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

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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)

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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.

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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.

 

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

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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.

 

[Recipe] Khadija’s Moroccan Lentils – Oil-free – Unprocessed – Vegan

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Khadija's Moroccan Lentils – Oil-free – Unprocessed – Vegan
 
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Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole-food, plant-based, vegan, no oil, no salt, no sugar
Cuisine: Moroccan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 440g dry lentils, preferably Puy lentils / French lentils soaked overnight.
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 20 g coriander (a few sprigs), chopped
  • 20 g parsley (a few sprigs), chopped
  • zest of half a lemon, sliced off with a knife (only the yellow part, not the white inside) and cut in small bits. Do not grate!
Spices
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground chilli
Instructions
  1. Water-fry the onions until caramelised/browned. If you want to save time, skip caramelisation, just put the onions in the pot.
  2. Immediately add tomatoes, enough water for the spices to be in generous amounts of water (about 1 cup or ~ 230mL should do)
  3. Add all the spices and lemon, stir well, cover, set on medium heat and let boil for 5~10 min.
  4. Add the lentils, stir well, and fill the pot with enough water to cover a few centimetres over the top of the lentil surface.
  5. Cover only until it starts to boil, then let cook on medium heat for until the lentils are soft.
  6. Check now and then if more water is needed. You want to end with creamy lentils like in the picture, not watery nor dry either.
  7. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  8. Add the chopped greens (coriander + parsley) and stir.
Notes
Feel free to play around with adding the following (to taste):
Some salt-free concentrated tomato paste that uses only tomatoes, or more tomatoes well reduced.
Carrots
Celery
Baked shiitake mushrooms (chopped) for a bit of a chew, or other mild-tasting mushrooms. If using shiitake mushrooms, make sure to bake them first, otherwise their taste would be overpowering and throw the flavours off-balance.

Whole foods FAQ – Why whole-food plant-based? Why no oil, no salt or no sugar?

This is a list of frequently asked questions regarding whole-food plant nutrition and the health benefits that are associated. For each question/topic, a series of educational resources are provided, mostly in video format.

Contents:

  1. What are whole foods?!
  2. Why low-fat whole-food plant nutrition?
    (more commonly known as “whole-food plant-based” or WFPB)
  3. Why low-fat and no oil?
  4. Why no sugar?
  5. Why no salt?

1) What is a whole food and what is not?

As the name indicates, a food that is whole or integral.
Whole foods means edible foods in their whole, or natural, or recognizable form, that have not (or minimally) been refined, transformed, processed, or extracted.
Why the distinction is tremendously important from a health standpoint will be explained in later sections.

Examples:

  • A sunflower seed is a whole food, and sunflower oil pressed from the sunflower seeds and heavily refined is not a whole food. The high fat content is a concern too.
  • A beetroot is a whole food, and the sugar extracted and refined from beetroot is not a whole food.
  • Corn seeds from a corn cob are a whole food, but high-fructose corn syrup and corn starch are heavily processed extracts so those are not whole foods.
  • Whole-meal wheat flour directly obtained from grinding whole wheat grains is whole-food, but wheat bran or white flour because they use only part of the wheat seed are not whole foods.

Ok, now that you get it. Why is the distinction important? Excellent question! That’s all below. You will understand when you watch the fundamentals in Part 2.

2) Basic knowledge about low-fat whole food plant nutrition

Documentary Forks over Knives, sorry for this one I only have the trailer, you’ll have to check your Netflix, look for DVD at your library, or rent it on Amazon Prime or other Video-on-demand websites.
This an absolute must-watch.
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7ijukNzlUg

Documentary Planeat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCresEvQ_jM

Documentary Plant-pure Nation
Full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llQ7V9Jv5a0

3) Why “no oil” in whole-food?

Any oil is a processed food, squeezed out of a high-fat whole-food (avocado, nuts, olives, soy beans) or the high-fat part of a whole food (rice bran, etc). Of all processed foods, oil (and other pure or extracted fats) are of particularly major concern. Oil is not only empty calories (no nutrition) and high in calories (contributing to overweight, obesity and metabolic disease), but the main concern it is that all oils and extracted fats are pro-actively harmful in the human body in many ways.

All oil? Yes. Even olive, coconut, canola or <you name it> oil? Yes. Even just “a little bit”? Yes. Are you sure? Yes, absolutely, this has been known to genuine science for decades.

How is oil harmful? Besides turning potentially healthy plant-based dishes into an undesirably high-fat meal, all oils cause inflammation in the arteries. Oil leads to stiff arteries (arteries are supposed to dilate nicely when needed). The build-up of plaque  gradually clogs arteries and blood vessels. This process actually starts in the womb of mothers eating a high-fat, oil-and-animal-containing diet. By age 10 many kids in modern societies show early signs of cardiovascular disease.
Oil harms blood flow in a number of ways.
1) Healthy arteries expand when needed to increase blood flow, arteries on oil and fat are stiff and therefore thin, not helping to increase blood flow 2) Unhealthy arteries don’t allow blood to glide fast over their inner surface, imagine driving on an uneven road full of with pot holes and speed bumps 3) On top of that, our blood after a high-fat meal becomes thick and sludgy until the next meal. 4) In the long run of doing that, arteries get clogged, passage becomes narrow.

Result?
Sludgy blood, sticking to artery walls, in stiff/thin arteries, that become even thinner overtime because of plaque blockage.

Vital things like oxygen, white blood cells (immune system), blood glucose (energy),  protein and virtually all nutrients flow ridiculously slowly and don’t get where they need to be nearly as fast and efficiently as they normally should.

This state of poor cardiovascular health manifests day to day through fatigue, poor physical performance, erectile dysfunction and poor vaginal lubrication in women, poor libido in both men and women, poor recovery after exercise, poor mental state, reduced cognitive performance etc.

In the longer run, plaque build-up causes heart attacks and strokes. This kills 1 in 3 Kiwis, when not suddenly, often after decades of meds, a stunted lifestyle and the depression that goes with it. Plaque build-up also contributes greatly to the onset of dementia where various parts of the brain stop receiving proper blood flow. Additionally, oils throw out of balance the quantity and ratios of omega-3 vs. omega 6 fats we’re supposed to eat. All plant foods which you don’t suspect to have fats in them (oats, kale, kumara, etc) have more than enough healthy fats, enough of (the anti-inflammatory – good) omega-3, and not too much of the “harmful” (pro-inflammatory – bad) omega-6. Supplementing with omega-3 oil or fish oil is not only unnecessary, but there’s evidence suggesting it may be harmful.
I hope by now it’s clear that “heart-healthy oils” is as rare as a “fun heart attack” or a “real unicorn.” In other words, there is no such thing.
The good news are, this can be avoided easily with well-planned low-fat, whole food plant-based nutrition. This eliminates oil since it’s about foods that are whole (unprocessed).

There is an abundant life away from oil, it’s easy and fun to discover how to prepare food without oil…You’ll notice the difference in terms of how you feel after eating…and the bonus is: oil-free kitchens are so much easier/faster to clean!

Make Yourself Heart Attack Proof – Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, MD
Full-video (ENG): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYTf0z_zVs0

http://nutritionstudies.org/essential-facts-fats/
http://nutritionstudies.org/fat-plant-based-diets/

4) Why is sugar

What we’ll agree to call “sugar” is the processed sweetening  product resulting from the extraction of a sweet liquid from a whole plant. With animal foods this would include honey. In spite of confusing efforts to distinguish between “refined sugars” and other sugars, it’s important to keep in mind that all extracted sugar, is processed sugarall leading to similar problems whether it’s maple, agave, syrups, coconut sugar, molasses, raw/brown sugar or the good old white sugar. There are more than 60 different names for different sugars. What’s the issue with all these sugars?
Like with oil, it’s not only empty calories (no or poor nutrition) and high in calories (contributing to overweight and obesity), but the main concern is that extracted sugars are actively harmful to health in a variety of ways. Although sugar is perceived by the general public as the main culprit for chronic illness, it is in fact the animal products, high-fat diets and oil really are the top offenders. This said, sugar is still of concern, these are ways in which sugar is harmful:

  • Acts exactly like a drug on the brain: sending dopamine (reward system) into overdrive, leading to sugar addiction, increased sugar tolerance and cravings.
  • Negatively impacts mood: manic state on a sugar high, hypoglycaemic (overly alert irritable) on a sugar low.
  • Disturbs blood sugar control.
  • Inhibits the immune system for hours
  • Promotes liver toxicity (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – “human foie-gras”)
  • Damages arteries (endothelial cells) and contributes to elevating triglycerides.
  • Promotes pathogenic flora (i.e. candida)
  • Harmful to dental health, contributes to cavities.
  • Empty calories (no or irrelevant nutrition), high caloric density, may contribute to overweight, obesity or difficulty losing weight.
  • Hypoglycaemia during sleep may disturb sleep

Documentary Sugar: The Bitter Truth
Full-video (ENG): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

If Fructose is Bad, What About Fruit? (5-min video)
http://nutritionfacts.org/video/if-fructose-is-bad-what-about-fruit/

While zero extracted sugar is ideal and should be aimed to for those who feel they can do it, for others it may be a bit daunting and a small sugar tolerance. The World Health Organisation (WHO) set a limit of not more than 5% of calories coming from these extracted sugars. This is about 3~6 teaspoons for women and up to 9 for men. Dr. McDougall is a bit more cautious, suggesting a maximum limit of 1 teaspoon per meal to help add flavour/appeal to healthy starchy foods. Sweetness is an important part of flavour, foods that taste good are vital to the adherence to a way of eating. My personal proposal is that sweetness is easily achieved whole or blended sweet fruits, either fresh or dry: examples, dates and currants, and desserts/baked goods bananas or blended (not juiced) sweet grapes.

5) Why “no salt” in whole-food?

Salt promotes increases blood pressure (hypertension) in many people. It may cause inflammation in the blood vessels in all people. More of concern, it worsens autoimmune diseases. Salt also conduces to water retention and dehydration. Dehydration in turn causes the blood to thicken and reduces cardiac output (sub-optimal cardiovascular function and cardiovascular risk factors). Calcium is also better retained on a low-salt diet (WHO).

“What about Celtic,  Himalayan or <your name it> salt?” Same deal, same problematic main molecule: sodium chloride.

IMPORTANT: For most people feeling healthy and with no known autoimmune disease, a focus eating unprocessed plant foods (no oil nor animal products) should be by far the top priority, before spending too much focus on salt reduction or elimination.

There is sufficient sodium in a whole-foods plant-based diets, ideal salt/added sodium consumption is zero.

While many people are capable of achieving this, for other people, a low-sodium intake will feel more sustainable. The WHO sets a maximum limit of 1,500 mg of sodium a day, which is about one half 1/2 tsp salt per day (one half of a teaspoon per day). Some health conditions (i.e. kidney disease) may require a lower limit.

If salt is used, the best way to use it is: 1) taste the food first 2) and if salt is needed sprinkle your iodised salt on top of the food. Avoid pre-mixing salt during food preparation.

Within weeks of consuming a low-salt or salt-free diet, taste buds adapt and develop a preference for these foods and an aversion/dislike for what used to be “normal” salt levels. Some weight loss may be experienced (peeing out the retained water).

For athletes and other people sweating a lot, adaptations happen when switching to a low-salt or salt-free diet to retain sodium more effectively. A progressive reduction/elimination may be wise.
There exist 100% salt-free very physically active populations that have been studied. They display outstandingly healthy blood pressure patterns and no sign of a sodium deficiency.

Cool bonuses: No more gross white marks on dark-colored shirts & t-shirts after you break a sweat in them.

High Blood Pressure May Be a Choice (5-min video)
http://nutritionfacts.org/video/high-blood-pressure-may-be-a-choice/

The Evidence That Salt Raises Blood Pressure (5-min video)
https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-evidence-that-salt-raises-blood-pressure/

Manufactured controversy over Salt #1 (5-min video)
http://nutritionfacts.org/video/sprinkling-doubt-taking-sodium-skeptics-with-a-pinch-of-salt/

Manufactured controversy over Salt #2 (5-min video)
https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dietary-guidelines-with-a-grain-of-big-salt/

Cardiovascular damage caused by salt besides hypertension
http://nutritionfacts.org/video/sodium-and-arterial-function-a-salting-our-endothelium/