Homemade Plant-Based Milks

ricemilk
I spent the past few months exploring different options of homemade plant based milk and was surprised to discover that the whole process is very simple. It takes about 5 minutes as long as the main ingredient is soaked overnight in plenty of water. You do not need any fancy appliances and can use a simple food processor or blender.

Homemade, dairy-free milk last for three to five days when refrigerated in airtight glass containers. Boiling this milk with sugar or an alternative sweetener and then simmering the mixture for around 45 minutes results in a thick consistency very similar to condensed milk.
Hemp seed and rice milk provide very good, creamy and nut-free alternative. The left-over pulp can be used as an ingredient for other recipes and I am including some ideas.

‘The left-over pulp can be used in other recipes and during the tv programme I have made use of it by making pie crusts, energy balls and granola bars.  The possibilities are endless and I like the idea of making the most out of every ingredient, extracting the milk and using the pulp with absolutely no waste.  It is always best to use a milk bag to squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible’

milkbag

Almond Milk
You will need:
1 cup almonds
3 cups bottled or filtered water and more for soaking
a pinch of salt
2 dates

 


Soak the almonds overnight. Drain the water and rinse the almonds.
Place the almonds in a blender and add 3 cups of bottled or filtered water. Add the dates and a pinch of salt.
Blend on high speed until the mixture is well blended. The almonds must be totally ground and the mixture appears consistent.
Strain the almonds by placing them in a sieve covered with muslin or a clean dishcloth.
Squeeze out the almond milk into a container by wringing the dishcloth or muslin. Do not discard the ground almonds
Refrigerate the milk in airtight glass containers for up to 4 days.
Use Almond Pulp to make almond flour. Place the almond pulp on a flat ovenproof dish covered with baking paper and bake it in a cool oven at 150°C for an hour. Allow to cool down completely preferably overnight, then place in a food processor and grind to a fine texture.

Hazelnut Milk
You will need:
1 cup hazelnuts
3 cups filtered or bottled water and more for soaking
1 tsp organic apple vinegar
Pinch of salt

 


For sweetened milk add 1 date or 1 tbsp stevia and some vanilla
Place the hazelnuts in a glass container and soak them overnight with a pinch of sea salt and a tsp of apple organic vinegar. Drain and discard the soaking liquid and rinse the hazelnuts well.
Place the hazelnuts in the blender and add 3 cups of bottled water. For a sweetened milk add also 1 date or 1 tbsp of stevia and some vanilla.
Blend at high speed until the nuts are completely ground to a fine pulp. Place a piece of muslin or a clean tea towel over a sieve. Pour the contents of the liquidiser into the covered sieve and gently press the pulp down to squeeze the liquid through. Store the milk in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Use the hazelnut pulp to add to smoothies.
Hemp Milk
You will need:
½ cup hemp seeds
4 cups filtered or bottled water and more for soaking
2 dates
Vanilla

hemp seeds
Soak the hemp seeds overnight in a glass container. Drain and discard the water. Place the soaked hemp seeds in a liquidiser or blender and use a high setting to completely grind the seeds to a fine consistency. Strain the hemp milk by pouring it through a strainer covered with a clean tea towel. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Use the hemp seed pulp as an additional ingredient to make homemade energy bars.

Coconut Milk

coconutmilk

Fresh homemade coconut milk as seen on tv, photgraphy during the live show by Marconia Schembri      For the home made coconut milk you will need: 100g coconut, 5 cups of filtered or bottled water, a pinch of salt [1 date, optional].  Soak the coconut in water overnight.  Place in a blender or food processor.  Add the filtered or bottled water and blend on high speed for 4 minutes until the mixture is milky and consistenty.  Pour the mixture into a sieve covered with a clean dishcloth or use a nut milk bag.  Squeeze the rest of the coconut milk but wringing the dishtowel until you have extracted as much coconut milk as possible.

Rice Milk
You will need:
1 cup long grain rice. I like to use basmati
5 cups water and more for soaking
1 tbsp agave
Vanilla

oatmilk

Making rice milk during a live tv show, photography George Aquilina  Appliances by Kitchenaid at Forestals, professional wear Chefworks, nails by Jessica Camilleri using Max Factor Noisette No 145

Rinse the rice and place it in a glass container. Immerse completely in water and allow to soak overnight.
Drain the rice and place it in a blender with the rest of the ingredients.
Process the rice on high speed for about 3-4 minutes. Line a sieve with a clean dish cloth and place over a bowl. Pour the rice milk into it and squeeze as much milk as you can by wringing the dishcloth with your hands. Store in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Use the rice pulp to make a rice pudding. Place the rice pulp in a saucepan and cover with water. Add some cinnamon and honey or agave and 2 tablespoons of raisins. Bring to boil and reduce the heat. Stir constantly and when the liquid is absorbed, remove from the heat. Add more rice milk to achieve the consistency of your choice and serve warm.

Oat Milk

You will need:

1 cup oats
3 cups filtered or bottled water and more for soaking
1 date or 1 tbsp agave
A pinch of salt

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Homemade Oat Milk, this photo was taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show, kitchenware by Tescoma

Soak the oats overnight in plenty of water. Drain and discard the soaking water and place the oats in a blender. Add the filtered or bottled water and the rest of the ingredients. Strain the oat milk by pouring it through a strainer covered with a clean tea towel. Use your hands to wring the tea towel to squeeze all the milk out. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Stir the milk thoroughly before using it. This milk can be used to thicken a soup or dessert simply by adding heating it as it becomes thick and gelatinous.

‘The pulp from plant based milks can be used in a variety of recipes’

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Use your left over oat pulp to make pie crusts for tarts.  Photography Illumina Media during a live tv show.  Fresh fruit by Big Fresh Mosta

Use the oat pulp to make an oat flour crust for tarts.  Place the oat pulp on a flat ovenproof dish covered with baking paper and bake it in a cool oven at 150°C for an hour.  Allow to cool down completely preferably overnight, then place in a food processor and grind to a fine texture.  Then add it to your recipe to make a tart crust.  Ingredients: 200g flour, 200g oat flour, 100g ricotta,  1 tablespoon agave or honey, a few drops vanilla, zest of half an orange, 1 egg and cold water.  Method: Sieve the flour and add the oatmeal.  Add the ricotta and rub it into the flour and oatmeal using your fingertips
Add the other ingredients except the water and eggs and mix. Now add the beaten eggs, mix using a knife. Then add the cold water, start with one tablespoon and mix, then add a spoonful at a time until you form a dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs daily on Smash TV and you can follow the page on facebook
Trade Enquiries: Ingredients by Good Earth Distributors

Amaranth Porridge Bowl with Berries

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Amaranth Porridge with berries and cashew milk.  This photo was taken by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

I love Amaranth because it is such a versatile ingredient.  During our tv show I have recently popped it, serve it instead of mash and use it to thicken soups.  I particularly love this amaranth porridge.  As a rough guide use 1 part amaranth to 3 parts liquid and cook until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove the mixture from the heat to prevent it from becoming overcooked and gummy in texture. Is there a better way to start the day during a cold winter?

You will need:

1/2 cup amaranth
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cashew milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave or stevia [or honey for non-vegan]
vanilla
1 cinnamon stick
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Top with:  200g mixed berries and I use blueberries, strawberries, pecans, hazelnuts, mint leaves

Soak the amaranth overnight in water if you have the time.  Rinse then place in a saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups water.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon stick broken in half, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.    Bring to boil and reduce to heat.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes stirring constantly.  Add the cashew milk and cook for another 5 minutes.    Remove from the heat and add the agave/stevia or honey.   Stir and add the lemon zest.

Pour half the mixture into a bowl.  Puree half the berries and add to the other half of the amaranth porridge.  Mix it in then pour it into the bowl and use a fork or knife to make some swirls to create a marbled effect.  Decorate the amaranth bowl with a mix of berries, nuts and mint leaves.  Serve while still hot.

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My fresh fruit and vegetables today come from Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola.  My Tunisian fresh dates come from Deyma Shop Gzira

My cashew milk by Alpro and amaranth come from Good Earth.  My daily selection of fresh fruit and vegetables comes from Big Fresh in Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola and Barbuto in Sicily for organic vegetables.

Black Forest Smoothie Bowl fortified with Aronia

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‘Nothing tastes better than fresh ingredients and this black forest smoothie bowl is the ultimate breakfast or dessert.  I poured melted chocolate over the ice cold mix and it solidified in a few seconds.  My photos are taken by CJ during a live tv show’

You will need:

1/2 purple raw carrot
1/2 cooked beetroot
4 dates
2 kale leaves
1/4 peeled apple
2 frozen bananas
2 cups mixed frozen cherries and cranberries
1 teaspoon agave
2 tablespoons aronia concentrate
2 cups cashew milk
3 tablespoons oats

Top with : 100g fresh cherries, 50g dry roasted flaked almonds and 50g melted dark sugar free chocolate, baby chard

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Add all the ingredients to the blender and combine until it is a smooth consistency.

While you are doing this melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie.

Pour into a bowl.

Arrange the fresh cherries on top of the smoothie mix.

Add some dry roasted flaked almonds.

Pour melted chocolate on the surface of the smoothie mix. It will solidify and makes the smoothie mix taste even more amazing.

black-forest-smoothie-bowl-cj

My fresh fruit and vegetables come from Big Fresh, frozen fruit from PJ Sutters, nuts, oats, agave and cashew milk from Good Earth, sugar-free chocolate by Valor and aronia concentrate from J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Borage Flower Ice Cubes

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Borage ice cubes in citrus flavoured water, photo during a live tv show by CJ Baldacchino

‘having used organic borage very recently for some new recipes, I was given a box of fresh borage flowers by my friend Antida this week.  Borage flowers are usually bright blue but you can find creamy white ones and pink ones too.  Borage is also known as starflower because of the 5 pointed petals.   A few years ago I went through a phase of using edible flowers in ice cubes but could not resist making them on tv this week’

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Borage flowers from Antida’s garden, photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

Once you have picked the flowers and while they are very fresh, gently remove the stem.  Be careful not to damage them.  Place them in a bowl of water to make sure there are no insects.  Fill up an ice cube tray with bottled or filtered water.  I found that the best method is to place the flowers on top and push them down gently with your finger.

There are other methods to freeze half of the ice cubes and top with water once the flower freezes but doing it in one go produces more crystal clear ice cubes and is much quicker.  When the ice cubes are completely frozen, add them to your drinks.  The flowers are edible.

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Borage flowers in ice cubes,  photos taken during a live tv show

Lea’s new book  Good Food Everyday is available via Midsea Books.

I use organic borage from Barbuto.  With thanks to Antida at Big Fresh Mosta for the borage flowers.  

 

Gluten-free & lactose-free Christmas treats [with Vegan Baci] in today’s Sunday Times

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Vegan Baci.  Photo taken during a live tv show by George Aquilina

Gluten-free, lactose-free and reduced sugar diets are hot topics these days. The drive for ingredients to suit a large number of food intolerances comes from consumers and with such a large choice in the market, guests no longer have to feel they are a burden to their hosts and be apologetic…

Source: Sunday Times Gluten-free & lactose-free Christmas treats

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Gluten free and lactose free Christmas Cake with no added refined sugar.  Photo taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show

 

Homemade energy bars and bliss balls

Photos: Marconia Schembri, Stefan Stafrace, Illumina Media, Felix Cesare

Photo George Aquilina during a live tv show

There are so many varieties of energy bars on the market today with whole sections in supermarkets filled with them. The different choices are overwhelming and some provide energy while others may be classed as low carb or high in protein. Most of them satisfy current food trends.

Dried fruit bars became fashionable when they were marketed to a sports audience in the 1960s and 1970s and they have evolved to become a quick meal replacement or possibly the most popular snack food today.

Making your own bars means that you can choose to use ingredients that you like. They require little or no cooking and you just need to make sure that your dried fruits are plump and the nuts you are using are fresh. If the dates, figs or prunes are on the small side, then you may need to add a few extra ones.

There is no magic formula like baking. Grind the ingredients very well so that they blend easily together and hold shape.

Energy bars can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge or a cool place for around three weeks. Most of them freeze very well.

 

Ingredients I use in these recipes:

Maca Powder: the extract of a Peruvian plant best known for improving energy levels and vitality
Aronia: also known as chokeberry and can be found locally as a dried fruit or in liquid and powder concentrate.  It contains high antioxidants and is known to have many beneficial properties
Hemp Seeds: hard brown seeds with a light inner kernel that provide a good source of amino acids, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Carrot date bars with Maca powder

1 large carrot
a pod of vanilla
¼ tsp Maca powder
2 cups oats
1/2 cup dates
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup mixed chopped almonds and pistachio nuts
a pinch of cinnamon
a grating of fresh nutmeg
grated zest of 1 tangerine
water

Photo Illumina Media during a  live tv show

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Wash and grate the carrot.

In a saucepan placed the dates and grated carrot. Add 1/4 cup of water, the cinnamon, nutmeg and grated citrus zest. Allow the dates to break down on low heat. Add more water, a few tbsps at a time, if necessary. Do not let the mixture dry up. When the dates are soft and mushy turn off the heat and allow to cool down. In a large bowl place the oats, add the vanilla and Maca powder, then add the date and carrot mixture. Mix until the consistency is even.

Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Press down the mixture and use a spoon dipped in water to press it down until it is compact. Top with chopped nuts and press down again using the wet spoon.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day, remove from the loaf tin by pulling the baking paper out gently and cut into bars using a sharp knife.

Chewy granola bars with hemp seeds

2 cups oats
1 cup nuts of your choice
12 pitted dates
3 tbsp coconut oil
Vanilla
1 cup coconut
¼ cup raisins
1 tbsp hemp seeds
½ tsp cinnamon
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Photo Illumina Media during alive tv show

Place the oats in a food processor and add the chopped nuts, pitted dates and the rest of the ingredients. Pulse to process, until you have a consistent but textured paste. Line a 20cm cake or pie dish with baking paper.

Bring the mixture together with your hands and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Firmly press down the mixture into the cake or pie dish. Make sure that the surface is level and that all the dish is equally covered. Wet your fingers with water and tap the surface gently all over again. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove and, after it cools down, leave in the fridge overnight. Lift it out by pulling the baking paper and place it on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut bars.

Sweet potato balls with ginger

Photo Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show

2 large sweet potatoes
3 cups coconut
5 tbsp agave
1/2 packet apricots
1/2 vanilla pod
1 cup shredded carrots
some freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger powder
1 pinch of mixed spice
grated zest of an orange
To cover: 2 cups coconut or coarsely ground oats

These balls can turn out to be bright yellow or a creamy colour, depending on the variety of sweet potato you are using.

Cook the sweet potato with skin on in the microwave and allow to cool. Peel and mash very well with a fork until the mixture is consistent.

Mix all the ingredients together. Use a hand blender to make a smooth paste. Leave in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Form balls and roll in coconut or ground oats. Leave in the fridge overnight before serving.

Fig and date Balls with aronia

Photo Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show

2 cups pitted dates
2 cups coconut
1 cup figs
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup grated citrus zest. (I used local tangerines)
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 tbsp aronia, liquid
1/8 cup unsweetened fruit juice of your choice
For rolling balls: 2 cups sesame seeds and 2 cups coconut in separate containers

Roughly chop the dates and figs into small pieces.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until the consistency is smooth. Add water if the mixture is too dry, a tablespoon at a time.

Line two flat dishes with a baking sheet and place the sesame seeds in one container and coconut in the other container.

Use a teaspoon to form equal-sized balls and roll with your hands.

Roll the balls in the sesame seeds and coconut and store and place on a dish lined with baking paper. Leave for a few hours to set and dry out and then store in an airtight container.

 

Maca Powder and Hemp Seeds are available via Good Earth.  Aronia is available via J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Carrot Cake Smoothie with Maca Powder [vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free]

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Carrot Cake Smoothie, vegan, gluten free and lactose free.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by CJ Baldacchino

‘More carrot cake follows the overnight oats of yesterday , this time in liquid form.  This is a smoothie based on most people’s favourite cake.  It contains no added refined sugar and it is gluten free, lactose free and vegan.  A meal in itself with the addition of maca powder.  I use the carrots from my organic box that arrives every Thursday from Barbuto in Sicily.’

You will need:

1 raw carrot
1/2 frozen banana
1 cup home made almond milk
1 tablespoon oats [gf]
1 teaspoon coconut
1/8 teaspoon ginger
vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon maca powder
1 tablespoon agave

For garnish: chopped pecans, shavings of sugar free dark chocolate and grated carrots

Place all the ingredients in a high powered blender or Nutribullet and blend until the consistency is very smooth.  If it is too thick, add more almond milk or water.

Garnish with pecans, savings of sugar free dark chocolate and grated carrots

Serve immediately.

Maca Powder is available at Good Earth

Quinoa Falafel Balls

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Quinoa falafel.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by CJ Baldacchino

‘As part of the series on healthy food for babies and kids every Thursday, I made these quinoa balls suitable for the whole family.  The recipe here has extra spices to suit adult tastes.   For babies, I pureed some quinoa, carrots and chickpeas before using the mix to make the rest of the balls.’

You will need:

250g cooked chickpeas
150g cooked quinoa
1 egg
150g gram flour (chickpea flour)
1 clove garlic
a pinch of cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt and pepper

In a large bowl mix the chickpeas, 50g of the quinoa, the egg, 100g of the gram flour, the garlic clove, cumin, coriander and parsley. Use a hand held blender to make a smooth puree. Mix in the rest of the quinoa. Ideally leave the mixture in the fridge for an hour or overnight. On tv we make the balls straight away and therefore had to fry them to hold their shape as they did not have enough time to bind well enough to bake.

On a clean flat surface, sift the rest of the gram flour.
Use a tablespoon and drop the mixture onto the gram flour and roll quickly with your hands. Repeat until you have finished all the mixture.

Bake the balls in a preheated oven at 180C for 35 minutes, turn over and bake for a further 20 minutes OR fry in hot oil. Drain and leave on kitchen towel to soak up the excess oil. Serve with dips of your choice.

My chickpea flour is by Le Farine Magiche and Fresh Vegetables by Big Fresh in Mosta and Barbuto.  I use Quinoa by Peak’s Free From at J Calleja Import Export

Golden Apple Latte with maca powder

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Golden Apple Latte fortified with Maca Powder, perfect as winter approaches.  Photo taken by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘Fortifying  food with nutritious ingredients is something I focus on during our daily tv show.  I have been using fresh turmeric root nearly everyday  in one way or another for the last 2 years and as winter approaches there is nothing more welcoming than my golden lattes.  For an extra boost and variety of flavours, chopped fresh fruit is added to the milk as it heats up and to lightly poach it.  Today’s golden latte is fortified with maca powder.’

You will need:

1 fresh turmeric root
vanilla
4 cups milk (coconut milk, almond milk or you can use regular milk if it is your preference)
1 tablespoon agave
1/2 cup organic lemon ginger tea (from infusion of 2 teabags)
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon maca powder

Place the milk, grated turmeric root, vanilla, sliced apples and lemon ginger tea infusion in a sauce  pan and bring to boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove the saucepan from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Add the agave and the maca powder.  Blend until frothy using a liquidizer or nutribullet.

Serve and enjoy !

My fresh turmeric root  and fruit comes from Big Fresh in Mosta, Maca powder and agave by Good Earth, Lemon Ginger tea by Clipper also at Good Earth, vanilla by Schwartz

 

Quick Plant-Based Recipes

We come across a lot of advice about plant-based nutrition in relation to preventing disease before it happens. Sometimes it may appear confusing however the information shared often has valid points.  Reducing ingredients with a high sugar, salt and oil content from our diet and replacing processed foods with fresh fruit and vegetables and other ingredients that are as close to their natural state at possible take us back to the roots of eating.

Here are some nutrient-rich, meat free and dairy free recipes that are very quick to prepare. Source: Quick Plant-Based Recipes, Sunday Times

I use NO MILK by J Calleja, Chocolate by Valor, fresh fruit and vegetables by Big Fresh, herbs and spices by Schwartz, spelt flour and pulses by Good Earth, self raising flour and coconut by St Georges Brand.