Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oat (Avena) Milk Benefits

 Oat milk is a great alternative to regular milk with numerous benefits:
 
•    It is lactose and fat free

•    It is high in protein and fiber
•    It reduces the risk of heart deceases
•    It contains vitamins E, C,  A, K B1, B2, B6, B12 and folic acid  
•    It contains vital minerals, mainly iron and calcium, but also magnesium, potassium,       
      zinc, copper and selenium
•    It lowers the levels of cholesterol 

•    It’s easy to digest (far more easier than regular milk)
•    It is rich in phytochemicals (naturally found plant chemicals) and, thus, is great in
     protecting from diseases and fighting cancer
•    It aids aging (again due to the phytochemicals)

•    It is very moisturising and nurturing for the skin (when used externally). 
 
Oat (avena) milk can be easily found ready-made in the market in any organic or health store at a reasonable price. However, it is very fast and easy to make it at home and you may add a special ingredient or two that really will make a difference…and after all, fresh is always best!

You may drink it plain, or add it in smoothies, eat  your muesli with it, or just replace regular milk with it in certain recipes (mainly desserts).
Here I am sharing my recipe of Raw Oat Milk with
Vanilla & Honey. 







                                                   Ingredients 
 

Raw Oat (Avena) Milk with Vanilla & Honey



Oat milk is a great alternative to regular milk with numerous benefits:

 
•    It is lactose and fat free

•    It is high in protein and fiber
•    It reduces the risk of heart deceases
•    It contains vitamins E, C,  A, K B1, B2, B6, B12 and folic acid  
•    It contains vital minerals, mainly iron and calcium, but also magnesium, potassium,       
      zinc, copper and selenium
•    It lowers the levels of cholesterol 

•    It’s easy to digest (far more easier than regular milk)
•    It is rich in phytochemicals (naturally found plant chemicals) and, thus, is great in
     protecting from diseases and fighting cancer
•    It aids aging (again due to the phytochemicals)

 
Oat (avena) milk can be easily found ready-made in the market in any organic or health store at a reasonable price. However,
it is very fast and easy to make it at home and you may add a special ingredient or two that really will make a difference…and after all, fresh is always best!
Here I am sharing my recipe of Raw Oat Milk with
Vanilla & Honey. You may also add cacao or carob powder,fresh ginger, shredded coconut or other nuts (that will also need to be soaked), you may replace honey with agave syrup or stevia, you may add spices like cinnamon or cardamom, or you can just make it plain and unsweetened if you want to use it in recipes to replace regular milk.
 

For the Raw Oat Milk with Vanilla & Honey recipe, you’ll need:
 
14-15 tablespoons rolled oats or oat flakes
1.5 liters of filtered water (or high quality bottled water)
A pinch of sea salt
1 vanilla pod, scraped
1 tablespoon of good quality raw honey (or more according to taste)

Place the oat flakes (or rolled oats) and water in a (glass) container that can be securely sealed and stir well. Seal and allow them to soak for 6-7 hours or overnight in the fridge (if you decide to add any nuts, you should let them soak together with the oats). When ready to make the milk, empty the water and soaked oats in a blender, add the salt, vanilla and honey, and blend really-really well. Strain the milk using a very fine sieve, or a nut milk bag (or just a piece of voile or cheesecloth). At this point you will need to squeeze and knead all the remaining mashed oats for the milk to go through the sieve or milk bag to make your oat milk as tasty as possible! 

Your milk is ready! You may enjoy it right away or you may transfer it in a glass bottle, seal it and store it in the fridge. It is best to consume it fast but it can be preserved well (if sealed well) for a couple of days. Always shake before use and  enjoy with love!

Important note:
All the remaining mashed oats that will be left in the milk bag are not to be thrown! They can be used to make raw truffles or healthy raw energy balls or bars. They may also be added into cakes, they can be made into a crust for tarts (raw or baked) they can be even added into a smoothie (about a tablespoon for a large glass) to give it a thicker texture.


















Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sugar-free “Halva” with Coconut and Ginger


Halva (or halwa) refers to many types of dense, sweet confections, served across the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Malta and the Jewish world.
There are two main types of halva. One is flour-based, which is slightly gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina and the other is nut-butter-based, which is crumbly and usually made from tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter.
In greece we traditionally use either butter or olive oil to make it, and sugar is sometimes replaced with honey. Raisins, dates, other dried fruits, or nuts such as almonds, pine nuts or walnuts, are often added to the semolina halva.
This is my version of halva, which is sugar-free! I replaced half of the semolina with shredded coconut and the olive oil (or butter) with coconut oil. The sugar is replaced with agave syrup and I added some raisins to give it an extra sweetness. The  ginger and cardamom seeds add to the exotic taste of coconut and make it more interesting!
Here is the recipe:
¾ cup coconut oil
1 cup coarse semolina
1 cup shredded coconut
1 ½ cup agave syrup
½ cup raisins
4 cups water
15-20gr. fresh ginger, peeled and sliced or 1 ½  teaspoons powdered ginger
4 cardamom pods

In a medium sauce pan add the water, ginger and cardamom, cover and bring it to boil. Boil for 5 minutes, bring the heat down and gently simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  Remove the pieces of ginger and cardamom pods, mix in the agave syrup.and make sure you preserve your syrup hot for a few minutes, until you use it.
In a larger saucepan heat the coconut oil, at medium heat, and add the semolina and shredded coconut, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it takes a golden color (make sure you don’t burn it though!).  
Put the heat down to low and gradually add the hot syrup to the semolina and coconut mixture, stirring. Now be cautious because it is going to sizzle, and spatter! Stir in the raisins (and watch them expand!) and continue to cook until the all of the liquids are absorbed.
Remove from heat, cover with a towel and let it stand for 15 minutes, until it cools down a bit.
Spoon the mixture into a pudding mold or individual ramekins or bowls. Allow it to cool to room temperature before serving. Later on you may store it in the refrigerator if you like it best cold, but it is preserved perfectly well outside the fridge as well.
To serve, you may sprinkle with chopped almonds or chocolate or just shredded coconut. 



Enjoy!






Special thanks to Denia for the photos!!!






References:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Roasted Okra with Feta Cheese and Mint


Okra is very low in calories. It contains high amounts of vitamins A, B6, K and C, it is rich in folic acid and is a good source of minerals like iron, calcium and phosphorous. It also contains thiamine, riboflavin and phytochemicals like beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. The taste and texture resembles, in a way, that of the eggplant, but that also depends on the way you decide to cook it. 
Since I was a child roasted okra was one of my favorite dishes (really odd!!!). Many people hate okra for being slimy, but I must insist that when roasted, okra is not slimy at all! I am proud to say that with this recipe I have really made people who thought they hated okra, to actually love it! So just give it a chance, I definitely recommend it!

You’ll need:

1 kg fresh okra
1 large red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
4 plum tomatoes (or regular)
½ cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
250gr feta cheese, crumbled
1 small glass olive oil (130 ml)
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¾ small glass water (100 ml)
sea salt

Rinse the okra and tomatoes in cold water and drain. Using a small knife, trim the stems from the okra tops (in a circular way), but try not to remove the caps.


Place them in a roasting pan. I actually prefer to use one with a lid (in Greece we call it “gastra” and it is similar to the Moroccan “tajine” pot), to prevent the food from drying out, alternatively we can cover it for a while with foil and then remove it towards the end.
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4. Cut the tomatoes in relatively small chunks and add them in the roasting pan with the rest of the ingredients:  the onions, garlic, feta cheese, mint, salt, cayenne pepper, olive oil, vinegar and water. 
 Toss well using your hands. 

Cover either with a lid or foil and put it in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid or foil and put it back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes. Every now and then, you might need to stir it to make sure it is cooked evenly and if too dry, just add a bit more water. Remove it from the oven, drizzle some extra olive oil, if you like, and serve! 





Special thanks to Denia for the photos






























Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stuffed Vegetables with Basmati Rice and Olives


One of my favorite Greek dishes! It can also be made with minced meat in the stuffing, but I prefer it with rice and veggies. You may enjoy it warm or cold as it is equally delicious! It’s quite time consuming to make, so I usually make quite a lot of it and enjoy it for a couple of days…if I get the chance!
You can really stuff any kind of vegetable you like. Tomatoes and peppers are the most typical, but eggplants, zucchinis, zucchini blossoms, vine leaves, large mushrooms, onions and potatoes are also great choices! Just use whatever is fresh, in season, and it can be stuffed in one way or another! Here I’ve used tomatoes, different kinds of peppers and eggplants. I also added chili and olives in the stuffing to make it more interesting, while others prefer to add nuts (especially pine nuts) and raisins, to give it a sweet touch. Traditionally, for this recipe they use long grain rice, but I prefer using basmati rice as it gives it a beautiful aroma. Rice may also be replaced with quinoa, millet and amaranth, cracked wheat or couscous. All of these choices are absolutely great, it really depends on your mood and cravings!!! 


So here is my basic recipe:

Ingredients 

7 tomatoes (I've used small ones here, so you might need to use fewer depending on their size)
4 eggplants
5 different kinds of peppers
1 large onion, chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chili pepper, chopped
1 zucchini
4 tablespoons kalamata olives, roughly chopped (optional)
200 gr. basmati rice
¾ cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
10-12 baby potatoes (I leave their skin on, but if you wish you may peel them)
Olive oil
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
Sea salt and pepper
¾ cup water (or more)

Wash all your vegetables and let them dry. Cut the top of each tomato (put their tops aside cause you’ll need them for later) and scoop out their pulp with a teaspoon into a bowl (cutting it into smaller pieces when needed), leaving enough meat inside the skin so that it holds its shape when baked. Do exactly the same with the eggplants, but in this case you might need the help of a knife too. Chop the scooped-out center part and add it in the bowl with the tomato pulp.
Now the peppers are the easiest! Just cut the top off and remove the seeds.
Drizzle some olive oil in a large baking pan and arrange your hollowed vegetables, set aside.
Shred the zucchini and add it in the bowl with the tomato pulp and the chopped eggplant. Mix in the rice, olives, salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, chilies, basil and garlic. Cook in medium heat until soft and add the rice mix. 
Allow it to slowly cook for about 15 minutes or until the juices are absorbed and the rice has slightly softened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Mix in the chopped parsley and mint.
Preheat the oven at 190° C (374° F – Gas mark 5).
Start filling the hollowed vegetables with the rice mix and replace their tops. Once done, cut the potatoes and arrange them between the stuffed vegetables. Drizzle on top with some olive oil, add the water, and some extra salt and pepper.
Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.If it gets too dry while cooking, you might need to add some extra water.  In the meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan and some pepper. Remove the baking tray from the oven, sprinkle with the parmesan-breadcrumb mix and put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes. You may add some raw olive oil in the end if you like.