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Friday, October 9, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Suprise Cookies

Hey dear cooking class students,

It was great to spend time with you today. On Monday 12th Oct I’m off to India and for a few months, Yippeee!!  But I will miss teaching the class. I hope to see you all again in April 2010. Steve and friends will continue to teach instead of me, and I’m sure you will have lots of fun classes with him. I hope to add some more posts to my blog before I leave, but if time evades me, at least I’m planning to keep you posted with some of my India adventures and some cool recipes from Bengal!

Meanwhile by popular request, here is the recipe for those scrumptious choc peanut cookies you wanted to know how to make from today's meal menu.

ys Gopi

Amount: 20 cookies



1/2 cup oil

1 cup brown cane sugar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

3 tbsp almond milk (or as needed)

 2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or try orange essence instead :-D)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened plain cocoa powder (or to taste)

 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt


1 cup smooth no stir Marantha peanut butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

3 tbsp almond milk (or as needed)

1 tsp pure vanilla essence

Lightly oiled baking tray, sprinkled with oat flakes

Chocolate dough:
In a large mixing bowl combine oil, sugar, maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla extract
Mix with a hand mixer or whisk until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to form moist dough.
Form chocolate dough into a round shape, cut in half and roll each half into a snake. Use a knife to cut each snake into 10 medium thick slices.
In another mixing bowl mix peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, almond milk and vanilla extract to form moist yet firm dough.
If it’s too dry add more almond milk. If too wet, knead in a little extra confectioner's sugar.
Form Peanut dough into a smooth round, cut in half and roll each half into a snake. Use a knife to cut each snake into 10 medium thick slices. Roll each slice into a smooth round ball and set to the side.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Shape the chocolate dough slices into flat discs in your palm.
Place a peanut butter ball in the center.
Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter ball, pinch closed and roll the chocolate ball into a smooth ball between your palms.
Gently flatten cookies just a little (but they should still look quite round) - so they stay put on the baking tray when you go to put it in the oven!!
Place dough balls on the lightly oiled oat sprinkled tray 1- 2 inches apart and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.
Remove tray from oven and leave cookies to cool and firm up for 5 - 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to complete cooling.
Store cookies in tightly sealed container. . .but I guarantee they will not last that long!!!!! :-D Yumdelicious!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Check out this Article on Kirtan from The Boston Globe

East meets West

Gaura Vani combines sitars and chants with rock for a genre-defying musical mix

Gaura Vani (center) and As Kindred Spirits have performed at such diverse events as Lollapalooza, Burning Man, and a celebration of the Obama inauguration.

Gaura Vani (center) and As Kindred Spirits have performed at such diverse events as Lollapalooza, Burning Man, and a celebration of the Obama inauguration. 

By Tripp Underwood Globe Correspondent / September 18, 2009 

Gaura Vani, a Hare Krishna musician who combines traditional Indian kirtan music with Western elements such as 12-string guitar, gospel choruses, and hip-hop rhythms, is a musical product of his environments.

Born in Los Angeles, Vani was sent to India at a young age to study sacred music by his Hare Krishna parents. Upon completing his studies he returned to the States, where he began combining spiritual Indian kirtans - a form of rhythmic, call-and-response chanting over various musical accompaniments - with the other music of his youth: rock, pop, and world music.

The result is a genre-defying hybrid of ancient Indian sacred music and modern Western styles. Sitars, mridanga drums, and chanted vocals meld smoothly with guitars and the occasional hip-hop vocal flow, all with clearly defined verses and choruses and a focus on melody not usually found in traditional Indian music.
And though his music contains deeply spiritual lyrics and a layering of styles that spans centuries and continents, Vani maintains a surprisingly simple interpretation of sacred music and its relationship to its audience.

“Kirtan is just the process of using chant and music to clean the heart,’’ he said from his home outside the nation’s capital. “It’s like an ancient can of Scrubbing Bubbles to clean our hearts and help figure out who we are beyond the body.’’

Comparing a 5,000-year-old form of meditation chanting to a modern-day bathroom cleaner may sound like an odd analogy, but it makes sense when coming from a cross-cultural artist like Vani, whose latest CD, “Ten Million Moons,’’ is gaining attention in spiritual music circles as well as in the secular world.
“Music is just an expression of the heart and soul,’’ he says. “All I’m doing is drinking from different springs and bringing together in my heart what seems natural.’’

Intentional or not, Vani’s eclectic style has allowed him to take his songs and message from Krishna temples and yoga studios to a wider range of audiences. In the past year Vani has performed at diverse venues for all types of music fans from backpacked Chicago indie rockers at Lollapalooza to hippies and modern primitives in the Nevada desert at Burning Man to a jubilantly dancing crowd at the Church of the Holy City in Washington, D.C., who had gathered to celebrate President Obama’s inauguration.

Vani and his band, As Kindred Spirits, bring their unique brand of kirtan music to Boston Common on Sunday. The performance is sponsored by the Boston chapter of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness to celebrate Rath Yatra, one of the most sacred holidays in the Hindu world.
The embracing of different cultures and musical styles is apparent not only in Vani’s music but also in his signing to Matrology, a subdivision of Equal Vision Records, a New York label best known for releasing punk rock and hard-hitting emo albums.

Ray Cappo, a yoga teacher and former punk musician who leads spiritual pilgrimages to India and now answers to the Krishna name Raghunath, says elements of the hardcore punk subculture and Hare Krishna teachings have far more in common than many realize. “A lot of people in the hardcore scene are very concerned with similar issues that occur in Krishna consciences like anti-materialism, vegetarianism, and straight edge,’’ Raghunath says, referring to the cultural movement that eschews drugs and alcohol.

“Twenty-five years later that is how we still live our lives,’’ says Raghunath, formerly of the underground band Shelter, which combined Krishna-influenced lyrics with razor-sharp guitars and blistering drum beats. “Some things may have changed with time, but it’s a form of continual evolution, and in one sense it’s exactly what we were doing in the punk scene when we were teenagers.’’

Vani shares Raghunath’s belief that music inspired by spirituality should retain core elements but be able to evolve with the times and changing tastes of followers.

“Spiritual music is a living tradition . . . from ‘Johnny B. Goode’ to the Bad Brains,’’ says Vani. “It grows and is alive. The music we make is just a natural progression of that.’’

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thought provoking video re. meat-eating

Here's a philosophical, graphic, short and thought provoking video on the consciousness or unconsciousness behind mankind's meat-eating habit .
 Check it out:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Earthlings beware, animals suffer at our hands

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of the whole human being."
Abraham Lincoln

I just watched part of the documentary Earthlings and this is what I have to say in brief. . .

Its graphic and tear jerking, and honestly I couldn't watch even a fraction of it, it was too horrific, but it gives you a realistic idea of what cruelty mankind's greed to satisfy his tongue will allow to happen in the name of  living the good life on a daily basis.

At least anyone who eats meat should be conscious that this is what their choice of eating habits is collectively creating in the bigger picture. Then consciously decide if you want to continue that choice knowing what goes into your meal. As they say on the Earthlings blog: "If you can watch the whole thing without thinking differently about the agony that permeates that fast-food burger, I’m not sure I want to know you." :-[

If you  are vegetarian or vegan and ever have anyone in school, uni, work, or anywhere give you a hard time about your beliefs on why not to eat meat, just dare them to watch this and then come back to you and be as ignorant as they were before they watched it. Pass it on....

Watch this documentary and/or pass it on. Support the good work these people are doing to make people aware and protect animals.

Documentary -  full video for free viewing:

For more info:


Friday, September 11, 2009

Re. Kirtan Questions

During our last cooking class, some of you asked me about kirtan -- Indian style music jamming sessions -- which are inseparable from the lifestyle of a Krishna girl like me. So let me tell you something about our music, with the understanding that this is a very brief summary - books have been written on its meaning and ancient history. See:

Basically Kirtan is an Indian call and response style of singing prayers, sacred mantra's & chants in unison. It is a means of  reaching out for and connecting with the Lord. Sankirtan or public kirtan especially of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra was popularized in Bengal over 500 years ago, by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu -- who was the original "Hare Krishna" -- and this chanting was predicted to spread to every town and village. This is the mantra which the Krishna community  are most known for, hence the name "Hare Krishna's":    

                                                 Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, 
                                                      Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
  Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.


Singing and dancing in glorification of the Lord are considered by the Krishna folk to be a natural expression of the soul -- watch carefree children come in contact with a kirtan -- they just start rocking it out. Growing up with this culture our Krishna youth have kirtan in their blood e.g. The Mayapuris . We consider kirtan to be the simplest means of worship in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy as it unites people from every background on a spiritual level. You don't have to be a Hare  Krishna to participate, anyone can do it! :-)
Kirtan facilitates expressing ones heart and devotion, and traditionally it was sung in temples for Lord Krishna's pleasure, but it can be done anywhere.(Krishna is a name for God or the Supreme Divine Being). Invoking Divine presence in this way serves many purposes e.g. it sanctifies the atmosphere, cleanses the mind and heart, uplifts and refreshes ones spirit, gives joy, brings the community together and you can even get a good work-out when you dance. It is great fun!


Some of my Krishna youth friends on tour through Utah doing their fantastic kirtan. These are some fun pics they took enroute! :-D Check out their cool website:

Kirtan is typically accompanied by instruments like karatal (Indian style cymbals), Mridanga (traditional Indian double headed clay drum), gongs etc. Contemporary kirtan is often a fusion of Eastern and Western elements with instruments such as a base guitar, jembe, etc.

Bhajans are generally done sitting together and typically a harmonium -- which is like a cross between a piano and an accordian -- accompanies the singer.
Kirtan & bhajan are traditionally chanted in the ancient Sanskrit language, or in Bengali, Hindi or another dialect. Each provence in India has its own kirtan styles, and local saints who composed sacred chants.

Some places are famous for their cultural presentations
e.g. Orissa and Manipuri Drummers and dancers.
Check out: Contemporary Orrisan dancers.

Under the guidance of Srila Prabhupada -- the founder of ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) -- kirtan was brought out to the streets and parks of the the USA and worldwide in the 1960's and 1970's.


Today kirtan is becoming increasingly popular in the western world. You will find many yoga centers and people from all walks of life who host kirtan events and party's.

People from different faiths can also take up kirtan and even incorporate it into their own system of worship. In fact there is a Rabbi who has become known as the Kirtan Rabbi,  who takes the kirtan principle and form, applies it to the Jewish prayers and ceremonies, and people are loving it. Check it out:

If even 10% of the worlds population take to congregational chanting of the Lords names or sankirtan, the Krishna people believe that it will bring about unity, peace and happiness in the world.

So next time you see Hare Krishna people chanting out there on the streets, you will have a better idea what they are doing and maybe you can stop a moment and join in, or at least appreciate their endeavors.

Every year the Krishna folk host 24 hour kirtan festivals in various centers annually. In fact there will be one at our West Virginia Temple in October if you are interested to participate.
And every Sunday at every ISKCON Hare Krishna temple there is an open house for people to come and do kirtan, hear some philosophy and share a vegetarian dinner together. You can check out your local center at: Potomac Krishna Temple .

For some great kirtan music by our Krishna community and more info on it, why not check out these links:

Below are more samples of kirtans & bhajans with our Krishna community, it comes in all styles traditional, western & a fusion of both. Feel free to ask me any more questions on kirtan or the Krishna people and our way of life, I enjoy hearing from you!
Happy listening! :-)

      Chapati - Indian flat bread

      These simple Indian flat breads were one of the favorites of our cooking class in the Spring Semester but I never came round to posting the recipe, so here goes. I may teach how to make them again this Semester.

      Chapati's are gridle baked bread rounds that swell like a little balloon when placed over the fire. The secret to making this happen is to roll them to an even thickness all around -- they can be thick or thin and they don't even have to be completely round so long they are evenly rolled -- then they will puff. If they have a hole then the air will escape and they will become more cracker-like instead, in which case they are still very edible.

      They are delicious eaten hot off the flame, spread with butter or olive oil. If you don't eat them right away them put in a sealed storage container to retain the softness. Warm them up in the oven and they will be soft again. They make good wraps if they are soft.

      Typically they are eaten with Subji (Indian vegetable stew) by tearing off a section of the chapati with your fingers and wrapping around the vegetable and pop into your mouth! :-) According to Ayurveda (an ancient holistic system of medicine that is still widely practiced in many parts of India today) there is a whole science to cooking and eating that is practically unknown in the west. Eating with ones fingers is considered stimulating for the digestion and makes for a satisfying meal - though that is often considered uncultured in the west where forks, knifes and spoons are the norm. I think its a good idea to be conscious that each culture has its own ways and its very educational to explore the reasons for these, and broaden our horizons, and understanding in an increasingly multi-cultural global society.

      Makes approx 12 chapati's - serves 4-6 people. Prep & cooking time: 30 - 45 mins

      • 2 cups flour - I like to use 1/2 & 1/2 whole wheat & white flour
      •  1/2 tsp salt
      • 2 tsp oil (optional)
      • warm water - enough to make a soft dough
      • extra flour for rolling
      • oil/butter or ghee for spreading on chapati's when cooked
      • flat cast iron gridle pan - ideally use a tava - an Indian pan made specially for chapati making
      • a pair of metal tongs to turn chapati's on the flame (I use my hands, but the risk is burning yourself if you arent quick). Otherwise these utensils can be bought at an Indian/Asian grocery store
      • Rolling pin
      • Combine flours, salt and oil in a mixing bowl and rub together til it resembles coarse meal.
      • Add 1/3 - 2/3 cup warm water -- just enough to form a soft kneadable dough -- it shouldnt be very sticky , add more flour if so. Turn onto a smooth clean working surface and knead for 5 - 8 minutes til its really smooth. 
      • Ideally leave it to rest for 1/2 hr or so in which case you should sprinkle with a few drops of water & cover it with a overturned bowl.
      • Reknead for a minute or so, roll inot a snake and cut into 12 even pieces.
      • Roll each piece into a smooth balls, flatten into a small disc in you palm and on a lightly floured surface roll into a consistently even round shape.
      • Heat the griddle pan over low heat for a few minutes. Do NOT oil it.
      • Carefully pick up the chapati, dust off excess flour and smoothly slip onto the hot pan - avoid wrinkles it or trying to re-adjust it once you set it down.
      • Cook for a minute or so - until little bubbles begin to form. Turn over with the tongs and cook for about another minute.
      • Turn on another burner next to the pan onto high heat, pick up the chapati with the tongs and place over the flame. If made well it will swell up into a balloon shape. cook til it has brown/black speckles. Place into foil or container, palce a dab of butter or oil on it to melt. 
      • Cook all the chapati's like this and stack upon each other to retain their heat.
      • Serve immediately with a salad and or subji (Indian vegetable stew). Cold they make good lunch box snacks spread & rolled up with tahini & honey etc.

      Quick salad

      Here's the salad we made in yesterday's UM cooking class. I like to eat salad wrapped in chapati - an Indian flat bread - its pretty much the same thing as eating a salad wrap, except homemade Indian flat bread has non of the long list of additives found in store bought tortillas.
      Serves approx 12- 15 people. Preparation time: 10 - 15 mins

      • 1 head iceberg lettuce washed & chopped small (use mixed salad greens instead if you can - as popular as it is, iceberg has pretty much 0 % nutritional content)
      • 1 small pkt alfalfa sprouts rinsed off in cold water
      • 1 small pkt cherry tomato's rinsed off
      • 2 large avocado's removed from peel & cubed medium size
      • 2 handfuls green olives pitted & stuffed with red paprika pieces (you can buy them by the jar in a health or gourmet store), I usually rinse them to remove excess salt
      • Extra virgin cold pressed Olive oil
      • Juice from 1 large lemon
      • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
      • 2 tsp sea salt
      • a pinch asafoetida
      • Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and asafoetida in large salad bowl and whisk briefly.
      • Add in all other salad ingredients and mix evenly
      • Its best to prepare salad just before the meal so it remains fresh and at its best. If you don't serve it right away keep the avocado stone & put into salad bowl . . . by natures magic it prevents the avocado from becoming blackened. Its an old trick that really works!

      Tomato Pea Tofu Stew (Mater Paneer)

      This was on the menu for today's cooking class, so by popular request here's the recipe but its only complete if made with love and gratitude! Enjoy! :-)

      Mater Paneer (or Panir) is a popular dish world-wide, and probably every experienced veggie cook who is familar with Indian cuisine has their own version of it.  It originates in Punjab, northern India (Vegetarian World Food, Kurma). It is generally made with fresh paneer cheese - a quick home made soft cheese which has endless uses in the Indian cuisine. For this dish it would be pressed til firm and then diced. However in this recipe I made it vegan with Steve's expert help, by using baked tofu cubes instead.

      Serves about 5 generous portions. Prep & cooking time 45 mins - 1 hr.

      • 12 - 15 large ripe organic tomato's, washed, chopped into large chunks and blended into a puree
      •  1 pkt original firm tofu cubed small & baked in olive oil
      • 1 pkt fresh green peas ( frozen works too - I just prefer fresh)
      • 1 tsp tumeric
      • 2-3 tbsp sea salt or to taste (better to under-salt, you can always add in more later)
      • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
      • 1 tsp Asaoetida (aka hing - its a great onion substitute)
      • 1 handful dried Oregano herb
      • 2 tbsp brown cane sugar or to taste
      • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves chopped roughly
      • Put Tofu cubes in oven to baked in olive at 350 degrees, til lightly tanned you may need to turn them over half way through (use a pan knife) - depends on your oven.
      • Combine the fresh tomato puree, fresh peas (if you use frozen ones add them 10 mins before the end instead), tumeric, salt, pepper, asafoetida, oregano and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook down into a thick sauce - til its about half the original volume. BTW Steve taught me a useful tip; add a whole carrot (cleaned of course) into the tomato sauce as its cooking down to help remove any bitter taste from the tomatos. He said that trick originates in Italy. . .I learn something new every time I cook!
      • Add in the baked tofu cubes, lower heat and cook another 10 mins or so, the tofu will expand a little.
      • Stir in the chopped fresh basil a few minutes before serving. Save some to garnish. For variation fresh cilantro is also excellent instead of basil.
      • Serve hot on a bed of rice and a fresh bread of your choice - Poori's are great! Yum! :-)
      • BTW its also really great with pasta...have fun experimenting with this tasty dish!

      Poori (Indian puffed fried bread)

      This is the recipe I taught in today's cooking class. I was impressed with everyone's great Poori rolling! Often the first time someone makes these they come out every shape except round. You were all pro's from the get go! Way to go! :-)
      Poori's are a very popular accompaniment to many meals throughout India. They can be eaten with a dinner or even made into a dessert by sprinkling them with powder sugar as they come out of the hot oil. Very simple to make, and its fun to see them puff into ballon-like rounds in the oil. Trick is to roll them dough into a consistent thickness and when frying use the flat back of the spatula to push the poori under the oil as it comes to the surface. When it rises stroke it under again gently to aid it puffing.

      Makes approx 16 medium sized Poori's. Takes about 30 mins to prep and cook. (longer if you let the dough rest longer - which is recommended but not essential).

      • 2 cups 1/2 and 1/2 - plain wholewheat flour & white flour
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 2 Tbsp Oil/butter
      • 2/3 - 1 cup warm water - as needed
      • Oil for deep-frying

      Combine flours and salt and mix. Add oil and rub into flour til it resembles coarse meal. Add the warm water gradually as you mix it together, as much as you need to form a nice soft but not sticky dough. Turn onto a flat clean surface and knead about 5 mins til smooth. Let it rest 5mins - 3hrs (make sure you cover it with an upturned bowl if you leave it that long so it retains its moisture).

      BTW you can also add in fresh Fenugreek (Methi) leaves or other fresh herbs and spices/seasoning into the dough for variety.

      When you are ready to use your dough, heat deep-frying oil in a wok or suitable saucepan at medium temperature.

      Re-knead and roll into a snake shape. Cut into 16 pieces and roll into smooth balls. Flatten each ball into a small disc in your palms and on a lightly oiled or floured surface use your rolling pin to roll it into a round disc about 4 ish inches wide.

      Pat off any excess flour and carefully place into hot oil. (To test if its ready throw a small piece of dough in and if it rises & fizzes its hot enough). The Poori will go to the bottom of the pan and as soon as it rises up again, use a flat spatula to ease it back under the oil. When it puffs, flip it over for a few seconds til light golden and use your spatula to place into a colander to drain. Its helpful to have paper towls in the colander so the excess oil is absorbed.

      Serve Poori's hot with a meal or sprinkled with powdered sugar as a dessert. Have fun! :-)

      Thursday, September 10, 2009

      Blueberry Pecan Halavah (Indian Semolina Dessert)

      By popular request from our University of Maryland cooking class today, here is the recipe for blueberry halavah. :-)

      Halavah is a traditional dessert from India and the Middle East and comes in many varieties.
      This particular variey is made with semolina. I like adding blueberries as they are rich in anti-oxidants, healthy, tasty and not least they make the halavah an outrageous rich purple! :-D

      Its such a fun and versatile dish -- as one of my friends said, he loves to make it because it has a small explosion as a legitimate part of the cooking -- and you can make it in almost any flavor you fancy. My mum makes the best Halavah ever -- with a medley of dried fruits; apricots, raisons, dates etc., -- its so yummy. It can even be made with carrots (!!) -- called Gajar Halvah in Hindi -- but thats an entirely different recipe, so we'll do that another time. It can also be made as a savory dish with salt instead of sugar and fried veggies instead of fruits. . .it sounds unusual to the western palate but its quite delicious.

      The secret of seriously good halavah is to roast the semolina grains slowly or 10 -15 mins in enough butter or vegan substitute so as not to scorch the grains. Let it steam in its own heat 5-10 mins after cooking so the grains plump up and it becomes nice and fluffy, ( though it will change consistency and more solid when it cools). Halavah is a comfort food and great served piping hot on a cold winters day. Though it is traditionally made with butter, to make it vegan just use a vegetable oil/ shortening/margerine etc instead.

      This recipe serves 6-8 people. Takes about 30 mins to prep and cook.

      Blueberry Halavah
      • 3 cups water
      • 1 1/4 cups brown cane sugar
      • 140g margerine/veg shortening/butter
      • 1 1/4 cups coarse semolina (Suji in Hindi)
      • 1/3 cup pecan nut halves
      • 1 cup fresh blueberries (rinsed off in cold water)
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

      Combine water & sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover with a lid so it remains hot.

      Melt butter or vegan substitute fat in another heavy bottomed saucepan. The heat should be low so as not to burn the fat. Add the semolina.

      Slowly stir-fry the semolina grains until they become a light tan color. About 1/2 way thorugh add the pecan nuts.

      Turn the heat on under the sugar water again and bring to a rolling boil. Now comes the fun part! Turn off heat under the semolina saucepan and pour the sugar water into the semolina mixture. Careful! Its very hot and it will have a small volcanic explosion when the ingredients meet! Protect your hand from any hot splashes of liquid halava (almost said lava!) with a cloth or so and stir til smooth. The spluttering will soon die down as the liquid is absorbed into the grains. Add in the blueberries and vanilla essence.

      Return pan to the stove on a low heat and stir steadily until the grains have fully absorbed the liquid. Its important not to let it burn or the subtle flavor of the roasted grains will be lost. When the mixture turns into a more pudding like consistency and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan its time to place a lid on it and lower the heat to the lowest possible setting. Cook like this for 5 minutes, then turn off heat and let it steam in its own heat another 5 minutes.

      Its ready! Serve hot as is, or with cream , custard or as a side dish to a larger meal. Delicious!

      Tuesday, September 1, 2009

      Watch out for these nasty ingredients lurking in your snacks!

      I did some research today on which E numbers etc., to avoid, below is my compilation. You will want to know this if u are a vegetarian/vegan & it would almost be enough to make u become one if u aren't. So look sharp when you are out doing that grocery shopping! Kinda freaky what goes into processed food! Maybe some of you will find this little check list handy. . .pass it on to your friends & family:

      Albumen: often from eggs, muscles, blood. In cakes, cookies, candies, etc.

      Ambergris: from whale intestines. Used as a flavoring in foods and beverages.

      Aspartic Acid, Aminosuccinate Acid: Can be from animal sources.

      Bone Char: Animal bone ash. Often used to make sugar white. Serves as the charcoal used in aquarium filters.

      Bone Meal: Crushed or ground animal bones. In some vitamins and supplements as a source of calcium. In some tooth paste.

      Bone phosphate - E542: Anti-caking agent made from ground animal bones.

      Bonito: Dried flakes from fish.

      Carbon Black – E153: food colouring – usually derived from various parts of animals, unless it says vegetable carbons.

      Cetyl Alcohol: Wax found in spermaceti from sperm whales or dolphins.

      Chitosan: A fiber derived from crustacean shells. Used as a lipid binder in diet products.

      Cochineal, Carminic acid, Carmines, Natural Red 4 - E120: A coloring that makes many foods red. Cochineal (Dactylopius Coccus) is made from the female insect. She is boiled alive or left to "cook" alive through sun exposure. Cochineal is the result of crushing scales of the insect into a red powder. Often found in fruit pie fillings, jams, many sweets, ice lollies, fruit juices, sports drinks and even cheeses.

      Disodium inosinate - E631: Flavor enhancer, almost always made from animals and fish.

      Disodium 5'-ribonucleotides - E635: Flavor enhancer, often made from animals.

      Edible Oils: usually contain animal fats.

      Emulsifiers related to the mono & diglycerides of fatty acids family - E472 A to F:
      E472a Acetic acid esters
      E472b Lactic acid esters
      E472c Citric acid esters
      E472d Tartaric acid esters
      E472e Mono- and diacetyl tartaric acid esters
      E472f Mixed acetic and tartaric acid esters
      Because the E472 family is derived from Glycerin (Glycerol) (see E422 above), they generally contain animal fats.

      Enzymes: Often this is made from animal insides e.g. it = rennet if it’s in cheese = the lining from a calves stomach -- don’t get it if you haven’t checked the source with the company. Found in cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, biscuits, breads, crackers etc. BTW vegetarian enzymes = microbial enzymes ..those are ok.

      Fatty Acids e.g. caprylic, lauric, myristic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic: Often from animal sources.

      Gelatin - E441: Emulsifier / Gelling Agent, is from animal skin, bones, horns & hooves. Often found in yoghurts, jellies & sweets.

      Glycerol - E422: (Humectant, Solvent, Sweet Glycerin) – Sweetener; is usually from animal fats unless it says it’s from plant/vegetable sources.

      Glycine & its sodium salt - E640: Flavor enhancer, often derived from gelatin made from animal skins etc.

      L-cysteine - E910: Improving agent. Produced commercially from hair of slaughtered animals, and from human hair (and feathers). In the case of human hair it comes from women’s hair in third-world countries. L-cysteine is used as an additive in around 5% of bread and other bakery products. It is not used in wholemeal bread or other wholemeal bakery products.

      L-cysteine hydrochloride - E920: Improving agent. Produced from L-cystine (see 910 above)

      L-cysteine hydrochloride monohydrate - E921: - Improving agent. Produced from L-cystine (see above).

      Lecithin(s) - E322: Emulsifier and Stabilizer. Often from egg yolks, animal fat,muscle, blood, unless it says it’s from soya or another vegetarian source.

      Lipase: an enzyme from the stomachs and tongue glands of calves, kids, and lambs. Used in digestive aids as it helps the body break down fats. Also commonly found in cheese and dairy products.

      Mono & Diglycerides of fatty acids (glyceryl monostearate, glyceryl distearate) - E471: Emulsifier; usually animal fat based unless it says it’s from soya or plant sources.

      Methionine: Essential amino acid found in various proteins (usually from egg albumen and casein). Used as a texturizer and for freshness in potato chips.

      Oleic Acid - Derivatives: Oleyl Oleate, Oleyl Stearate: usually obtained commercially from inedible tallow = rancid beef fat.

      Palmitic Acid: often from animal fats.

      Pepsin: generally from hogs' stomachs. A clotting agent. In some cheeses and vitamins.

      Potassium Nitrate (Saltpetre) - E252: Preservative which is often artificially manufactured from waste animal matter. Often found in smoked cheese.

      Rennet, Rennin: an enzyme from calves' stomachs. Used in cheese-making, rennet custard (junket), and in many coagulated dairy products.

      Shellac - E-904: Glazing Agent. Shellac is a resin from an insect called the Lac bug (Laccifer lacca Kerr (Coccidae)). It is the coating on many candies..

      Shortening/Lard: is pig or other animal fat unless stated otherwise.

      Spermaceti, Cetyl Palmitate, Sperm Oil: Waxy oil derived from the sperm whale's head or from dolphins. In many margarines.

      Stearic Acid, Stearic Hydrazide, Stearone, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Stearoyl Lactylic Acid: most often refers to a fatty substance taken from the stomachs of pigs, and even from cows, sheep and from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters, etc. Used in chewing gum, food flavoring etc.

      Squalene: Oil from shark livers, etc.

      Suet: Animal fat - Beef or Sheep fat.

      Tallow, Tallow Fatty Alcohol, Stearic Acid - Derivatives: Sodium Tallowate, Tallow Acid, Tallow Amide, Tallow Amine, Talloweth-6, Tallow Glycerides, Tallow Imidazoline: rendered beef fat. In margarines, lubricants, etc, etc.

      Urea, Carbamide, Derivatives: Imidazolidinyl Urea, Uric Acid: excreted from urine and other bodily fluids. In mouthwashes etc. Used to "brown" baked goods, such as pretzels.

      Vitamin A: can come from fish liver oil (e.g., shark liver oil), egg yolk. It is an aliphatic alcohol. In many vitamins, supplements etc.
      Alternatives: carrots, other vegetables

      Vitamin B-12: usually animal source.
      Alternatives: some vegetarian B-12-fortified yeasts and analogs available. Plant algae containing B-12 in supplement form (spirulina).

      Vitamin D. Ergocalciferol. Vitamin D-2. Ergosterol. Provitamin D-2. Calciferol. Vitamin D-3:
      Vitamin D can come from fish liver oil, egg yolk, etc.
      Vitamin D-2 can come from animal fats.
      Vitamin D-3 is always from an animal source - watch out for your milk, many brands contain vit. D3 which is apparently from cow brains.
      All the D vitamins can be in vitamin tablets, etc.
      Alternatives: plant and mineral sources, synthetics, completely vegetarian vitamins, exposure of skin to sunshine.
      Many other vitamins can come from animal sources. Examples: choline, biotin, inositol, riboflavin, etc.

      BTW: Something listed as "Natural Sources," can mean animal or vegetable sources. Most often in the health food industry it means animal sources, such as animal elastin, glands, fat, protein, and oil.

      Sources & more info:

      To support ethical labeling:

      Thursday, May 14, 2009

      Mango Lassi & Vegan Avocado Smoothie

      Hi dear cooking class students!!
      So I'm finally getting this blog I promised you up and running! Thanks to Rasik for his help with the technicalities of blog publishing! Below is posted the mango lassi and vegan avocado smoothie recipes we made in our last cooking class of this Semester. I'll post our other recipes by and by as I get time. Hope you can try them out for yourselves in your own kitchens this summer. Have fun! :-)


      Mango Lassi
      Lassi = Indian word for smoothie/shake

      Lassi is traditionally made with yoghurt and served as a cooling summer beverage. It can be prepared either salty or sweet. When salty its usually served plain with spices like cumin (jeera), rock salt, pepper and salt. When sweet it can have fruit, rosewater and a variety of other flavors and sweet spices added. (Some knowledge of what flavors complement each other and only your imagination is the limit here).

      (Makes about 4 servings)

      • 1 large ripe* mango, removed from its peel and seed ( = about 1 to 1 & 1/2 cups mango pulp)
      • 1 1/2 cups organic yogurt - plain or vanilla (I like the Organic Stony Field Farm brand)
      • 1/2 cup chilled/cool water
      • 2 Tbsp (= Tablespoon) pure maple syrup (You can adjust sweetener to your taste. Other favorite alternatives of mine are: agave nectar, Rapunzel pure organic cane sugar)
      • 1 tsp (= teaspoon) pure vanilla essence
      • Wash Mango.
      • If its very soft, either peel it and scrape pulp off the seed or cut in 1/2 and scrape pulp out of the peel and off the seed. If its more firm, then cut it in 1/2, remove the seed, and cut lengthwise and crosswise sections into the flesh whilst its still in the peel. Then scrape/cut out the cubes into a container.
      • Put mango in food processor and pulse until pureed.
      • Add yogurt, water, sweetener of your choice and vanilla (or whatever your preferred flavor is). Pulse until ingredients are well blended.
      • Voila! :-) Your Lassi is ready as is. You can add ice cubes/crushed ice, or if you can wait - chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more before serving. Garnish with fresh mint leaves, mango slices etc.
      • Variations: You can add 1/2 tsp of freshly ground or crushed cardamom seed (Elachi) instead of vanilla. You can use milk or a milk substitute instead of water for a creamier drink, or even replace the yoghurt with milk/milk substitute - in which case I'd definitely add crushed ice.
      * To tell if its a ripe mango, check the top of it, if it has a little sticky trace of juice leaking out, it has a yummy fruity aroma and you can put a dent into the fruit with your thumb, its ready to use.

      Vegan Avocado Smoothie
      This can also be made non-vegan - just use regular milk or yogurt instead

      (makes about 2 servings)

      • 1 ripe medium sized avocado washed
      • Cut avocado in 1/2 or 1/4's and remove from peel and seed ( - pretty much same procedure as the mango just easier!)
      • 1 1/2 cup oat milk chilled (adjust amount according to what consistency you want & you can also use other milk substitutes e.g. soya milk, rice milk etc)
      • 1/2 cup chilled spring water (or according to the consistency you want)
      • 2 Tbsp maple syrup (adjust according to taste, you can also use other sweeteners e.g. honey, agave nectar etc)
      • 1 tsp pure vanilla essence
      • Puree avocado and all other ingredients into a food processor and pulse until its a smooth creamy puree or frothy creamy mixture (depending on how much liquid you add).
      • Best served with crushed ice blended in or chilled. Garnish with fresh green mint leaves.
      • Variations: Add a few fresh lemon balm leaves (a kind of mint) instead of vanilla to give it a fresh summery twang! Or you can add a few Tbsp's unsweetened organic cocoa powder & Rapunzel pure cane sugar for a velvety chocolate flavor! Experiment and have fun with this! :-)