chilli

Change is good

CHANGE IS GOOD

We humans are creatures of habit. When it comes to food so many of us rely on the same recipes every week, same items in our shopping baskets. Better the devil you know is a dangerous if not stagnant place to be, we should be looking forward, reinventing and bettering ourselves. I know it may seem daunting to change habits, I did mourn creamy sauces and other similar stuff too. But than I realised that a whole new world has opened up to me. There is a plethora of new tastes to try, it has become an adventure, a creative process. And I relish every new discovery, new flavour combination, new exciting product.

Cashew nut is nothing new, I have always enjoyed them as a snack, in a stir-fry or curry. However its ability to morph into perfect cream or milk has definitely enriched my cooking and excited my palate. No more living without creamy sauces, no need to substitute with the rather processed soya cream (vegetable oil being the first ingredient...). The first time I encounter cashew cream was in the fabulous book The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen. I was intrigued and even I took some months before taking the plunge, once I did I never looked back.

Compare cashews with double cream and I know which one I would rather eat. The cashews win in most categories, less overall fat, less saturated fat, more protein, vitamins and minerals. Cashews may only have about 50% of the calcium of cream but this definitely isn’t a good enough reason to pour double cream over our food. While cashew nuts are mildly anti-inflammatory, our double cream actually promotes inflammation. Many medical scientists now believe that inflammation sets the stage for chronic diseases, another fact that makes me 100% sure that cashew cream is the way to go.


THICK CASHEW CREAM
Having a great blender makes all the difference. I am lucky to have the super powerful Vitamix, it makes smooth nut milks in no time. If your blender doesn’t quite manages to make perfectly smooth cashew cream just strain it.

ingredients
150g/ 1cup cashew nuts
250ml/1cup water

method
  1. Soak the cashew nuts in water for at least 30min. You can soak them over night in your fridge. This softens the nuts making them easier to blend into cream.
  2. Drain the cashews. Put in a blender and add fresh water.
  3. Blend till smooth.

creamylentils

SUPER CREAMY LENTILS
This is a super rich filling dish. I served mine with sweet potato wedges dusted with paprika and some steamed broccoli.

Serves 4-6

ingredients
200g (1cup) Puy lentils
1 litre vegetable stock
1tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4-1/2tsp of chilli flakes
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 portion of cashew cream (made out of 200g/1 cup cashews and 250ml/ 1 cup water)
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper
parsley or coriander to garnish

method
  1. Place the lentils and vegetable stock into a large saucepan, bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-25 min, they should be soft to bite but still hold their shape. Set aside but don’t drain.
  2. In a wide saute pan heat the oil, add the onion, pepper and garlic and gently saute till softened, about 10min.
  3. Add the chilli flakes, and cook for another minute.
  4. Next add in the tomatoes, cook about 2 min to soften the tomatoes (you can add couple tablespoons of water to help it along).
  5. Put in the lentils with the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat down and simmer for 5 min.
  6. Add in your cashew cream and heat through. If the mixture is too thick just add some water and heat.
  7. Season and add lemon juice to taste.
  8. Serve garnished with parsley or coriander.
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