Heavenly Almond Milk with Vanilla Bean and Dates

Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (16 of 31)

Save the money buying almond milk and make your own. Creamy, lightly sweet, and so satisfying—homemade almond milk (without the additives and preservatives) is a true luxury!

It also contains no animal byproducts, allowing vegans and vegetarians to enjoy it without guilt.

Personally, my favourite flavour combo comprises of utilising an entire vanilla bean, a couple Medjool dates, and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt. The secret to an intense vanilla flavour is blending the entire vanilla bean; just chop it up and toss the whole bean into the blender. Not to worry if you don’t have one on hand though: a half a teaspoon of vanilla extract will work just fine in a pinch.

This milk is delicious served with cookies, cereal, in a smoothie, or simply on its own.

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Almond milk’s high vitamin E content makes it a superfood for skin, helping to protect it from the  sun damage. 

I am now going to rave on about the merits of almond milk. First, for those who are looking to lose weight, almond milk is your solution. Did you know that one cup of almond milk contains only 60 calories, as opposed to 146 calories in whole milk, 122 calories in 2 percent, 102 calories in 1 percent, and 86 calories in skim? Enough said – it makes for a great substitute that will help you lose or maintain your current weight.

Moreover, almond milk won’t impact your blood sugar levels. Home made almond milk (with no additives) is low in carbs, which means it won’t significantly increase your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for diabetes. Because of its low glycemic index, your body will use the carbs as energy so the sugars aren’t stored as fat (score!).

Almond milk also keeps your heart healthy as there is no cholesterol or saturated fat in almond milk. It’s also low in sodium and high in healthy fats (such as omega fatty acids, typically found in fish), which helps to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease.

For those who care about beauty and skin, the vitamin E boost in almond milk will work wonders. Containing  50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E, almond milk contains antioxidant properties essential to your skin’s health, such as protecting it against sun damage.

For those who are lactose intolerant (i.e. have difficultly digesting the sugar in cow’s milk), almond milk is particularly fitting as unlike cow’s milk, there is no lactose. Lactose intolerance is prevalent amongst the Asian population and impacts about 25% of the US population.
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Almond milk is a suitable, lactose-free substitute for cow’s milk.

Heavenly Almond Milk with Vanilla Bean and Dates

TIME: 15 minutes | SERVES: 4 cups

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large cup of  almonds
  • 3.5 cups of filtered water
  • 4 pitted dates
  • 1 whole vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of himalayan sea salt

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METHOD:

  1. Soak the raw almonds in a bowl of water overnight. Hint: the longer you soak, the creamier the almond milk will become.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (30 of 31)
  2. Drain water in colander. Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (29 of 31)
  3. Place drained almonds in a Vitamix (or any powerful blender will do).Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (28 of 31)
  4. Add the dates, vanilla bean and a pinch of himalayan sea salt in the Vitamix. Fill up the container with filtered water at a ratio of  roughly 3-4 x as much as the volume of the almonds. Here I used 3.5 cups of water.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (26 of 31)
  5. Hit the on button, at first on low, before slowly increasing the speed to high and blend for 1 minute.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (25 of 31)
  6. Once everything is blended, strain the contents into a large bowl using a cheese cloth or nut milk bag/sprouting bag (as if milking a cow).Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (20 of 31)Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (19 of 31)
  7. Once done, pour the almond milk into a jar and store in the fridge. Almond milk can be stored for 2-3 days (since there are no preservatives) in the fridge.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (10 of 31)
  8. For variations, feel free to blend in some cacao and banana for an almond milk smoothie to best kick start the day. Otherwise, the almond milk makes for a refreshing alternative to milk when served chilled.Almond milk with dates and vanilla bean (18 of 31)

 

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Saffron Couscous with Cranberries and Almonds

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COUSCOUS | A versatile and popular alternative to rice and pasta

Couscous. A staple in North Africa, not many know how versatile these small steamed balls of semolina can be. Consisting of many tiny granules made from steamed and dried durum wheat, couscous has become a popular alternative to rice and pasta.

In Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, couscous is steamed over a simmered stew after being tossed with a little water or oil and water. This takes much longer than the ‘instant’ method, whereby couscous is boiled in water or stock for 5 minutes and then steamed for another 5 minutes before being “fluffed up” with a fork.

For myself, the beauty of couscous lies with its cross functional applicability between a pilaf and a salad. For this simple recipe, I have added a pinch of saffron to add a bit of colour and delicate taste. For some tangy sweetness I added some cranberries and for the crunch factor, some crushed roasted almonds. Feel free to throw in some pine nuts too!

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TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes | SERVES: 4 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chopped shallot
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup of wholemeal couscous (or plain)
  • 1.5 cups of water (if using wholemeal)
  • pinch of salt and black pepper, to taste
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oilSaffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (12 of 14)

METHOD:

1. Soak saffron threads in half cup of boiling water to release the flavours. Remember, a little pinch of saffron goes a long way.

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2. In the meantime, chop the shallots.

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3. Roast the almonds on medium-high heat by stirring gently on a pan (about 1-2 minutes). Once roasted, crush with mortar and pestle. Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (13 of 14)Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (7 of 14)

4. Pour tablespoon of olive oil into a saucepan on medium-high heat. Throw in shallots and stir for one minute.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (9 of 14)

5. Add the remaining cup of water. Once boiling, throw in the couscous, add a pinch of salt and pepper and let it cook for 5 minutes before closing the lid. Let it rest for another 5 minutes.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (8 of 14)

6. Juice the lemon and remove the pips.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (6 of 14)

7. Once couscous is done, remove the lid from the saucepan and pour in the lemon juice, cranberries, and crushed almonds. Fluff with fork until fluffy in texture.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (5 of 14)

8. Serve while warm. Feel free to sprinkle some pine nuts an additional cranberries on top for garnishing.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (4 of 14)

 

Homemade Organic Granola with Honey and Sea Salt

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For those of you who love granola, it can easily be made within the comfort (and confines) of your own small kitchen (trust me, I know this because I have a small kitchen) in a total of less than 30 minutes. All you need is the base ingredient, rolled oats, plus fruits and nuts of your own choosing. The beauty of making your own granola at home is the control you can exercise over what goes exactly into your pot (not to mention the considerable cost savings). As an additional bonus, it also leaves your house smelling absolutely amazing for hours afterwards (thanks to the cinnamon). The honey delicately sweetens the oats while the sea salt adds an interesting savoury dimension that makes your tastebuds hunger for more. Try this recipe for yourself – it is not overly sweet and is sure to become a real crowd-pleaser.

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INGREDIENTS:

(Serves 10. Makes 6 cups.)

  • 4 cups of organic rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup of organic coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup of organic honey
  • 1 teaspoon of organic vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts and dried fruits (I used a breakfast mix – pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and blueberries, raisins, flax seeds – plus a handful of almonds I crushed myself).

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METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 150 degrees celsius. Line two roasting trays (or if you have large over, one roasting tray) with parchment paper. If using raw almonds, crush the almonds in a mortar and pestle.

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2) Mix all the dry ingredients together – oats, cinnamon, salt, chopped nuts and fruits – in a large bowl.

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3) Mix all the wet ingredients together – coconut oil, honey, vanilla essence – in a smaller bowl.

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4) Combine to two together by pouring the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir together with a spatula (or your hands) until the oats are all evenly coated.

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5) Spread the mixture onto the two roasting trays in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Then remove from oven and stir. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

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6) Remove from oven and allow it to cool completely. Store it in an airtight container for storage.

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To serve as a healthy breakfast treat, top the granola with some greek yoghurt, fruit (I used nectarines), and drizzle with honey. Can also simply be served with milk. Enjoy 🙂

Granola with Honey and Seasalt (served with nectarines and yoghurt) (1 of 10)


Cumin and Coriander Roasted Cauliflower with Dates and Crushed Almonds

Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Dates (4 of 19)

Did you know that cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6? What’s more, it’s also a very good source of choline, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, and biotin. Additionally, it contains a good dosage of vitamin B2, protein, vitamin B1, niacin, and magnesium. So if you want a food that wil help lower your risk of contracting cancer, improve your digestion, and help with calcium absorption, this white cruciferous vegetable is the choice for you.

But wait, isn’t cauliflower super bland, tasteless, and lacking in texture? Short answer: Yes and No. “Yes” by its very nature but “No” if you know how to cook it the right way to deliver maximum punch and texture. What is the right way? For me, it involves roasting the cauliflower with a concoction of cumin and coriander spices, then adding chopped dates for a touch of sweetness, and throwing a handful of crushed almonds to pack in the extra “crunch factor”. Mmm….suddenly, cauliflower has taken on a new dimension, delivering a really incredible flavour that one can be impressed by (well, at least marginally).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets, outer greens removed
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 knob of butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Half a cup of pitted dates, chopped into halves
  • Handful of roasted almonds, crushed
  • 1 piece of fresh coriander, chopped

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Blanch cauliflower in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes then transfer to a colander and give it a good shake to get as much water out as possible. Allow it to steam dry (don’t want any water or else it won’t roast properly).

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2) Bash the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle. Combine with the cumin. Repeat for the almonds.

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3) Chop the pitted dates into halves.

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4) Add knob of butter with some olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Throw in the cauliflower and throw in the spices, almonds, and dates. Mix together thoroughly to ensure cauliflower florets are covered with the spice mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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5) Transfer contents to a roasting tray and roast for about 15 minutes to crisp up the florets.

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6) Serve and garnish with some chopped fresh coriander.

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