What the food is Spirulina?!

I spend a bit, honestly a lot, of time everyday being amazed by food photography on Instagram.  I always want to reach into my screen and take a bite!  I have been wondering how people made food such intense and beautiful blues.  I noticed these photos are often tagged Spirulina or Blue Spirulina.  What the food is Spirulina?!

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Is Spirulina a natural product?

Yes, Spirulina is a generic term for blue-green algae that grow in some salt-water and also fresh-water lakes in Africa and South America.

Why is Spirulina used in food products?

Spirulina is used as a dietary supplement, due to its high levels of protein, vitamins and minerals.  It is also used as a way of adding some really beautiful, natural colours to foods.
Is Spirulina safe to eat?

Spirulina itself is safe to eat, but Spirulina harvested from the natural environment may be contaminated with toxins or heavy metals.  This is further complicated by its status as a dietary supplement, which means it isn’t regulated to the same degree as a food.

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Spirulina should not be eaten by people with Phenylkeptonuria as it is a source of phenylalanine.  If you have a thyroid condition, an autoimmune disorder, gout, kidney stones, or are pregnant or nursing, spirulina may not be appropriate for you. You should check with your healthcare provider before taking it.
Can Spirulina cause allergic reactions?

Potentially, especially in those who are allergic to seafood, seaweed and other sea vegetables.
Is Spirulina vegan?

Spirulina is a cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae, so it is made up of tiny single-celled bacteria.  These bacteria make their food through photosynthesis, just like plants do.  Spirulina is not really an animal or a plant, but seems to be generally viewed as acceptable for vegans to eat.

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Spicy Za’atar, Carrot Soup (GF, Vegan)

This post contains an affiliate link.

This month, it has been really chilly here in the UK with some snow, so I have really appreciated being able to make easy, hot lunches with my soup maker (Tefal BL841140 Easy Soup and Smoothie Maker).  This soup uses Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend containing sesame seeds, sumac, oregano, cumin, and marjoram.

Ingredients

  • 1 Eschalion shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 500g carrots, peeled or scrubbed, and chopped
  • 1 Knorr vegetable stock pot or stock of your choice
  • 1 tin of butter beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp. Za’atar spices (plus extra for serving)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

Method

1. Chop and peel the shallots, garlic and carrots. Drain the butter beans.
2. Put all the ingredients in your soup maker.
3. Add water up to the minimum liquid level
4. Choose the “blended soup” option, and enjoy the amazing smell of spices filling your kitchen.
5. Serve with a sprinkling of Za’atar spices.

Vegan Cheese Omelette!

Recently, Allergy Little had to have a day off school because he had a cold.  Obviously, I wasn’t pleased that he was ill, but it was nice to have my cooking wingman back for the day.  It was like the beginnings of this blog when he was at home during the day while Allergy Big was at school. Enough reminiscing…

Allergy Little and I decided to try Terra Vegane’s Egg-free Omelette Mix, which we bought from The Veggie Stuff website.  The ingredients of the mix are Potato Starch, Cassava Starch, Chick Pea Flour, Amaranth Flour, Sunflower Oil, Nutritional Yeast, Corn Starch, Baking Agent (Potassium-Tartrate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Turmeric, Kala-Namak Salt.

The mix is easy to prepare as you simply mix 4 tbsp of omelette mix with 4 tbsp. water.  Allergy Little and I were very surprised by how eggy and sulphurous this smelt, as eggy as an egg mayonnaise sandwich left in a plastic lunchbox on a hot coach on a summer term school trip.  Luckily, the smell quickly disappeared.

We cooked the omelette mix in a little olive oil, and used Vegamigo Pizza Melty vegan cheese as the filling.  And what we ended up with was pretty impressive.  It’s not exactly like a fluffy egg omelette, but nonetheless it tasted good and not at all like it had smelt on mixing.  The texture is different too as the cassava flour makes it a little doughy.  However, judged on its own merits, and not as a fake cheese omelette, it was very good.

Spanish Bean Soup

I am still loving my soup maker (Tefal BL841140 Easy Soup and Smoothie Maker), and I thought I would try the not very attractively named “soup with pieces” option.

Ingredients

  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Knorr vegetable stock pot or stock of your choice
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 1 tin of mixed bean salad
  • 1 Chorizo sausage, skin removed and chopped

Method
1. Chop all the shallots and Chorizo sausage.  Drain the mixed bean salad.
2. Put all the ingredients in your soup maker.
3. Add water up to the minimum liquid level
4. Choose the “soup with pieces” option.
5. Get on with something else, while your soup cooks.

Home-made Gluten Free Goujons/Nuggets

This is a very multi-purpose method.  You can use it to coat tofu, white fish, chicken, quorn, etc.  I used turkey strips.  I haven’t provided exact amounts of ingredients because the quantities will vary each time.  If your children like cooking and getting a bit messy then they will love making this recipe.

Ingredients

Something to coat in batter (tofu, white fish, quorn, chicken, turkey, vegetables, etc)

Gluten free seasoned flour (I used cornflour with salt and pepper; you add extra herbs, spices, or chilli)

Gram flour

Unsweetened cereal (I used cornflakes; Rice Krispies or spelt flakes would work as well)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut whatever you are battering into appropriate size pieces.
  3. Prepare your coatings.  You will need a bowl of seasoned, gluten free flour, a bowl of gram flour mixed with water to the consistency of egg, and a bowl of your crushed cereal.
  4. Prepare a baking tray with baking parchment.
  5. Coat the item in the gluten free, seasoned flour, then the gram flour batter, and finally roll it in the cereal so it is completely coated.  Place the item on the baking tray.20180116_172846
  6. Bake the goujons/nuggets for 20 minutes or until you are sure that the inside is fully cooked through.20180116_163814