Monday, July 1, 2019

Açai Bowls, Superfood Fun In Fla.

Açai bowls are a delicious way to eat your superfoods. These bowls are put together from a base of frozen, ground, purple Brazilian Açai berries. There are usually staple ingredients like strawberries, bananas, blueberries, shredded coconut, honey, and granola.  And from there the ingredients vary a lot from any type of berry (goji, mulberry, raspberry...etc.), to any type of fruit (dragonfruit, mango, kiwi fruit...etc), to dark chocolate, and even to avocados. Here are just three of the more outstanding bowls I have eaten in South Florida.

Off-menu açaí crafted at Vegan Fine Foods,
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.,
Copyright 2019 by Helen A. Lockey

Vegan Fine Foods has one of the largest açaí bowls that can be ordered, off-menu, from Chef Jonny. They can cost $18 each or more and can easily feed two-three people. The one Chef Jonny made for me contained frozen açaí, red and white dragon fruit, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, goji berries, dark chocolate, dried mulberries, chocolate chips, mango, shredded coconut, buried granola, and an edible orchid flower.


Açaí bowl from Perk Coffee House, Tequesta, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Perk Coffee House was the first place I ate an açaí bowl, back in July 2018. Their bowl contained blueberries, strawberries, grated coconut, frozen açaí, pineapple, hemp seeds, flax seeds, bananas, honey, and granola ($8.00). I paid $1.50 extra for some almond butter. 


Ital Bowls Foodtruck açaí bowl, Stuart, Fla.,
Copyright 2019 by Helen A Lockey

Ital Bowls Food truck, in Stuart, was the most recent location that I tried an açaí bowl. Their, "The Ital Bowl," had an unexpected ingredient--fresh avocado. It also contained organic frozen açaí,   bananas, blueberries, kiwi fruit, honey, granola, and vegan protein powder ($10). I replaced the honey with agave syrup ($0.50 more), added shredded coconut ($0.75 more) and goji berries ($1.00 more).

Superfoods help slow down the affects of aging. And so Açaí bowls are basically a healthy, adult form, of an ice cream sundae with limitless combinations.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Aquafaba, Vegan Egg White Alternative

Aquafaba water allows vegan bakers to make crispy meringues without eggs. Aquafaba is the briny discard water found in cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans). But it can also come from the cooked discard water of other dried beans (pulses). Chickpeas are preferred because they have a milder flavor than other beans. 

Vanilla aquafaba meringues, baked by Inika Foods Llc., Delray Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey
The protein properties of the pulses lend themselves to complex dessert styles that usually use egg whites. As they can be whipped, with a bit of cream of tarter, into something that looks like soft peaked whisked egg whites. 

To make handheld meringues you just need to add organic granulated sugar and vanilla before baking, and resting the finished meringues in the unopened over for one hour. And voila, you have a crispy, airy, gooey in the center (if you are lucky) vanilla vegan meringue.  

If the canned aquafaba water is too salty, you can always cook up some presoaked (soaked overnight and then cooked in a fresh volume of water) chickpeas and use that discard water in your recipes. 

The generally accepted portion rule is that 3 Tablespoons of aquafaba equals one egg white.

There are many recipes on the Internet. All of the vanilla meringues have just the four ingredients above. Where the recipes differ is the temperature of the oven and the baking time. Some say use a 200F (100C) oven for two hours (www.thelazyveganbaker.com) while others say use a 250F (121C) over for 45 minutes (www.lovingitvegan.com) .

Vegan meringues have to be treated exactly like egg meringues in hot humid climates. If they are left out of their airtight container for too long they will become sticky.

And if you decide all of this is just too hard to make, then check out the vegan meringues at Inika Foods Llc., in Delray Beach, Florida. Their meringues are airy, crispy and gooey in the middle.



Saturday, April 13, 2019

Stop And Smell The Flowers And Take A Taste Too

The famous expression is, “Stop and smell the roses.” Well these days more and more people and especially chefs are stopping and eating the roses and other flowers. It is surprising how many flowers are edible. There are the more known varieties like lavender (for tea), nasturtiums (for salads), violets (candied for cakes), hibiscus (tea, wine) and orange blossoms (for syrups). 

Spicy, very edible, nasturtiums
Copyright 2019 by Helen A Lockey

Flowers hold the beginnings of life. Their nectar draws in insects that help pollinate the flower, which then leads to the growth of some type of fruit. The flowers are often full of scent that can be experienced either in the fresh form, or candied, or fermented, or frozen. 

Yellow mustard flowers and pods
Copyright 2019 by Helen A Lockey

Some lesser known, yet still very delicious are in the brassica family (cabbage). Here broccoli and cauliflower stand out because they are simply unopened flower buds. Mustards are another part of this family and often produce fiery tasting, yellow blossoms and spicy seedpods. 

Florida hops flower on the vine
Copyright 2019 by Helen A Lockey

The there are roses, not all are edible. There are also orchids, and again not all are edible. Citrus flowers are edible. Start fruit (carambola) flowers are edible. Papaya flowers are edible. If you are a fan of beer, the hops that went in to sanitize and flavor your beer are flowers too.

One rule of thumb with eating all flowers: know where they are from. Make sure if they are bought or foraged that they have not been sprayed with any chemicals. And if you are unsure how your body will react, just take a very tiny bite, wait one hour, and if you are not sick, eat some more.

And remember you can stop and smell the roses (flowers) but it’s also wonderful to stop and nibble them.