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How to Make Homemade Coconut Butter

15 Feb

Coconut butter, sometimes referred to as creamed coconut, is becoming increasingly popular. With its popularity, however, it can be expensive and often difficult to find. The good news though is that you can still enjoy it…just make your own! If you have access to shredded coconut or coconut flakes, you are in luck. Check out this simple recipe for creamy homemade coconut butter:

Homemade Coconut Butter
Yields approximately 1 cup

4 cups unsweetened flaked coconut

Place coconut in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5-10 minutes*, or until smooth; stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl.

Store coconut butter in an airtight container at room temperature, in the fridge, or freezer. Coconut butter will begin to solidify after resting.

*Processing time may take more or less time depending on food processor

Flaked Coconut

Before: flaked coconut

Coconut Butter

After: coconut butter

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Getting More Juice Out of Citrus: Did You Know?

13 Jul

When juicing grapefruit, lemons, limes or oranges by hand, it can be a little tricky squeezing out all the juice, as a little elbow grease can only get you so far. So what can you do to get extra juice out of your citrus fruits? Microwave them for 15-20 seconds, or just until warm. Microwaving heats the cellulose and pectin contained in a fruit’s cavities, which weakens their hold on the actual juice. Furthermore, the natural sugars contained in fruit juice have a lowered viscosity when heated, allowing it to flow more freely.

Based on personal experience, I have been able to get up to an additional tablespoon juice out of a whole lemon after microwaving. Results, however, vary depending on the size and type of fruit you are juicing.

5 Tips for Eating Healthier

1 Dec

The colder months bring with them the holidays, which just so happen to revolve around a plethora of food. Having enjoyed my Thanksgiving feast just a few days ago, I feel that eating healthy for a while is in order.

One in three American children is overweight or obese, which is nearly triple the rate seen in 1963 (source). As for adults, over 35% are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With obesity comes a gamut of health issues including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes, in addition to certain types of cancer (source). In the past, these weight-related issues were seen only in adults. Now, however, it is becoming common to see them in children; a huge red flag signalling that we need to do something about this.

The good news is that much of the obesity epidemic can be fought with a lifestyle change, and this means eating healthier. Food is the fuel of life, and what we choose to eat plays a significant role in our health.

While I don’t always post the healthiest of recipes here on Vegan Food Addict, I try to make it a habit of following the tips below in my personal life.

Fresh Sage, Rosemary and Salt

1. Cut the salt
Keep that blood pressure in check by watching your sodium intake. Too much sodium not only results in high blood pressure, it also contributes to kidney disease. Sodium is a vital nutrient, however, those age 50 and younger need less than 2,300mg per day, and those 51 and older need even less, approximately 1,500mg per day (source). When cooking, use a light hand when adding salt or soy sauce, and use products that are low sodium (i.e. soups and vegetable broth). Some of the worst high-sodium offenders are cheese, meat, prepared and processed foods. Add more flavor without salt by using fresh herbs, garlic, onion, citrus juice or white vinegar.

2. Choose unprocessed foods with fewer ingredients
Many of us have already made it a habit of reading nutrition labels. Whether it be to avoid products with specific ingredients, or to buy something with a particular vitamin or nutrient, we need to be aware of what, exactly, we are putting into our bodies. As a general rule, it is best to buy those products which are unprocessed and have the fewest ingredients; ingredients you can pronounce! That way, you should know exactly what you are eating.

3. Substitute wheat for white
Ditch those white products for wheat. Instead of all-purpose flour use whole wheat flour, and rather than white rice use brown rice. All-purpose flour and white rice are typically bleached and stripped of their nutrients, and as a result, really don’t offer much natural nutritional value. When compared to all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour provides more Potassium and Protein, in addition to more Vitamin B6 and Magnesium (source). When compared to white rice, brown rice provides more Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium (source). Should you dislike the hearty taste and texture of whole wheat products, try using white whole wheat flour as it has both a lighter flavor and texture, and serves as an excellent stand-in for all-purpose and regular whole wheat flours. When making baked goods with whole wheat flour, the use of additional liquid may be necessary.

4. Sweeten naturally
Rather than using refined sugar and other chemical-laden sweeteners, try fruits such as apricots, bananas or dates. Not only are they excellent sweeteners, they also offer additional nutritional value including Vitamins A, C (source), Potassium (source), Magnesium and B6 (source). There are many fruits you can use — experiment and see what you like best!

5. Bake, don’t fry
Reduce your oil consumption. This includes oil of any type, in addition to butter and margarine. Nearly 100% fat, oil should only be consumed in small amounts. In fact, just one tablespoon olive oil provides about one-quarter of your daily recommended amount of fat (source). Rather than frying, prepare your food as you normally would, however, lightly coat with the oil of your choice and bake until crispy. If you prefer to cook without any added oil, wrap in foil and bake in the oven until cooked to your satisfaction.

Have additional tips? Comment below and let us know about them!

Experiment: Can You Slow the Ripening of Bananas?

22 Sep

Various sources on the internet claim to have the answer to making bananas last longer. Whether it be to separate each banana or to cover their stems in plastic wrap, I have tested these claims and, unfortunately, found them to be false…at least in my case. Perhaps a difference in air quality or temperature would change the results, however, I am not convinced.

What I have found is that the above suggestions have the same result: bananas will ripen in the same amount of time.

Bananas - Day 1

Bananas – Day 1

Bananas - Day 5

Bananas – Day 5

Bananas are considered to be climacteric fruits, meaning they have a high respiration rate and continue to ripen once picked (source). These fruits emit ethylene, a natural plant hormone, which accelerates the ripening process (source). The existence of ethylene then initiates the production of pectinase, an enzyme which causes bananas to soften as they ripen (source).

According to my experiment, separating bananas and even wrapping their stems in plastic wrap don’t slow the ripening process. While I do not have the magic answer for making bananas last longer, I recommend peeling and wrapping each banana in plastic wrap and storing in the freezer until ready to use, should you not plan on using your bananas within a couple of days. Keep in mind, however, that once frozen then thawed, bananas cannot be consumed like a banana fresh out of the peel due to having a mushy consistency. These types of bananas, however, are excellent in smoothies!

Removing Stains from Cutting Boards: Did You Know?

30 Aug

Stained cutting boards can be an eyesore. How do you fix this problem?

Lemons! Lemons have long been toted as a natural cleanser, thanks to their high citric acid content and antibacterial properties. Not only do they cut through dirt, grease and stains, lemons also have natural bleaching properties.

To refresh your plastic cutting board, simply cut a lemon in half, setting one of the halves aside for another use. Using the remaining half, squeeze juice onto the cutting board and rub with the cut side of the lemon. Allow cutting board to sit for 1-2 hours (depending on the severity of the stains) and rinse thoroughly. The stain will have faded, if not disappeared completely, resulting in a disinfected and odor-free cutting board.

Cutting Board Before Lemon Cutting Board After Lemon

For an even more powerful cleaner: sprinkle salt on the cut side of the lemon for improved scrubbing power.

How to Cut a Mango: Did You Know?

2 Jun

The common mango, mangifera indica, can range in color from green to yellow to red, and has a somewhat oblong shape with sweet orange flesh. This fruit can be difficult to slice, thanks to its large pit. Because of this, there has been some confusion as to how to slice a mango. Follow these instructions and you should be good to go (please forgive my choosing of an overripe mango):

1. Holding the mango so that the stem is pointing up and the widest part of the mango is pointing towards you, slice straight down, approximately 1/2 inch away from the stem on both sides.

Cutting a mango - Step 1

2. After slicing, you should have two pieces that look similar in size to the piece below. If cubing the mango, cut a crisscross pattern into each piece, and if slicing, cut into strips being careful both times not to slice through the skin.

Cutting a mango - Step 2

3. Using both hands, carefully turn each piece inside out and pull the mango flesh away from its skin.

Cutting a mango - Step 3

Measuring Flour: Did You Know?

29 Apr

Did you know that there is a correct way to measure flour? Baking is a science and requires precise amounts of each ingredient. Deviating from the requested amount may cause undesired results.

To correctly measure flour, follow these three easy steps:

  1. Using a spoon, scoop flour out of its container.
  2. Pour the flour from the spoon into the desired measuring cup, filling it completely. Don’t pack the flour in!
  3. Using the back, flat edge of a knife or other flat tool, scrape off the excess flour from the top of the measuring cup (shown below).

Measuring Flour

Voila! You have exactly the amount of flour you need.

Freezing Tofu: Did You Know?

17 Mar
Frozen & Fresh Tofu

Frozen (left) and fresh (right) tofu

Did you know that you can freeze tofu?

When tofu is frozen, ice crystals form which create air pockets when thawed. Partly due to this, frozen tofu has various benefits:

  • Longer shelf life
    Tofu can be stored in your freezer for up to 5 months.
  • Shorter bake time
    Due to the air pockets in thawed tofu, it takes less time to bake.
  • Better absorption
    Thawed tofu is spongy so it more readily absorbs marinades and sauces.
  • Chewy texture
    After being frozen, tofu has more of a chewy texture, much more appropriate for those recipes being made to imitate meat.

Ready to make some kickass tofu? Try my tofaken recipe. If using frozen tofu, simply reduce the cooking time to 60-75 minutes, depending on your preferred level of crispness.

Freezing Ginger: Did You Know?

24 Feb

Ginger

Did you know that you can freeze ginger?

No longer do you have to worry about your beloved ginger shriveling up and drying out before you can use all of it. Frozen ginger lasts much longer and it is easier to grate too — bonus!

Simply place the unpeeled ginger in a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer for up to 6 months (source).

Another interesting tidbit about ginger is that you can peel it with the edge of a spoon. I learned this from the queen of vegan cookbooks herself, Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Black Salt: Did You Know?

18 Feb

Black Salt (Kala Namak)

Did you know that black salt tastes like eggs?

Black salt, also known as kala namak or black indian salt, is an excellent addition to any dish you want to have an egg-like flavor. Though actually pinkish-gray in color, black salt smells and tastes eerily similar to eggs, largely due to its sulfur content.

Truth be told, it has been over 4 years since I’ve actually eaten an egg, but that flavor is one that I have not forgotten. When I first tried black salt, I automatically wondered, “Is this salt made from actual eggs?” Thankfully it isn’t. Black salt is commonly produced through a synthetic process by combining sodium chloride, sodium sulphate, sodium bisulphate and ferric sulphate, which are placed in a furnace and reduced, then ground into a powder (source).

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