Vegan Nutella

Vegan Nutella

During last years the issue of palm oil has become quite popular. However, we may ask why is it so demonized among consumers around the world.

Palm oil is obtained by squeezing the pulp of oil palm fruit. It has a low cost and it is very versatile. Furthermore, it is tasteless, it can withstand high temperatures without turning rancid and slowly reaches the point of smoke: this oil is used in the production of food and it is contained in a huge number of cosmetics as a preservative and softener.

To be fully used, however, palm oil is refined and deprived of all healing properties: after different industrial processes it becomes a substance without benefits, enriched with carcinogens and toxic substances, and with an excess of saturated fats that might cause serious health problems.

Our Planet Earth is in danger!!

In addition, the industrial production of palm oil leads the planet Earth in serious danger. In tropical areas, for instance, deforestation is wide spreading. This involves the reduction of the oxygen and the destruction of the natural habitat of many endangered species. It would always be suitable, when you go to supermarkets, to check the labels and only buy “palm oil free” products, to safeguard our health and that of our Planet. Even more appropriate would be the self-made home production of daily and in long term food and products.

Today I am going to prepare one of my favorite guilty pleasures: home-made palm oil free vegan chocolate hazelnut spread!

Ingredients:

  • 430g hazelnuts,
  • 3 table spoons powder chocolate;
  • 2-3 table spoons agave syrup;
  • A pinch of salt;
  • 1 tea spoon vanilla extract;

 Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180° and roast hazelnuts to approximately 10-15 minutes. (Until they become golden brown);
  2. Remove the skin of hazelnuts with the help of a kitchen cloth;
  3. Grind the nuts up to reduce them to powder;
  4. Continue to whisk until hazelnuts release their natural oils and the mixture becomes more creamy;
  5. Add cocoa, agave syrup, a pinch of salt salt and vanilla extract, then mix until you get a smooth, dense and homogeneous cream;
  6. Store in a cool dry place.

 My advices:

  • Add agave syrup with moderation, until the mixture reaches the consistency you prefer;
  • You can store it for about a week, because it does not contain preservatives;
  • To obtain a more intense flavor you can vary the recipe and replace the dark chocolate with cocoa;
  • Use it to prepare desserts, or spread it on a slice of bread covered with coconut flour!

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Vegan cannelloni | Cruelty free Recipe

Vegan cannelloni | Cruelty free Recipe

Special quite days and occasions need to be filled with goodness to be really special.

In Southern Italy still exists a particular culinary tradition, where is still possible to taste authentic genuine food, as it once was. Yet,  Southern Italy regional food and tradition are considered, by non- Italian cultures, as a complicated, but genuine, combination of ingredients. “Add a seat at the table, if there is one more friend” is the perfect motto to describe what normally happens at Italian tables.

Sunday lunch, birthdays, Christmas and any other holidays: you spend them laughing and eating around a table full of delicacies. It’s a real challenge against someone’s limits but unusually there’s always a free part in every stomach to accept a little more food.

It may seems strange, even crazy, but during these days the atmosphere is really special, so you have to grow up in such Italian families to really understand what it means. When you grow up adults and you move from your native place, of course, you lose such habit. (in fact, when you go back home to you relatives it sounds ironically traumatic).

Yet, despite the distance, I still have the habit to cook for all my family, especially during special days, and enjoy food made with love.

Unfortunately, there are some dishes cannot be enjoyed every day. Today is an important day for me: I am going to bake cannelloni stuffed with tofu, basil, spinach and nuts and covered with sauce and all my love.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 12 Cannelloni;
  • 1 kg fresh spinach;
  • 350 Tofu
  • 50 g cashew nuts;
  • 100 pine nuts;
  • Just enough basil;
  • Organic oil;
  • A pinch of salt.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1/2 golden onion;
  • Garlic cloves;
  • 500g tomato sauce;
  • Organic oil;
  • Just enough salt;
  • Some basil;
  • Fennel seeds;
  • Half lemon juice.

 Method:

For stuffing:

  • Clean spinach and eliminate stems. Wash and rinse.
  • Cut tofu and let it marinate with salt, olive oil, lemon and chopped basil for 30 minutes.
  • Mash spinach, marinated tofu, cashew nuts and pine nuts
  • Add to the mixture all the ingredients and stir them well
  • Leave the mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes

For the sauce:

  • Put a pan over the heat with a little olive oil:
  • Mince onion. Peel a clove of garlic.
  • Add onion and garlic in a frying pan, wait until it becomes browner;
  • Add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, fennel seeds and a few basil leaves.
  • Cook for about 20 minutes
  • Stir often with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking on the bottom;
  • Eliminate garlic cloves.

For the cannelloni:

  • Cover the base of a roasting pan with the sauce.
  • Add the filling for cannelloni, using a piping bag.
  • Cover the surface of the cannelloni with the sauce.
  • Cover the pan with an aluminum foil and bake at 180° for 30 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, remove the foil to sear the surface of cannelloni.
  • Serve hot.

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 Apulia (Italy) Sunset..

 

Beetroot Burger | Vegan recipe

Beetroot Burger | Vegan recipe

It’s evening and the sun is setting behind the skyscrapers as I am walking in the Centre of London, thinking about what to cook for dinner. I suddenly find myself in front of a large window, where smiling people are biting something apparently tasty. The customers are mostly children, putting their chubby little fingers in paper containing fries and licking their lips dirty of ketchup. I look up to the sky noticing the large yellow sign: is the entrance of a McDonald’s fast food.

I grew up in a town in the heart of the Murgia (southern Italy), where a small bakery, with its authentic traditional tastes and smells was able to compete with the only one McDonald’s fast food of the city, which later went bust. (the story is told in a documentary film with the title of Focaccia Blues, the true story of thefocaccia that ate the hamburger).

This fact happened in 2002 and I’m still surprised how, even today, a large number of people are still “enjoying” their meals at fast food restaurants. Moreover, even the vegetarian version of such restaurants should be avoided if you want to follow a healthy diet.

That is a junk food affair. Main of its ingredients are passed off the quality products, with low nutritional value and high in calories. Disgusting food, chemical in its composition, fried and refried in palm oil used for days. Do we really want all this for our health?

It only takes ten minutes to prepare a valid alternative to the traditional and often unhealthy hamburgers. Vegetable burgers are healthy, tasty and dietary. You can often eat them, since there are lots of ingredients you can use: chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, potatoes, spinach, beans and many others.

Today, I decided to prepare the beet burger. This recipe is very quick and easy: it will surprise you, almost as much as its yummy flavor!

Ingredients for 4-5 people:

  • 400 cooked lentils;
  • 5 beetroots;
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs;
  • 2 garlic cloves;
  • 4-5 cashews;
  • A lemon;
  • Some parsley;
  • Organic oil;
  • A pinch of salt and pepper.

Method:

  1. Boil the beetroots, peel and cut them. (to avoid this step, you can buy precooked beetroots);
  2. Puree the lentils and beetroots in a blender and add bread crumbs, cashews and garlic. (If the mixture is not compact enough, add more bread crumbs);
  3. Add salt, pepper, olive oil, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and lemon juice;
  4. Leave the mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes, cover it with a cloth or a layer of plastic wrap;
  5. Try to make at least 5 hamburgers, help yourself with hands or with a mold for hamburgers;
  1. Put over the heat a non-stick pan with a little oil and cook for a few minutes for each side;
  1. Preferably serve them hot.

My advices:

  • I love to have my hamburger in a fresh sandwich with vegan mayonnaise, salad and baked potatoes as side dish.
  • They are excellent if served with a mustard sauce and toasted pine nuts.

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