Homemade Tofu (Medium Firm)

When you are on a plant-based and low-carb  diet, tofu can be your best friend. I love everything about tofu – how versatile, nutritious, and tasty it is, not to mention being super low in carbohydrate. I also love how wallet-friendly and easy it is to make your own organic tofu.crispy friend tofu

Make your own tofu, you ask? Oh yes I do – and so can you!  It’s easy – just one little step away from making your own soy milk – and today, I’ll show you exactly how, step by step, with photos.

Homemade tofu is a revelation – so sweet and delicious straight out of the pot, with nothing but a tiny drizzle of soy sauce. You also will have two lovely tofu byproducts, the soy pulp (“okara”) and liquid whey. They are both nutritious and versatile (like tofu itself), so please don’t throw them away.

Did I mention how economical it is to make your own tofu? One cup of organic soy beans cost me about $1. From that, you can make 300-400g of  organic tofu, about 1.5 cups of okara, and 700g of whey. Now, isn’t that the best use of $1 ever?

Now are you convinced to give tofu making a go? I hope so!

Ingredients: First, let’s gather the ingredients – which are just two:

bulk soy beans

(1) organic soy beans (non-organic might be genetically modified, so avoid that if you can): I buy soy beans in bulk from this shop, which I think delivers Australia-wide. But to start out, try your local food co-op or health food shop.

(2) nigari  (magnesium chloride) flakes to coagulate tofu.. You can get nigari online. Nigari comes in either liquid form or as flakes. I much prefer the flakes. You never know how diluted nigari is in liquid, so flakes are easier to control the amount you use. A 100g bag of nigari flakes will last for years, if you don’t make tofu that often.

nigari flakes

Equipments: You don’t need any special equipments. But you’ll need these (which you probably already have in your kitchen):

(1) a blender (does not have to be high speed)

(2)  a BIG pot (the biggest pot you have, like a stock pot – the bigger the better)

(3) a wooden spoon

(4) a large metal strainer or colander

(5) a clean tea towel

That’s it – now you are ready to make your own tofu. The recipe and step-by-step instruction are below. You can double or triple the batch if you like, but I find it hard to squeeze more than one cup of beans at a time. So start with 1 cup and see how you go. Happy tofu making!

homemade tofu
homemade tofu

Tofu (Medium-Firm)

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December 5, 2017

Homemade "momen" tofu using a metal strainer - with step-by-step photos and instructions. It's easier than you think! The tofu made with a round strainer may not look as pretty as the store-bought ones, but much tastier. Plus, you can enjoy the bonus products of soy pulp and whey.

  • Yields: about 350g of tofu, 1.5 cups of soy pulp, and 700mil of whey

Ingredients

1 cup organic soy beans

1 tsp nigari flakes

1 3/5 liter filtered water for cooking, plus more for soaking

1/4 cup filtered water, for dissolving nigari flakes in

Directions

1Soak the soy beans in filtered water for 12-24 hours.

soaking soy beans

2Throw away the soaking water. Give the beans a quick wash. Drain, and put them in a blender. Add about 1 litre of the filtered water, and keep the rest in a jug. This is just because most blenders can't hold all 1.6 liters of water at one time.

blending soy beans

3Blend the beans and water. It takes about 30 seconds in my high-speed blender. You don't need the beans to liquify though.

blending soy beans

4Empty the blended soy beans/water into the largest pot you have. Use the remaining water (that didn't fit into the blender) to rinse out the blender, and add it to the pot. Put a lid on the pot (to speed up the cooking time). Set your timer to about 8 minutes (in case you walk away from the kitchen), and start heating the pot at medium-high heat.

cooking soy beans

5While the soy mixture is heating up, prepare for the next step. Place your metal strainer over a deep bowl. Line the strainer with a piece of clean cloth, like a tea towel or muslin. Get a container ready nearby to store soy pulp.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6After about 8 minutes, the bean mixture should be close to boiling. Turn the heat down a bit, and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom so burned bits don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Don't walk away at this point, and keep heating and stirring till the soy mix reaches a boiling point. You can tell immediately because the whole thing starts to rise up the pot, threatening to overlfow (and it will, if you let it!)

cooking soy beans

7Turn the heat down to low. Re-set the timer to 5 minutes. Then keep stirring/scraping with the wooden spoon, to prevent overflowing (and if it does, well, you are not alone. I've done this so many times. Just continue with the recipe and clean up without despairing - you'll still have some yummy tofu). You need to cook the beans here because raw beans are indigestible.

cooking the soy beans

8When the timer goes off, pour the soy mixture over the cloth-covered strainer. Leave it to cool a bit, so you can squeeze the pulp out. This takes about 20 -30 minutes. You want the soy mix not too hot (it'll burn your hands), and not too cold (it'll be more difficult to squeeze when cold).

straining soy milk

9Wash the pot meanwhile. But since you'll be using the same pot again to heat up soy milk soon, it doesn't have to spotless clean at this point.

10When the soy mix is cool enough, squeeze it to get as much soy milk out of it as you can. Think of it as a good workout!

squeezing tofu pulp

11Now you have rich, creamy soy milk, and a chunk of pulp ("okara") left in the cloth. Store okara in a container, and keep that in the fridge for another dish. Pour the soy milk back into the (clean) pot. Wash your hands and give the cloth a quick rinse (you'll be using the cloth again soon).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

12Heat up the soy milk at medium heat. It won't take long this time to heat up, so don't walk away from the kitchen. You want the milk to nearly reach the boiling point. You can tell by the tiny bubbles forming up around the edges, and then the surface of the milk start to move.

squeezing tofu pulp

13While waiting for the soy milk to heat up, dissolve a scant 2/3 teaspoon of nigari flakes in about 1/4 cup of filtered water. Put the strainer and cloth over the bowl again. You are nearly at the end!

nigari flakes in water

14When the soy milk is nearly at the boil, turn off the heat. Pour the nigari water into the pot, and give it a very quick stir with a spoon or spatula. Now leave it alone for 15-30 minutes, without stirring or moving the pot. You can leave it like this for an hour or more if you like.

nigari

15Magic happens while you wait - nigari coagulates the tofu, just like when you make ricotta cheese. After about 15 minutes, you can see gorgeous white tofu floating in a clear, yellowish liquid (whey).

tofu nearly ready

16Gently pour the tofu/whey combo into the strainer lined with cloth. Let it strain naturally, without disturbing it, for 15-30 minutes. Or if you are impatient, you can give the cloth a gentle squeeze to help strain the tofu a bit faster. The longer you let it naturally strain or squeeze the whey out of the tofu, the firmer it gets. So you can adjust the consistency of your tofu to an extent here, depending on what you plan to use it for.

tofu nearly ready

17Ta-da! This is your tofu. It may not look like a pretty rectangle tofu you get at shops (having used a round metal strainer for shaping), but it is way tastier. I now use a rectangle metal strainer that I found in Japan to make rectangle tofu - so experiment with what you have around your kitchen next time.

homemade tofu

18If you are not eating or using the tofu right away, gently store it in a container, and cover with a bit of water to keep it from drying out. Store in the fridge till needed. It'll keep for up to 5 days or so.

mome dofu

19Finally... don't throw out the whey! You can use it as soup stock - for miso soup, curry, vegetable soup, sauces, etc. Whey is tasty and nutritious. Also, I love using it in lieu of water when making bread. It makes the most fluffy, wonderful bread dough.

tofu whey

If the whey looks a little milky, and not clear, don't worry about it. You still have most of the tofu there. Next time though, make sure the soy milk is nearly at the boil before adding nigari water. You can try using a bit more nigari flakes as well, but nigari tastes bitter, so if you use too much, you'll end up with a bitter-tasting tofu and whey.

I make tofu while cooking breakfast or dinner - or while doing other food preps, just so I can keep an eye on the initial cooking process and avoid unfortunate overflowing accidents.

Also, you don't have to make tofu in one go. Do it in stages. Blend up the soaked beans in the morning, cook it at lunchtime, and finish it at dinnertime, etc. You can even keep the soy milk in the fridge (and drink a bit of it for your coffee) overnight, and use the remaining milk to make tofu the next day.

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Mini holiday in Adelaide

My family lives in Adelaide, and last week I hopped on a plane for a two-day mini holiday there. It was fun! Two night might not seem like much, but it’s amazing how much (mostly food-related) stuff you can cram in in the short period of time.

foodland adelaide

This was one of the highlights from the trip  – Foodland, a supermarket of your dreams! I’m such a food geek. But live piano music? Beautifully displayed organic produce? Seriously, they just make my day.

foodland adelaide

Anyway, short holidays are great, because it means I can still manage my diabetes pretty well. Here’s what worked for me:

(1) Packing my own food: On the way to and from Adelaide, I packed my own meals, so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat carb-rich (and expensive) food when on the move. Extra “fun” stuff to treat yourself always helps – like avocado, salty cheese, falafels, extra mayo on the salad…

(2) Having a supportive family. Once in Adelaide, my family was extra supportive of my very limited diet.  My mother had stocked her house with organic vegetables, tofu, and plant milk. A food lover herself, she probably has more spices and exotic plant-based ingredients than  I do. It was easy for me to cook and eat the kind of food I normally eat at home.

mulberries

And check out my mother’s gorgeous mulberry tree. I enjoyed these as a snack all through my stay there. A nice break from my usual snack of nuts, more nuts, and coffee.

My brother’s family was awesome as well. Even though they are omni people, they invited us for a fully vegetarian, low-carb dinner from this book and this. I felt so spoiled. The dishes were all delicious, particularly the mushroom pâté and quinoa salad!

vegan eats food

(2) Exercise-wise, I did manage fine. I walked everywhere I could – up and down airport terminals, taking the stairs instead of elevators, roaming the platforms while waiting for my train. I also went on solo walks at night. Because really, every step counts (as anyone with a pedometer knows).

(3) Shopping temptations? Adelaide is food heaven. I toured not one but two Foodland supermarkets, the Central Market, and a Sunday farmer’s market. Oh, and I also did a Haigh’s chocolate factory tour (how can I resist?)

Strangely though, I wasn’t even tempted to buy and eat lots of unhealthy stuff – as I normally might have been. Maybe it was my altered taste buds now naturally craving more savory, plant-based food. Maybe it was the fear of spiralling back to bad health again.

Maybe a bit of both… But it sure did feel wonderful to have your blood sugar level under control throughout my trip.

strawberry mulberry tart strawberry mulberry tartLR_1

See, I made a vegan mulberry and strawberry tart, and I didn’t even want to eat it myself. Very strange!

 

 

 

 

10 Big Changes Since Insulin

It’s been just over three months since I started on insulin (and a new-to-me diagnosis that I have Type 1 diabetes rather than Type 2). These three months have been amazing – I feel like I got my life back. Here are the ten major changes that occurred since insulin came into my life:

One: My blood sugar is now under control. This might sound obvious (insulin, duh) but trust me, it wasn’t easy. It has taken me 3 months to strike the elusive balance between (1) insulin dosage, (2) exercise, and (3) carb intake. I often felt like a losing boxer being knocked around this three-poled ring. Truly exacerbating… I still have a lot to learn, but these days, I feel more like a graceful tightrope walker with a smile on her face.

What helped to find this balance? Learning to count carbs (quite a challenge since I’m horrible at maths), writing a food diary, and then having a kind endocrinologist figure out the carb/insulin ratio for my body. She also got me this blood glucose meter that automatically calculates insulin units needed for each meal – I love this devise.

Two: I gained back most of my natural body weight in the first two months – I’m talking about nearly 8 kilograms in two months. Given that I was literally skin and bones before, this is a healthy weight gain. It feels particularly good to have proper functioning muscles again.

Three: I am full of energy every day, nearly all day long. I wake up in the morning and want to dig up dirt to expand my veggie patch. Or move my furniture around the house. Or run outside in the sunshine – before my first coffee. I know, I can’t believe it myself.

Four: My hair stopped falling out like crazy. This was going on for months before insulin – to the point I thought I was going completely bald. At one point I grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped off my hair short in front of a bathroom mirror, because I was sick of looking at long strands of hair everywhere, especially in food I cooked. Yikes!

Five: My old bruises started to heal. I had these ugly, dark bruised-up toes for nearly a year. I have no idea how it happened initially, but it never went away. Then one day recently, I noticed that they were almost gone! Woohoo.

Six: My brain fog has cleared (well, as much as it can clear after two children!). Before insulin, it was so sad having to struggle with the simplest mental tasks, such as making a shopping list. My naturally short attention spun got even shorter, to the point of surpassing my daughter’s – who has ADHD. What was my excuse? Early onset Alzheimers? But no (I hope), it was just my brain not getting any food.

Seven: I can see better, literally. Before insulin, I often had blurry visions. I blamed my optometrist for not prescribing the right contact lenses. But it wasn’t his fault after all. Now that my blood sugar is under control, I see my old contact lenses work just fine.

EightI sleep much better now. Before insulin, I used to wake up 3-4 times a night to go to the bathroom. What a pain! Now I wake up just one time, max.

Nine: I’m back to mostly plant-based diet – and it feels wonderful. I initially chose this diet for health reasons two years ago, persuaded by all the evidence provided in books written by Joel Fuhrman, Neil Barnard and Michael Gregor. Unfortunately, two years ago was when my diabetes took a turn for the worse. Instead of getting better, I got thinner, weaker, and sicker. Everyone – including myself – felt like the diet was failing me.

So I strayed a bit, following advice of GPs, naturopaths, and well-meaning friends and family members who kept advising me to eat more animal protein.

In the end, eating animal protein didn’t help, either. It was insulin that did. Now back on my near-vegan diet, I feel healthier than ever. My omni kids often succumb to germs they catch at school, but I almost never do. Dr. Fuhrman was right after all.

TenI am no longer depressed. For nearly a year before insulin, I hardly smiled, laughed, or found much joy in life. I found my kids more annoying than adorable. These days, I catch myself laughing at my kids’ silly jokes, singing silly songs with them (instead of telling them to be quiet), and just enjoying their cuddly bright presence in my life.

And all it took? Was a bit of insulin. See, amazing.

 

 

 

Wraps! Part 4 – Sesame Flatbread with Recipe (Vegan, GF, Soy Free)

I hope you have enjoyed my series on low-carb sandwich alternatives, and hopefully tried one or more of them? If not check out Part 1 (Mountain Bread), Part 2 (nori sheets), Part 3 (raw chard leaves).

But here is one more, and I saved the best for last. This one is closest to actual bread-based sandwiches that I crave often. It’s so good I’ve been eating this for many days in a row for breakfast.
low carb flatbread toastie

Homemade flatbread toasted sandwiches! This comes together in about 20 minutes, all from pretty basic pantry items. Plus each bread only has about 4g of net carbs – now that’s a good (carb) bargain, I say. Here are the pros and cons:

Pros:

(a) Super low-carb. Based on my recipe below, each flatbread has about 4g of carbohydrate. You can easily have two per meal, with all kinds of fillings you desire, and you are likely to go well below the 30g-carb goal.

(b) Gluten free, soy free, and oil free (well, the dough itself is oil free – cooking oil is optional).

(c) Quick and easy to make at home. The dough only takes a few minutes to assemble and roll. And you can roll it out and cook them right away. No resting or rising necessary.

Rolling out the bread is pain-free and mess-free as well, because you’ll be rolling it between two sheets of baking paper. Just don’t skip the arrowroot starch.

If you are feeding a few people, just double or triple the batch, and put multiple frying pans on for quick production.

(d) The ingredients are readily available at most supermarkets -and while I haven’t done the cost analysis, they are all inexpensive. Craving a hot, cheesy toasted sandwich in the middle of the night? No need to drive to the shops and spend money on stale bread.

(e) Full of nutritious goodness and no nasties added – flaxseeds, almond meal, and sesame seeds are packed with nutrients. Use organic when possible, and you’d feel much better than eating anything wrapped in plastic in supermarkets.

(f) Incredibly delicious. Seriously. The flavour of toasted sesame seeds and almond meal is amazing. Most importantly, the bread has just the right amount of fluffy, bread-like texture (thanks to the baking powder).

(g) If you make a toasted sandwich, you can make it right there in the same pan you cook the flatbread (see below).

(h) The recipe is versatile. You can use it as a pizza base, or for sweeter fillings like peanut butter. You can also cook it in the oven till a bit crunchy, and use it like a cracker to scoop up hummus and other dips.

Cons

(a) Although quick and easy to make, you’ll still have to make it yourself.

(b) Being homemade, and gluten free, my flatbreads tend to end up looking a little, well, “rustic” around the edges. But is this a problem? Not in my aesthetic realm.

(c) The bread won’t last forever. It’s best to eat it straight away, though it’ll probably keep for a few days in the fridge, and longer in the freezer.

low carb sesame flatbread toastie

How to: Melty Cheesy One-Pan Toasted Sandwich

(1) Make the flatbread dough from the recipe below. Heat up a frying pan, and when hot, spread a little olive oil (olive oil adds so much to the flavour and texture of the sandwich, but you can use a nonstick pan without oil if you like).

(2) When the oil is hot, cook a flatbread for about a minute or two. Flip to the other side, and on one half of the bread, place your fillings. Here, I used vegan cheese, mustard/mayo, and spinach and radish leaves.

(3) Fold up the bread in half with a spatula, so the filling is covered up inside like a sandwich. Turn down the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and gently cook the sandwich until the cheese melts and greens wilted.

low carb sesame flatbread toastie

low carb sesame flatbread toastie

Enjoy right away – perhaps with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and/or hot sauce.

low carb flatbread toastie
low carb flatbread toastie

Quick Sesame Flatbread (GF, Low Carb, Vegan)

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October 25, 2017

Quick and easy, low-carb flat bread that is super tasty! Great for satisfying your bread cravings without the guilt (and high blood sugar). Great on its own, as a toasted sandwich, or as a pizza base. Don't skip the arrowroot starch here - despite the high carb content of the starch, you only need a tiny bit, and it helps to make the dough more workable.

  • Yields: 2 flatbreads

Ingredients

2 tbsp almond meal

2 tbsp flax meal (linseed meal)

1 tbsp coconut flour

1 tbsp sesame seeds, plus more for rolling

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1/4 cup water

pinch salt (to taste)

1 tsp olive oil, for fying

Directions

I love the flavour of toasted sesame seeds, but experiment with other seeds and nuts - like hemp seeds, fennel / cumin / coriander seeds, coarsely ground hazelnuts and walnuts, pine nuts, and so on. Also try adding herbs and spices for variety!

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Wraps! Part 3 – Raw Rainbow Chard

Did you have a chance to make wraps with Nori sheets? I still eat nori wraps all the time, but here is my current favourite: rainbow chard wraps! I first learned to use it as a raw wrap by watching a Laura Miller video, and it changed my life.

Raw rainbow chard / lettuce (gluten free naturally)

rainbow chard

See how and flat these leaves are? They are just made to be wraps. I chop the stem off and keep them for other dishes.

Pros:

(a) Rainbow chard is super tasty and beautiful to look at – I particularly love the pink and yellow ones.

rainbow chard wraps

Chard (at least the kind I find here in Sydney), like celery, also has a naturally salty flavour. So if you are on a low-sodium diet, you’ll love the “free” salty taste. I often just munch on these leaves as is as snacks for this reason.

(b) Chard has next to zero carbs, like nori. Have as many as you like, all guilt free!

(c) It is inexpensive and widely available. If you can’t find rainbow chard in a shop near you, try silverbeet or kale (though a bit tougher to chew raw, and the leaves are not as big and flat as rainbow chard). Iceberg and cos lettuce are also good options. So is napa cabbage and pak choi (all delicious raw).

(d) Rainbow chard leaves are so large, flat, and pliable – it makes a superb wrap for a large amount of filling.

(e) You can go organic.

(f) They are super nutritious. You can check “leafy greens” off your daily healthy-food list while eating delicious wraps. (g) relatively mess free to eat! See how neat these wraps make? You can eat while reading a book and not worry about things dripping onto the pages.
chard wrap

chard wrap

What are in these wraps, you ask? They are (1) walnut and sun-dried tomato taco meat (per Laura Miller) with tofu sour cream, (2) Cajun barbecue jackfruit on cauliflower rice, an (3) tofu hummus, yellow capsicum, with homemade sauerkraut.

chard wrap with chickpeas

This one has the same walnut taco meat, with cooked chickpeas, fennels, and raw broccoli.

Cons:

I can’t think of any cons. Seriously.

If you haven’t tried any of these wraps, give them a go. Happy low-carb wrapping, everyone.

 

Wraps! Part 2 – Nori Wraps (Not Just for Sushi)

 

If you think nori sheets are just for sushi – it’s time to think outside the bento box. Nori make tasty, nutritious wraps for just about any filling – well, so long as it’s not too wet.

Here’s my pros vs cons list:

Nori sheets (gluten free, vegan)

nori rolls

Pros:

(a) Nori sheets have nearly ZERO net carb and extremely low in calories. What a bargain! You can eat as many as you like, and save all your carb allowance for more fun fillings.

(b) Nori is super tasty on its own, unlike Mountain Bread. My kids love to devour them as is for snacks. Nori also has a very satisfying crunchy texture.

(c) Made from sea vegetable, nori is nutritious.

(d) Nori goes with all kinds of fillings and flavours, not just Asian stuff. Go for vegan sausages and schnitzel slices, veggie sticks, sauerkraut, tofu scramble, baked beans, cauliflower rice… Be creative, because the possibilities are endless.

Nori wrapsOf course, you can make traditional sushi rolls, too. To make the rolls hold together though, you’ll need to use some rice replacement. I mean, there is nothing wrong with rice at all if you are not diabetic, but for those of us on a low-carb diet, rice is sadly too extravagant.

cauliflower sushi cauliflower sushi

Here I made these rolls with cauliflower rice (steamed and moisture squeezed out), okara (soy pulp) scramble, avocado, cashew miso dip, and oven-roasted sweet potato. Delicious, fun, and veeery low-carb.

(e) Nori sheets are widely available in most metropolitan supermarkets or Asian shops.

(f) Nori lasts pretty much forever. Store original packages in your pantry, and once opened, tightly seal them and store in the fridge or freezer.

(g) Nori is gluten free.

Cons:

(a) Nori can be on the expensive side, like Mountain Bread. At big supermarkets in Australia, you can get a packet of 10 sheets for $3-4. High-quality nori are more expensive, however.

(b) If you live in the country, you may not have access to nori locally – though there is always online shopping.

(c) Nori does not have the similar bread-like chewy texture or taste.

(d) Nori sheets are rather fragile. It also doesn’t like moisture (it’ll get soggy), so it’s best to eat nori wraps straight away. Which makes a great sushi party idea!

Make a stack of mini nori sheets (cut one large sheet into 4 square-ish sheets with scissors), and serve with various fillings. Your guests or family can choose their own filling combination, wrap them in nori, and eat immediately. Can’t be easier!

Nori wraps

 

 

Wraps! Part 1 – Mountain Bread

I don’t miss sugar much anymore, but I do miss bread. And by “bread” I don’t mean almond croissants dusted with powdered sugar – I’m not that unreasonable at this stage in my diabetic journey. It’s the humble sandwiches I miss the most.

Well, I used to miss toast in the morning, too, until I found this fantastic seedy bread recipe, which I make on a regular basis. This bread, however, is not really suitable for sandwiches unfortunately.

Why are sandwiches so… desirable? Well, I thought about it. It’s the softness of the bread, the joy of eating with your hands, and the “surprise” of tasty filling inside, all melding together in your mouth in one happy bite…. Most bread is too carb-rich for me, but is there a guilt-free alternative?

Enter wraps. Wraps are great! Here is the most bread-like commercial (i.e. most low-carb per square cm) wrap I found, after searching high and low through supermarket aisles. Here’s my low-down “pro vs con” analysis:

Mountain Bread (or similar, super-thin wrap bread)

mountain bread wrapPros:

(a) Relatively low-carb (13.6g per wrap for Mountain Bread rye version) and low calorie.

(b) Each wrap is large, and can hold a decent amount of fillings. If you fill it with low or zero-carb veggies and other food, you can have two wraps per meal and be on track at nearly 30g per meal. That’s not bad at all. I usually have just one though, with salad or soup on the side, or with more substantial and fun (read: high-carb) fillings like beans and vegetarian sausages.

(c) Mountain Bread is conveniently available at most Australian supermarkets.

(d) They last for a week or more in the plastic bag it comes in. Great for camping trips!

(e) I haven’t tried it, but you can make a toasty version of it – oozy vegan cheese and tomato, anyone?

Cons:

(a) It is a bit pricey. In stores in Sydney, they cost 50c per wrap.

(b) The wrap dries out quickly if left in the open. At a picnic on a sunny day, I left the wrap on my plate for a few minutes while attending to my kids, and the wrap had gone all brittle and cracker like. What a disappointment.

(c) Mountain Bread itself has very little flavour in my opinion.

(d) 13.6g is still a chunk of carbs. If you eat two wraps, that’s it for your carb “allowance” – no room for much else, like dessert.

(e) It’s not gluten free, and it’s not organic.

mountain bread wrap

Oops, this was too much filling! See what I mean? But see black thingy hiding behind my Mountain Bread? Could it be a back-up wrap for the spilled food? That’s for the next post.

 

Cashew Miso Tofu Dip (Vegan, GF, Oil-free, Low-Carb)

Cashew is magical. It can morph into anything, it seems. Milk, butter, white sauce, sour cream, and of course cheese. All nuts and seeds are amazing in their shape-shifting abilities actually (and godsend to people on vegan, plant-based and/or raw food diets). But cashew? Cashew is the reigning Queen of Creaminess. Plus it’s more affordable than, say, macadamia nuts or pine nuts.

Cashew miso dip

Here’s a quick cashew miso dip recipe that’s one of my current favorites. Miso makes it extra tasty, and tofu adds more creaminess, substance, and balance. Without tofu, the combination of cashew, miso and garlic create way too much flavor in my opinion – umami overload. Tofu brings the whole thing together.

The dip is diabetes friendly, but cashew does have a rather high carbohydrate content, and high calories, so it’s best to watch your portion size even if you are tempted to eat it by the spoonful.

cashew miso dip

Try the dip also as a sandwich or wrap spread, in lieu of mayo, as a salad dressing with a bit of thinning, or on (zucchini?) pasta, fritters, vegan schnitzels… anything really. I hope you give the recipe a go, and let me know how you like it!

cashew miso dip

cashew miso dip
cashew miso dip

Cashew Miso and Tofu Dip

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October 2, 2017

A quick, creamy, and addictive cashew dip with a subtle Asian flavor.

  • Yields: about 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cup dry cashew, soaked for 2-3 hours or overnight

1/2 cup momen or medium-firm tofu (not hard tofu)

1 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped (optional)

1 tbsp tahini (optional)

1 tbsp miso (brown or white)

1/2 cup vegetable soup stock or water

Directions

1Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until very, very smooth. I have a high-speed blender and it takes 1-3 minutes.

2Taste, and adjust seasoning.

Garnish with chopped coriander, green onion, or chives for a pretty presentation.

If you are avoiding soy, try using vegan yogurt instead of tofu. I tried it with Nudie coconut yogurt (natural), but I wasn't crazy about the noticeable coconut flavor. But a different brand might be okay.

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The Breakfast Conundrum – and Sichuan Mushroom Sauce Recipe (Vegan, GF, Low-Carb)

Sichuan mushroom sauce

Breakfast is often a tough decision for me. What do I want to eat this morning, or rather, what can I eat this morning? Being diabetic, I gave up on sweet breakfast a long time ago, and high-carb items like wheat bread, cereal, rice, or even porridge are out. Fruit is also out (too much sugar), except maybe berries. Meat, fish, and dairy are also out because I’m trying to stick to a plant-based diet. Well, except I do eat occasional eggs from our happy backyard chooks.

What does that leave me with? Well, vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts of course! And thank goodness there are so many delicious things you can make with these.

Here’s what I eat these days when I’m pressed for time, like getting the kids ready for school: a couple of slices of low-carb seedy bread with avocado. Plus a big mug of real coffee with homemade almond milk – because, friends, coffee is happiness. If I’m still hungry, I’ll munch on raw veggies or have a big spoonful of peanut butter. Yum.

seedy bread breakfast

On weekends though, I make something more elaborate. Last weekend, I made this Asian portobello mushroom sauce with garlic, ginger, chilli, and Sichuan peppercorns. I poured it over homemade tofu and devoured it. It was utterly delicious. It’s actually pretty simple to prepare, too, if you want to give it a try.

portobello mushroom sauce ingredients

The basic recipe is below. The key flavor here is Sichuan peppercorns. You can omit the chilli if you like but please give Sichuan peppercorns a try. It adds a distinct, strong and fresh flavor kind of like coriander or fennel seeds – but not really. It’s hard to explain but I love it. Using whole peppercorns also adds a nice crunchy texture to the dish.

You can use whatever mushrooms you have lying around, or in any combination. Portobello or shiitake would be great though, because of their meaty texture that can match the strong flavor combination. But if not, white button mushrooms would work just fine.

If you want to make the sauce but are avoiding soy, try pouring the sauce over lightly steamed broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, etc. If you are okay with carbohydrate, the sauce would be delicious over noodles, rice (cauliflower rice would also be fantastic for a low-carb option), quinoa, etc. Enjoy and, if you happen to make this dish, please let me know how you go!

Sichuan mushroom sauce
Sichuan mushroom sauce

Spicy Sichuan Mushroom Sauce (Vegan, Low-Carb, GF)

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September 27, 2017

Kickstart your morning with this spicy and scrumptious (and low-carb of course) Asian mushroom sauce with tofu!

  • Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients

1 cup portobello or other mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp sesame, olive, or coconut oil for cooking mushrooms

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp ginger

1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns

1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)

1 tbsp soy sauce (use gluten free if you like)

1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot, for thickening

1 cup water or vegetable soup stock

1 cup momen or silken tofu

Directions

1Slice or chop the mushrooms. You want relatively chunky bits - not too small, not too large. Mince garlic and ginger together.

2Preheat a frying pan over medium-high heat (I love my Lodge cast-iron pan). Spread whatever oil you are using, and when the pan and oil are nice and hot, carefully lay the mushroom bits in a single layer. You want the mushrooms to brown, so don't overcrowd the pan. Leave the mushroom alone (don't stir) for 3-4 minutes till one side has browned and shrunk a bit. Flip the mushrooms over with a spatula, and let the other side brown for 2-3 minutes.

3Add chilli flakes, Sichuan peppercorns, minced garlic and ginger to the pan, and cook for a minute or so. Add soy sauce and stir for a few seconds (it should sizzle), until it all starts to smell amazing.

4Dissolve cornstarch or arrowroot in water or stock, and pour it in the pan. Mix, until the water has boiled (shouldn't take long), and the sauce thickened. Reduce heat to a simmer, and let the sauce cook gently for a few minutes. If the liquid evaporates too much, just add more water or stock to bring it back to a nice saucy consistency. Adjust seasoning to your taste.

5Pour the sauce over a good chunk of tofu and any other vegetables you have around. Scatter a few leaves of cilantro / coriander or chopped scallions if you have any.

The sauce is great over homemade tofu. If you are buying tofu, organic "momen" (or medium firm) or silken tofu is best. I don't recommend hard-firmness tofu - it's a bit too tough to eat raw in my opinion. But you can cook slices of hard tofu until crispy in the oven or in another frying pan. That'll be delicious with the sauce. And of course, this will make a lovely lunch or dinner dish as well.

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Adzuki Bean Hummus (Vegan)

adzuki bean hommus

Did you know that you can make hummus from any beans? Adzuki beans, for one.

adzuki beans

In Japan (where I grew up), cooked adzuki beans are often mixed with sugar to make fillings for sweet treats like mochi and buns. Adzuki inherently tastes sweet, even without added sugar. So I was a little skeptical at first of making savoury dishes with adzuki beans.

adzuki bean hommusUntil I tried this hummus. Totally delicious! Adzuki beans are one of the most nutritious and diabetes-friendly beans around, apparently. It has lots of protein, fibre, antioxidants, and potassium, for starters.

Making adzuki hummus is simple, except you need to cook the beans from scratch. Unlike chickpea or other more common beans, it’s hard to find canned (and unsweetened) adzuki beans in supermarkets. But don’t let that stop you. Adzuki is one of the easiest, fastest beans to cook from scratch.

And the hummus is so pretty! It has a beautiful light purple colour. Enjoy it as a dip for all sorts of veggies (raw bok choi is so delicious, and conveniently shaped like a spoon for scooping up hummus).

I hope you enjoy the recipe.

adzuki bean hommus

adzuki bean hommus
adzuki bean hommus

Adzuki Bean Hummus

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September 23, 2017

Move over, chickpeas! Make this tasty, nutritious, and pretty-in-purple adzuki bean hummus for a change. I guarantee you'll fall in love.

  • Yields: about 3 cups

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked adzuki beans

4 tbsp tanihi

1 tsp salt

2-3 garlic cloves

Directions

1Soak the adzuki beans overnight in filtered water.

2Cook the soaked beans until tender. I cook all beans in my beloved Instant Pot – an electric pressure cooker – and it takes about 5 minutes of pressure with natural release. Not long at all, unlike black turtle beans that take whopping 35 minutes in the pressure cooker. You can also cook the beans in a pot of simmering water on stovetop – just add a little more water several times as the water evaporates. You'll have about 3 cups of cooked adzuki beans.

3Drain the beans well. In a food processor fitted with an S blade, process the beans, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt until smooth (or with a bit of texture if you like it that way). Adzuki beans are pretty juicy when cooked well, so there is no need to add extra water or oil (as you would when making chickpea hummus).

4Taste, and adjust seasoning / lemon juice / tahini to your liking.

Try different flavour additives. Reduce salt, and try adding a litltle soy sauce, miso, or vegan fish sauce. Add a drizzle of toasted sesame oil for a more intense flavour. You can also try adding cumin and/or paprika for a more Mediterranean flavour, but keep it simple because you don't want to overwhelm the delicate, subtle flavour of adzuki beans.

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