One of the great powers of cooking is to give people the opportunity to discover different cultures and languages through food. I love finding out different flavours, comparing the tastes of our traditions with those of the other, using new spices every day and, above all, trying to imitate special dishes. For example, I love Thai food, since it offers various vegan options and I often enjoy it in many restaurants in London.
Since many years, I have been celebrating my birthday at Thai restaurant. To celebrate these special occasions, I went at “Coach and Horses” in Stoke Newington, which offers a wonderful atmosphere in the light of candles and a great menu with vegan options.
Today’s recipe is Pad Thai: a very common dish in Thailand with rice or noodles sautéed with eggs, fish, but also with vegetables or tofu. Obviously, I will prepare the vegan version that is also incredibly delicious!
If you really want to know and appreciate London, besides visiting the usual tourist attractions and having enjoyed its multiculturalism, you should stop into the richest part of the city: the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Here you can admire very beautiful homes, the prestigious Victorian architecture, restaurants and luxury shops: places that many of us should only admire, but that are undoubtedly part of the beauty and peculiarity of this city.
Today I reached Holland Park by bus, which is an area and park in this exclusive district: here there are hectares of greenery, lakes, trees, animals and a Zen Garden (Kyoto Gardens), where it is pleasant to take a lunch break and enjoy some relax.
For this occasion, I prepared a delicious Lebanese salad, full of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, lettuce and radishes that I really love. These incredible vegetables give a feeling of fullness, are rich in depurative properties, contain few calories and are full of vitamins.
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!
3 table spoons powder chocolate;
2-3 table spoons agave syrup;
A pinch of salt;
1 tea spoon vanilla extract;
Preheat oven to 180° and roast hazelnuts to approximately 10-15 minutes. (Until they become golden brown);
Remove the skin of hazelnuts with the help of a kitchen cloth;
Grind the nuts up to reduce them to powder;
Continue to whisk until hazelnuts release their natural oils and the mixture becomes more creamy;
Add cocoa, agave syrup, a pinch of salt salt and vanilla extract, then mix until you get a smooth, dense and homogeneous cream;
Store in a cool dry place.
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!