Vegan Melanzane Impanate

Vegan Melanzane Impanate

Some people call them aubergines, others eggplants but in Italy they are known as melanzane.

This delicious vegetable can be cooked in a thousand different manners but today I’m going to share with you the vegan version of a very traditional recipe: melanzane impanate. This quick and delicious dish can be ready to eat in about 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

(For two people)

2 medium size eggplants

1/2 cup of wheat flour

1/2 cup of chickpea flour or pea flour

some salt (ideally, sea salt)

Vegetable cooking oil

Recipe Instructions:

  • Clean the eggplants by getting rid of the non edible top part.
  • If they are very long, cut them in a half and then slice them vertically so that you can obtain a shape like the one in the photo. Ideally they should be about 1 cm thick.
  • Spread the eggplant slices on a plate and sprinkle some salt all over them. Let them sit for about ten minutes (my mother lets them sit for much longer to get most of the water out of the vegetable but if you are in a hurry don’t bother too much about it).
  • In a different plate or a big bowl if you prefer, put the chickpea flour and gradually add a little water while stirring with a fork. This is supposed to be an egg substitute so the consistency should be rather creamy but still liquid. Add a pinch of salt.
  • Now, you need another plate for the wheat flour. Spread it around the plate uniformly.
  • Prepare a non stick pan with a quarter of a cup of vegetable cooking oil in it and put it on low heat.
  • Take one slice of eggplant, deep it in the egg substitute cream, then put it on the plate with wheat flour and turn it around. Do not press the wheat against the eggplant with your fingers, otherwise it will be too much. If you think that there is not enough flour attached to the eggplant, just turn it around another couple of times in the wheat flour.
  • At this stage, the oil should be hot enough to start cooking. As soon as the eggplants are coated, gently place them in the pot and let them cook until their bottom color change into brown. Then, turn them around and cook the other side until crunchy.
  • When the eggplants are ready, put them in a clean plate and wait another 5 minutes before eating them. The eggplant should be crunchy outside but soft and creamy inside.

This is a wonderful dish liked by almost everyone. Traditionally, the melanzane impanate used to be deep fried but if you use a non stick pan, you just need some oil for the crunch effect.

Melanzane impanate is a side dish but I eat it as a main dish together with brown rice and green vegetables to have a balanced meal!

Happy Vegan Day to all of you!

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Vegan Gnocchi di Patate

Vegan Gnocchi di Patate

Gnocchi di patate is a traditional northern Italian dish simply made of potatoes and wheat flour. It’s a very delicious and nutritious food yet affordable and the ingredients widely available. You can use your imagination to make the sauce that better suits your palate but in my case, I made a green been sauce to garnish the gnocchi. By the way, many people love gnocchi just as they are by adding a little bit of olive oil on top once they are cooked.

Here is the recipe:

How to make Gnocchi:

(Ingredients for 2 people)

2 Medium size potatoes better if young

1/2 cup of wheat flour

(I used organic white wheat flour but you can use other types if you wish and if you are allergic to gluten you can use rice or corn flour)

Some salt

  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into fairly big even cubes (not to small)
  • Fill a pot of water and bring it to the boil
  • When the water is boiling, put the potatoes inside and cook until they are soft but still a little firm.
  • Drain the potatoes and put them in a big bowl.
  • Mashed the potatoes down with a fork  and add a few pinches of salt.
  • Gradually start adding the flour with a spoon while keeping stirring the dough with a fork
  • When the dough starts getting thicker, start working it with your hands. If you think that the dough is still too wet, add some extra wheat.
  • When the dough has a homogeneous consistence, make little balls and then extend the edges a little to make them look like those in the photo (this is the traditional Italian way).
  • Now fill a pot with water (o recycle the previous one) and bring it to the boil. Add a spoon of salt (sea salt is best)
  • Add the gnocchi one by one rather quickly because they cook in a few minutes.
  • When the gnocchi come to the surface of the water, wait another minute and then drain them.

Gnocchi

How to make the Green Beans Sauce

(Ingredients for 2 people)

10 Asian long beans or 1/2 kg of green beans

2 cloves of garlic

1 spoon of sesame seeds

Vegetable Cooking Oil (I used pure soy bean oil)

salt

1 red chili

  • Smashed the garlic into small pieces and clean it from its peel
  • Slice the chili
  • Mix the garlic and the chili together
  • Wash the beans and cut them into pieces of about 2 cm of length
  • Put a little oil in a non stick pan and add the garlic and chili
  • When the garlic is starting to turn orange, add the beans and the sesame seeds and stir thoroughly
  • Cover the pan with a lid and wait for a few minutes
  • Occasionally stir the beans again
  • When the beans look slightly crunchy, turn off the heat, add the gnocchi and stir gently then serve.
  • Gnocchi taste better when they are not too hot so let them sit for a few minutes before eating them.

 

いただきます!

Cambodian Angels

Cambodian Angels

A great idea good for the environment and good for the people: Rehash Trash.

While I was on my way to the market, I noticed a different shop which I couldn’t quite figured out what it was about. My intuition told me to stop and have a look because it had certainly something to do with recycling by the name of it.

For those of you who’ve never had the opportunity to visit Asian countries, you should know that the biggest environmental hazard is primarily represented by plastic bags. In the past, most Asian countries used banana leaves and bamboo baskets to carry their food and goods around so when those suddenly got replaced by plastic bags, nobody bothered explaining to the people – many of whom are illiterate – that plastic is not biodegradable,  on the contrary it is a real threat to everything and everyone.

I do my best here not to use plastic bags but sometimes it is virtually impossible. Even if I go to the market with my own containers, there are some types of food which are sold sealed in plastic bags (just like in supermarkets), like fresh tofu for instance. But I live here, so I have the opportunity to buy containers (yep, made of plastic) to be recycled over and over again. As a tourist, it is not that easy to do it but here are some tips for those travelling in Asian countries.

Do your part no matter how small, many drops of water together form an ocean:

  • Carry a thermal bottle with you because in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Nepal, you can just refill your bottle for a very cheap price without any plastic waste. In Cambodia, most guest houses and hotels have free water dispensers where you can fill your bottle.
  • Make a little room in your backpack or suitcase for a lunch box  so that if you want to buy anything fresh you can ask the people to put it in your box.
  • Do not use a straw when you drink, people are very clean and nobody ever got sick by drinking straight from a glass. I’m your living proof, I even drink fresh coconut milk straight from the market without cooking it: delicious! For coconut water, if you are given a straw just keep it and use it for the time being.
  • If you are given any plastic bags, wash them in your room and use them again.
  • Buy your fresh food from the local market and not the supermarket because they use a lot of packaging just like in the West.

The target is obviously to eliminate plastic altogether but in the meantime, let’s do our best.

Back to my story with the shop named Rehash Trash, I discovered that they are an NGO which recycles rubbish bags and turns them into beautiful and useful items. I actually bought a big laundry basket myself. The women working there are the mothers of several street children who are given the opportunity to make a little income and provide for their kids. They also offer workshops where you can learn how to recycle plastic.

 

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If you come to Siem Reap, do visit them, here is their FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/RehashTrash/?ref=py_c

Be proud of yourself live Eco and not ego!

 

The Joy of Cooking

The Joy of Cooking

Take your health in your own hands

THE IMPORTANCE OF COOKING

Some people believe that cooking is a waste of time or an activity for bored homemakers. Wrong! Cooking is an act of self nourishing and caring which will save  your life. Why? Because, first of all you get to choose the ingredients you want to cook and if you love yourself enough, you’ll get the most natural, fresh and nutritious food available. Some people may argue that such food is expensive but it shouldn’t be. Locally grown vegetables, fruit and grains free of pesticides, fertilizers and other nasty chemicals should actually cost less, not more, exactly because they are grown without adding any additional cost. Go straight to those who grow food and if you can’t find any, grow your own. Your only investment should be a blender and a juicer if you really want to switch to a very healthy and nutritious diet. Drinking freshly made vegetable and fruit juices give your body the necessary vitamins and minerals for you to be healthy again.

THE PANDEMIC OF MALNUTRITION IN INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES

The high percentage of obese people in a country is a very strong sign that there is something terribly wrong with our eating habits. Yes, we could just protest in the street and ask to shut down all the fast food chains which claim to sell food while in actual fact are only selling junk. Some people may say – yes but we love junk! Sure and you are responsible for what you put inside your body. However, we are exposed to junk food from a very young age and we get used to it. To be completely honest: we get addicted to it. Sugar and chemicals perfectly blended to ensure that our appetite for that particular item would never cease. That’s how you become a junk food junkie without even knowing it.

HOW CAN WE CLAIM OUR POWER BACK?

Simply by cooking. You can shout and scream that you want healthier food and blame the authority for that but in the end, you are solely responsible for what ends up in your stomach. Yes, we have created a culture of poison and junk but we are still in time to change. It’s never too late to change lifestyle. Just as when you quit smoking, drinking, medications or drugs, giving up junk food will cause your body to experience withdrawal symptoms and that’s ok because it’s part of the healing process. Once your body starts detoxifying and eliminating all the nasty substances which have been accumulating in our bodies for years, you will feel sick, exhausted, you may get pimples or skin rashes but that’s no going to last long before you start getting your energy and self esteem back.

EATING HEALTHILY DOESN’T MEAN EATING SALAD

Some people are convinced that eating well means eating a salad and a fruit. Wrong! There are billions of recipes available online about plant based nutrition. Today for instance, I’m cooking a fresh sauce made with potatoes, capsicums, garlic, chili, tomatoes, mushrooms and coriander to put on my plate of spaghetti. Yep, I can eat pasta. Once you start eating a healthy and nutritious diet you can also afford to have foods which are frowned upon by strict dieticians unless, of course, you have a particular disease (e.g.: diabetes) which will not allow you to have that particular item. Believe me, when you start cooking everything tastes delicious and your self esteem will boost up!

Here’s the final result of my spaghetti dish:

IMG_20170517_130535

I also added a bit of Japanese naturally brewed soy sauce, crashed peanuts and extra virgin olive oil. Yummy!

So what are you doing still here? Go get yourself some nice pots and start cooking right now!

Homemade Tagliatelle with Ying Yang sauce

Homemade Tagliatelle with Ying Yang sauce

Life is about balance so if there is anything wrong with your life right now, just try to compensate with a bit of the opposite. I do this when I cook as well, I call it the Ying and Yang of cooking and it was invented thousands of years ago by the Chinese. If, for example, your food is a little too spicy (fire) then add something cooling such as cucumber (water) which will extinguish the fire caused by spicy food. Food must be balanced but you also have to follow your feelings and intuition as well. What does it mean? It means that if you feel like having just a salad then have a salad. Or if you feel like having some healthy peanut butter then eat it without any guilt. Your body knows best – of course that doesn’t mean that you have to exaggerate with your portions: when you are no longer hungry, stop eating. That’s it! You don’t need to go to a nutritionist to teach you how to nourish yourself, learn by direct experience. Only you know how you feel!

Learn to listen to your body

Ingredients :

gr. 100 of the best unbleached wheat flour possibly organic (whole wheat is good too)

gr 50 yellow or orange lentils

sea salt

1 eggplant

1 red onion

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 hot chili peppers (optional)

cooking oil (the best you can find)

fresh coriander

2 cucumbers (small)

3 juicy red tomatoes

Natural Soy Sauce (optional)

crushed peanuts (optional)

Tagliatelle:

  • Fill a big pot with water put a full spoon of salt, cover it with a lid and bring to boil.
  • Put the flour in a big round bowl, add a pinch of salt and a little bit of water. Mix everything with a fork until you can start working the dough with your own hands. Add a little organic oil to make the dough smoother.
  • After a few minutes, when you can see that the dough consistency is homogeneous, add a little bit of flour on top of it and put it aside.
  • Prepare enough space on a surface to lay the dough; the final result will be a big rectangular shape so make sure you cover the surface with little pinches of flour to make sure the dough doesn’t stick to the surface.
  • Make a a ball with the dough and start pressing it down until it gets flat. Give it a rectangular shape.
  • Now, put some flour around your rolling pin (you can use a clean and dry bottle if you don’t have one) and flatten the dough until it becomes thin but not transparent. Do it in a way that you get a long rectangularly shaped dough.
  • Sprinkle the surface of the dough with some wheat and smooth it with your hand.
  • Take a knife and start cutting along the edge of the the though, it doesn’t matter is the fettuccine are not exactly the same but make sure you put them on a plate a bit separate from each other so they don’t stick.
  • When you are done, gently placed them inside the pot with the boiling water (medium heat).
  • Stir gently with a fork and when the tagliatelle rise to the surface it means they are ready. If you are not sure, take one and taste it.
  • If ready put them in a strainer and then place them in the pan with the veggie sauce.

 

Sauce:

  • Cut the eggplant in small cubes of about the same size
  • Clean the garlic and smash it with the flat part of a knife
  • Cut the chili in very small pieces
  • Rinse the lentils in a bowl of water and let them soak for five minutes
  • Put a little oil in a no stick pan
  • Add the garlic, the chilly and the eggplant
  • Set the fire to low and stir often with a wooden spoon
  • When the garlic starts changing color, add the lentils with the water as well. The water should be enough to cook the lentils but the final result should not be soupy but rather creamy. Add a pinch of salt, cover with a lid and let it cook at medium low temperature
  • Check it often to make sure the lentils are not getting burned, if necessary add a bit more water. Do this step all the way until completely cooked. The lentils have to be soft and creamy.
  • In the meantime, slice the tomatoes and the cucumbers and place them in a dish
  • Peel the red onion and slice it very thin then add it to the tomatoes and cucumbers

cucumber and tomatoes

  • Fill a big pot with water and put a spoonful of sea salt, cover it with a lid and bring it to boil at medium heat
  • Chop up the coriander and put it aside in a small dish
  • Only put the tagliatelle in hot water when the sauce is ready, if it’s not, turn the heat down to very low.
  • The sauce is ready when the consistency is very creamy, you can taste it at this stage, if necessary add a pinch of salt. Turn off the heat when the sauce is done.
  • Now, put the tagliatelle in hot water and turn the heat back to medium. You have to be fast to put them individually in the water not to break them but quickly enough to make sure their cooking time is even.
  • Once the tagliatelle rise to the surface, drain them – don’t wait too long or they will get sticky – and add them to the sauce in the pan.
  • Gently mix them with a fork and a spoon and place them in a large bowl

tagliatelle_lentils

 

  • Add the tomatoes and the cucumbers and stir slightly and gently
  • Last, add some coriander
  • Put the soy sauce and the crushed peanuts on the table so that people can help themselves

Voila’!

Buon Appetito!

Homemade Fettuccine with fresh Veggie sauce

Homemade Fettuccine with fresh Veggie sauce

Gandhi used to say  Be the change, I’m gonna tell you Be the Chef!

The reason why a lot of people are allergic to gluten is because the low quality white wheat that you find in bread and other products are really deleterious for our health.

The only way to make sure that your food is 100% pesticides, fertilizers and chemically free is to grow it yourself.  However, though it may be relatively easy to grow veggies, it may be quite challenging when it comes to wheat. So what can you do in this case?  Buy the highest quality wheat possible and make sure it’s organic. Now please don’t give me the poor me story about living on a low budget just cut your expenses on anything else but invest in your food – the source of your health and well being!

Ingredients:

gr 100 High Quality Wheat Flour per person 

1/2 glass of water

Organic oil (whatever you prefer)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 onion (the small red ones are the best)

7 baby corns

2 sweet potatoes

1-3 red hot chili peppers (adjust according to your taste)

1 bitter gourd

3 tomatoes

fresh coriander

spring onions

sea salt

brown sugar

fresh coriander or parsly

Instructions:

Fettuccine

  • Fill a big pot with water put a full spoon of salt, cover it with a lid and bring to boil.
  • Put the flour in a big round bowl, add a pinch of salt and a little bit of water. Mix everything with a fork until you can start working the dough with your own hands. Add a little organic oil to make the dough smoother.
  • After a few minutes, when you can see that the dough consistency is homogeneous, add a little bit of flour on top of it and put it aside.
  • Prepare enough space on a surface to lay the dough; the final result will be a big rectangular shape so make sure you cover the surface with little pinches of flour to make sure the dough doesn’t stick to the surface.
  • Make a a ball with the dough and start pressing it down until it gets flat. Give it a rectangular shape.
  • Now, put some flour around your rolling pin (you can use a clean and dry bottle if you don’t have one) and flatten the dough until it becomes thin but not transparent. Do it in a way that you get a long rectangularly shaped dough.
  • Sprinkle the surface of the dough with some wheat and smooth it with your hand.
  • Take a knife and start cutting along the edge of the the though, it doesn’t matter is the fettuccine are not exactly the same but make sure you put them on a plate a bit separate from each other so they don’t stick.
  • When you are done, gently placed them inside the pot with the boiling water (medium heat).
  • Stir gently with a fork and when the fettuccine rise to the surface it means they are ready. If you are not sure, take one and taste it.
  • If ready put them in a strainer and then place them in the pan with the veggie sauce.

Veggie Sauce

  • Put a little bit of organic oil in a pan
  • Slice the onion in small pieces
  • Cut the chili and put it in the pan together with the onion.
  • Turn on the heat to very low
  • Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into small cubes
  • When the onion is starting to get a bit cooked (very slightly), add the sweet potatoes, half a glass of water, cover with a lid and wait about 5-10 minutes.
  • Clean and chop up the baby corns and the bitter gourd (seedless).
  • When the potatoes are done, add the baby corns and the bitter gourd, stir and keep cooking at low heat.
  • Cut the tomatoes into small dices, sprinkle with 1 spoon of brown sugar
  • When the bitter gourd is soft enough, add the tomatoes and stir one more time. Cover with the lid and keep cooking for another 5 minutes.
  • Finely cut the coriander
  • Add the fettuccine,the fresh coriander, 1 spoon of olive oil and stir thoroughly

Cook the veggie sauce first and the pasta later.

Buon Appetito

tagliatelle4

The Harmony of a Balanced Life

The Harmony of a Balanced Life

A brave new world starts from you; no one else but you. Are you ready for the challenge?

The more you document yourself about nutrition and the more you discover that the secret of real health lays in your own hands. While in Thailand, I met a doctor who happens to be a Buddhist monk as well, known as Doctor MorKeaw (Green). My Thai friends convinced me to attend one of his numerous workshops and though it was entirely in the Thai language, I could grasp some of its meaning because there were numerous exercises and slides to accompany his presentation. In addition, at the end of the workshop, one of his assistants came to me to translate what were considered the salient points of the workshop. Basically, he was telling people to become their own doctor by taking responsibility about their lifestyle. Doctor Morkeaw is an incredibly humble man who lives a very humble life in accordance to Dhamma (Dharma) teachings, he has authored numerous books and videos on Buddhist Traditional medicine. Some of the exercises can be found in yoga and other disciplines and include practices to detoxify your body. Dr Morkeaw is a strong supporter of a vegan diet as food plays a fundamental role in our life.

morkeaw

I have always been interested in holistic practices and traditional medicine so, quite apart from studying a lot of books written by doctors and researchers in this field, I also had the opportunity to test traditional medicine on my own self. In particular, Chinese Traditional Medicine – which I find highly effective, Tibetan Medicine – also very effective and Ayurvedic Medicine – which in my case was not as effective as the previous ones though largely based on the same principles.

However, after having experienced the extraordinary efficacy of the above mentioned traditional medicine methods, I came to the conclusion that I was the only person to be held solely responsible for my own health. The body is not a car that you take to the mechanic when it breaks down though we behave as if it were. Everything you do has a consequence: drinking, smoking, and other deleterious behaviors cannot bring different results. The chemicals in our food, water and air also take a toll on our body so it is up to us to change lifestyle to preserve the environment and ensure a future for us as well as future generations.

Nowadays, I don’t even take holistic medicines anymore and I have started to follow the natural way or what some people call it, natural hygiene. So far so good but one thing is certain, the more you get in touch with your body and its needs and the more you get to trust yourself deeper and deeper. I belong to a generation of people who was born before the digital age so when we were young, we were led to believe that only the “elite” held the key to access knowledge. Thank Goddess that has changed and if you don’t believe me just google it!

 Dr Morkeaw’s website (Thai language)