Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)

Chana Masala

Chana Masala (Chickpea curry)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
I started off with Hema's recipe but found it far too hot and corianderish (seed) for my personal taste. Also simplified greatly the roasting processes. I'm very happy with this recipe now. My ethnically/gastronomically-Indian partner just told me it tasted amazing, and exactly like that Chana Masala we had at that restaurant where we both thought was the best-tasting we've ever had so far in the healthy-food category. So I think my improving this recipe is over and it's time to share it with you 🙂 You'll need to make a trip to the local Indian/Asian shop to do full justice to any Indian cooking including this dish. These are the must-have Indian spices you'll only find in any Indian shops : asofetida & amchur (which is green/unripe mango powder). The rest is usually commonly found even in supermarkets.
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole-food, plant-based
Cuisine: South Asian
Serves: 4~6 adult meals if served with rice
Ingredients
  • 3 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 3 large onions finely chopped
  • 220g of salt-free or low-salt tomato paste concentrate OR 1kg of grated tomatoes (to be reduced later)
  • A few stalks of fresh coriander (5 g)
WHOLE SPICES FOR ROASTING
  • 3 small sticks cinnamon (finger-sized or two inches)
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
OTHER SPICES
  • ¼th tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp grated ginger, densely packed
  • 1½ tsp turmeric
  • 1½ tsp cayenne (OR 1 fresh hot chilli halved lengthwise)
  • 1½ tsp unripe mango powder (look/ask for amchur in any Indian/South Asian shop, do not replace with mango!)
  • 2 Tbsp Garam Masala (or Make your own)
Instructions
  1. Put the soaked chickpeas to cook for 1h30 on medium heat in a regular pot (without a lid) or ~20 minutes in a pressure cooker. Do not stir them. They should be very soft and melt in the mouth when you press them with your tongue. Don't put too much water, ideally you wouldn't need to strain them later.
  2. Put some brown rice to cook as well to go with the Chana Masala later.
  3. Chop the coriander finely.
  4. Prepare the Garam Masala.
  5. Cut the onions finely. To save time, I use a mandoline to slice them, and a chopper (or a knife). Set aside.
  6. If you're using fresh tomatoes, grate them now to a purée. Set aside.
  7. Grate the ginger
  8. On low to medium heat, roast the spices "for roasting" for a few minutes. To prevent burning the the small/thin spices/herbs, put the biggest items first until roasted, then add the the smaller ones, so in this order: Cinnamon, cardamom, then bay leaves & cumin. Stir well, whenever it starts being fragrant and slightly smoking, add the onion immediately.
  9. Set the heat to the maximum and keep stirring the onions "dry". They will give off a lot of steam and start caramelizing.
  10. When the bottom of your pot starts being brown, reduce the heat to medium.
  11. Add either the grated tomatoes, or the tomato paste + ~1 litre of water.
  12. Add the "other spices" and the coriander, stir well and let cook for ~20 minutes. Stir now and then to prevent sticking at the bottom. Turn off the heat when the sauce is rather thick.
  13. Mix gently with the chickpeas. Enjoy!
Notes
Garnish with fresh coriander and slices of purple onion.
Serve either on rice or as a side with chapati (Indian wholemeal flatbread).

 

Health-Promoting Eating: Simple, Powerful Steps and Rules to Actually Do It

This is my ass, at the produce market, or farmers market.


Why am I posting this?

As simple as this may seem, this is a very very important post. It’s true.

If you would really like to eat more healthy food but struggle to actually do it, this is precisely for you. If you live in a “healthy food deserts”, this is also for you.

It will also help anyone seeking to be:
– eating food that leaves animals alone and off the plate
– eating health-promoting food
– any allergy or intolerance to certain foods (low-sodium, gluten-intolerance, wheat allergy, …)

Below, a “health-promoting diet” is interchangeable with a low-fat, whole-food, plant-based diet.

My story living in food deserts

Three/four years years ago, I lived in a real food desert. It was a high-density neighbourhood with very few even tasty options, let alone healthy…and I didn’t cook. In that country, if you want to eat out all the time, it’s affordable, cheaper than making it yourself, and that’s what *apparently* everybody did. Except for breakfast, I ate only from restaurants and take-aways most of the food I was having. Sort of tried to make the food less harmful asking: “less oil”, “no MSG”, “less syrup”, “less sugar”…but still…but how much less harmful can you make a fried rice? of deep fried banana fritters? or any of the overly oily, salty, sweetened, animal-product-containing foods restaurants make in big batches for the day, when that’s the only options you have in front of you?

So, how to do? How to deal with the situation of wanting to eat a certain way and the reality that almost nowhere convenient/affordable provides that sort of food? It’s a very common complaint, but I (and other people) go on for years, sometimes decades yearning for healthy food, while not actually eating it yet.
Unfortunately, our health and body cares little about how good our intentions are. Restaurants are businesses, their mission #1 is sustainable profit. What are sure-fire ways to do that? Oil/salt/sugar, other processed foods, animals products. Precisely the worst thing for health. Your mission is very different from theirs, it’s sustainable health.

Good news: There are just a few simple but incredibly powerful things to know and practice if you want to actually eat exactly what it is you would like to be eating “ideally”.
There are two approaches:
1) Learning about everything that’s bad, and avoiding bad things. I call it the “negative restriction” approach. It feels like the list of things you can’t have is endless.
2) Learn about getting what is right, and do just that. I call it the positive saturation approach. It feels like the list of healthy things you can have is infinite.

#2 is by far the easiest. Just saturate the terrain with what is right, this leaves no space for anything else.

I break it down in a few key points:

0) What to eat: whole-food, low fat, vegan (notably: no salt, no oil, no sugar) is where best health is. How to actually do it?:
1) Get your ass veggie-shopping
2) Get your ass in the kitchen
3) Outsmart the lazy eating monster that’s in you:
A) No crap in the Temple
B) Think ahead to feed the beast within you, or it will kill you
C) Veggie-shop on a full stomach
D) Eat before joining friends in restaurants
E) Always leave the house with packed food if you’re out over meal time.

1) Get your ass veggie-shopping

What I buy I eat, what I don’t buy stays away from my plate and stomach. As simple as powerful. Many (farmers or produce) markets have a regular weekly schedule. In all cases, make it a habit to grocery shop once a week. And when shopping for dried foods (cereals, grains, legumes, wholemeal pasta, etc..) don’t be shy to buy in bulk and get enough for half a year or several months if you are able to store that conveniently. It won’t go bad and the less frequently you have you “fuel your tank”, the less likely you are to run out of food in your house. Because what happens when the pantry or fridge is empty? We make poor decisions, like ordering a pizza, or driving like mad to our favourite restaurant that will serve us “ethnic-flavoured fat, sugar and salt” to quote the lovely Dr. Klaper.
What we do for fresh produce is buy all the fruit and veggies that we most often use (tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, etc…) + the special ones needed for some meals we already know we want to make. If after that we think of making a certain dish but a few ingredients are missing, we quickly hop by the supermarket to get them.
In our experience, 1 week = 3~4 sessions of batch cooking, it can be fully planned if you wanted to.

2) Get your ass in the kitchen, merrily

What I cook, I have (mostly) full control over what goes in it. But what I buy that is already cooked – like when I eat out – other people made the decisions and I choose from there: poor choice, no control what goes in and how it’s made…
Ahead of time, have an idea what food want to eat. Write it down. Get the recipes.
Prepare food in large batches. From one batch to another, variation can be created by adding various raw foods: raw veggies, salads and fruits, bakes veggies/potatoes take no time to put together. You can also freeze surplus, right after cooking/cooling, not after 6 days in the fridge and you can’t take it any more. Use it when you feel like having something new or for busy/lazy days.
Make it a habit to spend 30 min to 1 hour in the kitchen several times a week.
Make it enjoyable: If you ever feel it’s painful, it’s supposed to be fun/enjoyable and it eventually will become so. Meanwhile, if you feel that time is long, consider these while preparing food: play music, play podcasts, if you have a TV turn on the documentary channel or a fun series, phone someone, request for your partner’s company. Whatever keeps it fun for you and makes time fly while your hands are busy.
Take turns with your flatmates or partner. We do two weeks each.


Tip: For couples that include at least one (pre-menopausal) female, we’d recommend taking turns based on menstrual cycles when possible. This way, whoever is not feeling their best (PMRollercoaster/periods) is off-duty and gets to take a break, while the other one is in a mode to take care of things and people.

For those who feel time-poor, chefs like Chef AJ specialize in recipes that batch cook in less than 30 minuts. Many meals are appealing, it’s not 100% home-made or always sophisticated but it surely works for health, no doubt.

 

3) Outsmart the lazy eating-monster that’s in you (and in me)

A) Out of sight out of mouth
No junk foods in my temples: house, office, wherever I spend time. Because I am like you, if I am hungry (or not), in front of chips or chocolate, I will experience temptation. But what is sitting in the junk food isle of the supermarket is away from sight, away from tempting anyone.
I also saturated a corner of the kitchen with fresh fruits, dried fruits, and an oat bag. It’s the hottest spot in the house, we pass by it all the time. Guess what my snacks are whenever I feel hungry between meals? What you see is what you eat.

Below is the busiest corner in the house. More details on Instagram (click on the picture to see).

B) Always have food ready
Aim to always, and I mean ALWAYS have food that you prepared, ready to be eaten, in the fridge or in the freezer, or some sort of box at reach. The fridge/kitchen/lunchbox is the lazy place, that’s where food comes from. If there’s no food you prepared in it, you’ll either cook while hungry (not fun at all!) or more likely: order a pizza, or eat out somewhere unhealthy or with unsuitable ingredients for the tenth time this month. When you cook, cook in batches, and cook again another batch before you run out. Find yourself one or two 5L (5 liters) pots at second-hand shops if you don’t have any.

Basically, think of ready-to-eat / health-promoting food as you would petrol in your car:

  • There’s always supposed to be some,
  • always more than you need,
  • the more the better.

Below is a pot of 5l of Moroccan-style tabouli, that will last us quite some time! More details on Instagram (click on the picture to see).

C) Make grocery shopping enjoyable
Shop only right after a nice filling meal, life is so much more pleasant when you’re not feeling hangry, you’ll make healthier and more rational purchases too.
Look for ways that condition your shopping trips to be either short, or fun, by any means possible. When you need only key items go with the written list you’ve accumulated on your fridge post-it. On days when it feels like a chore to me, I just ask my partner to come with me. She’s not required for the grocery shopping, but it turns a pain for one person into a nice chatting/bonding moment for two people. Companionship makes everything better.
If you can shop at a place that has only healthy foods, like fresh produce markets, or farmers markets, that’s even better. It’s far more charming and social than supermarkets, and you won’t be as tempted by junk food if that’s an issue for you.

D) Eat before joining friends/colleagues/family in restaurants
Restaurants are no health-food temples. Here are a few things I’ve done in the past that worked for me:

  • Join your friends on a full stomach and order nothing. Depending on the context and people, this might put an unwanted spotlight on you, and might send a “starvation” vibe about the lifestyle you’d love everyone to adopt.
    Just say you had a large snack earlier and you’re still quite full and remind that you’re here to hang out/catch up.
  • On a full stomach, you will get by with the pinch of calories in that “ridiculous salad” that might be the only plant-based item in the menu. At least you’d be eating something, which is more socially acceptable.
  • If you’re expected to eat or want to eat a substantial meal with them, call the restaurant in advance (ideally 24h+ same-day reminder). This way the long process of checking the chef’s skills around healthy cooking and communicating your detailed needs can be done over the phone as opposed to in the restaurant.
  • Feel free to find a restaurant that will cater for your needs, suggest that instead to your mates.

I learned this the hard way. Trying persistently to get healthy food at a random pub/restaurants will most often do two things: 1) predictably drain you while offering bizarre show to your hungry friends or 2) the food you’ll get won’t be as health-promoting as you’d like it to be

E) Always leave the house with packed food and snacks if you’re out over meal times
It’s ridiculously easy to make poor dietary decisions in a healthy food desert. If you’re not sure how long you’re out for, make sure to always have a meal’s worth of food just in case you might feel like staying out. Worst case scenario you’ll eat that when you come back home.
Cold food is something easier to get used to than we may initially think. I find the easiest food to fill up your stomach when out occasionally is muesli and fruit, because it’s super easy to prepare, dry, and only needs water to become edible. Of course if you’re eating out of the house often (i.e. at work) you’ll have to pack proper varied meals.

Below is an example of food we pack with us when going to the movie theatre. More details on Instagram (click on the picture to see). We also use a tiny chilly bin that we load with proper meals, bowls and cutlery.

I hope this was helpful.

List of Low-Fat WFPB SOS-free Recipes

This page is a WORK IN PROGRESS. It is a bit messy here and there but can be used right away already until further improved/optimised.

Update info:

Dec 15th: Added recipes (+ ~20) + easier navigation.
Dec 6, 2016: Loaded and provided comments to wholefoodise and make SOS-free a large proportion of the recipes on the PlantPlate website.

Summary

Breakfast / Teatime
Lunch and Dinner

Salads
Salad dressings
Soups

Appetizers
Sauce,  dips and spreads
Desserts
Snacks
WFPB no-SOS Food Classification Explained

 

Breakfast / Teatime

Savoury Breakfast

Curried Chickpea and Millet Croquettes – 45 min (prep: 10 min, cooking: 30 min)
Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add slightly more of the strong-flavoured ingredients).

Sweet breakfast

Easy Overnight Oats – 5 min
Must: Use water instead of plant milk. The oats will release their own oat milk if you stir a bit.
Note: An instant version (not overnight) can me made with “shredded” rolled oats.

Cranberry Spice Granola
Must: Skip seeds if recovering cardiovascular disease. Use a date mash/blend instead of maple or date syrup. Instead of cranberries a dried fruit that is not processed nor with sugar added (dates, raisins, currants, figs, apricots etc).
Preferable: Skip nutmeg.

Baked Goods

Heads-up: Although baked good being ground are preferable as occasional treat or had in a small amount, not as a meal.

Banana & Blueberry Walnut Cake – 50 minutes (+~1h dough rising)

Scrumptious Hot Cross Buns– 3h10min total – 1 hour of work

Lunch & Dinner

3 Bean Mole –  45 minuts
Must: Mash a few sweet dried fruits instead of maple syrup, use real tomatoes and reduce water or use very-low-sodium tomato paste.
Preferable: prefer home-cooked beans to cans, prefer paprika to smoked paprika.
Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients).

7 Minute Soup – 10 minutes
Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients).

Adzuki Bean Stew – 40 minutes
Must: Use real tomatoes and reduce water or use very-low-sodium concentrated tomato paste. Preferred/Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients).

Artichoke Tapenade – 5 minutes
Must: Not use tahini if recovering cardiovascular disease. Preferred/Optional: Steam/boil artichokes instead of relying on cans.

Baked Butternut and Mushroom Risotto – 1h10min
Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients). Preferred: Nutritional yeast is best left out (free glutamic acid is MSG-like).

Biryani – 1h20min
This recipe is plant-perfect as it is.

Braised Leeks and Peas – 25 minutes
Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients). Preferred: Nutritional yeast is best left out (free glutamic acid may act like MSG). Instead of the commercial plant-milk, blend your own oats to make a thin whole-food milk if recovering heart disease, or almonds otherwise.

Buckwheat and Roasted Vegetable Medley – 25 minutes
Must: Not use sunflower seeds if recovering a cardiovascular disease. Mash a few sweet dried fruits instead of maple/date syrup. Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients).

Buckwheat, Pea and Mushroom Pilaf – 40 minutes
Must: Make sure the curry powder is salt-free. Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients).

Cauliflower Dal – 50 minutes
Preferred: Cut your own fresh whole tomatoes instead of relying on cans. Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients).

Youcef’s Moroccan Sweet & Savoury Tagine– 2 hours – 8~10 meals (prep: 1 h – cooking 1 h)

Khadija’s Moroccan Couscous – 1 h 20 – 7 meals (prep: 20 min – cooking: 1 h)

Khadija’s Moroccan Lentils – 1 h 20 – 4 meals (prep:20 min – cooking 1 h)

Pizza:

Burgers & Sandwiches:

Easy Oven Fries
Preferred: Use regular paprika instead of paprika. Use the dips listed in the present article.

Eggplant Stuffed with Moroccan-Spiced Millet – 1h (p:10 + c:50)
Must: Use a salt-free vegetable stock, or water in which case you might want to add just a bit more of your favourite strong-flavoured ingredients in the recipe.

Healthy Hummus – 10 minutes
Must: Skip tahini if you are recovering from cardiovascular disease. Skip soy yogurt as an alternative. If using paprika, use regular paprika instead of smoked paprika.
Preferable: Prefer home-cooked beans to cans even if they’re salt-free.

Salads

Carrot, Beet and Chickpea Salad – 15 minutes
Preferred: Prefer home-cooked beans to cans even if they’re salt-free.

Balsamic-Roasted Butternut and Chickpea Salad – 30 minutes
Preferred: Prefer home-cooked beans to cans even if they’re salt-free.

Hearty Bean Salad – 10 minutes
Must: Not use avocado seeds if recovering a cardiovascular disease. Seed out and blend the lemon/lime instead of juicing them. Not use salt.
Preferred
: Prefer home-cooked beans to cans even if they’re salt-free.

Millet and Black Bean Salad– 40 minutes
Must: Replace the rice/maple syrup by mashed/blended sweet dried fruit.
Preferred: Prefer home-cooked beans to cans even if they’re salt-free.

Spring Herb Potato Salad – 40 minutes
Must: Not use mustard if recovering cardiovascular disease. Replace silken tofu by a whole food, like this mayo-ish dressing. Use seeded out and blended lemon instead of juice. Use a paste of sweet dried fruit instead of rice syrup and instead any other sweetener.

Vietnamese Vermicelli Salad – 25 minutes
Must: Not use sesame seeds if with or recovering advanced cardiovascular disease (high-fat). Not use white vermicelli if you don’t find brown rice vermicelli. Not use tamari nor soy sauce (high-salt). Use a paste/blend of sweet dried fruit instead of rice syrup and instead any other sweetener (whole food). Blend seeded lime flesh instead of juicing it (whole food).

Salad dressings

Orange-Balsamic Vinaigrette – 25 minutes
Must: Seed out and blend the oranges instead of juicing them.

Mayo/Aioli-like Dressing – 45 minutes

Soups

Carrot, Orange and Ginger Soup – 55 minutes
Must: not use miso (high-salt), blend the orange instead of juicing it. Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients).

Creamy Zucchini Pasta – 30 minutes
Must: Not use sunflower butter or sesame seeds if with or recovering advanced cardiovascular disease (high-fat), a lower-fat creamy effect can be obtained with the nut-free version of this sauce.
Preferable: to replace plant milk by water especially using the creamy sauce suggested above. Nutritional yeast is best not used (free glutamic acid is MSG-like). Optional: Veggie stock optional (you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients).

Chinese Vegetable and Noodle Soup – 30 minutes
Must: Not use anything else than brown rice vermicelli.

Curried Pumpkin and Kale Soup – 45 min (p:15 + c:25)
Must: Use a no-sodium vegetable stock, you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients.

Curried Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup – 55 min (p:20 + c:35)
Must: Skip miso. Use a no-sodium vegetable stock, you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients.

Curried Pumpkin and Kale Soup – 40 min (p:15 + c:25)
Must: Use a no-sodium vegetable stock, you can use water instead and add more strong-flavoured ingredients.
Preferable: Skip nutmeg.

Appetizers

 

Sauces & Dips

Ketchup – 5 minutes
Must: Use a paste/blend of sweet dried fruit instead of rice syrup and instead of any other sweetener (whole food). Use no salt.

Low-fat Mayo-like, Aioli-like dips – 5 min prep – 30 min cooking

Lemon Mustard Dressing – 5 minutes
Must: Not use sesame seeds if recovering with or recovering advanced cardiovascular disease (high-fat). Use a paste/blend of sweet dried fruit instead of rice syrup and instead any other sweetener (whole food).

Chunky Salsa Dip – 25 minutes
Must: Replace the maple/date syrup by mashed/blended sweet dried fruit. Use a salt-free or very low-salt tomato paste, or make your own and reduce it.
Preferred: Use paprika instead of smoked paprika. Prefer home-cooked foods to cans even if they’re salt-free.

Tomato and Pepper Chutney – 35 minutes
Must: Use a paste/blend of sweet dried fruit instead of maple syrup and instead any other sweetener (whole food)

Spreads

Savoury

Moroccan-style Jackfruit Tuna with Spicy Tomato Sauce – 1h
This recipe is potentially plant-perfect. Directions to make WFPB SOS-free in the recipe article.

Sweet

Orange Marmalade – 10 min prep / 3 h cooking

Black Lemon Marmalade – 5 min  prep – 2 h cooking

Desserts

Fresh Fruits.

Nice Cream – 5 minuts
Must: Use water instead of plant milk if needed at all, use real vanilla bean instead of an extracts.

WFPB SOS-free Food Classification

Why is there confusion with what is a “true” whole food?
Why best practice is where I stand?
List of acceptable/non-acceptable low-fat whole foods and exceptions

Why is there confusion with what is a “true” whole food?

There are various degrees of how seriously one can implement a WFPB no-SOS diet. The somewhat subjective word is “whole food” because “processing” a food can mean a lot of thing although we have some good idea what the safest definitions are.

Since whole foods are meant for health, the mother question remains “How likely is that likely is ingredient X or recipe X to be harmful?” or “How likely am I or the people in my house to abuse the wrong products supposed to be had in moderation”.

It’s easier (and sadly more popular) to adopt a loose approach with WFPB, and sadly so many cookbooks do so. I reckon these are of major help and far better than nothing, and I understand that some compromises might appeal more to the general public as a step. In the whole-food and plant-based circles,  we get irritated by the stories/articles of doctors who know eating a plant-based diet would be the best thing for a patient, but they don’t tell them assuming the patient will accept. We all agree, tell the patient, if you the doctor don’t eat this way, and let the patient decide.
Well, likewise, our whole food leaders should not shy away from proposing the best practice, and they know what it is. Whether they practice it or not personally at home, people need to be told and shown best practice and decide for themselves where they want to compromise their health and nutrition, if they want to compromise it at all.

So where do I stand?

My approach is pretty simple:

  1. If what I have on my kitchen counter to start with doesn’t look like the solid foods I would bring back from a garden/field somewhere, it’s probably not a food.
  2. If what ends in my mouth, has lost something in the journey since it was an edible food from the garden, I’ve probably done something I shouldn’t do.
  3. If a beverage isn’t what falls from the clouds and fills the lakes and rivers and ponds all other animals drink from, or that mixed with item #1, it’s probably not a beverage.

Does this sound like common sense ? Yes. Is this is what the healthiest populations we know of actually did? Yes.

In this modern, outsourced, processed world, I am not the type of person that will  recognise something processed (or artificial) as safe by default, and say “there’s no strong enough proof it’s harmful” until the (predictable) day there is. Looking in the past and learn from cumulative personal and collective wisdom, you’ve got to think ahead and not reinvent the square wheel.

This said I’m very aware that if we go 500 years ahead or use an omniscient computer, and look back at the way I eat, in hindsight there are certainly things I exclude which may be irrelevant health-wise. Is it a big deal? No. Why?

For one, I’m already very satisfied eating the way we already eat, real food for really healthy humans.
If logic strongly suggests that something both unnecessary and unnatural, is going to be likely harmful by definition, then I find it not just wiser but also easier to not do any amount of that.
It saves me the self-inflicted torture of “moderation”.
It saves me the harm left behind by of half-measures.
It saves me the million wonders, doubts and guilts when a health problem arises.
It saves me the unspeakable waste of time there is keeping in touch with the fine science of measuring just how harmful are exactly the utterly unnecessary harmful things humans still decide to do or eat.

Alright! We got it…Now shoot the list!

Non-foods:

  • artificial flavourings (vanilla extracts, etc)
  • artificial leavening agents (baking soda, baking powders, etc)
  • salt
  • liquid smoke (smoke in liquid form, hundreds of toxic chemicals, including aromatic hydrocarbons, many of which are known carcinogens).

Common processed foods:

  • tofu in all its forms
  • extracted sugars such as: date syrup, date sugar, rice syrup, coconut sugar, rice syrup, molasses…they may not be empty calories, but a sugar extracted from its natural and usually fiber-rich environnement (tree trunk, coconut stalk, beet root, corn kernel, rice grain…) is not a whole food and should be viewed by default as something inherently very similar to white or refined sugar. What is a whole food is a whole dried fruit for instance.
  • nutritional yeast: Principle of precaution: The glutamic acid is released when the nutritional yeast is deactivated by a heat process, an umami taste appears and that’s due to the same molecule as that in Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), which has been proven harmful).

Tolerated are:

  • Cocoa powder: it is the fibre-rich, lower-fat fraction of the whole cocoa fruit. Not a whole food, best kept to a minimum if had at all (mainly due to the fat), a million times preferable to chocolate which is pure fat and sugar.
  • Vinegars: The whole-food version would be rather unappetising and vinegar has shown some health benefits.
  • Plant milks: They are refined products. Their popularity, omnipresence and liquid aspect makes us forget it’s a highly processed food, not uncommonly comprised of many processed ingredients with relevant amounts of sugar and/or fat. I prefer doing without, and looking for ways to replace them whenever possible.
  • Low-salt or salt-free tomato pastes.

Banana & Blueberry Walnut Cake – Unprocessed – Extracted-Sugar-Free

banana-blueberry-cake-closeup-610
The last banana/walnut cake I had eaten was been pretty delicious, but unfortunately I found out it had some maple syrup and coconut oil, and was risen using baking powder. This means extracted sugar, fat and an artificial salt. That was too bad! But…on the good side, it was based on whole oats and bananas. That kept me pretty excited to make an irreproachably clean one since that day, and at long last, I did! See above!

“But…walnuts?”
We had walnuts (and others nuts) in the pantry that we have been barely touching since learning about how nuts are actually not all that great for health despite their being “whole-food fats”, especially when they’re so easy to abuse. It was a matter of time until we’d figure out ways to finish our stock in a way that wouldn’t be detrimental to our health…you know…like a raw cake! I can’t think of a better use for walnuts than in this cake. Even as little as 50g in one whole cake loaf makes a gorgeous difference. Trust me, you will feel the walnut taste! It’s wonderful without too.

muffin_inside_610“Rising a cake without baking powder nor baking soda?”
Yes Ma’am, Yes Sir!
How to use the walnuts being sorted out, I still had to figure out the right good dough consistency to improve on my previously tacky/goey cakes, and tadaaa…

Yeast just works. You just need to embrace a different relationship to time, and opt-out from instant-everything…Spend some quality time with your loved ones, or enjoy a long hot bath with your favourite music, while this beauty takes its time to rise.

Also, leave the sponge cake expectations in the dungeon, along with refined flours and artificial rising agents (mineral salts) it requires…Those are not food. Yeast is food that can rise other food.
Be thankful for that and make the best of it.

So here is a beautiful cake that uses only whole foods for sweetness, no oil, nor any artificial or sodium-containing ingredients.
This is as unprocessed as it gets folks…and I intend to keep it that way!

Banana & Blueberry Walnut Cake – Unprocessed – Extracted-Sugar-Free
 
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Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole-food, plant-based, no oil, sweetness from whole fruit, no salt
Serves: 1 loaf cake
Ingredients
  • 3 cups of wholegrain rolled oats (300g)
  • ½ cups chickpea flour or besan (40g) – relax, it doesn't give a chickpea taste 🙂
  • 3 tsp instant yeast (or 4 tsp of activated dried yeast, activated in as little water as possible)
  • 5 very ripe bananas (600g of banana flesh)
  • 1 + ½ cups frozen blueberries (180g) optional)
  • ⅓ cup walnuts (50g)
  • Sweet spices to taste (optional, I used 1 tsp of a mix of ground star anise and cinnamon that was sitting around)
  • For sweetening: 1 cup of currants.
Instructions
  1. Blend the rolled oats into a flour. Pour in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add chickpea flour, spices and instant yeast (if you're using that) and combine well.
  3. Peel and mash your bananas with your clean hands.
  4. Use some of the banana mash in the blender with ½ cup of currants and blend, add more banana mash if it's too dry.
  5. Pour back in the mixing bowl, if you're using activated dried yeast add it now, and mix with hands until you get a uniform dough.
  6. Add the frozen blueberries, the other ½ cup of currants (whole), and the walnuts and mix another couple of minutes to incorporate them nicely.
  7. Line your loaf tin with baking sheet, pour batter and let sit until it doubles volume. This will most definitely more than an hour because the frozen blueberries will keep the batter cold for a while, which prevents the yeast from making babies and bubbles. You might be able to save time by thawing first, the blueberries might get mashed and look messier.
  8. When the dough has risen, pre-heat oven at 180°C (360 °F) and bake for about 40 minutes. Use a knife or toothpick, when the cake is done baking, there will be some streaks almost transparent. It it comes out full of whitish dough it needs more baking.
  9. Let cool and enjoy.
Notes
If you are recovering cardiovascular disease or allergic to nuts, just skip the walnuts. I put blueberries and sweet spices so that it still remains exciting without walnuts.
We've had this plain and with our whole-food lemon and orange marmalades. It's delicious!
Finally, this works as a muffin batter too.

 

Orange Marmalade – Sweet – Whole Foods (Extracted-Sugar-Free)

orange_marmalde_610
Growing up, orange marmalade was never really my thing. It was that strange stuff from Brit cuisine, that looks really good, but tastes unbearably bitter. Such a shame when that was the only jam in the fridge.

But like all things, try it long enough and you develop a liking for it. I’ve learned to love marmalade, so much so that since going whole-food plant-based, I’ve actually missed the pleasure of some of the jams I was much, much, addicted to.

But here’s another problem solved now: Sweet jams/preserves can be made with sweet fruits or sweet dried fruits.

cake-with-marmalade_610
This is a sequel to my Black Lemon Marmalade, which used currants as a sweet base and gave an unusual appearance for a marmalade, along with a taste to die for. I was curious what fresh green seedless grapes can do. The answer is: wonders!

The recipe below makes a sweet marmalade. It is appreciably sweet but do not expect something as outrageously sweet as commercial marmalades that barely have any fruit to them and are basically flavoured pure sugar. This recipe is also barely bitter at all, which should make marmalade far more interesting to most people. But if you love a bitter marmalade I’m not letting you down either (See Notes in the recipe).

Spread that citrusy deliciousness on anything you fancy, cakes, scones, or a healthy bread like my whole-food bread here.

Orange Marmalade – Sweet – Whole Foods (Extracted-Sugar-Free)
 
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Who needs sugar when you have grapes? Here's a pleasantly-sweet and non-bitter marmalade recipe, that used whole fresh fruits, and nothing else, particularly no extracted nor processed sugar of any kind. Now you can enjoy marmalade again.
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat whole-food plant-based
Cuisine: International
Serves: 200~250g
Ingredients
  • 500g seedless green grapes, blended
  • 1 orange, washed
  • 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Peel the orange and lemon. There are some ways to do that nicely using a knife, look it up. We will not use the lemon peel.
  2. Cut the peeled orange and lemon in half, remove seeds. You can cut in slices and aim that towards a light to see through if you left any seeds behind.
  3. Blend the orange, lemon, and grapes.
  4. Cut the orange peel in thin strips.
  5. Put everything in a pot on medium heat until it reduces and starts to bubble like caramel.
  6. Cover and keep on very low heat for 2 to 3 hours mixing regularly every 15 to 30 minutes to prevent burning at the bottom of the pot.
  7. Let cool and keep in a clean closed container.
Notes
Should keep at least for 1~2 weeks in the fridge, if you can resist it that long! I have not yet tried the whole sterilizing thing and keeping long-term out of the fridge, but I will eventually.
For a more bitter taste, sub some orange peel/flesh for grapefruit, or some of the peel for lemon peel.

 

Why the General Public is Orthorexic

Table of Contents
Intro
Analysis of Definition #1
Analysis of Definition #2
Analysis of Definition #3
Analysis of Definition #4
Morale of the story
Important disclaimer
Do we really have to choose either Health or Pleasure?


In my reading and interacting online, I’ve come across different uses of the word “orthorexia”. Some people, like the person who coined this word, strictly reserve it to cases where the person got physically sick from it. Others are happy to throw the word “orthorexia” at anyone who seems to be interested in eating in a healthy way, usually healthier than themselves.

The first time I came across this word it was from someone promoting a very obsolete (health-damaging) dietary lifestyle. When I confronted him, he explained that he should be thanked for working hard to ease people into developing a healthy relationship to food and fight off “orthorexia”. Basically, he was trying to reassure people that are curious about how to eat healthfully, and/or people whom feel bad for genuine excesses of junk foods. His advice was down the line of “a little bit of everything”, “moderation” etc., in short, stuff which we know gives the population a little bit of every cancer, and give otherwise preventable cardiovascular disease to a moderately huge portion of the population.

So I looked at the definition of “orthorexia” and something very interesting happened!

I wasn’t interpreting the definition with the common biases of someone who eats carelessly and judges from there. I read the definition from the standpoint of someone who understands rather extensively and on evidence-based grounds, that what most people eat, makes most of the sickness.

Suddenly, and I must say ironically, orthorexia explained very well why the general public eats its ways to disease and death, in massive numbers and with appalling predictability. By general public I mean most people, of most countries.

denial_610

I called it “orthorexia nervosa populi”  for orthorexia of the people, or “orthorexia nervosa vulgaris”  for Common Orthorexia.

Let’s a take a few definitions from Wikipedia’s article on Orthorexia nervosa, and demonstrate the mechanism. Virtually any definition works.

Analysis of definition #1 – Bratman’s original definition

“dietary restrictions intended to promote health may paradoxically lead to unhealthy consequences, such as social isolation, anxiety, loss of ability to eat in a natural, intuitive manner, reduced interest in the full range of other healthy human activities, and, in rare cases, severe malnutrition or even death.”

Let’s analyse all this.

“dietary restrictions”
People representing the general public’s way of eating are restricting their diet from a wide variety of unprocessed whole plant and mushroom foods.

“intended to promote health”
Based on popular nutritional illiteracy, a (low-fat, whole-food) plant-based diet is commonly viewed as unhealthy and extreme.
The general public avoid eating in what is perceived as “extreme” or “unhealthy” ways, and instead holds beliefs such as:

  • “some oils are health-healthy”,
  • “meat is good because you need protein”,
  • “milk is good for bones”,
  • “fish is good for omega-3s needed by the brain”,
  • “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
  • yin/yang or heating/cooling balance, alkaline/acid balance between health-promoting and health-damaging foods and habits, etc.

Additionally, and beyond physical health, the average eater follows whatever food is pleasurable based on familiarity, which is heavily influenced by culture and the food habits parents have passed on during upbringing. There is a sense of psychological health in the pleasure and satisfaction derived from eating foods we grew used to, unfortunately most often foods with a very relevant negative impact on health.

In short, for most people, pleasure is the new health, and it’s often assumed pleasure can only come from the foods one is already used to, and mistakenly assumed this cannot change.

“may paradoxically lead to unhealthy consequences”
Look at the rates of cancer and heart disease in essentially (low-fat, whole-food) plant-based rural China in the 1980s, and look in your own country.

“such as social isolation”
A majority of people, in a growing number of countries eating a Western-type diet, will unfortunately suffer for decades from cardiovascular disease and/or cancers. These are mostly preventable and largely caused/promoted/worsened by a poor  dietary lifestyle centred on animal and processed foods. Ask someone getting their chest open or undergoing chemotherapy if they don’t feel isolated. Sadly, most cultural or “convenience” diets leads to much isolation.

“anxiety”
There are different ways by which eating “a relaxed, unrestricted diet” causes anxiety: the short-term, the sickness and the guilt.
Some junk foods are known to change the mood and raise anxiety. Few people are aware how sugar or animal protein increases stress levels. That in the short-term.
Disease and illness are also very anxiogenic, especially when people can no longer do simple things they used to, life is threatened, drugs are ineffective and cause undesirable effects.
Anxiety is also what I often observe when I talk to people about healthy eating. Without even doing that, just observe the inner struggles of people that don’t “restrict” anything, and yet are filled with guilt because they know better.
A lifetime of poor choices we’re well-aware of, is a lifetime of anxiety and guilt, and that’s before people even get seriously sick. It gets worse then.

“loss of ability to eat in a natural, intuitive manner
Well, that’s done long ago, find me other apes that naturally and intuitively eat white bread, French fries, ice-cream, or pizza covered in cheese.
There is nothing natural about what most people eat today. There is nothing intuitive in spending a life of eating foods that we don’t digest well, make us regularly sick and result in life-threatening illness. There is nothing intuitive in continuing to eat “like everyone” when we know too well what kills everyone.

“reduced interest in the full range of other healthy human activities”
People who care little about something as central to health as food can be expected to have a reduced interest about not smoking, minimizing drinking, exercising, taking part in constructive social activities…

“and, in rare cases, severe malnutrition or even death.”
This regrettably not rare. The general public, which consumes a processed and carnist diet (containing foods of animal origin) does routinely suffer malnutrition, does routinely intoxicate itself with food, does routinely suffer the subsequent diseases, and the death caused by the diseases. This is not rare at all.
I urge you to consult the public websites with the disease and mortality statistics of your country. They’re made very accessible to the general public nowadays, it’s most often very easy to read.

Analysis of definition number #2 – Ursula Philpot’s definition as former chair of British Dietetic Association

“solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure’.”

“solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies”
Most people who have a so-called “relaxed and healthy relationship” to food are solely concerned the pleasure-giving quality of their food.

“refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure’.”
“refining”: yes, in all its meanings, including literal meaning of “refining”: refined processed foods.
“and restricting their diets”: from a wide variety of unprocessed whole plant and mushroom foods, which are naturally nutrient-dense and fiber-rich.
“according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure'”: “pure” in the understanding of the general public can be:
• what’s pure pleasure, typically the health-damaging “foods” high in animal products, fat, sugar and salt.
• pure can mean traditional, authentic, cultural, but health-damaging foods
• what feels homey, those irresistible family recipes that are emotionally rooted yet are tremendously unhealthy
• local and organic animal products, for instance bought from the local butcher who might also be a friend or relative, or dairy and eggs from our very local friend who owns a cow or chickens which you might have seen yourself “happy” in the open air and pastures…all of which, regardless, still cause the same high rates of damage to heath, disease, and death, because you can’t escape the biology of it.

Analysis of definition #3 – Bratman’s reconsidered definition

“In 2015, responding to news articles in which the term orthorexia is applied to people who merely follow a non-mainstream theory of healthy eating, Bratman specified the following: “A theory may be conventional or unconventional, extreme or lax, sensible or totally wacky, but, regardless of the details, followers of the theory do not necessarily have orthorexia. They are simply adherents of a dietary theory. The term ‘orthorexia’ only applies when an eating disorder develops around that theory.”[7] “

So based on Bratman’s statement, the general public does not necessarily have anorexia, even if it follows the conventional theory, lax and wacky, according to which neither of these is harmful: moderation, carnism, “eating a bit of everything”, and “not depriving oneself of any particular food”.

He goes on:

‘Bratman elsewhere clarifies that with a few exceptions, most common theories of healthy eating are followed safely by the majority of their adherents; however, “for some people, going down the path of a restrictive diet in search of health may escalate into dietary perfectionism.”

“with a few exceptions, most common theories of healthy eating are followed safely by the majority of their adherents;”
Some are not theories, but abundantly evidence-based: such as low-fat whole-food plant-based.
In contrast, the mainstream theories (i.e. dietary carnism) and approach to food is surely followed by everyone and is not safe at all. Look at the statistics, compare to plant-based rural Africa half a century ago (or in anywhere today that still eats that way if you find).
All that disease need not exist.

“for some people, going down the path of a restrictive diet in search of health may escalate into dietary perfectionism.”
For many people, going down the path of restricting oneself from unprocessed plant and mushrooms food in search of the pleasure kind of health, does routinely escalate into dietary perfectionism: one that rejects systematically anything that doesn’t have animal products, lots of fat, sugar or salt.

Analysis of definition #4 –  (U.S.) National Eating Disorders Association

“Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating.”

“Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers”
In orthorexia nervosa populi, the general public’s food is highly restrictive to almost only to processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt along with animal products. It is restricted in terms of calories as it doesn’t allow many low-calorie foods, if any at all. As a result, health suffers, people get obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease,  high rates of cancer and so on.

“an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating.”
An ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to a life that’s healthy through pleasure.
So much for “having a relaxed and healthy relationship with food”.

Morale of the story

I’ll stop at four definitions, I think you get the point by now.

I could go with virtually any definition of orthorexia nervosa, to easily demonstrate that the general public itself is the leading community that most literally suffers orthorexia nervosa.
The only differences with the conventional interpretation are:

  1. mistaken beliefs on the benefit of harmful foods on physical health
  2. the benchmark for foods that are “healthy” in orthorexia nervosa populi are foods that are “psychologically” healthy through pleasure.

As for the harmful effects on heath, we observe both physical and psychological, and as far as the psychological aspect is concerned, the spectrum of is large:

  • it starts with guilt,
  • turns into anxiety and depression from sickness and disease and
  • can also take the form of neuro-degenerative diseases like far higher rates of Alzeimer’s disease in junk-food-reliant countries.

Important disclaimer:

This article is not to minimize the serious health issues that some people experience by following trends (like Atkins, Paleo, etc…) which are neither rooted in clinical scientific evidence, nor based on any reasonable and coherent considerations.

This is not to take the defence of the many people who get at the doorstep of ways of eating proven to be healthy (ex: plant-based diets) but implement it completely wrongly, for instance :  not introducing enough food diversity, not taking B12, or eating an overly processed version of it and as a result get predictably sick. A good example is a great portion of “ex-vegans” whom often blame the diet instead of questioning their own implementation of it or an unexplored health issue (like, among others, menstrual/intestinal bleeding so important that even the generous amount of iron in a healthy plant-based diet can’t make up for it).

This is not to minimize the gravity of the issue of people seeking physical health and hurting themselves by doing it wrongly, or as a means of self-harm, typically for those who had started the dietary journey loaded with personal issues.

In short, this article is not ammunition for people who genuinely qualify to the conventional definition to retaliate back when they have demonstrably eaten their way to illness. Yes, these people exist and they are relatively very few.

What I am doing here is showing the other side of the big finger pointing at “conventional” orthorexia. There we find many more people making themselves sick, in fact virtually everyone. Almost every person has an obsession for foods that maintain psychological well-being through the pleasure we get from eating junk foods. This attitude is shielded by dogmatic theories (now fallacies) on omnivorism. At the scale of the general population, this attitude leads most systematically to serious nutrient restrictions, chronic food intoxication, and routinely to premature, preventible death.

When a cancer is clinically declared, or a heart disease threatens someone’s life, the illness cares very little whether the person got sick by prioritizing the carefreeness sort of health over physical health (Orthorexia Nervosa Populi), or by seeking physical healthy and getting it wrong (conventional Orthorexia Nervosa). A metastatic cancer cares little whether a fancy name was given to our poor behaviour, or not. It cares little if we were on the side of majority, or breaking out from it trying to eat sanely, or to compensate for personal issues.

Bottom line, all these attitudes have in common: nutritional illiteracy.
Nutritional illiteracy is best achieved by not wanting to know, by thinking we know, or by being confident we know but knowing the wrong things.

The good news is: You are not doomed.

Do we really have to choose between healthy food and pleasure?

I am living proof that no, far from it!
At this time, the best evidence over more than half a century of science and clinical trials, clearly points the healthiest way of eating as being : high-carb, low-fat, whole-food, plant-based nutrition, with no oil, flavour from food instead of salt and sweetness from sweet whole foods instead of from the many extracted sugars out there.

If you want to find out more, watch and listen to: Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. McDougall.
That is the science.

As for what it’s like to eat that way: It is the sweet spot that combines pleasure, carefreeness, and health, with no compromise. But to fully understand that, you can’t just use your fear-fed imagination, speculate, or throw a snap judgement and call it “extreme”…To really know you need to do your homework first. If that looks convincing and serious enough, then steer your way out of popular death foods and the theories that try to make sense of then without proving a benefit similar to what low-fat plants, whole-foods, plants and mushrooms have to offer.
The destination is only what we’re all supposed to eat. It’s normal if at first it looks very far, or extreme. What’s actually extreme is how far away each one of us is from eating foods that do what they’re supposed to do: not kill us, taste wonderful, and support our health.

Food for thought…

Related article:
Whole foods FAQ – Why whole-food plant-based? Why no oil, no salt or no sugar?
“Is this a whole food?” – A Guide to Whole-Food Alternatives to Common Processed Foods

Recipes (WFPB, no-SOS)

[Recipe] Black Lemon Marmalade – Sweet – Sugar-Free

lemon-marmelade_610
Sugar-free doesn’t mean sweet-less!
When I first advised my family to quit extracted sugars, their first reaction was “But it must be really bland!”. Classic! But far from it!

I want sweetness, I love sweetness, my palate needs sweetness to be satisfied. I just want it to come from health-promoting whole plant foods, rather than disease-causing extracts of sweet whole foods. I won’t develop here, on what sugars to avoid and by what to replace them. Instead I’ll give a recipe to proof the concept in one of the sweetest human-made foods you can have: a jam. Or more precisely, marmalade.

Here, currants are chosen because they have a more neutral taste than raisins and sultanas.

Doesn’t look exactly like a marmalade? The heck with it! Tastes wonderful to me! Blind-test this on your friends to it, I bet they won’t know the difference.

Spread this on a chapati and with a nice cuppa…Mhhh…
Damn it I’m hungry now! 😀

[Recipe] Black Lemon Marmalade – Sweet and Sugar-free
 
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An easy, whole-food sugar-free lemon marmalade that's sweet, bitter, and slightly sour. Everything the marmalade love is here, using only real foods, not their extracts.
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based, sugar-free, oil-free, salt-free
Cuisine: International
Serves: 200g
Ingredients
  • 1 large lemon (or two small ones otherwise) with a thick peel if possible, organic or spray-free
  • 100g of (dried) currants! (not raisins or sultanas, not "blackcurrants", "redcurrants" or "white currants", use currants!).
Instructions
  1. Peel the lemon, cut peel in small cubes
  2. Once peeled, cut the lemon in half, keep one half (we won't use the other half). Remove seeds. Cut in small bits as well. Rinse your hands (so the acidity doesn't burn).
  3. In a pot, add the raisins, diced peel, and the cut lemon flesh with 1 cup of water.
  4. Bring a boil, and let simmer on low heat for 2 hours with a lid on.
  5. Set timers to check regularly enough to stir, mash (with a potato masher or a clean glass jar), or add water if the bottom starts to stick. The texture should be that of a thick marmalade, not too liquid. Open lid to let excess water evaporate if needed. Never scratch the bottom if it burned.
Storage
  1. Preserves in the fridge for at least 1 week. Can be frozen (try in ice-trays to take out only the small portions you need) but I can't vouch for texture yet at this point. You might try to sterilize it with various jams sterilization methods.
Notes
Feel free to play around with various combinations of (organic or spray-free) lime, lemon, oranges and other citrus fruit.
Feel free also to play around with how sweet, sour, or citrusy you want it by adding respectively, currants, citrus flesh, or peel.
Warning: The peel or some limes is unbearably bitter, I've experienced that problem with limes that had a very thin peel.

 

Burgers Buns and Dinner Rolls – Vegan – Unprocessed

Multi purpose 100% wholemeal breads

Summary

The problem with commercial breads
The solution and what you need to know about the recipe
The recipe
A perfect vegan glaze for your buns

The problem with commercial breads

  • Did you know that the terms “wholemeal” and “whole grain” are not defined by law in most countries?
  • Did you know that a lot of commercial breads that claim to be “wholemeal” have only about 10~25% of wholemeal flour? (the rest being refined white flour)
  • Did you know that it’s common among processed bread makers to use coloring to make bread look browner so they can sell it as wholemeal bread?
  • Did you notice that most “wholemeal” recipes rarely go above 50% of wholemeal flour? (the rest being refined white flour).
  • Did you know what makes the flour white is that only a small part of the wheat grain is extracted, instead of the *whole* grain which far more nutrient dense?
  • Did you know most commercial bread have about 400mg of sodium per 100g (1g salt)? Eating what most people consider “a small amount of bread” means that with bread alone, people would  50% or more of the official warning for the daily upper limits of sodium intake.
  • Did you know that wholemeal flours used commercially are sometimes recomposed wholemeal flours created by combining processed white flour, with extracted pure bran?
  • Have you noticed how commercial breads have more and more unhealthy ingredients in them like dairy, sugar, oil, salt and additives?

Well. Screw aaaaaall of that 🙂 Check my buns:

20160408_184703

Whole foods including whole-grain/wholemeal breads, help prevent, stop, and reverse cardiovascular disease and diabetes and generally have a positive health effect on the 98~99% of people whom are not physically sensitive, or allergic to gluten and grains. Unfortunately, the illusion that food is whole, the illusion that the bread is a wholemeal bread or that it is health-promoting do not improve health, they damage it. There is no placebo effect with bread, unfortunately, otherwise many people would be healthier than they are with all the fake and processed wholemeal bread they eat everywhere.

Looking for best brand to buy? Been looking everywhere? Spare yourself, it’s the bread you make at home, from true wholemeal flour or whole grains which you will grind yourself.

Back to Summary

One solution I propose

This bread has 100% wholemeal flour, yeast and water, and that already works. For extra flavour, texture, and presentation, it calls for 6 whole other plants in it (a few more if you care to count the topping grains and seeds or the glaze).

This recipe (below) used the same base as for the Scrumptious Hot Cross Buns, except it skips all the spices and dried fruit and keeps everything else that makes a bread extra good.

Rising here relies purely on yeast (remember, baking powders are additives, not unlike an unnecessary supplement in powder form), and a 100% pure wholemeal flour is used. This may work with wholemeal spelt flour too.

I am very happy with these buns, they do rise, they’re nice and bouncy. Heads-up to whose new to whole foods: They’re high-density in every way, nutrients and also by weight.

If you are used to breads made of pure refined white flours that are made fluffy and light using mineral chemicals like baking powders and what not, you will definitely find this relatively “heavier” in every way.

It is absolutely normal for true wholemeal breads to be denser.

You might want to make slightly smaller burgers buns than people usually have because they’re quite filling.

I came across so many people, books and blogs (from top bakers sometimes!) saying “bread *needs* salt” (otherwise black hole), “yeast breads *must* have some salt”, “you *can’t* make a bread with pure wholemeal flour”

Nonsense. Look at this. These breads exist, so it must be possible, and I’m certainly not the first person to prove the dogmas wrong.
Just plants, water, yeast. Drops the mic and leaves! (to eat some bread).

Back to Summary

Recipe for Burger Buns & Dinner Rolls

Burgers Buns and Dinner Rolls – Vegan – Unprocessed
 
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Against popular (and expert) belief, it is possible to make bread with 100% of wholemeal flour. Even better, it bread can be done without salt too and taste good. All it takes a different process which I've managed to figure out with a fair deal or trial and error. It's all about rising time and flavour. Wheat flour has a strong wheaty taste so it helps to mask it with the help of fruit and maybe a hint of fennel. Fruit in bread? Oh yes, try and see for yourself!
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole foods, plant-based, no oil, no salt, no sugar
Cuisine: International
Serves: ~1kg of bread
Ingredients
Flours and yeast
  • 625 g wholemeal wheat flour (spelt should work too)
  • 5 tsp active dried yeast
Liquids
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) warm water for the yeast
  • 180ml (3/4 cup) warm soy milk (or other non-dairy) milk (might work with water or other truly unprocessed food)
Fruits
  • 125 g of sugar-free applesauce
  • Oil replacement to hold moisture: 3 Tbsp of {date or prune} paste . To make that paste: 1 cup of {dates or prunes} + ½ cup of water and blend
  • 2 blended oranges* (remove seeds first)
  • Binding: 3 egg replacers (3 Tbsp of flaxseed, mixed with 6 Tbsp of water. Mix and let sit for 2 minutes to absorb)
Instructions
  1. Combine yeast with the 60 ml of lukewarm water and let stand for 15 minutes to allow yeast to activate. It will will form small bubbles and begin to rise.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine this wet mixture: warm milk, apple purée, {date or prune} paste.
  3. In separate bowl, pour the flour, and if you want, some fennel seeds for flavour.
  4. Pour the yeast in the flour, mix, add the liquids and mix a few minutes until no flour is dry.
  5. Add egg replacer.
  6. Knead mixture (hand or dough hook) for 10 minutes or until springy to touch, whichever comes first.
  7. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave to rise for about 1 hour.
  8. After rising, pour on a bench and roll like a baguette to cut even-sized buns. Divide into 12-16 pieces for small bread rolls, or in ~9 to make burger buns. Roll to form each piece into a smooth ball. Place on lined baking tray.
  9. Cover with damp cloth and leave in warm place (like a warming drawer) for a further 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (340 degrees F) for 15 minutes before baking.
  10. Bake for 25~30 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool on wire rack.
  11. If you would like a shiny effect on your breads to eventually stick some grains and seeds on top, check out the Veglaze (amaranth-based vegan perfect substitute for egg-wash).
Notes
Note 1: Instead of a bowl, I like to spread a layer of prune/date paste on a baking sheet, line a large pot with it, and put in my dough to rise, prevents sticking.

Note 2: I find that some extra lemon or lime juice really help with flavour in salt-free breads. It whips the tongue with a sour tang that reminds of sourdough and makes the tongue alive and happy enough to not need salt.

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A perfect vegan “egg wash” for perfect burger buns and breads

In a previous article, I explain my fruitful quest to find a perfect vegan replacement for egg-wash. You can now make burger buns that look exactly like we imagine them: shiny and golden with seeds on top!

Here’s what it does on breads:

veglaze before after

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[Recipe] Scrumptious Hot Cross Buns – Vegan – Unprocessed

 

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I had committed to make Hot Cross Buns last Easter with a friend, but really struggled to find a clean recipe. Every recipe out there used: refined white flour, sugar, oil, eggs, dairy and other nutrient-depleted and health-damaging ingredients.

Thankfully, I was lucky to find Sonia Drake’s recipe as a good base using only wholemeal flour and mostly yeast (Thank you Sonia!). That was a good place to start. All I had to do was to wholefoodise it even further, and experiment batch after batch gradually to improve on the recipe.

I’m very happy with the result, so are virtually every single person of 20~30 people I gave them to. Tested and approved!

Here are some highlights of the improvements I’ve made on the original recipe, the recipe below includes them:

  • Spice mix made from single ingredients easy to source anywhere.
  • The spices are not the standard blend, so when giving it away, people will enjoy something that won’t taste like the other 500 Hot Cross Buns they had around Easter which all tasted exactly the same.
  • Rising agent is yeast only. Baking powder and salt is not used because unnecessary, a non-food and/or high sodium content. The buns are quite dense as a result, but were still very appreciated as they are. If you can’t fathom a dense HCB, it’s up to you if you want to add baking powder, I’m happy without.
  • Whole vanilla bean was preferred to liquid vanilla extract. At 1$ extra for 12~16 buns, it was totally worth it!

Hot Cross Buns – Vegan – Unprocessed
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
1 hour total of preparation and active work. 1 hour 30 of rising in total. 35~40 minutes of baking. Beginning to end: 3 to 4 hours to be on the safe side.
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole foods, vegan, plant nutrition, no oil, no salt, no sugar
Cuisine: Anglo-Saxon / Christian
Serves: 12~16 buns
Ingredients
The items preceded by ** mean: Prepare ahead of time, for instance the day before baking to keep the baking part fun.
Flours and yeast
  • 625 g wholemeal wheat flour
  • ** 50 g ground whole-grain rolled oats or whole oat flour (for the crosses)
  • 5 tsp active dried yeast (or 4 tsp instant yeast)
Liquids
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) warm water for the yeast
  • 180ml (3/4 cup) warm oil-free soy milk (or other non-dairy) milk (water might work just fine though)
Fruits
  • ** 125 g apple puree or sauce
  • ** Oil replacement to hold moisture: 3 Tbsp of {date or prune} paste. To make that paste: 1 volume of {dates or prunes} + ½ volume of water and blend (or microwave until the dates are easy to mash with a fork).
  • 150 g raisins, roughly chopped
  • 75 g currants (or other favourite •oil-free* dried fruit)
  • **Grated zest of 1 {spray-free or organic} {orange or lemon}
  • **2 blended oranges (remove seeds first)
Spices (depending on how strong you want the flavour)
  • 1 inch of scraped vanilla bean (eq. of 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 2 tsp or 2 tbsp ground Ceylon cinnamon (or 1~2 tsp Cassia/regular cinnamon)
  • 2 tsp or 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger root (eq. of ~1 tsp ginger powder)
  • ¼ or ½ tsp ground clove
  • ¼ or ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ** Soak raisins, currants and {orange or lemon} zest in orange juice at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • ¼ or ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ or ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
  • Binding
  • ** 3 egg replacers (3 tbsp of ground flaxseed, mixed with 6 tbsp of water. Mix and sit for 2 minutes to absorb)
Instructions
  1. Combine yeast with the 60 ml of warm water and let stand for 15 minutes to allow yeast to activate. This yeast mixture will form small bubbles and begin to rise.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the following wet mixture: warm milk, wet spices (vanilla, grated ginger if used), apple puree, {date or prune} paste.
  3. In separate bowl, combine the following dry mixture: flour and dry spices.
  4. Stir yeast mixture + dry mixture into the wet mixture above. Combine for a couple of minutes until the dry ingredients are wet.
  5. Add egg replacer and lastly mix the soaked fruit.
  6. Knead mixture (hand or dough hook) for 10 minutes or until springy to touch, whichever comes first.
  7. Transfer to a very large bowl or large cooking pot: First lay a film of baking paper with a very thin {date or prune} paste layer spread on it with your hand so the dough later comes off easily. Cover with cling wrap or lid and leave to rise for about 1 hour, it should double in size.
  8. After this rising, roll gently the dough into a uniform cylinder (baguette shape). Divide mixture into 12-16 pieces (depending on how big you want the buns) and, roll to form each piece into a smooth ball. Place on lined baking tray, touching each other.
  9. Cover with damp cloth and leave in warm place (like a warming drawer) for a further 30 minutes to rise again. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (340 degrees F) for 15 minutes before baking.
  10. Mix oat flour with enough water to a thick pancake batter consistency. Put in a piping bag or ziplock with a small cut hole in the corner. Use to draw the crosses just before putting the buns in the oven.
  11. Bake Hot Cross Buns for 25~30 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool on wire rack.
Notes
Serve warm. If not had right out of the oven, always warm up well on the grill before serving.
Lovely and Happy Easter to you!

 

Note: To get a shiny glaze on top. I used this glaze I invented: veglaze (amaranth cooking liquid).

[Recipe] Pacific Spread – Moroccan-style Jackfruit Tuna with Spicy Tomato Sauce – WFPB

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What you’ll end up with

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How it looked before making it taste interesting

When I visited Morocco on family holidays as a child, I spent a fair deal of my pocket money on that no-frills snack: khobz b’sardine. It is Moroccan for a sandwich made of a flat thick whole-meal bread, filled with sardine/mackarel and harissa. Back in the 1990s, it was commonly made on the spot in these charming Arab-style convenience shops called hanout. Is it still? I do not know. What I know is while most canned fish tasted rather gross on its own, that canned fish came in a tomato sauce, and the shop owners (mul hanout) would often add harissa to give it some fire. As a kid, I loved the taste of that stuff.
It was the blissful ignorance of a child that doesn’t know any better just yet.

After a couple of (mostly non-vegan) decades of not having any fish sandwich, I recently got to rediscover the taste and experience of this delicious spread from the oceans, but with a major blissful upgrade. I can now enjoy this as much as I want, without the acidosis, osteoporosis, kidney stones, parasites, salmonella, industrial pollutant poisoning, heavy metal poisoning, obesity, higher cancer and cardiovascular disease risk, without trapping, asphyxiating and killing any fish nor damaging seabeds and biodiversity, nor depleting oceans…in short…this bliss comes without worrying about what eating fish does on human health, and without worrying about what fishing does in general.

It is always only the taste and food experience that people want and crave. Nobody truly wants the immense harm it took to make their favourite food experience possible.

So to bring a bit of positive in a world that could use more, this is the taste and experience, but without the harm. This recipe is indeed low-fat, oil-free, whole-foods and plant-based. For me it’s just a delicious spread, but I designed it to also be fully compatible with a successful process of recovery from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other life-threatening conditions. For tips to make this even lower in sodium, see note at the bottom of the page.

You can enjoy this Pacific Spread as you want: in a salad, in a sandwich (Tuna Sammies), on crackers, of even as a face mask if that makes you happy 🙂 Enjoy!

Ok, more seriously now, if you want to make a version of this “tuna” that uses mayonnaise (as is commonly done in Western cultures: sammies, etc.) but without compromising on health, check out my low-fat whole-food mayo.

I would like you to play with this recipe, and tell me (most honestly, in the comments below) what you thought, the personal twist you gave it, or what you came up with, etc. I hope you will enjoy making (and eating) it as much as I did!

[Recipe] Pacific Spread – Vegan Tuna with Spicy Tomato Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
An visually realistic, home-made, healthy whole-food version of "Vegan Toona" with a delicious tomato sauce, a zest of lemoney Morocco and with a bit of fire to it.
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole-food, plant-based, vegan
Cuisine: International, Moroccan
Serves: ~1 to 1.5 kgs
Ingredients
  • Ahead of time: Soak the sundried tomatoes as described
  • 1 can (~2 cups) of unripe (also called "green") jackfruit, or the equivalent in frozen unripe jackfruit
  • 2 cups of cooked chickpeas (~1 to 2 cans)
  • 1 cup of low-sodium sun-dried tomatoes
  • 10g of nori sheets (about 5 sheets sushi sheets roughly). I insist, nori. DO NOT USE KELP POWDER BECAUSE IT IS DANGEROUSLY HIGH IN IODINE, LIKE MOST RANDOM SEAWEED PRODUCTS.
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (or lemon juice, we much prefer lime)
  • 2 lemons (for zest only, preferably organic)
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like hotter than mild spicy)
  • freshly ground mixed pepper
Instructions
  1. Ahead of time: Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water for at least about 30 min to 1 hour. Overnight in cold water also works.
  2. Chop onions and garlic finely. Put in a pot with a bit of water, cover, and cook until soft on medium (~5 minutes)
  3. Meanwhile zest the lemons, and juice your lime
  4. When the onions and garlic are soft, add vinegar, chilli and cook for 5 more minutes.
  5. Meanwhile chop the (now softened) sun-dried tomatoes and the large chunks of jackfruit then add them in the pot and put just enough water for it to not be too dry and burn, cover, let cook 30 minutes with regular stirring and water additions if needed. Taste and adjust flavours if needed.
  6. Meanwhile, wet the seaweed with cold water until soft, blend it with ½ cup of water.
  7. When the pot is done cooking, set aside let cool.
  8. In a processor with a soft blade (the plastic blade often) the mixture in the pot, the chickpeas, the blended seaweed, the zested lemon, fresh lime juice, and a few turns of ground mixed pepper (to taste). Add water as needed for it to blend.
Notes
To keep the natural stringy texture of jackfruit, do not overblend.
Optimization: You can cut the preparation time down to ~30 minutes by dumping everything in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes, letting cool, then mixing.

 

Want a very low-sodium version?

  1. Substitute the canned unripe jackfruit with frozen unripe (or “green”) jackfruit (generally found in Asian stores). The last we bought actually looked golden yellow while being the unripe form. A less optimal option (higher in salt than frozen) is to soak the raw unripe canned jackfruit in hot water multiple times.
  2. Substituting the generic sun-dried tomatoes by organic, salt-free sun-dried tomatoes or any sun-dried tomatoes you can make at home using sun/dehydrator.
  3. Seaweed can also be desalted greatly by soaking it with multiple cold water changes. This works even better and faster when the seaweed is soaked in fresh water (not salty) right after foraging it yourself.