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Plant these delicious meals on your plate

Tammy Fry's West African Coconut Curry.
By NERISSA CARD

The move to a plant-based diet is gaining momentum, but many people, myself included, have no idea where to start, so I was delighted when Tammy Fry’s Made With Love and Plants (PenguinRandom House) landed on my desk.

Fry is a director of Meat-free Mondays in SA and Australia, her mission being to enable others to live a happier, more energetic lifestyle through plant-based eating.

This book, featuring more than 70 recipes, from breakfasts to dinner, light meals and snacks, provides detailed, yet easy-to-follow advice on switching to this type of lifestyle.

She also provides alternatives to dairy and gift ideas, such as sugar and post-workout scrubs.
Fry gives reasons for a plant-based diet, how to transition thereto, answers questions about the “challenges” thereof and tackles vegan parenting, must-have kitchen equipment and what to keep in the pantry, among a host of other advice.

Here is a taste of what you can expect, starting, naturally, with breakfast.

Wholesome vegan granola.

WHOLESOME VEGAN GRANOLA

Serves: 12
Prep time: 25 minutes
Level of difficulty: 3/5

What Tammy says: Super-simple and loaded with good fats, antioxidants and super grains, this vegan granola is a staple in my pantry. Add a little more coconut oil and maple syrup, and you can make homemade, crunchy bars that are perfect snacks for work and school lunchboxes. Or enjoy it as is, in handfuls, sprinkled over coconut yoghurt or smoothie bowls.

INGREDIENTS

1/2C coconut oil
1/2C maple syrup
1C puffed amaranth (substitute millet or quinoa)
1C organic rolled oats
1/2C raw macadamia nuts
1/2C raw cashew nuts
1/2C pepitas or shelled pumpkin seeds
1/2C sunflower seeds
1/2C shredded coconut (use dessicated if you can’t find shredded)
1/2C activated buckwheat
1/4C chia seeds
1/4C hemp seeds
1t ground cloves
1t ground cinnamon
Chopped dried papaya, dried apple or crystalised ginger (all optional)

METHOD

Preheat oven to 120C and line a baking tray (25 x 35cm) with baking paper.

In a small pot over a medium heat, melt the coconut oil until it is completely liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup. Place all the remaining ingredients, except the optional dried fruit, into a bowl and mix well. Pour over the coconut oil mixture and stir until well combined and all the ingredients are coated with the oil. Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared baking tray and take for 15 to 20 minutes. It can burn easily so keep checking.

Once lightly browned, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. If you are including dried fruit, add it once the granola is completely cool. Break up and store in a well-sealed jar.

Simple baby marrow fritters.

For a light meal, give SIMPLE BABY MARROW FRITTERS a whirl.

Serves: 4 to 6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: Depends on the number of pans you have.
Level of difficulty: 4/5

What Tammy says: Fritters can be made with a variety of veggie and spice combinations. I think they could almost be the fairy godmother of the kitchen … dress them up or down with a variety of garnishes or buns to make mini sliders … the options are endless.

INGREDIENTS

8 to 10 medium baby marrows, washed and grated
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1t fine salt
2 heaped tablespoons cornflour
1t dried oregano, rubbed
1t freshly ground black pepper
1t ground turmeric
1t smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1C wholewheat flour or chickpea flour for a gluten-free option
1/4C olive oil

METHOD

Place the baby marrows and spring onions in a colander. Sprinkle over the salt and set aside for 10 minutes until softenened. In a large bowl, mix the cornflour with 3T of water until a smooth paste is formed (this replaces egg as a binding agent). Add the oregano, pepper, turmeric and paprika to the cornflour mixture.

Take handfuls of grated baby marrow and spring onions and squeeze to remove excess water. Place them in the bowl with the spiced cornflour mixture and add the garlic. Add enough flour to form a thick batter (this will depend on the type of flour used). Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. To test if it’s hot enough, drop a tiny ball of batter into the oil; it should sizzle. Drop spoonfuls of batter in the oil, pressing down lightly to form fritters. Turn once or twice until both sides are lightly browned and crisped. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to drain.

Garnish as desired and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.

Pumpkin and coconut soup.

With winter around the corner, how about PUMPKIN AND COCONUT SOUP

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Level of difficulty: 2/4

What Tammy says: There is nothing quite like cold, rainy days, huddled around a fire, a bowl of warm soup with crusty bread in your hands. It is honestly magical. Unless, of course, you are on the beach with the warm sun on your back and salt in your hair. That might just beat the rainy day!

INGREDIENTS

3T extra-virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3cm piece fresh ginger, grated
4C peeled and cubed (2cm cubes) pumpkin
2C vegetable stock
2C coconut milk
Sprig of fresh rosemary
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
Fine salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2C coconut cream
Vegan parmesan

METHOD

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and lightly saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute for two minutes. Add the pumpkin and fry for five to eight minutes until the pumpkin is slightly browned at the edges. Pour in the stock and coconut milk, and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender. Stir in the herbs for the last five minutes of simmering, then discard the rosemary. Using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add the coconut cream and increase the heat, but do not boil.

Sprinkle over the vegan parmesan and garnish as desired. Serve with beer bread. If you have any leftover soup, it will keep well in small containers in the freezer.

Again, with winter in mind, here’s Tammy’s WEST AFRICAN COCONUT CURRY

Serves: 6 to 8
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Level of difficulty: 2/5
What Tammy says: Inspired by the peanut-based curries of West Africa, this hearty curry will have you dishing up seconds.

INGREDIENTS

1T coconut oil
1 medium brown onion, chopped
2cm piece fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
1T garam masala
1t ground coriander
2C coconut milk
1t ground turmeric
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced into rings (optional)
2 1/2C peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
2C peeled and cubed butternut
1/2 red pepper, sliced into 1cm strips
3C vegetable stock
1/4C crunchy peanut butter
Handful of fresh coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

To serve: Rice, bread, crushed peanuts, toasted wraps (optional)

METHOD

In a large saucepan, heat the coconut oil over a medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, garam masala and ground coriander, then lightly saute for three to five minutes, taking care not to burn the spieces (they really just need to be lightly toasted, so stir continuously and add a tablespoon of water if they begin to brown too much).

Add the coconut milk, turmeric, chilli, sweet potatoes, butternut, red pepper, stock and peanut butter. Bring to a simmer over a low heat and leave to simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add the coriander for the last 10 minutes, but reserve some as garnish. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with rice of your choice, beer bread, crushed peanuts or toasted wraps.

And for a sweet treat:

Caramel choc-nut bars.

SCRUMPTIOUS CARAMEL CHOC-NUT BARS

Makes: 15 bars
Prep time: 20 minutes
Freezing time: One hour (or longer)
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Level of difficulty: 4/5
What Tammy says: Nothing, they speak for themselves.

INGREDIENTS

3/4C dry-roasted almonds
2/3C rice malt syrup (substitute maple syrup)
1T soy milk
1/4C melted coconut butter (substitute vegan margarine)
1t Himalayan salt
1t vanilla paste
1C chunky peanut butter
Chocolate coating:
140g dark vegan chocolate
1T coconut butter (substitute vegan margarine)

METHOD

Pour the almonds into a paper bag and roll with a rolling pin to crush. It’s up to you how chunky a texture you prefer. Heat the rice malt syrup in a pan until it starts bubbling. Allow it to bubble for three minutes. Add the soy milk and bring back to the boil for another three minutes. Add the melted coconut butter, salt, vanilla paste and peanut butter, then stir over a low heat until all the ingredients have blended together and turned into a smooth paste. Stir through the almonds.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Pour the peanut butter mixture onto the baking paper and fold the paper over to hold the peanut butter mixture in place. The mixture should be approximately 1cm deep. Place in the freezer for a minimum of one hour.

For the chocolate coating, use a double boiler or place a glass blowl over a pot of simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl). Add the chocolate and coconut butter to the bowl and keep stirring until the mixture melts and is completely smooth.

Cut the frozen peanut butter mixture into bars. Lift all the bars from the baking paper – they may be slightly sticky so peel them off with a spatula – and dip the bars, one by one, into the melted chocolate.

Place the bars on a cooling rack (place some baking paper or paper towel under the cooking rack to catch the dripping chocolate).

Once all the bars have been coated, place the cooking rack in the fridge for 20 minutes for the coating to set. Store the bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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