Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Home Made Soy Milk

Soy Milk isn't everyone's cup of tea, so to speak, but I've been having it in my tea and coffee for over 20 years now.
The Spring of 1994 was a very bad year for hay fever and I suffered badly. My hay fever didn't dissipate once Summer came. It went through to Autumn and Winter. After trying a few doctors who wanted to prescribe cortisone, I finally visited a Naturopath.

Back then (sounds like forever ago!), Naturopaths weren't considered to be health professionals by the government so there was no health rebates available.
Janelle immediately revised my diet and I was basically on a detox for 6 months. No dairy, no wheat, no yeast, no sugar, no alcohol. It was incredibly hard as there just wasn't the foods or ingredients readily available, especially where I lived. I lost about 5 kilos and I wasn't particularly big anyway.
But, my hay fever went away! I haven't suffered from hay fever in all that time. Maybe the occasional sniffle, but nothing to worry about....except for this year, but that's another blog post.

Since that time, I reintroduced all those items back into my diet but have found I'm not particularly fond of dairy anymore. I just can't stomach cow's milk in my tea and coffee and rarely eat cream. I like a little cheese and eat a lot of yoghurt, though!

Over the years I've been buying soy milk in the UHT cartons. There's only a couple of brands that I like and one of those is Vitasoy Vitacafe. I don't know how many of these little containers I've left at various places in all that time. I'd take one with me wherever I went so I could enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.

I have given some thought into making soy milk, but all the recipes I found were labour intensive and made litres of it at a time. However, recently I discovered that I could have been making it in my Thermomix all this time! I discovered that I have the book with recipe in it after browsing a Facebook page that I enjoy, Thermobexta.

The recipe comes from the Thermomix book, A Taste of Asia. I've changed it a little, so I believe I can post the recipe here. It's absolutely delicious. I also use it in my smoothies.

The okara that's left over can be used in vegie Burgers, meat loaf, sausage rolls etc.

Soy Milk

100g organic Soy Beans, soaked overnight in filtered water with either lemon juice or whey added
400g boiling filtered water

Add drained beans and water to TM bowl and blend on speed 8 for 1 minute.

600g water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp maple syrup (or 1 Medjool date, de-seeded)
pinch salt

Scrape down and add remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes on 90, speed 2-3. Skim foam from the top.
Cook a further 2 minutes on 100, speed 2. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't boil over.
Cool to about 60.
Strain through muslin or a nut bag into a glass bottle. Refrigerate.

Keeps for about 4 days.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Spiced Banana Pecan Muffins

I've been going through my massive collection of cake and biscuit recipes and adapting the ones I love to make them much healthier.
By healthier, I mean no refined sugars and less reliance on white wheat flour. Not too difficult at all, really.

My latest baking effort today is a delicious muffin, using a couple of those lovely little bananas we've been getting in the shops lately. They were the last of a large bunch and were only really good for cooking.

Annoyingly, this quantity made 7 muffins. I have two 6 hole silicon muffin trays. Next time, I'd make 1 1/2 times the quantity to at least get 10 muffins.

Spiced Banana Pecan Muffins

150g white spelt flour
50g wholemeal flour (or spelt if wanting wheat free)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
60g melted butter
½ cup coconut sugar
½ cup plain yoghurt
2 small ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped pecans

¼ cup rapadura 
½ cup pecans
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice

Preheat oven to 200C. Line deep muffin tins with fancy schmancy muffin papers (this is so you can use the paper to remove them from the tin when cooked. If you turn them out, the topping comes off!)
Blend topping ingredients in food processor or TMX until crumbled. Set saide.
Place flours, raising agents and spices into processor, sifter or TMX and blend together. Set aside.
Melt butter in microwave or in TMX on 60 for 1 minute, speed 2. Allow to cool a little.
Add bananas and sugar to melted butter and blend together. Add yoghurt and eggs and blend until smooth. 
Stir in flour mixture, blend on speed 3 using spatula to assist or blend in processor in short bursts until mixed. Stir in pecans with a spatula.
Pour into muffin papers and sprinkle with topping. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until they spring back when gently pressed. Place on wire rack to cool.
Split in half and butter, sprinkle with golden icing sugar to serve. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Does fat make you fat?

My answer would be yes and no.

My recent research into fats in our diet has shown up a number of misconceptions, many of which are perpetuated by organisations such as The Heart Foundation and Nutrition Australia. These 'facts' are then transposed down the line by nutritionists, then journalists and they turn up in our magazines, online articles and newspapers. Basically, these organisations are saying that eating fat contributes to heart disease and obesity.

Advice such as 'cut the fat off your meat', buy low fat yoghurt', 'use low fat milk' etc leads people to believe that all fat is bad for you.
Has this fat phobia made a difference to the general population's health? Not as far as I can see. People are still overweight and sick. Diseases such as diet related diabetes are rampant.
In an article from Raisin-Hell (Is the Heart Foundation's Advice Killing us?), the following information should make us think:

The AusDiab (Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle) study has been monitoring the health of a random selection of 11,000 Australian adults since 2000. The results of the 12 year follow-up were published this week. (mid-August 2013)
The update shows that the number of us with Type II Diabetes has increased by 41%; that obesity has increased by 22%; that almost half of us now have chronically high blood pressure (this is despite a 30% increase in the use of medication to control it); and that the average 25 year old gained 7 kg on the scales and 7 cm round the waist; all in just over a decade.

So what is the solution? All my research tells me that we must consume fat in our diet. Fats provide energy and are vital as building blocks for cell membranes and for hormones and hormone like substances. Simplified, cholesterol comes from (mostly animal) fat. Cholesterol is a type of sterol, sterols are hormones.
Fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K are only made available to the body by a process that uses dietary fats.

Sally Fallon, in her book, "Nourishing Traditions. The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats" (I know, it's a great title!) discusses a theory that began to be espoused around the 1950's known as the 'lipid (lipid = fancy name for fat/oil) hyphothesis'. The theory, developed by researcher Ancel Keys, stated that there was a direct link between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease.
Fallon comments that since this research was first published, there have been numerous subsequent researchers that pointed out the flaws in his data and conclusions. But it was all too late. The vegetable oil and food processing industries promoted this original theory since they would be beneficiaries of the move away from competing traditional foods.

Fallon also discusses Nathan Pritikin's low fat diet craze. Those who managed to stick to it for any length of time suffered from a variety of health problems with many suffering depression and experiencing vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The other complication, believe it or not, was weight gain!!
Pritikin himself commited suicide when he realised his low fat diet could not cure him of leukaemia.

The Heart Foundation in Australia endorses a low fat diet, encouraging the use of margarine instead of butter, polyunsaturated vegetable oil instead of saturated animal fats and low fat everything. Yet, the Heart Foundation tick applies to many highly processed sugary empty calorie foods (eg. Milo Cereal with 27% refined sugar) seen in the supermarkets today.
In fact, during my research, I've come across a petition from wellness practitioners asking the Heart Foundation to stop promoting these sugar laden high calorie cereals. Find the article here. An excerpt from the webpage petition says the following:

 "Honestly it just seems absolutely ridiculous that a health authority like the Heart Foundation whom many of the public trust and listen to, advise to eat a diet made up of mostly processed carbohydrates in the form of cereal, bread and pasta, consume margarine and toxic oils, processed sugar filled foods filled with additives, preservatives, colours and flavours and which are devoid of essential nutrients and products that contain aspartame. How can they honestly say that this will protect people against cardiovascular disease?"

The article goes on to state that researchers, nutritionists and authors have all come to the conclusion that eating fats from natural healthy sources such as grass feed animals, free range eggs etc will actually contribute to protecting against heart disease.
Sally Fallon, Dr Sandra Cabot, Mary Enig and Cyndi O'Meara are amongst these authors and researchers. These are my go to authors when I want to find out the facts about nutrition.

Here's a link to an excellent article written by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon on the Weston A Price (a dentist and nutrition researcher) Foundation website: The Skinny on Fats

The 'yes' part of my answer to the question on whether eating fat makes you fat, comes about from eating the wrong sort of fats coupled with the way in which the fats are presented. For example, if you eat deep fried sugary doughnuts regularly, then yes, you will gain weight, from the trans fats in the hydrogenated vegetable oil used for frying and the sugar contained in the doughnuts!
If you eat a lot of highly processed foods with added fat, then yes, you will get fat.

But, if your diet consists of wholefoods, including whole eggs, full fat dairy products, free range red meat with a little fat, free range pork with some of the fat, free range chicken with the skin and you use monounsaturated oils such as olive, avocado or macadamia in your dressing, butter on your vegetables and coconut oil, duck fat, lard, butter and tallow for cooking, then, no, you shouldn't get fat. You will find that you won't consume such large portions as you will feel fuller and more satisfied with a diet rich in good fats in combination with whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains and legumes (prepared correctly).
In contrast to a low fat (usually highly processed and high sugar) diet, you will be much healthier and have great skin and hair.

If you're still with me after all that reading, congratulations! Will you be changing the way you look at fats?
Please leave a comment below, I'm interested to hear your views.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Mini Cakes

Okay, this may not be the healthiest of desserts, but now and then we need to have a treat! My version is certainly healthier than most, as it has rapadura and coconut sugars and uses spelt flour. You could substitute white spelt flour for wholemeal to make it even better for you.
I also use pineapple in juice, instead of syrup, to reduce the sugar content further.

I made this in the Thermomix, but a regular mixer is fine. You'll need to use the stove for the caramel.

Pineapple Upside Down Cakes
The recipe was originally designed for a muffin tin that has a wide base. Since I didn't have one, I used 4 mini springform tins instead.

Cake Batter:
2 eggs
100g rapadura 
70g butter
140g spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

60g butter
80g coconut sugar
3/4 can pineapple rings in juice
8 glace cherries (use maraschino if you have them)

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease tins lightly.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the sugar. Stir over low heat constantly and allow to boil lightly while continuing to stir until it comes together. It will take a while, but you will be rewarded with a delicious dark and gooey caramel. 

Spoon a layer of the warm caramel mixture into each tin. Top with a ring of pineapple with 2 cherries in the middle.

Beat softened butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until sugar is dissolved. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to mix.
If using mini springform tins, place on a tray in case of leakage. Pour mixture over pineapple to about ¾ way up the tins. 

Bake 20 - 25 minutes. Turn out upside down to reveal the delicious pineapple and caramel.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Healthy Raw Chocolate

Here's a great video tutorial from the wonderful Cyndi O'Meara showing how to make healthy homemade chocolate in the Thermomix.

This chocolate is very dark, very rich and very delicious! You do only need a small amount to satisfy that chocolate craving.

I made raw chocolate recently, following Cyndi's recipe as I happened to have purchased her cacao wafers a while ago. My mould was a large Milky Way soap mould which worked really well, making lovely thin slices of chocolate. Testers at our Paramount College Wholefood Cooking Class recently gave it the thumbs up.

If you don't have Cyndi's wafers, you can use 80g cacao powder and 250g raw cocoa butter. I buy edible cocoa butter from Aussie Soap Supplies in button form, so very easy to use. If you don't have a Thermomix, I feel very sorry for you........no, not really. You can make it in a double boiler with a lot of stirring.

Once you've cut your chocolate into portions, place in a container in the fridge.

Raw Cacao has four times the antioxidant flavenoids of regular cocoa, as well as magnesium, an important electrolyte and energy mineral. Cacao is also a good source of sulfur which is associated with strong nails, shiny hair and a healthy liver and pancreas.  Other minerals include calcium, zinc, iron, copper and mangeneseCocoa beans also contain a number of B vitamins plus vitamins C and E.

Regular chocolate contains processed white sugar which depletes the body of these vital minerals and vitamins. Using rapadura sugar means that the vitamins and minerals are bioavailable to the body. Making your own chocolate means you can control the amount of sweetening. You may like to try honey or maple syrup instead of rapadura. These may be a little harder to incorporate as they are both water based, and chocolate is oil based.

The essential fatty acids (oleic, stearic and palmitic) found in the cocoa butter component of chocolate may help raise High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol and lower Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol.

Three forms of protein are found in the cocoa bean - arginine, glutamine and leucine. Leucine is an essential amino acid that cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from foods.

Raw cacao contains theobromine which helps to stimulate the central nervous system, relaxing smooth muscles, dilating blood vessels and giving the body a boost of energy.
Need more convincing? "Bliss" chemicals found in cacao help to increase circulation and availability of serotonin, improving mood and combating depression.

Just don't overdo it!