Mekhala Living – Organic Vegan Thai Inspired Condiments

Mekhala Living  is a Singapore-based company making vegan and organic food products. Almost all are vegan, except for one which has honey. They pride themselves as an independent company using only natural ingredients from Thailand, working closely with local farmers. They kindly gave me an array of condiments for me to try.

The usual ingredients in them are Himalayan salt, coconut sugar, various spices and herbs plus xanthan gum – nothing of what we shouldn’t put in our bodies.  So far I tried 3 sauces for stir fries and roasting – basil garlic, black pepper, miso lime chilli. This post are stir fry recipes, and next post shall be on the roasted goodies.

Veggie fusilli with black pepper sauce:

The sauce is pretty fiery with a strong kick! Flavours protein rich foods like tempeh very well. So I paired with homegrown Thai basil for a herb fragrance and snow peas for sweetness and crunch.

You’ll need:

One serving of fusilli pasta, slightly undercooked according to packet instructions

3 tbsp olive oil

½ tbsp Mekhala Living’s Black Pepper Sauce

A pinch of salt

One handful of fresh Thai basil

One small block of tempeh, sliced

4-5 holland snow peas, each cut in half

Heat the oil in a pan. Place the tempeh, thai basil, black pepper sauce and salt in. Stir fry until tempeh turns brown. Add pasta and snow peas, more oil if needed. Fry until peas turn dark green. Season with more salt/sauce if needed, ready to serve!

Stir fried Nai Bai with basil garlic sauce:

image

Basil garlic is great with green leafy vegetables with crunchy or juicy stems. Usually I will chop onions or garlic, but with the sauce time is saved!

You’ll need:

A bunch of nai bai, ends cut off and washed

2 tbsp Mekhala’s Basil Garlic sauce

2 tbsp olive oil

a pinch of sea salt

Place all ingredients in a wok/pan and coat the veggies evenly with sauce and oil. Turn heat to medium, slowly stir and flip until veggies shrink and the stem turns translucent. Season with more salt/sauce if needed, then ready to serve!

Mixed stir fry with miso lime chilli:

This sauce is the most versatile of all – good on its own or with other condiments. It flavours dishes well and harmonises with most foods. Thus, most suitable with dishes with many types of ingredients. This method of cooking works best with all types of hardy veggies instead of leafy ones; add proteins like tofu and legumes to give thickness to the sauce.

You’ll need:

Half and onion, chopped

2 tbsp Mekhala Miso Lime Chilli sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce mixed with ½ cup water

1 tbsp fermented chilli sauce (homemade)

3-4 strings of french beans, cut

2 strips of tofu puffs, cut into squares

1 bamboo shoot, sliced

About half cup cooked chickpeas

I stir fried the onions in oil first, then added the sauces, long beans, chickpeas and simmered them till the beans turn a darker green. Lastly I added the bamboo shoots and tofu puffs, letting them simmer for 30 seconds. Transfer all to a plate, garnish with fresh herbs and ready to serve!

Recipes for the same sauces used for roasting coming up soon. Meanwhile visit their online store or their shop at Pasarbella and check out their amazing range of food products from brown rice to jams.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Moist muffins with spiced apple cubes inside. 2 step process – pickle the apples overnight then make the muffin base. Makes 12.

Preparing the apples:

2 granny smith apples (the green apples), peeled and cut into small cubes

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp non-dairy milk

1 cup brown sugar

a pinch of sea salt

1 tbsp cinnamon powder

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 5-8 hours.

IMG_3882

Muffin base:

2/3 cup grapeseed oil

1 cup non-dairy milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp sea salt

½ tbsp cinnamon powder

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

2 and a half cups flour

Preheat oven to 175 C. Combine all dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda and powder, sugar, cinnamon powder) in a large bowl, make a hole in the middle of the mix and set aside. Mix all wet ingredients (oil, plant milk, vanilla) in another bowl. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mix and stir in one direction. Combine well to a brown batter.

IMG_3998

Add the apple mixture and mix well (in the same stirring direction).

IMG_4004

Spoon into muffin tins or cupcake paper. Take note to fill them at about two-thirds only. Bake at 175 C for 15-20 minutes, or till a toothpick comes out clean when pushed into the centre of the muffin. Transfer on a cooling rack and serve when completely cooled.

IMG_4098

Salted Caramel Butter – No sugar used!

 

Have been meaning to make these since a long time ago, to add another spreadable condiment to my repertoire (besides peanut sauce). Now it’s the holidays, finally! 🙂

IMG_3970

Have seen lots of recipes which calls for boiling a huge amount of sugar. That isn’t easy because sugar burns easily, and of course, not that healthy. This recipe’s inspired by V.K. Rees.

IMG_3955

 

Ingredients (yields 2 cups) :

200g pitted medjool dates (About 15 medium-sized dates). Soak in water for half an hour till soft.

2 tsp sea salt (More can be added to taste)

¼ cup of any non-dairy milk (Coconut will yield the creamiest result)

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup vegan margarine

Place all in a food processor and blend till smooth.

 

Buttery and creamy, the dates add a slight coconut-y aftertaste. I kept the skins of the dates for nutrition and I rather like the grainier texture which resulted. But you’re welcome to remove them if you want a smoother blend.

IMG_3985

Top on cakes, coffee, tea, pastries. Put with apples as an alternative to peanut butter, makes a good lunchbox snack for your little ones too!

IMG_3982

Dumplings, a Lunar New Year Tradition (non-recipe post)

It’s the time of the year again – new clothes, big dinners, extended families, playful young cousins. The Chinese family’s biggest celebration. My family is from Shandong in North China where every household knows how to make dumplings from scratch. Because of the labor intensive process, the young and old chip in to help. Usually kneading the dough is the men’s job, while the ladies mix the filling and the wrapping of individual dumplings are done by everyone young and old. It’s a family tradition to sit down together at the table and wrap the stuffing in thin sheets of dough, while having endless conversations and laughter.

The dough is with simply wheat flour and water. Like most Asian recipes there is no set ratio, how much water or flour to add depends on the brand and quality of the flour. Everything is done by feel.

IMG_2837

Let sit for a couple of hours, cut into small chunks, pressed and rolled into thin flat ‘skins’.

IMG_2824

For the stuffing, it’s important to use mostly low moisture plants. Carefully seasoned sauteed tofu is the main ingredient. Usually alongside it are strong flavours like mushrooms, ginger, leek, and lighter vegetables like cabbage or radish for a juiciness and to balance out the flavour. The higher moisture veggies must be squeezed in a cheese bag to rid of excess water that will otherwise dilute the taste. Seasonings will be five spice powder, white pepper, various types of soy sauce and sesame oil.

IMG_3225

IMG_28191

Wrapping is the tricky part – you can’t put too much stuffing in one or it bursts when cooked. Too little stuffing and you’d end up chewing a mouthful of skin. Freshly made dough is extremely sticky too, you’d need to keep your hands floured constantly. The edges of the skin cannot touch any flour or filling or it will not stick properly and break during cooking.

IMG_2839

Often cooked in a huge pot of boiling water. Can also be pan-fried or water fried for a crisp coating of greasy goodness!

IMG_3243

And, finally, dipped in Chinese vinegar, sesame oil and a little minced garlic. Biting into one yields a wonderful mix of chewy tenderness and warm savory stuffing.

IMG_3240

The Chinese like to wish each other wealth, but I think wishing everyone health and happiness is most important. May your blessings be endless!

Oatmeal, coconut and peppermint choco bites

Just 4 ingredients + NO FOOD PROCESSOR NEEDED! For the health-loving sweet tooth/snack lover. It’s a little hard to find vegan chocolate chips here so I chopped up some vegan peppermint dark chocolate. Makes about 12.

IMG_1891

You’ll need:

1 cup oatmeal

7-10 pitted medjool dates (soak if too dry)

¼ cup vegan peppermint chocolate chips

½ cup shredded coconut

Add everything to a large mixing bowl. Mash with a fork till you get a nice firm “dough” which sticks together when pressed. Roll into bite-sized balls and dip in shredded coconut.

Ready to eat immediately, or refrigerate for a few hours for a firmer texture. Simple!

IMG_1881

Simple mini no-bake lemon cream cake

A no-bake cake that is creamy, melt in your mouth texture that is similar to ice cream, made tangy with lemon juice. With a salted hazelnut and pistachio base to balance the sweet and creamy cashew lemon layer! Topped with cacao nibs and cinnamon for an extra crunch. Raw desserts are so much easier to make than baked ones – just blend and set in the freezer.

IMG_1793_1

 

This recipe is adapted from Amy at Fragrant Vanilla Cake blog.

 

The top layer is made from soymilk cream (just add a little water to instant soymilk powder). It’s extremely versatile because of it’s light taste and smooth texture, so you can add other flavours, say orange zest, mango or durian.

You’ll need:

For the crust

2 pitted medjool dates

1 cup of any roasted nuts (i used half cup pistachio and half cup hazelnuts)

½ tsp sea salt

Blend all and press into a greased springform pan or silicone mold.

IMG_1908

For the filling

3 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight

Zest from half a lemon

Juice from 1 lemon

½ cup + 1 tbsp coconut oil

¼ cup agave nectar

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp sea salt

Blend all and pour onto the crust.

For the topping

1/3 cup soymilk powder

1 tbsp water

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

cacao nibs and cinnamon powder

Stir the soymilk powder with water till a creamy paste. Add orange zest. Spread it on the filling and top with cacao nibs and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

IMG_2408

I left it in the freezer to set for about 4 hours, then transferred it to the fridge. Keep any leftovers in the freezer and take it out 15 mins to soften before eating.

IMG_1801_1

 

Banana and peanut butter pie

 

No baking needed! Make your own peanut butter for best results. Adapted from Jonsi & Alex’s Arkansas Apple Pie from their Good Heart Cookbook (go download it, it’s free and full of cool raw vegan recipes) I used banana instead and lesser dates as I don’t like very sweet foods.


 

For the crust:

1 cup peanuts

1 cup coconut

3 – 4 pitted medjoul dates

3 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp orange zest

1 tbsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients together till you get a crumbly, moist and sticky mixture that hold when pressed together. Press it into a greased pie pan. Spread a layer of peanut butter over this crust.

For the filling:

1 ripe banana

1 cup raw almonds

5 tbsp peanut butter

6 pitted medjoul dates

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla paste

Blend all ingredients except almonds till you get a sticky mixture. Add in the almonds and blend a little so you get crunchy bits in the filling. Spread it over the crust.

Toppings:

Coconut flakes, chocolate, soymilk cream (made by mixing 1 tbsp water with soymilk powder), chocolate bits – get creative!

Sprinkle and drizzle them over the pie. Let it set for a couple of hours in the fridge before serving.


Variations: Chocolate peanut butter, chocolate orange, peanut butter & pumpkin, peanut butter & berries..the list is endless 🙂

Homemade peanut butter

Why make your own peanut butter when you can buy it for couple of dollars? I get questions like these a lot. Firstly, as someone who grew up on homemade food, I can assure you that flavours of food made in factories pales greatly in comparison to food made with care and love. Secondly, packaged foods nowadays consists of too much unnecessary additives or poor quality ingredients that are really bad to our body. In the case of supermarket peanut butters – full of refined sugars, hydrogenated rapeseed oil and worse, palm oil (the main culprit of the yearly haze!).

IMG_0956

This recipe is simply 3 ingredients – baked peanuts, salt and a little oil. Add any sweetener if you’d like it sweet!

3 ingredients Peanut Butter

You’ll need:

1 and 1/2 cup raw peanuts (skinned if smoother texture is preferred)

1 tsp Sea Salt

Grapeseed oil (as needed, or any oil with a neutral taste)

Brown sugar (optional, or any sweetener)

1) Preheat the oven to 200. Place the peanuts evenly on a baking pan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

2) Meanwhile, get your food processor ready as you’ll need to blend them while they are piping hot, to release the most natural oils. Immediately transfer the peanuts and process till smooth and creamy.

3) Took me about 20 minutes; they went from crumbly, to forming small chunks, then a grainy sort of cream (add a little oil if too dry) and finally, smooth. Add salt and sweetener to taste, give it one last spin and pour it in a bottle.

Scoop ‘em with cucumbers and celery, drizzle over apple and berry salads, spread on whole wheat toast. Or, spread on biscuits and crackers.

IMG_0965