Vegan Mofo 16: Q is for pretty pink breakfast Quinoa in pink guava soup

A nutritious breakfast with a girlish charm.

Perhaps you saw this coming; I mean I racked my brains for other ‘Q’ ingredients but Quinoa is all I could think of. Nevertheless working with quinoa is fun since it’s so versatile and can be used in practically any dish from sweets to savouries. In a double stroke of luck, pink guavas and fresh figs were on sale this week and so I thought of combining these exotic fruits with red quinoa to create a pretty breakfast.

Quinoa is riding a popularity resurgence and much has been written about it (in fact I wrote about it in my Superfood Series which sadly has failed to take off) so there’s no need to delve too much into explanation. A gluten-free pseudo-grain, it is often highlighted for its complete amino acid profile (including lysine and isoleucine – the limiting amino acids in other grains) and highly concentrated nutritive value such as calcium and flavaoids (quercetin and kaempferol). Did you know that 2013 is also officially recognized by the United Nations as the International Year of the Quinoa? In fact, it is the only food ingredient to make this list apart from the humble potato.

Between red and white quinoa, I prefer the former for its more intense nutty flavour and visual impact. Apart from breakfast quinoa porridges and granola, which I enjoy occasionally as a departure from oats, some quinoa recipes I’ve got my eyes on include the famouus Life Changing Loaf of Bread (My New Roots), and a quinoa quiche or pizza. Quinoa flour is also something I want to experiment with, but probably not anytime soon, given the growing number of half-opened bags ingredients in the kitchen.

If guavas are not available, I suppose you may use guava paste of another intense-colored fruit of choice, like mangoes or strawberries. The main idea is to have a nice thick pool of fruity smoothie for the quinoa to swim in. I also added protein powder and pectin to the soup, which added a nutritional boost as well as help to thicken it.

Pretty Pink Breakfast Quinoa in Pink Guava Soup
Serves one.
Vegan.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup uncooked red quinoa
  • Flesh of 1 pink guava (about 1/2 cup), seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used hazelnut milk)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp pectin powder (optional – for thickening)
  • Splash of vanilla extract (optional)
  • Dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp maca powder (optional)
  • Your choice of toppings (I used fresh figs and desiccated coconut)

Directions

  1. Soak the quinoa overnight in a bowl of water. The next morning, place the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well under running water.
  2. Cook quinoa. Place the drained quinoa into a saucepan. Add about 1/2 cup water, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 mins until the water is absorbed and you can see the white curly rings of the quinoa. Fluff and set aside.
  3. Make the guava puree. Place the guava flesh into the saucepan and add the milk and water. Bring to boil, and simmer for about 5-10 mins or until the guava flesh becomes soft.
  4. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon and other powders (if using). Stir well.
  5. Pour the mix into a blender and blend (for less clean up use immersion blender).
  6. To serve, place quinoa into a ramekin and using a spoon, press down to make the quinoa stick together. Invert the ramekin onto a plate, then pour the guava soup over. Garnish with fresh figs or other fruits and nuts.

 

Vegan Mofo 14: O is for Oats! Oatmeal 101 and More

Given the name of my blog, it would be an offense to write on anything apart from oats. There are hundreds of oatmeal tutorials and recipes out there that provide an ocean of information. So in my Oatmeal 101, I share my personal journey with oats in addition to oat facts and trivia.

My first bowl of oats back in 2009: quick oats from Marks & Spencer. Very specifically this was what I wrote (taken from my old blog):

I would describe my first attempt as a failure: the oats were burnt and stuck to the bottom of the pan. I should have stirred more quickly. The blueberries also bled, giving the oats a sickly bluish hue. Having used less than the recommeded 180ml of fluid, my oat porridge turned out thick and lumpy.

 
It’s all quite amusing to read this now! I can’t really remember what was the fillip that sparked my interest in oats; perhaps it was the big bright and beautiful bowls of oats over at Kath Eats that invoked a curiosity. Before that my breakfasts were made of Gardenia bread or boxed cereal, but am I glad I’ve never touched those stuff again!

OAT HISTORY
Oats were not important to man as early as wheat or barley, but were in fact considered as a weed by ancient Greeks and Romans. They were used primarily for medicinal purposes rather than food.

Oats were introduced to North America by Scottish settlers in the 17th century. They gradually became a major crop until the 20th century. The first oat flakes (rolled oats) were produced by the Quaker Mill Company in 1876. Today, with the advance of knowledge about nutrition, oats are recognized as a healthy food and is a highly popular breakfast staple.

TYPES OF OATS

Whole Oat Groats
Whole oat kernels with the inedible hull removed; bran, endosperm and germ remain. Takes the longest to cook, about 1 hour on stove-top. Nutty flavour with chewy texture. Nutritional stats (1/4 cup dry): 170 calories, 3g fat, 29g carbs, 5g fiber, 7g protein. (Probably the only type of oats I’ve yet to try!)

Steel Cut (Irish) Oats
Groats cut into a few pieces using sharp metal blades. Cooks in about 30-40 mins on the stove-top. Nutty flavour, especially when toasted before cooking. Nutritional stats (1/4 cup dry): 170 calories, 3g fat, 29g carbs, 5g fiber, 7g protein. (My personal favourite.)

Scottish Oats
Groats that are stone-ground, rather than cut with a steel blade, giving a coarse meal of irregularly broken bits. This method originated in Scotland centuries ago. Cooks 15-20 mins on the stove-top. Creamier than steel cut oats. Nutritional stats (1/4 cup dry): 140 calories, 2.5g fat, 23g carbs, 4g fiber, 6g protein.

Rolled (Old-Fashioned/Regular) Oats
Oat groats that are steamed to soften, then rolled into flakes. The steaming and increased surface area means that these cook in just 10 mins on the stove-top. Soft porridge-like texture. Nutritional stats (1/2 cup dry): 190 calories, 3.5g fat, 32g carbs, 5g fiber, 7g protein. (Not a personal favourite, but works for breakfast in a jiffy, or in baked oatmeal.)

Quick or Instant Rolled Oats
Groats that are steamed longer and rolled thinner than regular oats. Cooks quickly in less than 5 mins. Nutritional stats (1/2 cup dry): 180 calories, 3g fat, 29g carbs, 5g fiber, 7g protein.

Oat Bran
The finely ground meal of oat groats’ outer (bran) layer. Though not technically a whole grain, it still has the health benefits of one with its high soluble fiber (the oat bran contains almost all of the fiber in the oat kernel). Cooks quickly in under 5 mins, with a creamy texture. Nutritional stats (1/3 cup dry): 150 calories, 2g fat, 27g carbs, 7g fiber, 7g protein.

Oat Flour
A whole grain flour made from whole oats ground into a fine powder. Used for baking or thickening soups and stews. You can easily make your own oat flour by grinding rolled oats in the food processor or blender. Nutritional stats (1/3 cup): 60 calories, 3g fat, 26g carbs, 4g fiber, 7g protein.

Nutrition showdown: steel-cut vs rolled vs quick/instant oats
Perhaps you may hold the mantra “the less processed, the better,” and think that steel-cut oats is the most nutritious of all. But as you can see from the nutritional content above, the differences are minor. Rolled oats may be steamed, but the steaming doesn’t compromise their nutrition significantly (in fact it stabilizes the fatty acids which helps increase the shelf-life.)

What about the glycemic index? Steel-cut, rolled and quick oats have a glycemic index of 42, 50 and and 66 respectively. This means that quick oats are digested much faster and the sugars released into the bloodstream more rapidly than rolled or steel-cut oats, and may not keep you feeling satisfied as long as the latter. As a guide, foods below 60 on the GI index are considered low. Thus, instant oats may be considered low/moderate glycemic carbohydrates and you need not feel guilty for grabbing a packet of quick oats if you’re pressed for time.

The takeaway? Nutrition-wise, steel-cut or rolled is pretty much similar. It all depends on your preference of texture – chewy or creamy.

OATY BENEFITS
Oats are an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, iron, and the B vitamin thiamine. In fact, they have the most soluble fibre of all grains. Oats are also low-GI foods. These nutrients may deliver health benefits such as:

Lower cholesterol
The cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan (a type of soluble fiber) is well-documented. Meta-analyses of studies have concluded that oat consumption is associated with 5% and 7% reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels respectively in both normocholesterolemic or hypercholesterolemic subjects.

Stabilize blood sugar levels
Oats are considered low GI food.

Good bowel health
The high fibre content helps in bowel movement.

Better sleep!
Oats contain the hormone melatonin, which is involved in the control of the circadian rhythm, and specifically, helps induces sleep. Should we be having oats for dinner instead of breakfast, then?

OATMEAL PORRIDGE PREPARATION AND TIPS
Soak oats overnight to reduce phytic acid and promote absorption of nutrients.

Ratio. For steel-cut oats I use 5:1 fluid-to-oat ratio. I cook the oats in 1 cup water until most of the water boils off, then add in 1/4 cup non-dairy milk and reduce until the desired consistency. This gives a very creamy texture. For rolled oats I use 2:1 ratio.

Stirring. Especially for rolled oats, do not stir too much or it tends to become a soggy lump.

Add-ins. Add mashed banana or other starchy purees only towards the end (after the addition of the milk) and “whip” it in with a fork or whisk, like you are whipping egg whites. This incorporates air into the oats and gives a really fluffy texture.

Layering. I like to hide nuggets of “treasures” within the oats. So I pour out the oatmeal into the bowl in layers, adding a spoonful of nut butter, a square of dark chocolate, chopped nuts or fruits between each layer. It’s almost the same concept as making a chilled oatmeal parfait. However the heat from the just-cooked oatmeal will help to melt the nut butter/chocolate and soften the fruit, so you’d get to dig into a pool of awesomeness now and then. (And why hot oatmeal is so much nicer than overnight oats!)

DELICIOUS WAYS TO ENJOY OATS
Breakfast
Oatmeal Porridge; Overnight Oats-in-a-Jar (OIAJ); Smoothie-in-a-Bowl (SIAB); Baked Oatmeal; Granola; Oat Pancakes & Waffles; Oat Muffins; Oat Breads; Oat Scones.

Entrees
Oat Burgers; Oat Flour Pizza Crust; Oat Falafels; Savoury Oat Porridge; In Salads (using Oat Groats); Oatmeal Risotto; Oatmeal Soup.

Desserts
In Crumbles & Clafloutis. As a Crust for Pies and Tarts. Oat Milk Ice Cream; Oat Milk Panna Cotta.

Snacks
Energy Oatie Bars; Flapjacks; Scottish Oat Cakes; Baked Cookies; No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites; Oat Brownies.

OATSPIRATIONS
Here are some blogs that pay a loyal dedication to oatmeal, with creative recipes that will surely inspire you:
Chocolate Covered Katie
Edible Perspective
Kath Eats Real Food
Oatgasm
The Oatmeal Artist
Oh She Glows

OAT ART
If you follow me on Instagram (@earlymorningoats), you will have seen that I often post pictures of my oatmeal breakfasts with the hash-tag #oatart. Sometimes I do wonder why I do this seemingly pointless thing – after all a bowl of oats is still yummy whether served in a pretty form or haphazard form.

I suppose Oat Art it is an outlet for creative expression as well as my feelings, just like how some people prepare cute bento boxes, or artists and painters express themselves through their drawings and paintings. I can’t draw for anyone’s sake, but playing around with shapes, colours, and ingredients – that’s easier and you get to eat your art too!

Supefood Oats | PBJ Oats | Peach Pie Oats | Mango Flower Oats | Donut Peach Baked Donut Oats | Coconut Tree Pina Colada Oats | Blueberry Cheesecake Oats | Melon Oats in Lotus Bowl | National Day Oats

My designs are inspired from a variety of sources, such as the ingredients on hand, the weather, the season, holidays and festivities, my feelings and nature. Sometimes I plan the designs ahead the night before; and other times the idea would just occur spontaneously at the last minute. More often than not, the design would come off less pretty than envisioned, but nevertheless it is an effort made.

Candy Corn Oatmeal: (from bottom) yellow corn oats, orange sweet potato oats, white chia pudding in hazelnut milk, topped with chocolate maple pecan butter.

This Candy Corn Oat Parfait was inspired by Halloween. Although the yellow-orange-white colors may not have turned out to be as intense as desired, just appreciating the beauty of natural candy corn (zinnia flowers) more than made up for it. (Zinnias are easy-to-grow flowers that come in a rainbow colour palette. A safe and pretty choice for beginners to gardening.)

NON-FOOD USES FOR OATS
Oatmeal Face Masks. The most basic mask uses just water and rolled oats, which is then spread on the face. Sounds so easy I might just try this out!

Collodial Oatmeal Baths. Colloidal oats are oats ground into an extremely fine powder, even finer than oat flour. The powder is sprinkled into bath water, and the resulting milky dispersion helps to soothe and moisterize the skin. Colloidal baths are commonly used to treat skin conditions such as itch and eczema.

Neutralize Odors. Simply leave a bowl of oats out anywhere you want to suck in smells.

OTHER OATMEAL TRIVIA
National Oatmeal Month. Celebrated in January.

My most memorable bowl of oats. Of course, in none other than the Land of Oatmeal, Scotland.

This was at a bed and breakfast in Edinburgh two years ago when I was doing a semester exchange. The oats were really simple, served plain with just a side of peaches and raisins, but they had the best texture ever. I can’t fanthom whether it was Scottish or rolled oats, but it was so soft and creamy, yet with a chewy bite. And that bowl is so pretty too!

Phew! This was quite a comprehensive post although it was quite fun writing about it. I hope you have learnt something about oatmeal!

Vegan Mofo 2: B is for Buckwheat – sprouted Buckwheat, quinoa & oat granola

Vegan MoFo Day 2 and I’m back with a big bang for the letter ‘B’: Sprouted Buckwheat, Quinoa and Oat Granola (technically this may qualify for letters Q, O or G, but stop being nitty-picky). Homemade granola has been a stubborn stain on my Recipe Bucklist List. Although crunchy granola can never replace pillowy soft doughy freshly cooked hot-off-the-stove oatmeal for breakfast, it comes in handy for hunger crisis or snack-attack situations. This is one of the things I love about Vegan MoFo – apart from getting to know other bloggers and sharing recipes – the impetus to tackle the Bucketlist.

Commercial granolas often come sweetened with refined sugars and many unnecessary ingredients. The “healthier” types like Back to Nature or Love Grown Foods Granola are expensive. Others contain too many raisins, too many nuts or too much coconut. With homemade granola, you are the boss; you get to control and customize the add-ins to your heart’s content. My ideal granola? A simple blend of medium-sized chunks of grains, nuts, seeds, with the grains predominating. It should be lightly sweetened without being cloying. Flavour-wise, I’m a traditionalist preferring the classic combination warm vanilla and cinnamon.

I initially considered doing a basic oatmeal granola. But the masterchef in me was not satisfied. I thought: if you are making your own granola, why not make it the best it can be? I decided to put the best use of the multiple grains at home to create this Sprouted Granola, made with buckwheat, quinoa, steel-cut oats and rolled oats.

Why soak and sprout your grains? Grains contain phytic acid which behaves as an anti-nutrient; it binds to zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium in the intestinal tract and has reduces mineral absorption. Phytic acid is also an enzyme inhibitor of digestive enzymes (eg pepsin, trypsin and amylase), and thus may further interfere with digestion. Studies have shown that soaking, fermenting or sprouting the grains before cooking or baking reduces the phytic acid content, so that the minerals and nutrients become available for absorption. A wonderful summary about phytic acid in grains and legumes can be found here.

This recipe will take three days: soaking on day one, draining on day two and finally baking the granola on day three. Technically, buckwheat and quinoa need only be soaked for a few hours because they do not have a high phytate content. However because oats have significant levels of phytic acid, it’s recommended that you soak them for 24 hours.

Another perk of this recipe is that it is mainly fruit sweetened with banana puree. Coating the grains with the banana puree also reduces not only the amount of honey used, but also the oil. **Bonus!** To make the granola you can either use a dehydrator or conventional oven. I used the oven and baked them at low heat (300°F/150°C) for one hour.

Three days worth of effort culminated in a most delicious granola! Loose clusters of lightly sweetened buckwheat, quinoa and oats kissed with the warmth of cinnamon, vanilla and coconut. The grains, nuts and seeds and dried fruits were in perfect harmony in terms of proportions; not one overwhelmed the other. I’m really pleased with the results of my first attempt at homemade granola!

If there is anything I’d change, it would be to bake at an even lower temperature or shorter amount of time. The buckwheat came out a bit hard and popcorn-ish, perhaps being over-dehydrated. But a good soak in almond milk would soften the texture a little, with still lots of crunch factor to enjoy!

Sprouted Buckwheat, Quinoa & Oat Granola
Makes 16 oz (slightly more).
Vegan.

Ingredients
About 1/3 cup of each grain

  • 50g raw buckwheat groats
  • 50g raw quinoa
  • 40g steel cut oats
  • 40g rolled oats **See Note**
  • 4 tsp shredded coconut
  • 1/6 cup seeds (I used a blend of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, 4 tsp each)
  • 2 tsp flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup banana puree (mashed from 1 small banana)
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or honey (if non-vegan)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup nuts, coarsely chopped (I used a blend of almonds and walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruits (I used a blend of dried cranberries and sultanas, 4 tsp each)

Directions

  1. Three days before baking the granola, soak your grains. Place in three separate bowls raw buckwheat groats, quinoa and steel cut oats. Cover with at least twice the volume of water. Let soak overnight or at least 8-10 hours.
  2. The next day, drain the water from each bowl and rinse through thoroughly until water runs clear. Buckwheat in particular exudes a mucilaginous slime, but that is normal. Once rinsed, leave the grains in the sieve overnight to let it drain fully and sprout. You may choose to combine the grains in one large sieve or use three separate sieves (if you have that many!).
  3. On the third day, you may start to see tiny tails sprouting from the grains (only the buckwheat grew sprouts in my case). You can choose whether to allow the grains to sprout. If not, proceed to start making the granola.
  4. Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the soaked buckwheat, quinoa and steel cut oats. Then add in the rolled oats, flax, seeds and coconut. Mix well.
  6. In another bowl, mix together the banana puree, coconut oil, honey and cinnamon. Add the wet ingredients to the grain mixture. Stir well to coat the grains with the banana mix.
  7. Spread out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then bake for 60 mins at 300°F/150°C until dry and crispy. Make sure to stir every 15 mins to break up large clumps and prevent burning.
  8. (Receive copious praise from your family or flatmates as you make the house smell incredible.)
  9. Remove from oven and let cool before storing in an air-tight container. It should keep well for about a week.

Note: I did not soak the rolled oats as I was afraid it might be too soft. But feel free to soak it if you prefer, and do share how it turns out!

 

Have you tried sprouting grains before? How did it turn out and how did you use them?

Buckwheat Banavocado Bread with Seeds

Although the first attempt at Roasted Banavocado Bread was less-than-stellar, this opened a path to potential redemption. The problem with the initial loaf was its texture: way too moist to the extent of it falling apart slightly. Reviewing the recipe, I realized a glaring omission: the lack of a binder! That was a mistake that had to rectified immediately.

After contemplating among the three common vegan egg substitutes – powdered egg replacer, chia egg and flax egg, I decided on the latter. From experience, egg replacer powder often gave tough and rubbery results, while chia yielded a much too gooey and moist interior. Perhaps the solution would lie in flax eggs? In case you are wondering how flax eggs work, here’s an explanation. Flax seeds contain high amounts of soluble (and insoluble) fiber which is released when ground. When the flax meal is combined with water and allowed to sit, the soluble fiber forms a mucilage, or gel. The polysaccharide units of the flax mucilage traps water and this imparts structure. Simply put, structure reinforcement using flax eggs is a polysaccharide-based alternative to the protein (albumen) of real eggs. More information on flax eggs can be found here.

Apart from the flax egg, other changes I made were to use buckwheat flour instead of oat flour; and pumpkin and sunflower seeds instead of nuts. Also, I decided to keep the trick of using roasted bananas, for the unbeatable intense banana flavour they impart! If you have the time, do try roasted bananas. It takes just 20 mins, which it just the amount of time needed for the flax egg to form, so why not?

This is my first time baking with buckwheat flour and I’m in love with its subtle earthy aroma and taste. In this instance, the buckwheat treads a delicate alliance among the buttery notes of avocados and sweet caramelized bananas to yield a not-too-sweet loaf. The flax egg worked excellently – the texture is moist but not gooey, and the seeds both inside the bread and studded on its exterior provided a delightful crunch. I made a mini-loaf because this was considered at the testing stage, but I think this recipe deserves an upgrade into a full-sized loaf!

Buckwheat Banavocado Bread with Seeds (v2)
Makes 1 small loaf (6 slices).
Vegan.

Ingredients

  • 3/8 cup (6 tbsp) whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/8 cup (6 tbsp) buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/8 cup (6 tbsp) mashed avocados
  • 3/8 cup (6 tbsp) roasted bananas, drained of excess liquid (reserve banana liquid); you may use fresh bananas
  • 1 1/2 flax eggs (1 1/2 tbsp flax meal in 4 1/2 tbsp water, refrigerate for 15 mins)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave or honey if non-vegan)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds, plus extra for garnish
  • Banana liquid, as necessary
  • Non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice or coconut), as necessary

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
  2. Prepare the flax egg. In a small bowl mix flax meal in water and refrigerate for at least 15 mins to thicken. If preparing from flax meal fresh from flax seeds, grind about 1 tbsp flax seeds (or slightly less than 1 1/2 tbsp) because ground flax meal has more volume than the seeds.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the dry ingredients. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. In another bowl, mash the (roasted) bananas and avocados until creamy. You may use the food processor or mash manually.
  5. Once flax egg has formed, remove from fridge. Add flax egg, coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract to the mashed bananas and avocado and mix well to combine ingredients.
  6. Create a well in the dry ingredients and add in the wet ingredients. Mix lightly to form a batter.
  7. Gently fold in the pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  8. If necessary, add in the reserved banana liquid and/or non-dairy milk until the batter has the desired consistency; it should be thick and sticky.
  9. Lightly grease a mini loaf pan and pour in the batter. Press in pumpkin and sunflower seeds into the top of the batter.
  10. Bake at 350°F/175°C until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 40 mins.

 
If you’re looking for something more decadent, check out my ABC Avocado Banana Chocolate Bread, which has been well-received.

Roasted Banavocado Bread

Before you roll your eyes at yet another banana bread recipe, pause in your tracks. Have you every tried roasting bananas? I may be late in the game but its never too late to discover some simple tricks. It does the work of three days on the counter in 20 mins, caramelizing the sugars within and drawing out the essence of bananas. Encouraged by the stellar results of baking with avocados, I was eager to try another avocado bread recipe; I decided upon a simple Banana Avocado (Banavocado) Bread that would justly showcase the wonderfully intense flavours of roasted bananas.

Roasting the bananas is easy. Just place the unpeeled bananas on a baking tray and pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes. Don’t be alarmed by the blackened and blistered Frankenstein bananas. The juices will start to ooze out and that’s when you know the bananas are ready to be removed from the oven. For the scientifically inclined, the black skins has probably got to do with heat-damaged membranes and the resulting leakage of phenolic compounds from the cell vacuole into the cytoplasm. The cytoplasmic enzyme polyphenoloxidase then oxidizes these phenolic compounds into polyphenols analogous to the brown pigment melanin [source]. Yes, I actually google such stuff.

At this point, your whole kitchen will smell like heaven already. Oh yeahh.

The rest of the recipe is easy too! Mash the avocados and prepare the dry ingredients as the bananas are roasting. Then when they’re ready, mix the bananas into the wet ingredients (they’re so soft they need little mashing) and you’re almost good to go! I must forewarn though. I think it would be prudent to cut down on the amount of banana and avocado puree or increase the amount of flour because these turned out a little on the mushy side. I’ll fix the ratios right in future attempts.

Roasted Banavocado Bread
Makes 1 small loaf (5-6 slices).
Vegan.
Adapted from ABC: Avocado Banana Chocolate Bread.

Ingredients

  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) oat flour (ground fresh from rolled oats)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) mashed avocados (Note: try reducing to 1/4 cup.)
  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) mashed roasted bananas (see Directions below. Note: try reducing to 1/4 cup.)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (or vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 soy milk (was unnecessary)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Place the whole bananas with their skin intact on a baking tray and roast for 20 mins, until the skin turns brown-black and juices are seeping out from the skin.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the dry ingredients. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Once bananas have roasted, let cool, then mash together with avocado until creamy. You may use the food processor or mash manually.
  4. Add the coconut oil, honey and almond extract and mix to combine ingredients.
  5. Pour mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix to form a batter. Gently fold in the nuts. The batter should be thick and sticky.
  6. Lightly grease a mini loaf pan and pour in the batter.
  7. Bake at 350°F/175°C until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 40-50 mins.

 

While the Banavocado Bread may not have the best texture (yet), at least I discovered a new trick – roasting bananas!

Tapioca & Chia Seed Pudding

You like pudding? I give you twice the puddingness.

Before I came to know about chia seeds, I was already acquainted with the gelatinous texture in another form – sago and tapioca pudding. The little white sago and tapioca pearls are popular in traditional Southeast Asian desserts made with coconut milk such as Mango Sago Pomelo and Bubur Cha Cha. These squishy jelly-like balls added a unique texture to the dish, making them seriously fun to eat. And then the chia superfood craze came along.

Although pearl tapioca, pearl sago and chia seeds exude the same ooey gooey texture, they have quite different botanical origins, nutritional properties and preparation. Sago and tapioca are almost pure starch, gluten-free, and very little protein or vitamins, being extracted from the pith of the Sago Palm stems (Metroxylon sagu), and the root of the cassava plant respectively. Both are commonly sold as pearls and require soaking and boiling to release their starches and become transparent when cooked. Because of their highly similar properties, tapioca pearls may also be called sago in common parlance and may be used interchangeably. However tapioca pearls come in different sizes and colours; there are some who also claim that sago is less sticky to work with. On the other hand, chia seeds come from the dried flowers of the chia plant (Salvia hispanica) and is ranked as a superfood. It contains a balanced blend of carbohydrate (44%), fat (31%) and protein (16%). The carbohydrate includes both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, and most of the fat is heart-healthy essential omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. In fact, did you know that clinical trials on chia seeds have been carried out? Most results showed improvements in outcome measures in healthy subjects as well as metabolic syndrome patients. [via The Promising Future of Chia]

Then I thought about combining tapioca pearls and chia to create a Mother Pudding of all puddings. Adding chia seeds to the traditional tapioca pudding would also give it a nutritional boost. Because my generic packet of pearl sago did not have cooking instructions, I had to look up online on how to prepare them. Following several trials (and tribulations), here a tutorial on how to prepare a double whammy tapioca/sago and chia pudding. Best enjoyed layered with overnight oats or spooned over hot oats!

Basic Tapioca and Chia Pudding – A Tutorial
Vegan, Gluten-Free.

The night before, soak ~ 1 tbsp pearls overnight in at least twice the volume of water. You can also prepare your favourite overnight oats in another bowl.

The next morning, rinse rinse and RINSE the pearls thoroughly with lots of water to remove excess starch. Then boil the pearls in enough water to cover the pearls fully until it turns translucent. This should take no more than 10-15 mins. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. When the pearls turn translucent and white dots are still visible (see below), immediately turn off the flame, cover and let stand for 10 mins. The pearls would continue to cook in its own residual heat, and then turn fully transparent. Run the cooked tapioca/sago pearls through a fine sieve under running water to remove excess starch. If not using immediately, the sago can be kept in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.

**The first time I prepared the pearls I did everything that you should NOT do – reheated the pearls in their overnight liquid, failed to rinse them through a sieve, and cooked them for 30 mins. That was a recipe for guaranteed disaster and behold, I ended up with a pot of white glue where the starch had all but dissolved into a sticky paste that was worse than any baby food.**

When ready to make the pudding, add the cooked pearls to non-dairy milk, about 1 Tbsp cooked pearls to 2 Tbsp milk for a thick pudding. Use more milk if you like it thinner. I love to use coconut milk here for its thicker texture and sweetish taste. A drop of vanilla also goes a long way to up the flavours. Stir in 1 tsp chia seeds and let stand another 15 mins to allow the chia to absorb and swell. By this time, it should have become a very jelly-like pudding. Layer with overnight oats to make a parfait or spoon over hot oats!

 

Here are some of the ways I’ve been enjoying the double pudding.

Round 1: Tapioca/Chia Pudding layered with Overnight Matcha Oats & Strawberries. (The pearls were overcooked in this instance) but the matcha/strawberry/coconut flavour pairing was great!

Round 2: Tapioca/Chia Pudding spooned over Balsamic Roasted Figs & Strawberries steel-cut Oatmeal. The pearls were perfectly cooked this time!

ABC Avocado Banana Chocolate Bread

Since the avocado chocolate mousse is all the rage, I figured why not turn it into a loaf? It was also a great way to satisfy my curiosity about baking with avocados. Bearing the same smooth creamy texture as butter, it has been lauded as a healthy alternative to the latter in baking, replacing saturated fats with heart-healthy vitamin Es and omega 3s. According to theKitchn, you can substitute avocado for butter in a 1:1 ratio, though the different coating properties may require additional liquids to compensate.

With a bar of Green & Black’s 85% and overripe avocados and bananas begging to be used, I set out to make the bread. The idea was to create a deep dark chocolaty loaf with chunks of chocolate and nuts in each bite.

The resulting loaf totally blew my mind away. This was in part due to a beautiful accident, where I added double the amount of cacao powder than called for. The texture was light yet deeply fudgy, moist and hardly sweet, just the way a chocolate bread should be. If you go by taste alone, it should really be just called a dark chocolate loaf, because the cacao and melty chocolate bits completely mask any hint of avocado or banana. When you know that this bread is packed full of nutrients and vitamins (avocado – vit E; banana – vit B; cacao – vit C) and minimal oil, you wouldn’t hesitate or feel guilty about reaching for the second, or third or fourth or … last slice, which is sitting temptingly in the kitchen right now.

I might try making a simple avocado banana bread in the future, because its nice if you could taste a hint of avocados!

ABC Avocado Banana Chocolate Bread
Makes one small loaf (about 6 slices).
Vegan.
I combined the recipes for Avocado Chocolate Bread and Avocado Banana Bread from Living Healthy With Chocolate.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder (was supposed to use just 1 1/2 tbsp!)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) mashed avocados
  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) mashed bananas
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3/4 tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp chocolate extract (optional)
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chunks (I used Green & Black’s 85%)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp chopped nuts (I used a mix of walnuts & brazil nuts)
  • 1 tbsp soy milk (or more as needed)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. Place the avocado and bananas in a food processor and blend until creamy.
  3. Add the coconut oil, honey and vanilla and pulse to combine ingredients.
  4. Pour mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix to form a batter.
  5. Gently fold in the chocolate chunks and nuts.
  6. Add in the soy milk to reach the desired consistency. The batter should be thick and sticky.
  7. Lightly grease a loaf pan and pour in the batter. You can use a mini loaf pan or a regular sized one, but filling just half of it lengthwise.
  8. Bake at 350°F/175°C until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 40 mins.

 
Have you ever tried baking with avocados? How did it turn out?