beans

CAULIFLOWER ALMOND SOUP

CAULIFLOWER ALMOND SOUP

Cauliflower is one of the vegetables my kids have a very negative reaction to, it’s the run in a different direction kind of response. I grew up eating cauliflower prepared in various ways but now I am trying to come up with recipes that make cauliflower not taste like cauliflower as a way to trick the kids into eating it. I don’t want them to miss out on the glorious nutrition this vegetable possesses.

I think I really succeeded with this recipe. It has a very robust savoury flavour that will (or could) convince any cauliflower hater. To be perfectly safe I just keep my mouth shut in case the word cauliflower slips out. Don’t get me wrong I do, with great satisfaction, announce the truth after the plates have been left clean :)

Adding almonds and beans is a way to boost the protein and fibre content and they are the key in masking the cauliflower flavour notes. I have garnished the soup with toasted sesame seeds but any soft herbs (parsley, chives, coriander, chervil) work well too. Hemp seeds are another great topper adding the illusive omega 3 fatty acids to the soup.

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CAULIFLOWER ALMOND SOUP
4 servings

ingredients
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
3 large leeks, sliced and rinsed
1 small cauliflower (about 3 cups), divided into florets
1 tin (or 1 cup) white beans (canellini, butter)
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup ground almonds

method
  • Heat a medium/large sauce pan on the stove. Add the cumin seeds and dry toast for about 1 minute, take care not to burn them. Remove half and reserve for garnish.
  • Next add the leeks with any residual water from washing them.
  • Cook for couple minutes to soften, adding few tablespoons of water if the pan gets dry.
  • Next tumble in the cauliflower and beans adding the vegetable stock.
  • Cook for 20minutes on a medium heat.
  • Transfer the soup into a blender, add the ground almonds and puree till smooth. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  • Return to the pan to reheat.
  • Serve the soup garnished with the cumin seeds or herbs.



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WHITE BEAN AND PEPPER SALAD WITH SUNDRIED TOMATO DRESSING

WHITE BEAN AND PEPPER SALAD WITH SUNDRIED TOMATO DRESSING

Barbecue season is in a full swing with invitations plenty. Traditionally barbecues are not the best place for somebody on a plant based diet. If you do happen to get invited to one, it’s good to have a plan. Last weekend I made this salad to bring to a barbecue together with some veggie burgers and sausages. I bring food with me to any dinner partyI am invited to, partly because I like to cook and feed people but it’s also a way to introduce people to some tasty plant based dishes. Most of the time even the biggest meat lovers enjoy something “different”.

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In this salad I used my home dried tomatoes, they taste more “tomatoey” than shop bought sun dried tomatoes. They are simple to make if you have a dehydrator but oven drying works well too. However you wont achieve the same consistent results as ovens tend to produce uneven heat.

If you are using shop bought dun dried tomatoes the best ones for flavour comparison are sun blushed tomatoes. Unfortunately most sun dried tomatoes are preserved in sunflower oil, the one oil we should have less in our diets. If you can’t make your own or can’t buy sun dried tomatoes that are not suspended in oil, than rinse the oil off under a running tap. The home dried tomatoes are also not salty like the shop bought ones tend to be. Adjust for the salt depending on what tomatoes you are using.

In this dish I would not use roasted peppers from a jar, they tend to have a briny taste, I much prefer the sweetness of the peppers I roast myself. I do prefer to roast them in the oven rather than on the flame of my gas hob. When roasted in the oven they become soft and sweet, even green peppers taste lovely when oven roasted. Just make sure you don’t forget to pierce them with a tip of your knife before roasting to avoid any pepper explosions.

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WHITE BEAN AND PEPPER SALAD WITH SUNDRIED TOMATO DRESSING

6 bell peppers, assorted colours
2 cups cooked or 2 tins of white beans (canellini are the best)
1 tin or jar of artichokes
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup home dried tomatoes (or sun blushed)
1 cup parsley
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup juice from the roasted peppers
2 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs nutritional yeast (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 200C. Pierce the peppers in few pieces with the tip of the knife. Place in a baking dish or on a baking tray lined with unbleached parchment paper. Roast for 30min or until the skin is all blistered.
  • In the mean time n a dry pan roast the pine nuts will golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  • Place the peppers into a glass bowl cover the bowl with cling film to let the peppers steam, this makes it easier to peel the peppers. The peppers release juices, strain these and set aside. Peel the peppers, remove all the seeds. It helps to run the peppers under water to remove all the seeds.
  • Cut peppers into strips and put into a large bowl together with the beans and quartered artichokes.
  • In a blender combine the pine nuts, home dried tomatoes, parsley, garlic, roasted pepper juice, lemon, olive oil and nutritional yeast.
  • Blend till you achieve a thick dressing, about thickness of mayonnaise. Add more red pepper juice to thin out the dressing if too thick.
  • Mix into the beans, artichokes and peppers. Season with salt and pepper.




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Home Dried Tomatoes

Small ripe tomatoes

Dehydrator
Halve the tomatoes. Place them cut size up on the dehydrator sheets. Dehydrate at 43C (115F) for 14-18 hours for cherry tomatoes or more if the tomatoes are larger.

Oven
Line a baking tray with parchment paper, place the tomatoes cut side up on the tray and bake at the lowest setting of your oven till dried. Times will vary depending on your oven and size of the tomatoes. After 3 hours check every 30minutes.


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ROSEMARY SUMMER VEGGIE AND WHITE BEAN STEW

ROSEMARY SUMMER VEGGIE AND WHITE BEAN STEW

My lovely neighbour brought me a huge bunch of rosemary the other day. She was cutting her out of control rosemary plant and didn’t want to compost the lovely herb. She knew I would be a grateful recipient of such a gift. I do have grow rosemary in my garden but I admit any surplus produce from the neighbours is more than welcome in my household.

At college, one of my friends used to bring rosemary oil before exams. The tiny bottle was travelling around the room and we all had a good sniff to help our concentration and memory. I am not sure if it had any impact but research shows that blood levels of rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance.

Rosemary is beneficial for our brain health, it may prevent brain ageing and protect against neurodegeneration. Carnosic acid, a component in rosemary, is able to fight off free radical damage in the brain and promotes eye health thus protecting against macular degeneration.

The herb is high in antioxidants that neutralise free radical damage. There is also evidence that rosemary has anti-cancer properties. Research shows it may be an effective anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour agent. Cooking meat with rosemary reduces the formation of carcinogens associated with cooking meat at high temperatures.

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Rosemary is not one of those herbs you can just sprinkle raw over your meals. It is a very hardy, woody herb and needs to be cooked. I like to gently sauté it in olive oil first, this helps to release the flavour, but if you follow a strict no oil added plant based diet you can add rosemary to your pot of sauce or soup and still get the rosemary fragrance and flavour. I love adding it to roasted potatoes or butternut squash. The needle like leaves become very crunchy, it’s quite delicious.

I used 2 tablespoons of rosemary in my recipe, not an amount I would normally use but I am happy to say it didn’t overpower the delicate summer vegetables. Rosemary goes so well with the garlic and lemon in this light vegetable stew, it’s such a classic Mediterranean combination. Enjoy with some crusty sourdough bread or as I did with new season Jersey Royal potatoes (or any well flavoured new potatoes).

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ROSEMARY SUMMER VEGGIE AND WHITE BEAN STEW

1 Tbs of olive oil (I used extra virgin)
2 Tbs heaped fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, cut into bite size pieces ( I used thin skinned Romano pepper)
1 bulb of fennel, cut into bite size pieces
1 courgette, cut into bite size pieces
1 tin of artichoke hearts, cut in halve
1 tin of white beans, drained ( I like canellini)
1 cup of light vegetable stock (or white wine)
15 green olives, halved
lemon juice to taste (I used I whole lemon)


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  • Use a large lidded sauté pan or casserole. Heat the oil and gently sauté the rosemary, garlic and onion till softened. (For oil free version, use 1/4 - 60 mil of water, cover with lid and cook till softened)
  • Next add all the rest of ingredients apart from lemon juice, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice to taste, season and enjoy. I love the sauce that develops, it’s perfect mopped up with crushed potato or crusty bread.

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SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS

SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS

Finally last Sunday I got to sit outside in the garden with a glass of cold German Riesling. I started to think about summer dishes. The warm spell unfortunately didn’t last long (just one afternoon). Cold Monday meant that instead of courgette spaghetti with coriander pesto I ended up making these hearty sweet potato and black bean enchiladas.

Of course enchiladas are Mexican but out of laziness and convenience I used my new Creole seasoning mix. I did want to try it out and let’s be honest there are many similarities in the spices used in Creole and Mexican cooking. No need to be a purist on a Monday evening right? If you want to use single spices than a mixture of cumin, coriander, paprika, chilli, thyme, oregano will do the trick. This is what I love about cooking, you can always improvise and make each dish your own.

Otherwise this is a pretty straightforward dish to make, it takes a bit longer than my usual Monday evening meal but it’s worth the effort. It also tastes great the next day (yes I scoffed the leftovers) and freezes well too so its perfect for batch cooking. Don’t forget the usual guacamole, salsa, sour cream (cashew lime cream) and a crunchy salad.

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SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS
Oil free if no vegan cheese used

1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chipped
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 tsp Mexican, Creole or Cajun spice mix
1 Tbs tomato puree
440g (1 lb) sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
1 tin of black beans
1 cup enchilada sauce
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper
10-12 corn tortillas
80g (3oz, about 1half cup) vegan cheese (optional), shredded

enchilada sauce
2 tins of tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Mexican, Creole or Cajun spice mix

To serve:

salsa
avocado
cashew lime cream (1 cup cashews, 1/2cup water plus more if needed, juice of a lime, salt to taste)

  • Preheat 80ml (1/3 cup) of water in a medium sauté pan with a lid. Add the onion, celery, garlic and pepper, sauté till softened adding more water if needed.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, blend all the sauce ingredients in a blender. Set aside.
  • Add the tomato puree and spices to the vegetables and cook for one minute.
  • Next add 250ml (1 cup) of the enchilada sauce, sweet potatoes, black beans and water. Simmer covered for 20-30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are cooked and the sauce is very thick (see picture of the mixture).
  • In a large baking dish, spread about 1/4cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish. Put about 2-3 heaped tablespoons of the filling in the centre a corn tortilla, roll and place into the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Poor the remaining sauce over and top with the vegan cheese if using.
  • Bake for 30 min in a 180C oven.
  • Serve with the cashew lime cream, avocado and salsa.


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SUNFLOWER AND SESAME BURGERS

SUNFLOWER AND SESAME BURGERS

Everybody loves a burger right? The beauty of eating a plant based diet is that you get very creative with what can be squashed into a burger shape. Beans, lentils, quinoa, various vegetables, seeds, nuts…. Some combinations have resulted in lukewarm response but my latest creation was a very successful one.

The successful formula seems to be: beans and tahini to bind the ingredients, veggies to bulk up the burgers and nuts and/or seed for crunch. Sometimes breadcrumbs or chickpea flour if they don’t seem to keep their shape. Finally some flavourings like spices, seeds, herbs, soya sauce, ketchup, salsa, chutney…It’s very easy :)

You can prepare your burgers ahead, leave them in the fridge to firm up and cook later. This amount makes 4 very large burgers or 8 medium ones. I size mine according to the burger buns I happen to have. Bake these till golden brown, the seeds are going to crisp up making the burgers delicious. Add some toppings and a crunchy salad (slaw is perfect) for a great midweek meal.

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SUNFLOWER AND SESAME BURGERS
makes 8 medium burgers or 4 large ones
serves 4

ingredients:
1 large carrot (about 200g, 1/2lb), grated
2 leeks, thoroughly washed, finely shredded
1 tin of beans (I used red kidney)
1 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 Tbs tahini sauce
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder (I used vegan Marigold powder)
1 Tbs soya sauces (tamari or shoyu)

method:
  • In a large bowl combine the carrot and leeks. Add the beans, using a potato masher mash into the leeks and carrots.
  • Add rest of the ingredients and mix well together using hands.
  • Shape into 8 burgers.
  • Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray and bake at 180C for 30 min, turning the burgers halfway through. Bake till golden brown.
  • Serve in a burger bun with your favourite toppings.

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SPICY BLACK EYED PEA STEW WITH KALE

SPICY BLACK EYED PEA STEW WITH KALE

My friend J is very religious about her kale smoothies, she has been having one every morning for a while now. This is of course a fabulous was to start a day. Last weekend she brought her smoothie to our college. On Sunday she didn’t quite manage to drink it all and by the end of the day it oxidised and resembled a very unpleasant stool sample (sorry - nutritionist joke...). It was a long day so anything to amuse ourselves with...

There is no doubt kale is the queen of vegetables and everyone should be enjoying it if not daily at least weekly. The message is finally getting through, according to an article in the Guardian supermarkets (M&S and Waitrose) are recording increase in sales of the super vegetable. Celebrities and celebrity chefs are finally promoting something worth promoting. Kale is nothing new, apparently it used to be one of the most popular vegetables is Europe before the war. Another thing we can learn from our ancestors.
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/05/celebrity-endorsements-kale-cool

No celebrity chef has to convince me, I love it. But what is the best way to eat your kale? Raw or cooked? I alternate between kale salads, smoothies, chips and cooked kale. Kale possesses immune system boosting properties, cooked or raw. Interestingly a 2011 study has shown that cooked"to death" kale (we are talking boiled for 30min) showed more immunostimulatory effects than the raw. No matter how you like your kale, it will do your body good. I love adding it into most of my vegetable stews, like the black eyed pea one I am sharing today.

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/kale-and-the-immune-system/

SPICY BLACK EYED PEA STEW WITH KALE

Serves 4

ingredients
1 onion, diced
1 celery, sliced thinly
1 carrot, diced into small dice
2 red peppers, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried oregano (1 tbs fresh)
1 tsp dried thyme (2 tsp fresh)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle in adobo sauce
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 tin tomatos
2 tins black eyed peas, rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock
4 cups of kale without stalks

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method

  1. In a large saute pan (with lid) heat about 125ml (1/2 cup) water. Ass the vegetables and cook till softened and most of the water is cooked out.
  2. Add the spices, chipotle and tomato paste. Cook for about 1 min.
  3. Next add the tomatoes, black eyed peas and vegetable stock. Cook on low heat for about 20 adding water it the sauce thickens too much.
  4. Add the kale and cook for further 10 min stirring halfway through.
  5. Serve with brown rice or quinoa. If you have any on hand a swirl of cashew cream or chopped avocado will make a great topping.
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CAULIFLOWER, LEEK AND BEAN SOUP

CAULIFLOWER, LEEK AND BEAN SOUP

Cauliflower season is back! It has been making appearance in my weekly veggie box for past few weeks. White, crisp and sweet, it lends itself perfectly as a base for a creamy soup. In my version I have paired this nutritious brassica with leeks and beans which further enhance its creaminess.

Last year, at Christmas, my sister-in-law cooked some cauliflower soup for a starter. As she pulled it out of the fridge to reheat it, she opened the lid of her storage container and the most awful smell wafted around the kitchen. She exclaimed it smelled like &*%£. Subsequently the whole lot was poured down the sink. Be this a lesson to you, cook and eat, do not store and especially do not take leftovers to an open plan office for lunch (unless you really don't like your colleagues) . Cauliflower and broccoli soups indeed have the ability to smell in an extremely unappetising fashion when stored.

For this recipe I used cannellini beans that were cooked from dry but you don’t have to do the same, a tin of cannellini beans (or any other white beans) will work great too. Simply drain and add at the same step. If you don’t want to use the wine (I don’t always have a bottle open in the fridge) you can achieve a similar undernote of gentle acidity by squeezing some lemon juice into the soup before serving.

I garnished my soup with lightly toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley, but this is where you can let your imagination run wild. How about home made sun-blushed tomatoes, sourdough croutons, basil leaves, homemade pesto or some smoked paprika. Now my mouth is indeed watering, I have a cauliflower in the fridge, cooked white beans in the freezer, now all I need is couple of leeks ... Today’s topping? Maybe the tomatoes that have been dehydrating since 9am and some basil. Yum.

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CAULIFLOWER, LEEK AND BEAN SOUP
Serves 2-3

2 large leeks
2 cloves of garlic
1 small cauliflower
125ml (1/2cup) white wine
2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or 1 tin, drained)
3 cups of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to tast
lightly toasted pine nuts and parsley for garnish

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  1. Slice the leeks (mainly the white part) and wash thoroughly. Put the leeks into a medium size stock pot or sauce pan with 60ml (1/4 cup) water. Cook till soften.
  2. Crush the garlic and add to the leeks.
  3. Next add the wine, boil for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol.
  4. In the meantime cut the cauliflower into florets. Add these to the leeks together with beans and vegetable stock.
  5. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  6. Blend the soup in a food processor or with a stick blender until smooth. Season.
  7. Garnish with pine nuts and parsley.
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FIERY BLACK BEANS

FIERY BLACK BEANS

We don’t tend to include beans in the list of superfoods, but they certainly are worthy of the name. I do think the word superfood is misused for marketing and shameless profiteering. Even the health food industry is governed by money and you are more likely to profit from the latest miracle seed or berry from the South American rainforest than something so ordinary as a bean. In my view all vegetables, beans, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds are all superfoods.

Beans offer a great nutritional value for money. Especially if you buy them dried, just as I did to make my fiery black bean recipe. A half a kilo pack of black beans will easily serve 8 people. Black beans are packed with protein and don’t be fooled by being told beans are not a high quality protein, black beans do contain all the essential amino acids. They are a great source of iron and calcium, 2 of the minerals people think you can’t obtain from a vegan diet in adequate amounts (I get tired of hearing this). Beans are also full of fibre, one nutrient most people aren’t getting enough. They are not only cholesterol free but have been shown to help reduce cholesterol, balance blood sugar and even have cancer fighting phytonutrients.

Many people get intimidated by cooking beans from their dried state. Cooking some types of beans can indeed be a bit frustrating. My Achilles heel is cooking dried Egyptian broad beans, I have now given up on them and buy these in a tin. Most beans are however more straight forward. First soak soak soak. Soak the beans over night (not longer than 24hrs) and drain the water. If you forgot to soak your beans it or simply don’t have the time, place the beans in a large pot with about 2- 3 x the volume of water. Bring to a vigorous boil for 10min, turn them off and let the whole thing stand for at least couple of hours. Now you can proceed as you would with the beans that had their long overnight bath. The first method results in more nutritious beans as the soaking makes minerals and vitamins more available.

Cooking times have to been taken lightly, they will vary due to size or freshness of the beans. I go by taste, my personal preference. And I will disagree with the TV chef Gino D’Campo, beans really shouldn’t be al dente, they should be cooked through. Even if this means that some of your beans fall apart during the cooking process. I like to use a piece of kombu seaweed in my beans, this is said to make the beans easier to digest (less flatulence), it also adds to the flavours. Other flavourings I often use are: bay leaf, thyme, parsley, rosemary, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, garlic. These are best fished out and discarded when your beans are finished. Last time I cooked my black beans I searched for the kombu but it had melted into the beans. One way to add iodine to your diet :) In many recipes you can use the cooking liquor (i.e. stews, soups, dips), it is usually full of flavor. I have used my cooking liquor in my fiery black bean recipe below.

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FIERY BLACK BEANS
We had these with some chipotle spiced tomato sauce, guacamole, salad, tomatillo salsa, corn tortillas and even baba ghanouj. You can also just serve them with rice and fruity salsa. Add some stock and a bit of lime juice to any leftovers for a quick fiery soup.

Serves 8

500g (17oz) of dried black beans
piece of kombu seawead (I used 2x 1cm strips cut from a large sheet)
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs rapeseed (canola) oil or 80 ml (1/3 cup water)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped into small dice
2 cloves garlic, finely choppped
1 red Cayenne chilli pepper (deseed for a less fiery meal), finely chopped
1 chipotle chilli (soaked in boiling water for 30 min), finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp oregano
salt to taste

  1. Soak the beans overnight and drain. (or use quick cook method described above)
  2. Add the beans, kombu, bay leaf and water to cover the beans with 2x volume of water, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gook gently till beans are soft (about 40-60min).
  3. In a large casserole heat the oil (or water) and add the onion, pepper and garlic. Cook till softened. Add the chillies and cook for further 2 minutes.
  4. Next add all the spices and cook for further minute.
  5. Using a slotted spoon remove the beans from cooking liquor and transfer to the casserole dish. Add about 1 cup of the liquor together with some salt and pepper.
  6. Simmer gently for about 30-60min, add some more of the cooking liquor if the beans start drying out and stick to the bottom of your casserole.
  7. To serve in tortillas make sure all the liquid has cooked out but beans are still moist. If you serving these with rice you want a bit more liquid in your beans that will serve as a sauce.

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BUTTER BEANS WITH ROASTED PEPPERS AND PAPRIKA

BUTTER BEANS WITH ROASTED PEPPERS AND PAPRIKA

We are enjoying last few days of summer holidays. In just a few days kids will be back to school and we will all have to get back into a routine. I have been trying hard to persuade the kids to go to bed earlier but I have yet to be successful. At least I have ironed and labeled uniforms, got new lunchboxes, school bags... I am ready (ish).

Our holiday in the Czech Republic was fabulous, friends, family and good food. I think we all gained weight... Unfortunately restaurants outside of Prague are still not quite aware what a meatless dish may be... Under vegetarian food you can find ham, bacon, tuna... I guess, in some people's eyes, meat is a piece of a cow not cubes of ham...In a restaurant with a rather extensive menu I found pretty much nothing, the only meatless salad had anchovies in the dressing. I was ready to just eat side-dishes but the waiter assured me they can cook some veggie meals. And then my daughter ended up with bacon in her spinach gnocchi dish! Grrrr!!! Long way to go...

Luckily we had loads of lush home cooked food provided by my lovely friend :) Blueberries in a salad? Genius! Even my Dad stepped up to the stove and managed to prepare (with his girlfriend’s help) a great meatless/cheeseless feast (that was hard for him indeed). I just felt we never stopped eating! I was in a permanent state of fullness.

Coming back to the UK meant getting back into routine and kind of detoxing. Fridge is full of delicious veggies. How happy I was to see that kale is now officially in season!!! No more horrible chopped supermarket kale! Proper gorgeous rich leaves are in the fridge! I made my first kale chip batch in months! And managed to get my friend and her daughter hooked on them. She even wants to pay me to make kale chips for her!!! Yes, they are that good!

Here is a quick bean recipe that will surely become a staple. I have used a tablespoon of oil to gently cook the garlic and rosemary, but it can be easily made oil free too. I went for some sweet paprika that I bought in the Czech Republic but a hot one would be equally great (if you don’t have a daughter who hates anything spicy!). To make this recipe extra quick I used roasted peppers from a jar, but if you want to roast your own go ahead. The dish went down really well, but that may be down to kids wanting to got play outside after dinner.


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BUTTER BEANS WITH ROASTED PEPPERS AND PAPRIKA
These beans are great with a chunk of whole grain or rye bread, quinoa, brown rice or as a topping for a jacket potato. They work equally well as a part of a mezze type meal (or bits and bobs as we call it).

Serves 4

1 Tbs of rapeseed (canola) oil or 60ml (1/4 cup) of water or veggie stock
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs rosemary, finely chopped
2 tsp sweet (or hot) paprika
1 Tbs tomato puree
2 roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup of water (or vegetable stock)
2 tins butter beans, drained and rinsed

method
  1. Gently heat the oil (or water). Add the garlic and rosemary and cook till garlic softens.
  2. Next add the paprika and gently cook for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the tomato puree and cook for about 1 min, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and a pinch of salt. Cook gently for about 15-30mins.
  5. Enjoy!

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BRAISED PINTO BEANS WITH SWISS CHARD AND TOMATO SALSA

BRAISED PINTO BEANS WITH SWISS CHARD AND TOMATO SALSA

Lately I have noticed that even though my weekly food shop tends to fit into fewer and fewer bags the amount I pay for my groceries remains suspiciously about the same. My fridge doesn't seem to be overflowing anymore either. Yes, food prices have gone up, and it is uncomfortably noticeable. There is a good thing to this. I buy less, plan more and waste less.

There are many healthy and good for the wallet foods. My favourite low cost food must be the fibre and protein rich beans. Tinned beans are a good buy but dried beans are a true bargain. You get an even better deal if you can bulk buy. Beans are a great store cupboard ingredient and a real must in any veggie kitchen.

I admit it is much quicker to open a tin, and I do always have some in the pantry, but cooking your own is kind of a meditative process. You can add herbs and aromatic vegetables, cook them just the way you want them. You may not get the uniform consistency of tinned beans but home cooked beans soak up flavours that you cook them with. Yum! A little planning goes a long way, it is always best to soak beans over night, this makes them easier (and quicker) to cook. I am a great believer in having a rough menu plan, have the basics sorted and adjust depending what else is in the vegetable drawer (or the weekly veg box).

My pinto beans were soaking and gorgeous bunch of Swiss chard was lurking in my vegetable drawer. Together, with fabulous tomato salsa, they came together as a very nutritious and comforting dish.

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BRAISED PINTO BEANS WITH SWISS CHARD AND TOMATO SALSA
I have used parsley in my salsa to keep with the flavours in the beans, coriander will be great too.

Serves 4

beans
225g (1 cup) dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
large sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, peeled left whole
1 stick of celery, cut into 3 pieces
1 small bunch of parsley, stalks included (you can tie it with a string to make it easier to fish out later)
1 medium onion, halved, leaving the root intact
2 tsp stock powder ( I use Marigold vegan powder)
1 large bunch of Swiss chard


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tomato salsa
1 small red onion (about 1/4 cup), finely chopped
1/2 - 1 chilli, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped ( I like to deseed and skin my tomatoes)
pinch of salt
juice of 1 lime
small bunch of parsley or coriander

  1. Drain your pre-soaked beans, place them into a large stock pot. Add 1.25l (5 cups) of water. Add rosemary, bay leaves, garlic, celery, parsley and onion.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beans are soft. (Start checking the beans after 40min).
  3. When the beans are soft fish out the onions, vegetables and herbs. Strain the beans reserving 250ml (1 cup) of the liquid.
  4. Return the beans and 1 cup of liquid back into the stock pot.
  5. Separate the thick white stalks from the leaves of the Swiss chart. Cut the stalks into bite size pieces. Add them to the beans and bring it all to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 min.
  6. Next shred the green leaves and add to the beans. Cook for further 5 min.
  7. To make the salsa, mix all salsa ingredients in a bowl and let rest for at least 30min. It is best to make it ahead, the flavours will come together. I make it just as I start cooking the beans.
  8. Serve a bowl of beans and chard topped with the zesty pasta. Brown rice, quinoa or good wholemeal bread are all great accompaniments.

braised-beans-2

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MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

It would be near impossible not to get touched by the story of Stamatis Moratis that was published in the New York Times. This man’s incredible recovery from terminal lung cancer is just amazing. It is not an unexplainable miracle, this is the power of healthy food, absence of stress and being a part of community (and a bit of luck). Moving to the island of Ikaria is not practical for everyone however learning from the “Ikarian” life style would make a huge difference to anybody’s life.

The Ikarians stop and relax, socialize, don’t stress over not having much. They play dominos and drink wine. They centre their diet around plant based foods most of which they grow themselves. They live to a ripe old age without being plagued by the diseases most Westerners seem to suffer from.

Believe me I am inspired! Food? I have that covered, I do rather well in adhering to the whole foods plant based diet. Unlike the Ikarians I do not drink wine much at all. I don’t think it is wine that makes them live as long as they do. Having friends to share a glass of wine with is more important that the wine itself. A shared pot of green tea will surely do the same. Being around good friends is good for the soul and body.

And so is soup. This one has more Mexican influences than Ikarian but it does use their favourite staples, beans, potatoes and vegetables. My friend K shared it with me which made it taste even better. Make it today and share with a friend or a loved one.

Link to the original article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&

Mexican-bean-soup


MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP
I have grated the carrot, it thickens the soup and I like grated carrot in soups. You can just dice it if you wish.

Serves 4

ingredients
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated (or finely chopped)
1 red pepper, cut into 1 cm pieces
1 larger potato, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tin of red kidney beans no salt added, drained
1 cup tomato passata
3 cups vegetable stock
2 large tortilla wraps
fresh coriander or spring onions for garnish
Optional : cashew cream made of 250ml (1 cup) of cashews and 180ml (3/4 cup) water

  1. In a large soup pan heat about 60ml (1/4 cup) of water and saute till softened. Add more water if the onion starts to stick.
  2. Next add the chilli, garlic, celery, grated carrot and red pepper to the onion and saute for about 5 min, adding more water if needed.
  3. When the vegetables have softened add the potato and spices. Cook about 1 min.
  4. Add the beans, passata and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20-30min until.
  5. While the soup is cooking preheat the oven to 200C. Cut each tortilla in 10 wedges, place on a baking tray and bake till crisped up, turn them over half way through. About 5-10 min. The tortilla wedges will start to brown at the edges.
  6. Serve the soup with the wedges on the side garnished with fresh coriander/spring onions and cashew cream if you wish. It is delicious without the cream too.
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BLACK BEAN STEW WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

BLACK BEAN STEW WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

Sometimes I stand in front of my fridge or pantry and can’t think of anything to cook. My daughter was standing beside me and said: “Mum, there is pasta, there are lentils; if you have rice you can make that rice and lentil thing we all like. Or I can have giant couscous and you guys have something with chilli...” Simple.

My vegetable box is arriving tomorrow and that is why my fridge veg drawers are looking rather pathetic. One pepper, 2 bunches of celery (what do I do with those???), half a bag of spinach, some fresh turmeric, piece of ginger, chilli peppers and a quarter of hispi cabbage. I have to mention the lovely kale my friend gave me (a much appreciated present indeed), it did already find its way into the dehydrator to be turned into kale chips - I think I have developed a case of kale chips addiction. In my pantry I found 2 tins of shiny South American black beans asking to be transformed into a yummy dish. The wheels in my brain started to turn (squeak squeak) and a lovely spicy black bean stew started to take shape.

Did you know that in Brazil black beans hold its own spot on the country’s food pyramid? The people of Brazil are recommended to eat black beans each day. One rather brilliant idea! Dr Fuhrman also includes beans (legumes) in his G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, seeds and berries) the magic foods that everyone should be eating daily for optimum health. We know that beans are rich in protein, fibre, minerals such as iron but did you know that also contain antioxidants? Apparently they are as rich in antioxidants as cranberries! And yummy too!

blackbenastew

BLACK BEAN STEW WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

ingredients
the stew
1 large celery stick, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 red chilli peppers, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red pepper, cut up into pieces about the size of beans
11/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp thyme dried or 1tbs fresh
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs tomato paste (puree)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tins of black beans, drained
375ml (1 and 1/2 vegetable stock)
100g (3.5 oz) fresh baby spinach
the lime cream
1 cup cashews soaked for at least 30min
1/2 and 1Tbs water
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp dried onion
salt to taste

blackbeanstewtortilla

method
  1. In a large deep saute pan heat 60ml (1/4) water. Add the celery, onion, garlic, chilli pepper and saute till softened. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add in the red pepper, spices, herbs and tomato puree. Cook for a minute.
  3. Next add the drained black beans and vegetable stock.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for half an hour.
  5. While the stew is simmering prepare the cream. Drain the cashew nuts. Place them in a blender together with 1/2 cup and 1 Tbs water, lime juice and dried onion.
  6. Process till smooth, test for seasoning. Chill until needed.
  7. Stir the spinach into the bean stew until it just wilts and serve the stew straight away.
  8. Serve the bean stew topped with 2 Tbs of lime cream per person. Brown rice or quinoa make a great side dish, kids will love some organic tortilla chips too.

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KENYAN IRIO CAKES WITH TOMATO SPINACH

KENYAN IRIO CAKES WITH TOMATO SPINACH

The London Olympic Games are about to start. Years of preparation will culminate in the highly anticipated opening ceremony and display of sporting excellence. We all have our favourites, I am definitely rooting for the Czechs, my tennis heart will be supporting Switzerland and of course as a British resident I will be pleased with any medals going to the Brits. But there is another team that me and my fellow Bristolians will have a soft spot for.

The Olympic teams arrive many weeks before the actual start of the Games. Driving to kids to school quite a few weeks ago I noticed a huge banner at our neighbouring University welcoming the Kenyan team. Athletes from Kenya were staying next door to us and they trained at the sports facilities of our local college. My friend’s son had a twinkle in his eyes when he showed off the autographs from the whole team at school. He certainly was inspired and promised me his autograph when he becomes the world champion.

So here is a recipe for the Kenyan team, a thank you for the inspiration they gave the local kids. I have based it on a Kenyan classic, irio, a bean, sweetcorn and potato mash. Irio is fantastic as it is, but I wanted to make it a bit more special and created irio cakes served with lovely tomato spinach that would not (I hope) be out of place in any Kenya home. My daughter asked if she will run as fast as the athletes after eating these.

IMG_3250
ready for the oven


KENYAN IRIO CAKES WITH TOMATO SPINACH

irio cakes
2 large baking potatoes (mine were 800kg or 1,7lb)
250g (2 cups) sweetcorn (tinned or defrosted from frozen)
1 tin red kidney beans, drained
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
cornmeal

tomato spinach
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tomatoes, skinned and seeded
450g (1 lb) spinach (preferably mature spinach)
1 Tbs lemon juice
salt to taste

IMG_3254


  1. Pierce the skin of your potatoes and place them in a 200C (390F) oven. Bake for about an hour or till skewer goes in without any resistance. Remove potatoes from the oven and let cool down.
  2. Halve the potatoes and scoop the flesh out into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Turn the oven down to 180C (350F).
  4. Add the drained beans, sweetcorn and scallions to the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Using a potato masher mash the ingredients together. The sweetcorn and most beans will remain intact while to potato will turn into a mash. The whole mixture should come nicely together.
  6. Place some cornmeal in a shallow bowl (or a plate). Divide the mixture into equal portions and make cakes, 6 for a starter portion and 4 for a main dish.
  7. Roll each cake in the cornmeal and place on a baking sheet lined with a grease proof (baking) paper. Bake for 30min or till they start to brown. Turn them half way through. (You could also fry these cakes if you wish.)
  8. While the cakes are baking prepare the spinach. If using mature spinach remove the stalks, wash thoroughly and cut up, I used large scissors to cut up the spinach.
  9. In a large saucepan heat the oil, add the spices and cook till they start to pop, take care they do not burn them.
  10. Chop up the tomatoes and add them to the spices together with 2 Tbs of water. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.
  11. Add the spinach to the tomatoes, season with salt then cover with lid and cook on low heat for 10min or until the spinach is very tender (if using baby spinach reduce the cooking time). Add the lemon juice.
  12. Serve the cakes on top of a spinach mound.

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THREE BEAN SALAD

THREE BEAN SALAD

As a response to my Mediterranean Diet post my friend R send me a link to a research that shows legumes are the reason Med Diet is more successful than others. This makes so much sense. We already know it is not the olive oil right? I felt inspired to put a three bean salad together to serve to our family visiting over the weekend.

Legumes are fantastic, not just because they are a powerhouse of nutrition, but for their versatility. There is so much you can do with them, add to salads, makes into soups, stews and sauces, they are (especially lentils) fabulous in curries and make a great base for burgers and loafs. I can’t get enough. They are also great for your budget, legumes are cheap, especially if you buy them dry! I always have dried for when I have had time to plan my meals and tinned for impromptu dinners.

These colourful pebbles are a fantastic source of protein. They also contain calcium, zinc, iron and selenium. They are regarded as one of the top anticancer foods but also very effective in lowering the bad cholesterol. We all need to eat more legumes! And if you experience flatulence as a side effect of eating beans just start slowly with more easier to digest mung beans. Another good tip is to cook beans and lentils with a pinch of asofetida (as they do in India) or a piece of kombu (common in Japan), this should make them easier to on your tummy.

threebeansalad

THREE BEAN SALAD
Oil free recipe.

I used tinned beans (or tetra packed ) for this salad. You can cook your own but it is a bit of a hassle if using different types of beans. You would have to have 3 pots on the go at once as they tend to have different cooking times.

This recipe makes a large batch, will easily serve 6-8. Keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

ingredients

8 vine ripened tomatoes (small to medium, not cherry, plum are great)
1 tin butter beans (or canellini)
1 tin chickpeas
1 tin red kidney beans
1 medium red onion
1 red pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tbs cider vinegar
Handful of basil leaves

method
  1. First preheat the oven to 190C. Place quartered tomatoes in a single layer in a baking dish lined with grease proof paper. Bake for 20 -30 min until the edges of tomatoes start caramelising. Remove from oven a let cool down.
  2. Drain all your beans and place into a large bowl.
  3. Cut your onion finely, I used my mandolin to cut thin slices.
  4. Cut up the red pepper into 1 cm dice.
  5. Add your onions and peppers to your beans, mix together taking care not to break up the beans (butter beans tend to be more delicate than others).
  6. Make the dressing: In a blender or food processor whizz together the tomatoes, cider vinegar and the garlic till smooth. Season with some salt and pepper if you wish.
  7. Pour the dressing over your beans and mix well. Add torn basil leaves and stir through the salad gently.
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MEXICAN LAYERED CASSEROLE

MEXICAN LAYERED CASSEROLE

When you are constantly trying to come up with new recipes things can get a bit heated in the dining room. I am talking about feeding kids. They can be tricky customers. And sound creatures of habit, they like to eat what is familiar. Mum’s experiments can get rather a cold reception. Sometimes they just look at a dish in front of them and say YUCK. I just keep trying and it seems to be paying off at times.

Only last week my daughter ate (not happily but ate) a portion of miso dressed kale. Normally she only likes kale chips. After years of trying to persuade her she finally started to eat avocado this week, she will only eat it with raspberry or strawberry vinegar but it is going down. She is particular about her carrots they have to be raw not “wet”(meaning cooked). Pineapple she consumes in huge amounts provided it has been made into a smoothie. Even cherries and apricots get a seal of
approvement but only if “smoothified”... Peppers disappear into tomato soup and butternut squash into my mac and (no) cheese. It does take a lot of concocting but there is always a way.

Last night I was expecting the “Yuck I am not eating that” at dinner time. And yes those were the first words she uttered when she spotted the casserole dish. Honestly all she could see was the tomato sauce on top! I served her up one stripy wedge anyway. After tasting it she smiled and said: “Yummy! This is one of the best things you have ever made!” My son gave it 10/10. Two super endorsements! I thought this could be a kids pleaser but never imagined it would be this successful. Even the spinach layers disappeared!



image1


MEXICAN LAYERED CASSEROLE
I used shop bought refried beans. You could make your own but it is a weekday and I know kids adore the taste.

As my kids are not keen on too spicy so I made half of the casserole with added jalapenos and half without. I marked one side of the casserole dish so I didn’t make a mistake of mixing it up, the dish will turn when you layering it. Imagine the look on their faces if they bit into a jalapeno!!!

ingredients
tomato sauce
1 Tbs olive oil or 60ml (1/4cup) water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tins of tomatoes

spinach tofu layer
220 g (1/2lb) frozen spinach, deforested (or use lb of fresh)
250g (1lb 1oz) tofu
1 tsp dried onion
1/2 tsp dried garlic
2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
salt and pepper to taste

jalapeno peppers
8 soft corn tortillas
1 tin of refried beans
vegan melting cheese on top (optional)

method
  1. First make the sauce. In a sauce pan heat the oil (or water) and saute the onion till soft.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the spices, cook about 30 seconds.
  4. Next add the tomatoes, season, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 30minutes.
  5. Next make the spinach layer.
  6. Put spinach, tofu, nutritional yeast flakes, dried onion and garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor. Process till quite smooth (it will resemble ricotta cheese).
  7. Now layer the casserole. Make sure that you use a deep round casserole dish that will fit the tortillas snuggly. First put some tomato sauce on the bottom. Layer: tortilla, 1/3 refried beans, tortilla, 1/2 spinach with tofu, tortilla, tomato sauce topped with jalapenos, tortilla, refried beans, tortilla, spinach with tofu, tortilla, tomato sauce with jalapenos, tortilla, beans, tortilla, tomato sauce with jalapenos. Top with vegan cheese if desired (I like it with or without)
  8. Bake at 180C. Bake it covered for the first 20min and than uncovered for 15min.
  9. Let sit for 10min before serving, you will get better layers. Serve with a crisp salad and some avocados (or guacamole).

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SUPER VEGGIE STEW

SUPER VEGGIE STEW

Last week I got asked by two different people about protein. Everybody seems to be concerned about getting the right kind protein and enough of it. When I am asked where do I get my protein from I like to answer with the classic: Where do gorillas get their protein? (and hippos, giraffes, elephants, rhinos....)

How much protein do we really need? If you are following UK or USA daily allowance you should be eating about 0.8g per 1 kg of your ideal body weight. Requirements are higher for children, pregnant and lactating women. World Health Organisation sets their daily allowance much lower at 0.45g per 1 kg of your ideal body weight. This means that about 5% of your calories should come from protein. I suppose you could shoot for somewhere in the middle.
Remember human breast milk is 5% protein!

What kind of protein do you need? We have been told for years that animal protein equals high quality protein and vegetarian sources are somewhat inferior. This is not so. According to Janice Stanger, Ph.D. (The Perfect Formula Diet): “Your digestive system is designed to break down all the proteins you eat into amino acids before you absorb the food in your intestines. This is true for both plant and animal protein.” These amino acids are than stored and put together when needed. Very clever our bodies. As long as you getting all your amino acids it doesn’t really matter what source they come from.

Can you be protein deficient? This is incredibly rare in the Western society. You could lack protein if you only eat refined carbs... If you eat varied diet, are not hungry, feel well, maintain healthy weight than you are getting enough protein. Unfortunately typical Western diet is far too rich in (animal) protein which makes it rather hard on your kidneys. Other implications? I would say read The China Study (Dr Colin T. Cambpell) all is explained there.

What are my favourite protein sources? Green veggies, legumes, grain, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, millet, nuts and seeds.... Did you know that nearly half of calories of green leafy veggies come from protein? The recipe below has around 33g of protein in you add 2 cups of cooked quinoa you can add another 16g (brown rice 10g). The quinoa version gives you around 12g per portion (more if you like your portions big).


sweetpotatospringstew

SUPER VEGGIE STEW
Serves 4

1 Tbs olive oil (or 60ml - 1/4cup of water)
1 large onion, chopped quite finely
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 inch of ginger, grated
1-2 red chilli, finely chopped
3 large portobello mushrooms, cut into bite size pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut pieces
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tin of black beans
375 (1 and 1/2cups) of vegetable stock
200g (about half pound) of spring greens (collards), tough stalks removed and leaves thickly shredded

  1. In a large saute pan heat the oil or water and saute the onion till soft. Next add the garlic , chilli and ginger and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the mushroom, cook till softened (if using water add some more if mushrooms start sticking).
  3. Next add the potatoes, tomatoes, black beans and the vegetable stock. Cook for about 20 minutes till sweet potatoes soften.
  4. Add the spring greens and cook for further 5 minutes or till the greens are tender.
  5. Serve with cooked quinoa or brown rice.
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BROWN RICE WITH BEANS, PEAS AND SWEETCORN

BROWN RICE WITH BEANS, PEAS AND SWEETCORN

This week every paper in the country ran a story about statins. The headlines announced that everybody over the age of 50 should be taking the cholesterol lowering drugs statins. According to BBC there are currently between 6-7million people in the UK taking statins every day. That means roughly 10%, about 1 in 10. According to the new recommendations this number would go even higher.

Statins save lives, there is no doubt about that, mainly in people who had already suffered a heart attack or have other cardiovascular problems or can’t lower their cholesterol sufficiently with diet and lifestyle change. However giving statins to people within the low risk category scares me.The problem with statins is the same as with all drugs, they come with side effects. I read that some 28% quit taking them because of the side effects. Just looking at the comments (that follow the recent stain articles online), from people who have had bad experiences with statins. How about memory loss, severe pain in joints and muscles, muscle wastage, depression, kidney and liver problems, lack of appetite, sickness, apathy, night sweats, sexual disfunction... On top of this they also raise the risk of Type-2 diabetes (which is out of control so no need to push the numbers any higher).

It worries me that anybody would even entertain the idea of giving a certain drug to everyone over certain age. I want to be prescribed medicine if I really need it. I try to avoid taking medicine if I can help it I won’t even take a pain killer for a headache; water and rest usually helps. I don’t want to be made into a patient if I am not ill. We wouldn’t be taking daily antibiotics just in case we might catch a bacterial infection sometimes in the next few years... Let’s give statins to the people who do need them, and who will benefit, but let’s put more effort into education people and help everybody lead a healthier lifestyles.

Cholesterol can be easy to control with a plant based diet. There are countless success stories, just look up Dr Fuhrman, Dr McDougal, Dr Barnard, Forks over Knives, Engine 2 Diet and many others. To quote Dr Margaret McCartney (I will be reviewing her book Patient Paradox soon) on statins: “ These tablets save lives - but the life they save will probably not be yours.”


BROWN RICE WITH BEANS, PEAS AND SWEETCORN

This made a huge batch, perfect if you are feeding lots of people. You can serve it as a side dish or it is satisfying as a main with some green leafy veggies or salad on the side.

I made the leftovers into spicy fried rice, I say fried but I used a bit of water in the frying pan and some chilli sauce and a splash of tamari. Delicious.

The brown rice I used was my favourite Thai Jasmine rice that I get in my local Oriental supermarket, but any brown rice will be great. Just follow the cooking time on the packet.

Serves 6-8



brownriceandbeans

ingredients
1 1/2 brown rice of your choice
3 cups of stock (or water)
1/2 Tbs olive oil or 60ml (1/4cup) of water
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp Hungarian paprika (sweet or hot)
1 tin of red kidney beans, drained
1 cup of sweetcorn kernels (I used frozen)
1/2 cup of peas (I used frozen)
125ml (1/2 cup) vegetable stock

method
  1. Cook the rice in the 3 cups of stock according to instructions, set aside.
  2. In a large saute pan heat the oil or 60ml of water, add the onion and garlic and gook till softened.
  3. Add the spices, kidney beans and sweetcorn. Add the 125ml of vegetable stock, cook on medium until most of the stock is gone. This softens the beans and gives them lovely flavour.
  4. Next add the peas and the rice and heat through.
  5. Serve.
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BANGERS AND MASH WITH ONION GRAVY

BANGERS AND MASH WITH ONION GRAVY

Today I have spent many hours correlating information for my college assignment. It was a painfully slow process but I think I made giant steps toward being able to finish this paper within next few days. Phew!

Therefore not many words left in my head ... short post me thinks :) No matter what is happening a person must be fed and nourished and days like these; rain, more rain and intellectual (man! took me a while to spell intellectual) stimulation or should I say exhaustion; one needs comfort food.

To you I present BANGERS AND MASH WITH GRAVY! Vegan style. There are many steps to this recipe but only because you are making the sausages, mash and gravy. Luckily sausages can be made ahead and will look after themselves in the oven quite happily. This will give you time to concentrate on the mash and gravy and maybe even some green veggies on the side. Start cooking onions halfway through the fridge time of the sausages, they do take a long time to become gorgeously soft. I ran out of olives but had an olive puree which worked great.

sausagesandmash

BANGERS AND MASH WITH ONION GRAVY

Serves 4

ingredients
For the bangers (sausages)
130g (1 cup ) of cashews
3 spring onions (scallions)
very large handful of parsley
1 roasted pepper (from a jar is fine)
1 heaped tsp black olive puree (or about 6 kalamata olives)
1 tin cannellini beans, drained
70g (1 cup ) breadcrumbs

For the mash
8 medium potatoes
1 Tbs dairy free spread (I used pure) or 1 Tbs olive oil - can be left out
375ml (1 and 1/2 cups) Kara milk (drinking coconut milk not tinned coconut milk, or any other dairy free milk)
salt to taste

For the gravy
1 extra large onion (the bigger the better)
1 Tbs olive oil
125ml (1/2 cup) Marsala wine
2 cups of veggie stock
1 tsp of ketjup manis or dark soya sauce
2 Tbs water + 1 heaped tsp of corn flour (corn starch)

method
  1. Make the sausages. In a food processor grind the cashew nuts. Some should be very fine some still retain texture. Put into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a food processor finely chop the spring onions and parsley.
  3. Add the pepper to the food processor and pulse couple of times.
  4. Add the black olive puree (olives) and beans. Pulse till mixed together but not smooth. You want a texture of a coarse pate.
  5. Put into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Next add the cashews and breadcrumbs. Mix well together.
  7. Shape the mixture into 8 sausages. The mixture is quite sticky, wetting your hands will make the job easier.
  8. Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  9. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  10. Next thinly slice the onion.
  11. In a medium frying pan heat the 1 Tbs of olive oil and start sauteing the onions. On a very low heat cook them until tender and start to caramelise. This will take about 20-30 min, stir occasionally.
  12. Place the sausages on top a greaseproof paper lined baking sheet. Bake for about 20-25 min or until golden brown, turning carefully halfway through.
  13. While the sausages are baking, peel the potatoes and boil till tender. About 15-20 min.
  14. When the onions are tender, raise the heat and add the Marsala wine. Let reduce till nearly all liquid is evaporated and the onions are dark and sticky.
  15. Add the stock, soya sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the cornflour/water paste. Let it thicken.
  16. Drain the potatoes. Mash the potatoes first (you can use a potato ricer). Heat the Kara milk and add together with the dairy free spread into the potatoes. Mash together and season.
  17. Now everything should be ready to serve. Enjoy!
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QUICK RAGOUT PASTA

QUICK RAGOUT PASTA

Hearing the word “malnourished” most of us would imagine the poor starving children in Africa and would never even think that this could be a problem much nearer us. Today the UK edition of Huffington Post ran a story claiming that more than a quarter of patients are malnourished when admitted to hospital. We are not talking about old people, this is across all ages. The article claims some 26% of 20-29 year olds are affected. I had to snigger at the accompanying picture of a smiling young lad in a hospital bed eating a large hamburger and chips (if that is hospital food than there really is no hope).

This is not a surprising fact, especially not when you are familiar with the work of doctors such as Joel Fuhrman or Mark Hyman. They will confirm that even obese people can be malnourished due to their poor diet that lacks nutrition. They are overfed but undernourished. Just take a look at the rubbish some people are putting into their supermarket trolleys. Restaurants are not better, another story that graced the papers today introduced UK Pizza Hut’s new limited edition pizza. Forget cheese stuffed into your pizza crust, you can find a hot dog there now! If there was an award for “how much c..p you can put into a customer in one sitting” Pizza Hut would certainly get the top prize.

My pasta recipe sure takes less time than ordering and waiting for the hot dog monstrosity to be delivered and will not leave you malnourished either.

ragupasta

QUICK RAGOUT PASTA

Serves 4

ingredients
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4-5 large portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/2-1inch dice
1 tsp dried oregano (or Italian herb mix)
2 bay leaves
1 heaped Tbs tomato puree
125ml (1/2cup) fortified wine (such as Marsala or sherry, but a good red will do too)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of canellini beans, drained
275ml (1 and 1/2cup) strong vegetable stock (I made mine with Vecon)
350g (12oz) wholemeal rigattoni or penne pasta
fresh oregano to garnish

method
  1. In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil. Add the onion and peppers and saute for about 5 minutes or till softened.
  2. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms soften.
  3. Next add the oregano, bay leaves and tomato puree. Let cook for about one minute.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the fortified wine, bring it to a boil to cook out the alcohol.
  5. Add the tomatoes, beans and vegetable stock. Cook for about 20min until the sauce is rich and thickens. Season.
  6. While your sauce is simmering cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
  7. Add the past to your sauce, stir through.
  8. Serve garnished with fresh oregano or basil and a big green salad on the side.
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WHITE BEANS AND ARTICHOKE SPREAD

WHITE BEANS AND ARTICHOKE SPREAD

There was a time I thought I couldn’t imagine my life without cheese. How foolish was that?! Not eating cheese is easier than I thought (not when eating out) and I don’t miss it at all. I think I miss some of the dishes I used to make but I am slowly getting through reworking them and quite frankly with discovering new favourites many of the old food memories are rather faint now.

We all know cheese is not healthy, in the USA it is responsible for the majority of saturated fat intake as the consumption had nearly tripled since 1970 to 31lb per person. In UK cheese consumption is on the up too (some 12.5% between 1999-2009), mainly due to people spending less time in their kitchens and relying on ready meals and take aways. Convenience food seems to be loaded with cheese, especially the veggie options. Companies have made the cheese content their selling point, just take a look at the take away pizza companies trying to intice us with “double the amount of cheese” and “stuffed crust”. That should be enough to keep us away but unfortunately it seems to draw more people in.

Cheese sandwich maybe be a lunch of choice for a lot of traditional veggies but looking back I think of it as quite a boring way to eat. For the sake of your health, the poor dairy cow and the environment try something new and full of flavour to put on your bread or in a wrap. Here is my quick and easy white bean spread, made in minutes in a food processor. It makes a great change from hummus and is as versatile.


whitebeanspread

WHITE BEAN AND ARTICHOKE SPREAD
If you want to make this spread into a dip just add some of the liquid from the tinned beans. If you are using sun dried tomatoes and artichokes preserved in oil rinse them under running water to get the oil off.

ingredients
1 tin of white beans (canellini or butter beans), drained (keep the liquid)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
8 sun dried tomatoes, reconstituted
1 tin of artichokes, drained

method
  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor or a blender. Process till quite smooth but still with some texture (see photo). If too thick add some of the reserved bean liquid.
  2. Spread on some good quality whole grain bread. I like the thin fermented rye or organic quinoa breads.
  3. Garnish with thinly sliced vegetables, red onions, cucumber, tomato...


whitebeanspread2
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MUNG BEAN AND AUBERGINE STEW

MUNG BEAN AND AUBERGINE STEW

Unless you have been on an intergalactic flight you must have read or heard the latest reports on red meat coming from Harvard University. Every news channel and newspaper has covered the story. The message is that simply adding an extra portion of red (unprocessed and processed) meat will significantly raise your risk of premature death from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

If you are following nutrition this is not a big surprise. This information comes from a very credible source and really can’t be ignored. The meat industries are not taking this lightly coming out with condemnations trying to discredit the research. It is sad to see them be more interested in profit rather than health of their fellow men.

These are the words of Frank Hu, PhD, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health who published the study on red meat and higher rates of premature death: “ We should move to a more plant-based diet. This can substantially reduce the risk of chronic disease and the risk of premature death.”

My advice is to look toward some wonderful healthy proteins to replace the meat. Mung beans are a great place to start, they are easy to digest legumes, easy to cook and very tasty. I made them into a gentle stew, no spices just fresh herbs.

mungbeans

THREE HERB MUNG BEAN AND AUBERGINE STEW
This is perfect with green veggies, kale or broccoli are fabulous. We also had bulgur wheat but any grain will work, and even mashed potatoes! Adding the kombu will not only impart flavour but also help the digestion of the beans.

ingredients
1.25l (5 cups) vegetable stock
220 g (1 cup) mung beans, soaked overnight
1 inch piece of kombu seaweed (optional)
2 medium aubergines (eggplants)
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 Tbs olive oil or 60ml (1/4 cup ) vegetable stock
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 Tbs fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 Tbs Tamari sauce or liquid aminos
3 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped


mungbeanstew

method

  1. In a large sauce pan combine the vegetable stock, soaked beans and the piece of kombu. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, skim off and discard any foam that may form on the surface. Cover and simmer for about 40 -50 min or until the beans are thoroughly cooked. Remove the kombu piece, but do not drain the beans.
  2. Preheat oven to 200. Cut the aubergine into bite size pieces, coat with 1 Tbs olive oil and place onto a roasting tray. Roast for 20min or until the pieces start to caramelize and are soft and squashy. Set aside.
  3. In a wide saute pan with high edges, heat the 1/2 tsp of olive oil (or 60ml stock), add the onion and saute for 5 min or till softened.
  4. Next add the garlic, rosemary and thyme. Cook for further minute till fragrant.
  5. Next add the beans with their cooking liquid, aubergines and tamari (or liquid aminos). Simmer for about 10min.
  6. Stir in the parsley and adjust seasoning. It shouldn’t need salt if you used salted vegetable stock, just freshly ground pepper.
  7. Serve with a side of your choice.
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THREE BEAN CHILLI WITH ANCHO AND CHOCOLATE


THREE BEAN CHILLI WITH ANCHO AND CHOCOLATE

A nice bowl of chili has been on my mind for a few days now. Steaming hot, spicy, comforting bowl of chili. So after a gorgeous lunch with friends at Cafe Ronak (a fantastic falafel wrap) and a walk around the shops (stops to 4 health food shops included) I got onto my chili.

Chocolate is the secret ingredient in a proper chili. It makes it rich, dark, velvety and sumptuous. It leaves you thinking what is in that chili? That is if you use dark chocolate of course, a bar of Dairy Milk would leave you thinking what the .... was she thinking?! The other secret ingredient in this chili is a Mexican dried chili, you can use Ancho or Chipotle. I used Ancho, which is a dried Mexican Poblano chili and can vary in flavour from surprisingly mild to rather spicy. These chillies have a smokey flavour that works so well with all the other spices.

The best thing about a bowl of chili is that it is incredibly versatile, eat it just as it is with some homemade tortilla chips, serve it with rice or quinoa, wrapped in a tortilla, on top of a baked potato (regular or sweet), it will even go with pasta. Go crazy with toppings of your choice; jalapenos, avocados, thin slices of red onion or chopped spring onions, sweetcorn, salsa... the possibilities are endless.

THREE BEAN CHILLI WITH ANCHO AND CHOCOLATE

If you like your chili spicy leave the seeds and membranes in your jalapeno, or use two. You can also use hot paprika or even add 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper.
To make the homemade
tortilla chips, cut tortillas (wheat or corn) into strips or triangles, place on a baking tray in one layer (you may have to do in in batches), and bakes at 200C oven for about 2-3 minutes on each side, till they are golden brown.

Serves 6

3beanchili

ingredients
1 Tbs rapeseed oil (or 1/4 cup of water)
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 jalapeno chili, finely chopped (or any other chili), deseeded if you want milder flavour
1 Ancho chili
1 large red pepper, chopped (about 1cm or 1/2inch pieces)
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika (hot or sweet)
1 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 Tbs liquid aminos (optional)
1 tin black beans
1 tin red kidney beans
1 tin of pinto (or borlotti beans)
500ml (2cups) of stock (make it out of ancho soaking liquid see in method)
30g (1 oz) of dark good quality chocolate (75%)
Toppings: I used chopped fresh coriander, slices of avocado, thinly sliced red onions and homemade tortilla chips

method
  1. First soak the Ancho chili in boiling water for about 10min. Remove it and reserve the liquid. Chop the Ancho chili quite finely.
  2. In a large wide saute pan heat the oil (or 1/4 cup of water). Add the onion and saute till softened.
  3. Next add the garlic, jalapeno chili, bell pepper and cook for 2 min.
  4. Add the spices and Ancho chili. Cook about half a minute taking care not to burn the spices.
  5. Next add the tomato paste, cook it for about a minute.
  6. Add the tinned tomatoes, liquid aminos, if using. Make up 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid out of the strained Ancho soaking liquid and vegetable stock. Add it to the chile.
  7. Next put in the beans, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for about an hour. The sauce should be thick with a deep colour.
  8. To finish the chili add the chocolate, let it melt into the sauce. Stir.
  9. Serve with your favourite sides or toppings.
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MUSHROOM POLENTA WITH KALE AND BEANS

MUSHROOM POLENTA WITH KALE AND BEANS

Yesterday I stumbled upon couple of lectures by Dr Tim Riesenberger, a physician who happens to be a Seventh-Day Adventist. He reminded of an article I remember reading few years back in National Geographic magazine in a dentist surgery. The article was about the so called Blue Zones. These are demographic/geographic areas where people live measurably longer lives. These places are the islands of Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

People living in blue zones not only have a higher chance of reaching 90 (and many 100) but they do so in better health than rest of the world. Their long, healthy and happy life is not only about what they eat, but diet is an important part of the blue zone success. The diet is mainly (apart from the Sardinians) low fat plant based with meat and processed foods largely off the menu. They also tend not to smoke, they drink alcohol in moderation, keep active, stay positive, are an active part of community and put family above all. These are easy to reach goals in everybody’s live. Go and create your own blue zone too.

polentakale

MUSHROOM POLENTA WITH KALE AND BEANS
The polenta can be made ahead and kept in the fridge.

ingredients
Mushroom polenta
1/2oz (15g) dried porcini
200 g mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
10 sage leaves, thinly shredded
250g (1 and 1/2cup) quick cook polenta
1l (4 cups) vegetable stock (make it form the soaking mushroom liquid and vegetable stock)

Beans and kale
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
250 (1 cup) ml veg stock
1 tin of canellini beans, drained
150g (1/3lb) kale de-stalked and torn into pieces

method
  1. First soak the porcini mushrooms in boiling water for about 20 minutes. Remove the mushrooms, reserve the liquid, and chop the mushrooms up.
  2. In a medium frying pan heat about 60ml (1/4cup) of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Add the mushrooms and garlic, cook till the mushrooms soften about 5min. Add the porcini mushrooms cook for further 2 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable/mushroom stock to a boil. Slowly add the polenta and sage, keep stirring. When the polenta thickens, turn down the heat and let bubble for couple of minutes. Stir in the mushrooms.
  4. Line a baking sheet with grease proof paper, spread the polenta on top, about 1/2inch thick. Smooth the top. Let cool.
  5. In a large sauce pan heat 60 ml (1/4cup) water (or stock) and cook the onions and garlic, gently simmer till softened. Add the vegetable stock and beans, bring to a gentle boil.
  6. Add the kale, cover and simmer for 10-15min or until the kale is tender.
  7. Season with plenty of pepper.
  8. While the kale is cooking, preheat the grill (broiler).
  9. Cut the polenta into triangles, place on top of grease proof paper lined baking sheet. Place under the grill and grill for about 2 min on each side.
  10. Serve the kale and beans with the polenta triangles.

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ROASTED VEGETABLE NUT AND SEED ROAST

ROASTED VEGETABLE NUT AND SEED ROAST

I Love food but I also love the LOVE FOOD festival we go to quite regularly. Every month local producers of yummy food get together to introduce and sell their innovative products. We always leave with some goodies in the bag.

Today I was very pleased to see our familiar falafels, perfect for tomorrows lunch with some crisp veggies, tahini dressing in a wrap. There were several stalls with various sauces, I got some wonderful chipotle chilli one. My favourite wasabi and lime dressing will be perfect on Japanese noodle salad with crispy veggies. Two bottles of fruity vinegar for oil free dressing were promptly in my bag.

A welcomed surprise was a sushi stall, with great veggie options. We left with three boxes for our todays lunch. Much better than any sushi chain restaurant! As this was a Valentine’s edition of the festival we found ourselves in a Raw chocolate tent all decked out in decadent red that perfectly offset the beautiful unadulterated rich taste of 80% dark gorgeousness.

Kids were pleased with their freshly popped popcorn, one with Himalayan pink salt and the other with Magic sugar with sparkles. We all had a great time, apart from my sneezing fit after I managed to inhale some rare Keralan white pepper into my nose.


ROASTED VEGETABLE NUT AND SEED ROAST
Sunday roast veggie style. You don’t have to stick strictly to the nuts and seeds ratio just use what you have at home. If you only have almonds it will work too.

vegroastwhole

ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 350g)
3 medium carrots (about 250g)
1 large onion
1 tsp olive or rapeseed oil
50g (2oz) almonds
30g (1oz) Brazil nuts
30g (1oz) cashew nuts
30g (1oz) sesame seeds
50g (2oz) sunflower seeds
1 tin cannellini beans (or other white beans)
2 tsp tomato puree
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 Tbs light soya sauce
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
50g (2oz) rolled oats

rostedvegroast

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the carrots into quarters lengthways, the sweet potatoes into 8 pieces and the onion into 8 pieces. Add 1 tsp of oil, coat the vegetables.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper,place in the oven and roast for 25min or until the vegetables are caramelised. Let cool.
  3. Reduce the oven to 180C.
  4. In a dry frying pan, dry roast the nuts until starting to brown. Set aside. Next roast the seeds. Set aside.
  5. In a food processor process the nuts until chopped still retaining texture. Put into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Put the roasted vegetables, garlic, beans, soya sauce, tomato puree and vegetable stock into the food processor and process until texture of coarse pate, with some of the ingredients processed smooth and some still retaining some texture.
  7. Put the vegetable mixture into the bowl with nuts, add the oats and mix well.
  8. Place into a loaf tin lined with baking paper sticking out at the ends by an inch (this will help to lift the roast out). Bake for 30min until the top is golden brown. Let cool in the tin for 5 min, lift it up with the help of the baking paper.
  9. Slice and serve with green salad any sides of your choice.
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WINTERY VEGETABLE, BEAN AND PASTA SOUP


Yesterday we had our first and probably last snowfall of the season. Kids got excited, dogs were running mad in the rather thin snow cover. I was thinking soup, hot, comforting, chunky bowl of soup.

My kids like tomato soup; smooth, sweet, uncomplicated. I knew I was taking a risk by putting a bowl of chunky vegetable soup in front of them. Adding pasta to it was meant to soften the blow.

To my surprise they ate it, cabbage, peppers and all. Ok I did promise them they can choose a treat from the oriental supermarket if they chomp their way through a bowlful. Whatever works I say.

As most of my soups, this one also has no added oil. I am not against using a olive oil altogether but I have cut down its usage to bare minimum. When I cook an oil free recipe I use the water-saute method. Just heat a small amount of water (about 60ml or 1/4 cup) and cook the veggies in it. It takes a bit longer than oil sauteing, you may have to add additional water, but the veggies soften beautifully. You can also use vegetable stock or wine to saute your vegetables.

wintersoup


WINTERY VEGETABLE, BEAN AND PASTA SOUP

Try to cut your onion, carrots, celery and pepper into same size pieces, about 1cm.

This is an Italian inspired soup, minus the olive oil and Parmesan. Instead of Parmesan I use the Nutritional Yeast Flakes, they taste great and are great source of B vitamins.

Serves 4 as a main meal

ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, de-stringed and chopped
1 carrot, chipped
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 heaped Tbs tomato puree
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin borlotti beans (drained)
1.24l (5cups) vegetable stock (I used 2 veggie stock cubes)
1/4 medium green or white cabbage (2cups), shredded
100g (3/4 c) small pasta
chopped parsley or basil for garnish
Nutritional yeast flakes for garnish (optional)

method
  1. In a large stock pot heat 60ml (1/4) cup of water and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and pepper, saute until softened, about 10min. Stir occasionally, to prevent sticking, add more water if needed.
  2. Add the tomato puree, stir around for about 1 min.
  3. Add the oregano, tinned tomatoes, beans and vegetable stock.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook gently for 30 min.
  5. After 30min, add the cabbage and pasta. Cook for about 10 min or until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta sticking to the bottom.
  6. Garnish with herbs, nutritional flakes if using and serve with crusty bread (wholemeal of course)
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