{Recipe} Creamy Mushroom Sauce with Spelt Spirals

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This simple, quick and tasty recipe uses ingredients that are fridge and pantry ‘staples’ at my house.

My sons aren’t keen on mushrooms, so I don’t even attempt to serve this meal to them. This is a good lunchtime option for Mat and I when the (older) tiny vegans are at school (and pre-school).

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Ingredients

(serves 2)

2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms, white or button

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 can/400ml organic coconut cream

1 Tbsp organic cornflour

1 generous Tbsp chopped, freshly-picked parsley leaves

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

black pepper

2 tsp olive oil, divided

Spelt spirals (or your preferred pasta)

Method

1. Cook the desired amount of pasta according to the directions on the packet. Once cooked, strain and set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the cornflour, and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Shake the can of coconut cream before opening it. Add the coconut cream gradually, stirring continuously with a whisk, to avoid lumps. Once all the coconut cream has been added, use a wooden spoon to stir the sauce periodically as it thickens. The sauce will take several minutes to thicken. Add the salt, a few grinds of black pepper and the mustard. Mix well. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and set aside. The sauce will thicken further on standing.

4. In a separate saucepan, heat 1 tsp of olive oil. Add the garlic, stirring until fragrant. Then add the mushrooms. Cook them for 3-4 minutes, until they begin to release water.

5. Add the cooked mushrooms and garlic to the sauce and stir well, on a low heat. Bring the sauce to a warm serving temperature. Stir the parsley through just prior to serving.

6. Spoon the spirals into bowls, and top with the mushroom sauce. Decorate with a sprig of parsley, and serve immediately.

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The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

As I mentioned, this recipe is not popular with most of the tiny vegans. My daughter is the only one who enjoys this meal. Little Baker likes spelt spirals but is not impressed with mushrooms. Yet.

I am hopeful that he will eventually succumb to the charm of mushrooms. My daughter disliked mushies until recent years. Now she is enchanted by buttons and shiitakes. 🙂

Dr. Joel Fuhrman says this about the mighty mushroom:

‘In one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (which equates to about one button mushroom per day) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer.

All types of mushrooms have anti-cancer properties. Plus, mushrooms are unique in that they contain aromatase inhibitors — compounds that can block the production of estrogen.

Aromatase inhibitors are thought to be largely responsible for mushrooms’ preventive effects against breast cancer. Even the most commonly eaten mushrooms (white, cremini, and Portobello) have high anti-aromatase activity…

Keep in mind that mushrooms should only be eaten cooked: several raw culinary mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine, and cooking mushrooms significantly reduces their agaritine content’.

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Ok, fess up! Do you eat raw mushrooms? Did you realise that you were messing with agaritine? 🙂

 Every Monday, I feature a delicious recipe that is enjoyed by [some of the members of ] my own family- I hope your family enjoys it too. 

Ally 🙂

{Recipe} Vegan Lunchbox Snacks

After last week’s booze-soaked, caffeine-fueled decadence, it’s time to re-focus on child-friendly recipes. 🙂

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Last week, a friend was lamenting the relentlessness of the school lunchbox routine. I can relate!

So, for those that suffer from periodic (or chronic) lunchbox loathing, I am featuring three recipes that may provide some much-needed inspiration.

1. Baked Crackers – Spelt and Spicy Wheat

2. Cinnamon Cookie Dough Bars

3. Crispy Edamame

At the end of this post, I have included links to other ‘lunchbox-friendly’ recipes on Made of Stars.

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Most store-bought crackers are heavy on sodium. Many contain palm oil (for info on why palm oil is not a cruelty-free food, see this post). Some contain undesirable additives.

These crackers are tasty on their own or teamed with a dip, such as hummus. My daughter enjoys them with avocado. They are simple to prepare, and my kids are enthusiastic about helping to make them. They particularly enjoy rolling and cutting the dough, and sprinkling the seeds on top.

I have included recipes for two different varieties:

Spelt Crackers

(Adapted from this recipe)

Quantity- 26 small crackers

**Ingredients**

1 cup wholemeal spelt flour

4 Tbsp water

1/2 tsp salt

1.5 Tbsp coconut oil (in liquid form)

1/4 tsp ground cumin

poppy seeds

sesame seeds

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F.

2. Add the flour to a large mixing bowl. Add the cumin. Mix well.

3. Add the water to a small jug. Add the salt to the jug and stir well until salt is dissolved.

4. Add the oil to the jug, and mix. Then pour the liquid into the mixing bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

5. As the flour begins to clump together, and becomes difficult to stir with the wooden spoon, use your hands to form the mixture into a dough. Work the dough until it becomes malleable.

6. Lightly flour the kitchen bench with additional flour, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a thin sheet.

7. It is preferable to have crackers that are roughly the same size (about 4.5 x 3cm). To achieve this, use a pizza cutter to cut the sheet of dough into a symmetrical rectangle. Retain the ‘off cuts’.  Cut the crackers with the pizza cutter, then place them onto a large, lined baking tray.

8. Repeat the process with the remaining dough (the ‘off cuts’). To obtain a consistent size, you can use a cut cracker as a guide.

9. Evenly space all of the crackers on the baking tray. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Use the rolling pin (or your fingers) to press the seeds onto the crackers.

10. Bake for 12 minutes.

11. Remove from oven and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

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Spicy Wheat Crackers

(Adapted from this recipe)

Quantity – 11 large crackers

**Ingredients**

1 cup wholemeal wheat flour

1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp dried marjoram

4 Tbsp water

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp coconut oil (in liquid form)

Poppy seeds

Sesame seeds

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.

2. Add flour to a large mixing bowl. Add the cayenne pepper and marjoram. Mix well.

3. Follow steps 3-6 in the previous recipe.

4. If you want to make larger crackers (as we did), cut them into 7 x 5 cm rectangles, and bake for 14 minutes (otherwise follow steps 7-10 above).

5. Once cooled, store crackers in an air tight container.

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Cinnamon Cookie Dough Bars

These bars are rich and decadent, and free of oil and refined sugar. They are a simple, yet satisfying snack.

I’m sure that regular readers will not be surprised when I reveal the creator of these fabulous bars.

Yes, it’s one of Dreena’s recipes. 😉

The bars consist of cashews, hemp seeds, shredded coconut, rolled oats, dates, and cinnamon. Sunflowers seeds are a good substitution for the hemp seeds. I like to use a combination of cashews and macadamia nuts.

I store the bars in the freezer. I adore their consistency when devoured straight from the freezer. You can freeze the entire slice uncut, and use a sharp knife to cut a slice as desired. However, I prefer to store it pre-sliced.

The recipe is available here.

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Crispy Edamame

All of the Tiny Vegans enjoy steamed, unshelled edamame -the type that is available in Japanese restaurants. Recently, I purchased a bag of frozen, shelled edamame. I baked them with nutritional yeast, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. They were delicious!

Ingredients

2 cups frozen, and shelled edamame, thawed

1/2 – 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (ie. savoury yeast flakes)

Salt

Pepper

Method

1.Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.

2. Add thawed edamame to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with a small quantity of salt and pepper, then add 1/2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast. Mix well to coat the beans. Add another 1/2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast if desired.

3. Spread beans onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 20-25, until beans begin to brown and turn crispy.

4. Allow beans to cool, then store in an airtight container.

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Little Baker adored these beans! For toddlers, omit the salt and pepper.

We added the leftover beans to a tofu and vegetable stir fry.

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Check out these vegan lunchbox posts on Made of Stars:

Gluten-free lunchboxes for school kids

A gluten-free lunchbox for a pre-schooler

Nut-free lunchbox snacks

More ‘lunchbox friendly’ recipes:

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Banana Oat Bars

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Cucumber and Nori Cups

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Nutty Veggie Burgers

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chickpeas

Tamari-roasted Chickpeas

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Pecan Date Nibblers

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Cinnamon Date Slice

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Wholemeal Spelt and Chia Pancakes

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What are your children’s favourite lunchbox snacks?  What are your favourite lunchbox snacks?

Ally

Each Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe (or three!) that is enjoyed by my own family  – I hope your family enjoys it too.

{Recipe} Wholemeal Spelt and Chia Pancakes

In my household, breakfast pancakes are whipped up on birthday mornings, usually by Mat (unless it is his birthday). The birthday boy or birthday girl is served first, and the rest of the family members gaze on greedily as the pancake is topped with fruit and drizzled with pure maple syrup.

A chorus: Hurry up daddy! Where’s mine? Is mine ready yet? Patience and manners are the first casualties of pancake mornings.

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Sometimes a double batch is prepared, and pancakes make a welcome appearance in school lunchboxes for a day or two. Pancakes also feature on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Sometimes they make an appearance on lazy Sunday mornings.

Our preferred pancake recipe is Banana Oat Pancakes.  This recipes uses oats and wholewheat flour, bananas and walnuts. It is nutritious and tasty.

I wanted to prepare a wheat-free pancake that maintained the nutrition and taste aspects of our favourite pancake recipe.

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I referred to a few cook books, and was ultimately inspired by Dreena Burton’s Whole-Grain Chia Pancakes (in Let Them Eat Vegan).

Consequently, Wholemeal Spelt and Chia Pancakes were born (whisked? 😉 ).

These pancakes are wheat free, sugar free, and oil free. Apple sauce is used as a sweetener. They are packed with chia seeds, providing essential fatty acids and a pleasant popping sensation as you munch on your pancake.

The kids haven’t had to wait until their birthdays for these pancakes! I’ve made them at least four times in the past fortnight. Maybe someone will make them for me on Mother’s Day on Sunday 😉

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Ingredients

(Quantity: 13- 14 pancakes)

1  3/4 cups wholemeal spelt flour

2 Tbsp whole chia seeds ( white or black, or a combination)

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 generous tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp of flaked almonds OR chopped nuts (eg. walnuts, pecans)

2 cups protein-enriched rice milk (or other plant-based milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp apple sauce (unsweetened)

Method

1. Add  all of the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

2. Whisk the rice milk, vanilla extract, and apple sauce together in a small mixing bowl.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir well. Set the bowl aside as you prepare the fry pan (skillet). The batter will thicken a little during this time.

4. Optional: Smear the surface of a fry pan or skillet with a small amount of coconut oil. You can skip this step if you use non-stick cookware.

5. Heat the fry pan, then use a 1/4 metric cup to scoop the batter onto the fry pan. Cook each pancake until bubbles appear on the surface, then gently flip and cook for about a minute on the other side.

6. The batter will continue to thicken in the bowl as you are cooking the pancakes. Add additional rice milk to thin it out again. (I usually add an additional tablespoon of rice milk after making the 5th pancake.)

7. Serve pancakes with sliced banana, berries (frozen or fresh), and pure maple syrup. My four year old son enjoys his pancake smeared with apple sauce.

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pancakelunchbox

When making pancakes for the kids’ lunch boxes, I use a metric tablespoon to measure out the batter. This also makes a good toddler-sized pancake.

I am excited about participating in my first Virtual Vegan Potluck this weekend! The potluck will go live on Saturday at 12.01 am Eastern time in the USA (Saturday afternoon in Australia and NZ). About 150 blogs are participating! I’m bringing a main dish to the potluck.

What vegan meals do you like to take to potlucks?

Ally

* Due to the time that I will be dedicating to the VVP, I won’t be posting a recipe next Monday.

[edited on 7 May to update VVP info]

{Recipe} Starry Speculoos-inspired Christmas Cookies

During their European sojourn, my sister and brother-in-law purchased lots of yummy vegan treats. On their return, my family received a parcel full of goodies. This parcel introduced me to Speculoos spread. A delicious, biscuit-flavoured, peanut butter coloured spread.

Getting to know Speculoos spread was an enjoyable journey- I ate it on bread, mixed through vanilla soy ice cream, as a dip with dark chocolate squares, and straight from the jar with a spoon.

Eventually, the inevitable occurred -the jar was emptied of its last morsel.  Regrettably, I couldn’t just visit the local store to buy more. Thankfully, my sister informed me about an online store that sells Speculoos. Two jars of crunchy Speculoos spread are on the way to my home!

I knew it was a perfect day for baking when I awoke to rain on Sunday morning.  Time to experiment with Speculoos Cookies!

After 30 minutes of googling, I came to the conclusion that there is not a definitive, agreed upon speculoos spice blend.

Ultimately, I settled on a speculaas biscuit recipe (now these are  beautiful looking biscuits) to guide me in making a speculoos-inspired Christmas cookie.

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You will need:

335g wholemeal spelt flour OR 300g plain flour (I used spelt)
125g dark brown sugar
150g vegan margarine
2 tbsp boiling water
1 tbsp pure cocoa powder (ie. unsweetened) – optional. This is for colour, not flavour.

Spices:
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated OR ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 160 deg C/320 F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add sugar and pour boiling water over the top. Mix.

3. Add vegan margarine, beat with a wooden spoon or handheld mixer.

4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, spices and cocoa (if using).

5. Add flour and spice mixture to the large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly until a dough forms.

6. Remove dough from mixing bowl and place in a container, flatten dough slightly. Cover container.

7. Refrigerate for at least an hour, ideally longer (overnight is good). This will intensify the flavour of the spices in the finished product. (I refrigerated for 6 hours).

8. Remove dough from fridge and set aside on bench for an hour.

9. Use rolling pin to roll dough to a 3-4mm thickness.

10 We used a star-shaped cutter, and yielded 18 cookies.

11. Bake for 12 mins.

11. Allow cookies to cool  before indulging!

Cool cookies!

Notes

You can press flaked almonds in to the back of each cookie before baking.

Apparently, the spices intensify with time. Store the cookies in an air tight container for 2 days before indulging. You think I’m joking?! Or you can do as I did and test taste one, and let the kids have one each. Then you can store the remainder for 2 days. I’ll let you know how they taste after 2 days -if there are any left!

[update– there was one cookie left after 2 days. The spices HAD intensified, but the cookie had softened. I prefer a firmer cookie, so I won’t be leaving my cookies for 2 days in the future. If I want a stronger spice flavour, I will leave the dough in the fridge overnight.]

Traditionally, speculoos biscuits are formed in wooden moulds shaped like windmills. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of those on hand. I did consider using play-doh stampers – then common sense prevailed 🙂

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