Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Prior to our big move, we had turned vegan. The main reason was our health. Our current life had become a constant round of suffering. From severe heartburn, to IBS, to joint pain and headaches. Stress, to allergies, to excema and back pain. We were only in our twenties but we felt about eighty. Something had to change, and that was our diet. We eliminated meat and dairy, processed food and any chemicals. The change in our bodies was so dramatic that we literally didn't know what to do with ourselves. We later educated ourselves on animal welfare and understood the added bonus of being a vegan. Animals and the environment don't have to suffer either.
When we moved to our farm, we knew that we had our work cut out. Many of the buildings were in a poor state of repair, and to make matters harder, we wanted everything to be animal free. We wanted a 100% vegan organic farm - with no animal byproducts or chemicals.
We also had to do a lot of research into alternative growing methods. A LOT. Ten years later, we are still learning. I'm certainly no expert in this field.
The first thing we did was to start up a 'green' composter, which suplies us with 'vegan' compost to fertilise our land. Alone, we couldn't make nearly enough compost for our needs, so we started up a little system. We provided our neighbours with a bin for any vegetable waste and collected it daily to add to our own composter. In return for their effort (which really is only remembering to save the waste), we provide seasonal fruit, homemade jams, and our excess vegetables.
In that first year whilst we were busy digging vegetable plots, planting trees and clearing the land, we were also renovating our fantastic farm house which dates back to the Tudors.
Here is the oldest part of our farm house. We installed new windows and repaired a lot of the brickwork.
By the time our first child was born we were settled into our new life. The old life was just a hazy memory - something we would rather forget
Now we are eating about 80% of our own produce (depending on the season),and we feel great!
We saved a dog that Ava named 'Veggy'. He was beaten by his previous owners and now lives a life of luxury on our farm.
We rescued some battery chickens too. They were on the way to the slaughter house and had known nothing but cruelty and life in a tiny cage. I will never forget the day these chickens stepped outside for the first time. They were literally born again.
These days we are enjoying the delights of autumn sunshine, our new baby and homemade sugar free jam. Wonderful!
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Soaking nuts overnight activates the dormant enzymes which are highly beneficial for digestion, energy and nutrition. When you soak grains and legumes, the enzymes and its nutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins, and essential fatty acids) multiply. There’s so much power and energy when they enter our body. Those hard-to-digest fats in nuts and seeds are converted into fatty acids when you soak them.
How long should you soak nuts? The denser the nut, the longer it will take to soak. Almonds take about 10-14 hours to soak. Hazelnuts would take about 8-10 hours, followed by pecans, walnuts and Brazil nuts at 4-6 hours. Less are required for cashews and macadamia nuts.
Sweeteners and flavorings add flavor to your basic nut milk. For sweeteners, you can use dried whole dates, maple syrup, agave nectar or brown rice syrup. The flavorings could be fresh vanilla bean or vanilla extract, almond extract, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom or the spice used in making chai, some fresh fruits, raw cocoa powder or carob powder.
After blending, here are two ways to strain your nut milk:
- Through a milk bag – place/insert the nut milk bag onto a wide mouth pitcher and pour your nut milk. Then squeeze out the liquid into the pitcher.
- Or through a fine mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth – pour the nut milk into the strainer. Press the solids in a circular motion with a ladle until the liquid has passed through. Then gather all four corners of the cheesecloth and slowly lift and squeeze the liquid. Although for ultra smoothness of the nut milk, just allow the nut milk to drain without using a ladle.
After straining the nut milk, you are left with an irregular mold of nut pulp. Since nuts are expensive, you can reserve them in making other recipes.
The recipe -
1 cup raw organic almonds or other nuts, soaked for 10-12 hours, drained and rinsed well
2-3 cups filtered water
Combine the almonds and 1-½ cups of water in a high-speed blender and blend until creamy. Pour the almond mixture into the sieve and let drain. Then grab the corners of the cheesecloth, holding it together securely and squeeze the cheesecloth to extract all of the milk.Return the nut pulp back into the blender and add enough liquid to cover the pulp. Blend again adding more liquid to liquefy the mixture if necessary. Strain the liquid and squeeze the cheesecloth to extract all of the milk.Transfer the milk to a covered glass container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Enjoy hot or cold.
Friday, 16 October 2009
Add to blender:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked over night, rinsed in a bowl of fresh water and strained (repeat several times till the water is clear)
4 cups of purified water
1/4 cup agave or sweetener
1 tsp vanilla extract
Note: this is not meant to be stained though a nut milk bag, as with almond milk.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
I'm not talking kitkats or marsbars here, I'm talking about homemade organic vegan bars that are just bursting with healthy goodness.
Want to see?
I'm growing my kiddos on vegan goodness like this
...and on organic sugar free lollipops of course!
Everyone knows that there is nothing better that a lollipop!
Just look at that cheeky grin.
Anyway, you one can't live just on lollipops (sadly) so back to the snack bars....
Here is what you need to make these lovely snacks yourself :
40g rolled oats
40g sunflower seeds
40g pumpkin seeds
Handful of sesame seeds
3-4 tbsp something sticky (golden syrup, date syrup, honey etc.)
What to do:
Start by heating up a non-stick pan and dry frying the seeds over a medium heat. Add the oats and fry for 3 mins. Add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds and fry for 2 minutes.
Take care – the pumpkin seeds may pop a little!
Take the pan off the heat. Stir in your choice of stickyness – it will sizzle at first but keep stirring until the oats and seeds are coated. Allow to cool slightly.
Line a 20cm x 10cm baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Spread the mixture evenly on the paper and line another one on top of the mixture.
Use a presser (or chopping board) to apply pressure to the mixture.
Chill for at least 1 hour, or until solid. Turn it out of the tin and peel off the greaseproof paper. If you have problems peeling off the paper, leave it at room temperature for 1 min and try again. Cut into bars.
Keep it in an air-tight container and store in the fridge. Best to be consumed within a week (or hour if necessary!)
Monday, 12 October 2009
The kids of often get themselves up in the mornings and as I was nursing Momo in bed, I could hear Lex in the kitchen, bashing his spoon on the table for breakfast.
When I finally made it into the kitchen he gave me his 'puppy dog' eyes. What a poor deprived toddler he is!
A bowl of homemade cereal and almond milk later, and he was a happy boy again.
My homemade cereal is just bursting with goodness. I add lots of flax seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries, vine fruits and organic wheatfree grains. We often alternate our 'milks' between hemp, almond, brazil nut and cashew nut milks. As Lex likes to say... 'Deeeluscious!'
After breakfast, Ava and Lex were desperate to get outside to play in the fresh piles of orange leaves that litter the countside.
I knew that we would need to take some lunch, so I set about packing something that is portable, yet still ticks all my 'health' boxes.
Here is what I packed for Ava.
Left box clockwise - Orange slices, cherries, green grapes and half a fig.
Right box - Wheat free pasta with homemade tomato and basil sauce.
Lex had a similar but smaller lunch.
Left box - Wheat free pasta with homemade tomato and basil sauce.
Right box - One strawberry, One orange slice and a diced kiwi.
I also tucked a flask of hot soup into my bag, which we were all very eager to enjoy after several hours outside. What a great day!