Confession: Before I transitioned to a vegan diet, I ate a lot of meat. Like most, I assumed the animals were humanely cared for and died quickly and painlessly. I learned otherwise after I was well into a plant-based lifestyle.

This didn’t change the fact that I missed the chewy, savory, greasy aspects of my former diet. As a result, I decided to take on applying those characteristics to plant-based mediums. Jackfruit was my first canvas, as I started this new path with a sensitivity to gluten. Being totally unfamiliar with this strange fruit, I started out using recipes I found on the internet.

There are a couple of key mistakes I repeatedly found in jackfruit recipes. The most common is a long cook time. Jackfruit doesn’t benefit from slow cooking. It only becomes mushy, defeating the purpose of using it for texture.

In fact, jackfruit doesn’t need to be cooked at all! The cooking I suggest is mainly to bring it to a temperature that will enhance the flavor and add warmth to the dish.

Also, other jackfruit recipes tend to fail to include fats or oils. Fat is a critical component of the savory-chewy-greasy appeal of meat. To not include any fat or oil detracts significantly from the flavor and results in a less filling entree. The beauty of adding fat to jackfruit is YOU get to choose how much and what kind is in there! I do strongly suggest including the sesame oil at the very least, as it packs a lot of flavor.

NOTE: This recipe is only for the young, green jackfruit in brine or water. These can be either purchased in cans or in bags from Upton’s Naturals.

Jackfruit Shawarma + Tzatziki Sauce

4 cans jackfruit in brine or water

1 package Shan Shawerma Arabic spice mix*

1 T sesame oil

3 T neutral oil

¼ cup lemon juice

1 T granulated garlic

¼ cup nutritional yeast

Earth Balance

Open jackfruit cans into colander, draining off water. Slice jackfruit 1-2 times, creating elongated triangles. (“Acute” angles if you’re geometric)

Place back in colander and hand squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

Add seasonings, yeast, lemon juice and oil and mix thoroughly by hand, kneading seasonings and oil into jackfruit.

Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to allow flavors to settle.

Saute in skillet with Earth Balance.

Enjoy on lightly toasted pita bread with tzatziki sauce, on a lettuce wrap, as a pizza topping, etc…

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup vegan mayo

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

1-3 cloves of crushed garlic

1/4 cup fresh, squeezed lemon juice

5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced

Salt to taste

*DIY Shawarma Seasoning Mix

• 2 t cumin

• 2 t paprika

• 1 t allspice

• 3/4 t turmeric

• 1 T granulated garlic

• 1/4 t cinnamon

• Pinch of cayenne

• Salt and black pepper

The Dominican Republic has a long roster of delectable food common with countries nearby such as Puerto Rico and Cuba as they share similar cultural traditions. As such, their cuisine has Arab, Chinese, Spanish, Italian and African ingredients.

For breakfast, the locals like to eat tropical fruits like bananas, passion fruit, papaya, mangoes, pineapples, jagua and zapote. Breakfast is also never complete without their traditional mangu. With its savory taste, it serves as a perfect appetizer to start the day. This is prepared by mixing mashed plantains, taro and cassava, sometimes varying it a bit by adding squash called auyama. They add fried shallots, cheese, eggs or salami to add to its rich taste.

During lunch, don’t be surprised if they serve you the Dominican flag. Also known as La Bandera Dominicana, this dish is prepared with white rice, meat from beef, pork, chicken or goat, and bean stew made from white, red or black beans or even pigeon peas. It is served with salad or steamed vegetables, making it a complete meal.

Dinner is usually light on the stomach, which may be just a simple sandwich and a refreshing drink using natural fruit juices or a cup of hot chocolate or tea, depending on the season.

A festive treat for special events is a Dominican food called Sancocho, which is a stew prepared by mixing seven various kinds of meat, several tubers, and vegetables. Eat with them during Easter, and you will be delighted to taste their sweet beans called habichelas con dulce.

Discover the delightful cuisine that the Dominican Republic has to offer!

Lobby is a recipe from Lancashire, a very northern dish (England) which will really fill you up and is very stogy! It has dumplings and meat – you are not going to find this in any fancy London restaurants, it’s a typical up north dish.

Here are the things you will need for the dumplings.

2oz Suet

4oz flour

Little bit of salt

Half a pint of water

This is what you are going to need for the Lobby itself.

1lb Lean Stewing Beef

1lb Potatoes

1lb Carrots

2 stock cubes

And an onion

2 Pints of water

Ok, so now you have all your ingredients, you need to know how to make the Lobby next. Put your meat into a saucepan, add 2 stock cubes (crumble them up) and add your 2 pints of water. Bring your water to the boil and simmer until the meat is quite tender.

Ok, now you need to peel your potatoes, carrots and your onion. I would recommend dicing the potato and carrots then chop the onion into small pieces. Now you need to add the vegetables and cook until the vegetables are almost cooked. If you need to, you can add more water.

Now make the dumplings.

Mix the suet, flour and salt into a large bowl. Add some water to make a sticky dough and sprinkle a bit of flour onto a bread board. Scoop out a golf balls size lump of the dumpling mix and roll into a ball and then roll into the flour. When you have made about 6 of these balls, place them onto the still cooking Lobby and cover.

Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Serve in bowls for up to 6 people.

Today obesity is a common cause of concern all over the world. Processed food, fast food, and frozen foods have taken over our eating habits. As we grapple with weight issues, we are becoming prone to lifestyle illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. There are three primary reasons for gaining weight, which are as follows:

• Sedentary lifestyle and decreased physical activity

• Eating processed food

• Low metabolism due to genetic factors

Your mirror or even your weighing scale will tell you that you have put on weight but what are you doing about it? Weight management is in your hand. Make sensible lifestyle changes! Start by getting onto a treadmill and as you sweat, begin to eat right.

Did you know that the humble chana dal is a great calorie buster and helps to reduce weight? Also known as Bengal Gram, it is high in fiber and has a low glycemic index making it easier to digest. Chana dal has a nutty taste and a soft buttery texture when cooked. Use the organic chana dal variety for a healthier option and get ahead in the weight loss race.

Make the right choice:

Bengal Gram is an excellent choice on your journey to weight loss, and organic chana dal is even better as you are sure it is free from pesticides and grown without any chemicals. Eat it regularly and reap its vast array of benefits.

Lose weight

Bengal Gram is loaded with both soluble and insoluble fiber facilitating excretion of bile leading to proper digestion. The insoluble fiber bulks up the food preventing constipation and easing the digestive process. Fibre keeps you feeling full thereby curbing hunger pangs. Eat cooked dal or drink it in liquid form to enjoy all its benefits.

Boost your immunity

The presence of iron, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium in chana dal not only increase your energy levels but increases your resistance too. This helps you fight diseases while staying fit and healthy.

Fight diabetes

Bengal Gram comes with a low glycemic index and complex carbohydrates. Thus, it digests slowly regulating insulin and maintaining and reducing blood sugar levels. High fiber along with high protein also helps to manage diabetes better.

A healthy heart

With antioxidants, phyto nutrients, magnesium, and folate bengal gram is perfect for cleansing and strengthening blood vessels and lowering cholesterol levels. Eating bengal gram reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The superior dietary fiber prevents the formation of clots.

Benefits for women

Plant hormones and antioxidants are plentiful in chana dal thus lowering the risk of breast cancer. It also helps in protecting against osteoporosis and counters hot flashes in the postmenopausal phase in women. It is beneficial to pregnant women too as it prevents miscarriage.

Keep a healthy gut with Bengal Gram:

The presence of fiber in chana dal helps maintain a healthy gut by reducing constipation and easing the digestive process. It also cures diseases like dysentery and diverticulosis. So make sure to include chana dal in your diet.

Get a glowing skin from Bengal Gram:

It is called besan which has been used extensively in skin care since ancient times. Use facial and body packs made from besan to get smooth blemish free skin. Our skin is subject to environmental pollution every day making it dull. Besan packs cleanse the skin leaving it fresh and soft. Use organic chana dal to make homemade besan and use it to make your skin glow.

Use good quality organic chana dal in your life changing healthy meal plan for effective weight loss and weight management. Cook the nutritious chana dal with spinach or tomatoes; or add boiled dal to salads, curries, and soups; or eat roasted chana dal as a snack on your way to your ideal weight.

With our busy schedule, most of us don’t have time to cook at home. And the convenience of precooked, processed, or prepackaged foods made it even impossible. As we get used to this, preparing and cooking food has become burdensome to some of us. But isn’t eating your own homemade cooking better than eating precooked or prepackaged foods or even eating out?

We all know that it is unhealthy to eat precooked and prepackaged foods. They contain lots of preservatives, additives, fats and other unhealthy stuff. Therefore, there is nothing healthier than eating the food you cooked yourself.

Why is cooking at home better? First of all you can choose and control the ingredients. You know exactly what and how much you need. Unlike eating in restaurants or prepackaged foods, you can control the calories, fat sodium, etc. in your food. You can likewise choose the freshest and higher quality ingredients and you can make sure that there are no additives or preservatives in the food you and your family eat.

Preparing your own food also ensures that it is hygienic. We don’t know what goes with our food in restaurants or prepackaged foods. Although restaurants and factories have their own standards, sometimes they are overlooked. Have you asked yourself who handled your food? Was it prepared properly? Maybe it was dropped on the dirty floor or counter top. These things happen especially when everybody in the kitchen is very busy. 

Cooking at home allows you to save money. If you eat in a restaurant, most likely you’ll get an over-sized serving. At home you can control how much you are going to cook and eat. You can start with a little and if you’re still hungry you can help yourself with some more. And of course, you can store the leftovers in your fridge. 

Additionally cooking at home allows you to have quality time with your family. Get your children involved in food preparation, table setting, or cleaning up. It is fun and rewarding. Your children will appreciate eating healthier food if they are involved in the process. It enhances their physical growth and mental development. They feel loved and cared for if parents prepare food for them. 

It is a fact that we live in a fast-paced world but there are no shortcuts to giving proper nutrition to your family. Cooking at home for your family ensures that your family’s health requirements are taken care of.  

Legend has it that during the 150 year Turkish occupation of Hungary the Ottomans (Turks) stormed a Hungarian city and the local bakers, who began their work early in the day, were able to raise the alarm and thus helped to defeat the enemy invasion. To symbolize their victory, the bakers formed the emblem of the Turkish Empire, the crescent moon, out of pastry and ate the enemy’s power… and the tradition of “kifli” or croissant was born.

Kifli could be roughly translated as croissant although it has nothing to do with the croissant in the traditional sense. Although its shape is similar to it, it is actually made of a yeast dough cut into triangular wedges, rolled up and baked as a bread.

“Kifli” is still one of the most popular snack breads of Hungary. There are many varieties. Some are sprinkled with salt, caraway seeds, sesame seeds and even cheese. My daughter loves it when I knead dried cranberry raisins into the dough and sprinkle the top with rough raw sugar. However the most popular recipe is the so- called “butter kifli” (vajas kifli)

KIFLI

500 grams of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of sugar

1 pack of fast rising dry yeast

1 cup of warm milk ( not hot)

100 grams of melted, unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon of caraway seeds to sprinkle on top

Warm up milk (do not make hot that would kill the yeast), pour in dry yeast, and a tiny pinch of sugar, cover and let stand for about 5 minutes. Melt butter, let cool to room temperature.

Mix together all the ingredients, except caraway seeds. Form a round dough, place in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. I like to place the bowl on top of the stove and turn on the oven to about 250F to help it along. Cut into four and form four round balls. Place back into bowl, cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Roll out each ball and cut each into two wedges. Roll up each, starting with the wide end. Let rise another 30 minutes.

Bring to boil 6 cups of lightly salted water with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Dip each “kifli” into water with a spoon for 5 seconds. Remove, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Whisk together an egg white and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush “kifli” and sprinkle with caraway seeds. You may also use rough salt to sprinkle on top. Bake in a 375F preheated oven until golden.

This is wonderful for breakfast; at a picnic with your favourite pate; or just on tis own with milk. You can also use it as a base for a sophisticated deli sandwich.

Add dry cranberries to the dough, or dates and serve them for breakfast with tea, cafe or cocoa. Of course leave off the caraway seeds and salt. Sprinkle with sugar instead.

My daughter loves to make her favourite arugula sandwich with “kifli”. She cuts it in half, spreads a teaspoon of blue cheese dressing on it and cover the dressing with baby arugula. As much as you can fit into it. It is healthy and delicious.

Try this lovely easy to prepare snack by adding your favourite touches to it. Enjoy…