Now that weather in Greece is becoming all better it may be a little harder to stay home. We all, more or less, search for goodies to make in order to spend our time happily and creatively and to devour them too!
Our friend, architect Anastasia Vasileiou (Instagram) from Cyprus gave us such an idea. She suggested making bird nests with chocolate and bran sticks, like the ones she had prepared for Easter.
Easter has passed, but why limit ourselves? We can use the nests as a dessert base and fill them with custard or ice cream!
So, in our new, spring article we will look for the nutritional value and uses of wheat bran, prepare healthy and vegan bird nests with dark chocolate, peanutbutter and bran sticks, and learn why these ingredients are suitable for a vegan diet.
Cereals, such as wheat, have grains that consist of an outer layer, the bran, a core, the endosperm, a thin intermediate layer, the aleurone layer and a germ, the plant’s embryo. We will talk about the outer layer, called bran.
When grinding wheat to produce flour, the outer crust, the bran, is removed. Its main use is in livestock feed and weight loss products. However, many recent studies highlight its nutritional value and scientists suggest incorporating bran into our diet, in a balanced way of course.
According to clinical dietician and sports nutritionist Dimitris Petsios, bran is miraculous to our health. Bran is rich in micronutrients, magnesium, manganese, selenium and phosphorus and is a relatively good source of iron. It is a very good source of vitamins, such as B5, B6, B9 and other nutrients.
Most importantly, bran contains excellent in quantity and qualities natural fiber compared to other cereals! In fact, bran contains the most insoluble fiber -which helps the digestive system function, as it gets there without disolving- than any other natural food.
That’s why bran helps prevent and treat gastrointestinal problems and is an invaluable ally for controlling and losing weight. It is considered a prebiotic, ie food that increases the good bacteria of the intestine. Dark chocolate, with which we will combine bran in our healthy nests, is a prebiotic too. There is also strong evidence that bran prevents the development of colon cancer.
So, how can me incorporate this miraculous ingredient into our diet? We used commercial bran sticks, cereal made of wheat bran, in our nests. We also found other ways of using unprocessed wheat bran: we can substitute part of a baked goods recipe’s flour, sprinkle bran over a bowl of milk and oatmeal or yogurt with cereal, add it to soups and stews, coat fish with a mixture of bran and breadcrumbs, add bran to our crêpes or pancakes mixture or make bread with bran added to the dough we will knead (take a look at our homemade bread in our article).
Our nests are a vegan snack, since they don’t contain any ingredients of animal origin. The bran sticks we used were labelled as vegan product. We mention that, because one would think that all cereals are vegan products. However, we read that various commercial brands of cereal may not be vegan, as they are enriched with vitamin D2 or D3, which may have been obtained from animal sources, such as sheep’s wool.
The dark chocolate we used in our bird nests is also a vegan product. It is made of cocoa butter and cocoa liquor, which are considered vegan ingredients. Chocolate stops being vegan when mixed with whey, butter fat or milk.
Except from bran sticks and dark chocolate, we added peanutbutter to our bird nests and enriched their taste, as well as their nutritional value! Our nests still remained vegan, since the peanutbutter we used contains peanut paste, sunflower oil, vegetable fats and salt. Sometimes peanutbutter may contain a small amount of sugar. It stops being vegan when mixed with honey, which is an animal product.
Now that we have learned all that, the time has come to make our healthy and delicious bird nests. If we want them to remain a vegan dessert, we’ll have to find a vegan ice cream or make our own custard with vegan ingredients such as coconut milk. Otherwise, you can fill your nests with anything you like. And why not enjoy them just as a snack? If you spread the mixture on a baking tray instead of forming nests, you’ll have wonderful cereal bars!
Healthy and vegan, chocolate nests
Ingredients for the chocolate nests
|Dark chocolate||100 gr|
|Bran sticks||100 gr|
Method for making chocolate nests
As long as we are staying home, it is important to take care of ourselves, eat well and exercise, so that we return to our everyday lives strong and healthy, when this tough period comes to an end. Stay safe and enjoy!