VEGAN SOURDOUGH SPELT WAFFLES (V+, ChF, NF) + REVIEW OF NO-MESS SAGE WAFFLE MAKER

A few days ago my son turns 6. Can you believe it, 6! I know it sounds so cliché, but time truly does fly when you're having fun. And when you have children you can actually see the physical evidence of life's continual forward flow, which is quite grounding as well as - for me on this occasion - really upsetting. (I so wish my blog platform did emojis cuz I'd insert that crying face with buckets of tears streaming out of its eyes right here).

It's not that I miss the baby stage, I don't at all and every day, every week and every year that passes by I enjoy motherhood more and more. But it's that realisation that everything is just temporary and that I can't hold on to the here and now forever, not even for my little boy. And that recognition left me feeling a tiny bit lost the other day. I don't know, but I just felt emotional.

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To make his birthday special we'd allowed our son to choose his breakfast and dinner. Normally during the week we have porridge, which he is ok about, but in all honest, it's not his favourite. He likes the weekends when we have bread or better still these vegan sourdough spelt waffles which have taken center stage on sunday mornings since the arrival of our schermazing Sage waffle maker.

So surprise, surprise, we had waffles that Thursday morning which he was delighted about. As for dinner, I'd expected him to choose pizza but instead he asked for sausages. Real sausages made from real meat (gulp!).

What's interesting is that I've been wanting to write about what we feed our son for AGES but something more pressing has always gotten in the way, so his request reminded me of my wish to discuss this issue on the blog.

So what do we feed him and how do we manouver our way around meat? Well, initially when I decided that I wanted to live a more plant-based lifestyle I was set on taking hubby and son with me on my journey. This meant that from one day to the next we cut out all red and white meat. My husband was quite happy with the ideas as he and I already ate a lot of protein rich plant-based foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, but our little boy wasn't too keen. I'd never forced him to eat anything he didn't want, but when most of the animal protein was removed from our diet, I felt I had to if not his diet would consist of fruit, veg and pasta only.

But being the feisty child that he is, he had other plans and point blank refused to go anywhere near our beautifully cooked and lovingly prepared legumes. He wasn't even keen on peanut butter and thought hummus was disgusting!

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So, after watching him eat pasta with nothing on it, white bread with nothing on it and white rice with nothing on it but some steamed veggies for two days, I knew this wasn't going to work. I reintroduced (organic) animal protein into his diet and spent the next 2 years (!) gradually getting his palate more and more used to legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. For example, I'd mix quinoa into his white rice. Or give him extra brownie points if he tried 5 spoonfuls of brown rice on its own. We'd give him a tiny bowl of black bean stew before allowing him to leave the table and got seriously into green smoothies, which I packed full of nuts or seeds as well as a whole host of other goodies. Anything to get him to eat a healthy and nutrient rich plant-based diet that he actually enjoyed.

It's been a labour of love and is still a work in progress. BUT since the end of 2015 I felt confident about removing red and white meat from his diet altogether as he now happily eats quinoa, brown rice, oats, farro and other whole grains as well as a wide range of nuts, seeds, legumes and nut milks. I still allow him goat's cheese and some fish (you can read my post on dairy here and my general thoughts on eating a plant-based diet here) but that's about it.

Having said that, there are some exceptions – when he goes to a birthday party I let him run riot if he wants to (though he KNOWS not to go near those nasty wrinkly party sausages - gross!) and when we're abroad I am more relaxed too. Partly because it become very stressful otherwise, partly because it is more practical and partly because I don't want meat to become the 'forbidden' fruit, the be all and end all.

I'm not claiming my approach is right but it's what works for us at the moment. I'm determined and committed to keep moving him to a more varied plant-based diet, but I know I need to take it at his pace, whilst ensuring he gets the nutrients, minerals, vitamins and calories his growing body and developing brain needs. I know not everyone will agree with my approach but I also know that most of you will be super supportive. So thanks for reading, for your time and understanding. I hope you enjoy the recipe and I look forward to seeing you here again in two weeks ;). Oh and in case you're wondering, he did have sausages for dinner that night. 

P.S. I was gifted the Sage No-Mess Waffle Maker which I TOTALLY LOVED. It's why I feel comfy featuring it on the blog and talking about it more below. Please rest assured that if I'd not liked it, I wouldn't have shared its details with you here :)

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VEGAN SOURDOUGH SPELT WAFFLES (V+, ChF, NF) + REVIEW OF NO-MESS SAGE WAFFLE MAKER

Before I share today's recipe with you, just a quick word about the No-Mess Sage Waffle Maker: It's awesome! I love it because it's sturdy, does exactly what its title suggests, is easy to use and - most importantly - makes beautiful and delicious waffles. I feel super lucky to have been given one and I can wholeheartedly recommend you get one too should you feel as though you need some waffles in your life (and let's be honest who doesn't ? ;))

The recipe I am sharing today was inspired by this picture I saw on social media which led me to give my waffles a Middle Eastern twist. I explored the internet to see if I could find an easy and convincing vegan sourdough recipe and stumbled on this recipe here by The Practical Stewardship, which I adapted only minimally. 

There's quite a bit of (very easy) fermenting to do before you set off and make these waffles, so please do take your time to read the tips at the end of the recipe thoroughly before getting started. I hope you enjoy making these in the coming weeks and if you do, please let me know how they turn out. I'd love to hear about it. 

Fermenting Time for the Starter: 5 - 7 days
Fermenting Time for this Dough: overnight/around 12 hours
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: depends how many waffles you make but about 3-5 minutes per waffle (see tips below for details)
Makes: 5-6 waffles

Ingredients for the waffles:
1 cup of plain white flour
1 cup of spelt flour
1.5 cups warm water (filtered if possible)
3 tbs organic coconut blossom/palm sugar
1/4 cup Sourdough Starter (please read tips below!)
a little bit of rice bran oil for spraying or brushing on your waffle iron if need be
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3 tbs of ground chia seed or flax seed mixed with 9 tablespoons of water 
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda

Suggested toppings:
about 1 cup of vegan yoghurt infused with 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
about 1 cup of crushed pistachio nuts
about 3-4 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar (vegan) infused with a few drops of rosewater
a handful of dried rose petals

IMPORTANT: Please check the tips at the end of the recipe for substitutions and details on how to make your own starter.

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Instructions:
In a large, non-metallic bowl, hand mix the two flours, warm water, palm sugar and sourdough starter together.
Then cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave overnight (or anywhere from 8 to 24 hours) on your kitchen counter at room temperature. As I made these during the colder winter months, I placed my bowl in the oven and left the oven light on for a little bit of warmth. However, in the summer months this shouldn't be necessary.

The next day when you are ready to prepare your waffles, spray your waffle maker with some oil and heat it up.  
Uncover your batter and stir in the salt, baking soda/bicarbinate of soda, the flax seed/water mixture and melted coconut oil.
Bake your waffles for 3 to 5 minutes or until they are nice and golden brown.
Done!

Please see the tips further down and discover how to make your own starter.

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Tip 1: Making your sourdough starter:
- Day 1 in a glass jar mix together 1 tablespoon of spelt flour and 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside.
IMPORTANT: The water you use should not have any chlorine in it as it can stop the bacteria from developing. Most of the tap water in large cities has chlorine in it, so either get water filter through reverse osmosis OR boil your water, let it cool and then use OR leave your water in a pan and let it stand for 24 hours for the chlorine to evaporate before using.
- Day 2 if there is a larger of darkish water on top of your starter, pour way. Then add another tablespoon of spelt flour and filtered water, Mix in, cover and let stand for another 24 hours.
- Day 3 again pour away the dark liquid if there is any. Then add 2 tablespoons of spelt flour and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix and let stand, preferably covered with a tea towel for another 24 hours.
- Day 4 again pour any access dark liquid away and add 4 tablespoons of spelt flour and 4 of water. The mixture should smell a little bit yeasty by now. Leave for 24 hours
- Day 5 pour any access dark liquid away and add 8 tablespoons of spelt flour and 8 tablespoons of water.
- Day 6 your starter should be ready to go now! Use what you need and store any left overs in the fridge where it will stay well for 1 week without feeding. Then feed 

Troubleshooting
There is little that can go wrong for this recipe here. BUT if you're not getting that yeasty smell, it may mean that the room is too cold. Please keep the starter in a warm place. But not too hot as excessive heat kills the good bacteria.

I found this website incredibly helpful. Please give it a read, but essentially what they were saying is that it's very, very hard to kill your starter even if you forget to feed it a day or two. Starters are quite hardy, so don't be scared and just get started. This website really gave me confidence as it can be a bit daunting working with something that's alive and breathing!

I don't know if spelt starters are the best starters for making bread because I've not tried it. This recipe here is really for making these waffles or for making pancakes. That's not to say you can't give it a go ;).

Finally, I also found it helpful to add 1 drop of raw apple cider vinegar to the starter on day 2, just for added good bacteria. I don't think it was strictly necessary but psychologically it helped me. 

Another note - how often to feed. Different websites say different things, but from all my research I gathered that once a day should suffice.

Finally,... the aim is to always double what've got. So if the previous day you gave the starter (which consisted of 2 tablespoons of flour and water) 2 tablespoons of water and flour, the next day you add 4 tablespoons of water and flour. And so on. What will happen is that your starter will grow very, very quickly. That's why some people suggest you throw out half and just keep the feed the same amount every day. I just feel terrible throwing food away so I didn't do that. But it does mean I had to make lots of waffles and give lots of starters to my neighbours :)

Tip 1: In theory this recipe should also work with glutenfree flours. I've not tried it though so can't swear by it.
Tip 2: I used palm sugar to keep this refined sugar free, but any sugar will do. I felt it was quite a lot of sugar but surprisingly, the waffles aren't sweet at all. The sugar - I suspect - is mainly there to feed the bacteria which is why I didn't bring the sugar content down.
Tip 3: I actually doubled this recipe and then froze the extra waffles, meaning we had the chance to have some waffles during the week when there's little time to prepare food - just pop a waffle in the toaster and you're good to go.
Tip 4: The melted coconut oil goes solid quite quickly during the colder winter months. So if it goes solid again in the mixture, please don't worry, it will melt one it hits the waffle maker.
Tip 5: I used these ground flax seed as an egg replace, for added fibre and omega 3. Howeveer if you are not vegan, just replace with 3 eggs.
Tip 6: The list above are just some topping suggestions, but you can of course go the traditionl route with maple syrup or berries if you prefer :)

Did you enjoy this recipe? Then pleeeeaaaase pin it and share it with the world or follow along on instagram.

If you're looking for more sweet treats just press here.
And you can find another recipe using fermentation here.

Thanks for stopping by.

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