[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
 
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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
 
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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.

[Recipe] Tomato sauce for Pizza – Low-fat – Unprocessed

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As a kitchen-unskilled 20-year-old student on junk foods, I used to rely heavily on processed pasta sauces. I didn’t know any better.

The years passed, I slowly taught my way out of kitchen illiteracy. But one thing I kept wondering though is: “How on Earth do these  processed sauces get that wonderful Italian aroma of herbs?”. So I spied on the ingredients of tomato pastes I liked and always saw rosemary, oregano, thyme in the ingredients, among other things. But every time I used these, I ended up with a tomato paste so very bitter it was borderline inedible. The mystery was on: How to get authentic strong and appetising flavours and smell of aromatic in herbs in sauces. I soon found out by accident…

“How on Earth do these darn processed sauces get that wonderful Italian aroma of herbs?”

Why was it bitter instead of tasting/smelling of wonderful herbs?

Because oil! I figured that out only after ditching oil as part of going whole-food plant-based. It was the oil that completely ruined the Mediterranean taste of thyme, rosemary and oregano. Use those generously, and cook them in a water base,  and I promise that you will finally capture the essence of those delicious Italian smells and tastes.
These herbs are also a lot more forgiving in terms of taste when you put too much provided it’s in a water base.

[Recipe] Tomato sauce for Pizza – Low-fat – Unprocessed
 
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A sauce that has everything you want in a pizza base: it's thick, sweet, garlicky and tomatoey
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole foods, plant nutrition, vegan, no oil, no salt, no sugar
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 pizzas
Ingredients
  • 1 jar 500g of single-ingredient minimally-processed tomato paste (For NZ/OZ: Homebrand @Countdown/Woolworth contains salt at only 21mg sodium /100g), or the equivalent in home-reduced whole tomatoes (1.5 to 2kgs tomatoes gives 500 grams of reduced tomato paste)
  • 2 onions diced
  • 3~4 cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • 1 tsp rosemary (dried)
  • 1 tsp oregano (dried)
  • 1 tsp thyme (dried, rubbed)
  • Hot chilli: to taste.
  • Optional to adjust sweetness: Dates. If instead of sweet ripe tomatoes you get excuses for tomatoes, the hard unripe and sour stuff, you will need to balance out the sweetness. Maybe use up to ~50g dates blended until smooth with as little water as possible. To taste.
  • Optional to adjust sourness: Tamarind, lemon, or apple cider vinegar. If you get a very sweet batch of tomatoes, or like sourness, maybe use up to 1 tbsp single-ingredient tamarind paste (sweet and sour). To taste.
Instructions
  1. Cook all ingredients (except tomato paste and dates) on low-fire with as little water as possible.
  2. You want to keep this as thick as possible so this is the trick that I use: When the ingredients above are soft, use the cooking water (cooled) to blend dates.
  3. Pour the blended dates back in the pot, throw in the tomato paste and keep on the lowest setting with no cover for it to lose moisture and become thick.
Notes
Optional: If you have time, you can caramelise the onions + garlic first, by water-frying them (no oil) on slightly less than medium heat.