay for probably most of you to just start when you are done mixing the ingredients.

You will start to combine all dry ingredients: the flours, baking soda, salt and sugar.

In another bowl combine soy milk, water, oil, vanilla and the grated carrot. I always need to peel two carrots as I end up snacking at least half of it. Ooops…

Then, quickly mix both dry and liquid ingredients plus the chopped up with a wooden spoon. Don’t overdo it as the baking soda will start its reaction immediately!

Put it in a Bundt pan. Grease before if necessary. I’m usually going for silicon pans so this step isn’t needed after all.

Bake for about 35 minutes and let cool in the pan. Then: slice, indulge and be merry.

Happy Easter!!IMG_5560

nutritional info:

1/8 of the cake contains approximately 335 calories, 43 g carbs, 17 g fat, 5 g each protein and fiber.

Vegan Kefir – Soy Milk / Rice Milk / Almond Milk / Coconut Milk

According to calendars it’s springtime now. I’m beyond excited about those warmer temperatures and can’t wait to experience them more frequently. Days are getting longer and nature is living up again.

A lot of people around me are aware of my new pet. Pet. It’s a … kefir – you heard me right. I own it since the beginning of November last year and as I’m going to raise any future child of mine vegan, the kefir is being fed vegan too. And, yes, it works perfectly fine.

Kefir has its origins in Eastern Europe. The name is used both for the starter as well as the finished product. The word is written Кефи́р in Russian, but it is also related to the Turkish köpürmek what means „to foam“ in English. Foaming is what the kefir actually does: The starter is being put into milk and starts to produce gas and foam. It is fermenting and this is what we want it to do to achieve the desired outcome. After a period of 8 to 48 hours the milk transformed into the beverage that we are aiming for.

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The starter itself looks like little chunks of cauliflower to me: It’s white and a bit grainy, however, the texture is airy and fluffy.

During the fermentation process sugars from the milk are broken down into acids. Since I don’t use any cow’s milk (for obvious reasons) I can’t tell you about the chemical reactions going on during the 8 to 48 hours, however, soy milk too can create the disticnt sour-ish flavour that anyone who knows kefir from pre-vegan days will remember.

I can’t tell you for sure about soy milk (or rice milk or any nut milk) kefir’s health benefits as all data available is relating to cow milk’s kefir. However, I’m sure it is pretty good for you and your health. I myself recognized improved digestion and overall well-being whilst including kefir into my daily diet.

In the following lines, I will tell (and show) you more about how I treat my baby, what I do for getting the results I want and what equipment I use for the preparation process:

Kefir_instrumentsFirst of all you will need a jar or glass with a lid. I always use this preserving jar pictured, however, a mason jar or an empty marmalade glass will work perfectly fine as well. Further you will need a strainer made of plastic (DON’T EVER GO FOR ALUMINIUM! THIS IS NOT A REQUEST!!) and also a plastic / wooden / glass spoon. It is essential that the kefir has no contact with any aluminium or metal, otherwise it will turn grey-ish and die eventually.
As I said, I’m usually making soy kefir. You can adjust the amount of milk you are using to the size of your starter. For an amount of 200 ml of milk (equals 0.85 cups) I use about a tablespoon of kefir grains.

Just put the starter into the glass and add the soy milk. You need to make sure that there is at least some sugar in the milk already. The brand I use contains about 4 grams of sugar each 100 ml and it works just fine. If you only have access to low sugar types of vegan milk I highly recommend adding at least some extra sugar to the milk because that’s what the kefir is living off.

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I then put the lid on the jar or glass and let it sit for the amount of time I mentioned above. The longer you will let it sit, the more sour the result will be.

After it is finished, I strain the whole amount of liquid to get out the single kefir grains. You can use any container to catch the finished produce. Then, I rinse the grains with lukewarm water and start the procedure anew.

If – for whatever reason – you don’t feel like making kefir, you can just put your starter grains into the fridge with some milk (think of the sugar!). The fridge’s coolness will slow down the fermenting process. This works fine for a couple of days. After 4 days, I do recommend changing the liquid the kefir is bathing in.

As my title indicates, you can make kefir from rice or nut milk as well. Also, coconut milk with added sugar will work.

Back in November I got the kefir starter by a friend. Unfortunately, I have no clue where to buy it. I have seen it on food sharing platforms and private websites. I doubt that you can just go into a store and request kefir grains. There are, however, some powders out there, about which I can’t give you any feedback so far. If you give them ago, please let me know about the results in the comments below.

Thanks for reading and good luck with the vegan kefir,

Venna

Creamy Turmeric Hokkaido Rice

I have been away for the weekend. I visited some relatives on the country site and I must admit that I really enjoyed it. Little internet connection, a lot of reading, some sunshine, lovely and caring people and long walks out in nature.

I really kept it simply cooking-wise, since there were only a small tiny kitchen and little equipment. An easy dish that requires little efforts and that is also good to make in bulk for freezing purposes is the following rice dish: Creamy Turmeric Hokkaido Rice. I love its bright and intense colour that indicates its richness both in flavour and nutrients.

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Turmeric is a key ingredient for many Curries but also other traditional
Indian and South Asian dishes.
It is has a high level of  anti-inflammatory properties and is also rich in essential oils and anti-oxidants.

For several thousands of years, it was and still is a highly appreciated
ingredient in holistic and traditional medicine – looking at its active ingredient content it makes perfect sense to me.

Rice is an all-time favourite of mine. There is so much choice! Basmati, Jasmin, Wild Rice, Red Rice, Brown Rice, Short-grain Rice, Long grain Rice, Paella Rice, Mochi Rice, Sushi Rice … and so on and so on. For this recipe you can go for any kind, however, I guess that some short type works the best. Short rice tends to absorb a lot of liquid which creates a creamy consistency that we want for the dish.

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Hokkaido is the type of pumpkin I
raise in my garden. I don’t know
how I ended up with Hokkaido – there
are a lot of other great varieties as well. Butternut would work too
and also Muscat makes a really
nice flavour.

The (other) ingredients as needed in the recipe are as follows:

– 1 chopped red or white onion
– 1 tsp ground cumin
– 2 tsp ground turmericimage2
– 1 clove of garlic (optional)
– fresh or dried cilantro
– water to cook

– half a Hokkaido pumpkin
– about 1 cup of rice

– some evoo (optional)
– salt and pepper (optional)
– lemon or lime juice (optional)

Instructions:

You will begin with the pumpkin. You may steam it, or boil, or roast it. I recommend cubing it into bite size pieces to enhance the cooking progress. After this start cooking the rice according to the package instructions. Chop onion and garlic and add it to the cooking water and rice. 

As soon as the pumpkin is soft enough (and not too hot anymore!) put into a blender or food processor and add the spices except cilantro and salt and pepper if using plus a little bit of water to create a soup-like texture. Blend it not that well, that there are still some chunks left in the mass. 

When the rice is almost done add the pumpkin mass. Cook the mixture until it achieves its desired consistency. 

To serve, place a good amount of the finished dish in a bowl and sprinkle with the cilantro leaves. Add salt, pepper, lime juice and evoo if desired.

Makes as many servings as you are hungry for – the recipe can be doubled or tripled (or whatever needed) quite easily!

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Easy Salad

IMG_4855I know there is absolutely no reason for giving any person a salad recipe. Anyway, there needs to be some starting point for me, as nothing is less appealing in the huge huge world wide web than an empty blog. So, salad it is: For me, long time, „salad“ was a synonym for lettuce. In the German language we simply do not distinguish between the mere produce and the finished dish – it is one word: Salat. My all time oh-so-simple favourite green is romaine lettuce. I really like to get the big ones which somehow are difficult to get over here, however, mostly I turn to the baby type because they are available almost every supermarket for fair prices and furthermore easy in handling. I love its crispiness and nutty flavour, which also goes well with fruit in smoothies. Another benefit – especially if you are vegan – is its richness when it comes to protein, calcium and iron. Oh, the deficiencies … no chance.

When it comes to add-ins for the dish there are no limits. You might add the classical things such as cucumber and carrot, go for corn or some type of beans. You might want to add chopped paprika or tomato (not for us who are histamine intolerant) or even more fancy stuff as beets or fruit.

My most eaten combo is romaine, carrot, apple and avocado. I do like and also recommend adding some kernels as pepitas, flax, hemp or sunflower seeds.

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The dressing is so simple that to me it doesn’t even deserve being called a dressing. However what makes a dressing a dressing after all?

I use lemon juice and evoo. Then I add herbs to my liking. These days I’m using a no name brand of Italian spices that is made from garlic flakes, basil, rosemary and thyme. Alternatively I go for lemon pepper, cilantro (love!!) or parsley.
The sky is the limit…

I seriously recommend being cautious when it comes to new ingredients. You probably know this and are aware – however, sometimes it is tempting, going for new stuff, especially when someone else is cooking or whilst being at a restaurant. No single ingredient can be labelled being either good or bad. Being a vegetable does not mean that it is good for you under any condition! There are always the matters of freshness, combination and last but not least individual tolerances. Lemon is easy to digest for almost most people, however, I know a few who can’t have it at all! Be brave but not frivolous. Don’t go for two or more new ingredients in a meal but one. Variation is great if mastered correctly. For me, the combination as shown in the pictures is just perfect. Sometimes I go for a pear instead of the apple.

Bon appetit!

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