sweet potato

DAL SOUP WITH SWEET POTATO ‘CROUTONS’

DAL SOUP WITH SWEET POTATO ‘CROUTONS’

There is a big anti legume movement out there, yes I am talking about the Paleo diet. But did the Paleo man eat beans, peas or lentils? Apparently there is accumulating evidence that legumes were eaten by the Paleo humans. You can read more here:
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/beans-lentils-and-paleo-diet.html

We have been consuming pulses for a long time. As I found out from Wikki, traces of production of lentils have been found in Punjab dating circa 3300BC. Similarly dried pea seeds have been discovered in a Swiss Village dating back to Stone Age. We have done rather well eating beans for millennia. Pulses certainly aren’t responsible for our world wide health crisis.

In India dal is a daily staple. I remember reading an article by a couple or travellers who spent some time in a village in the Himalayas. As Westerners, spoilt by choice, they got slightly fed up by the daily dal and chapati combo. Clearly dal is the main source of protein in the largely vegetarian India.

Beans feature strongly in cuisines around the world. They were traditionally the poor man staple. I own a cookbook of historic recipes from a mountain region in my home country and the biggest section is the bean/lentil one.

There is a massive drive to eat clean, eat natural, eat traditional. Can it get more traditional than hoummus, ful medames, cassoulett, black beans and rice or dal? I think not. And as some of the latest studies are confirming the phytate’s (anti-nutrient in pulses) have anticancer abilities I am keeping them on my menu.

More on phytates: http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=phytates


IMG_9997

TOMATO AND DAL SOUP WITH SWEET POTATO ‘CROUTONS’
Make sure you season the dal well, it makes a world of difference to the taste.
Serves 4

1 cup red lentils
4 large tomatoes chopped or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 inch ginger, grated
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli
4 cups vegetable stock (I use Marigold vegan stock powder)
2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, sliced
spray of oil
1 tsp garam masala
fresh coriander to serve

  • Preheat the oven to 200C.
  • In a large sauce pan combine the red lentils, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, asafoetida, fenugreek and Kashmiri chilli.
  • Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the lentils are soft and falling apart. Check for seasoning.
  • While the dal soup is cooking, place the potatoes and onion into a roasting dish that will hold the potato in a single layer. Add the garam masala and spray lightly with oil. Toss to coat. Roast for 25-30 min until the potatoes are tender.
  • Serve in a bowl topped with the roasted potatoes and onions. Garnish with fresh coriander.

IMG_9996
0 Comments

KALE, SWEET POTATO, RED LENTIL AND TOM YUM SOUP

KALE, SWEET POTATO, RED LENTIL AND TOM YUM SOUP

After the unusually warm autumn it is finally starting to feel much chillier. I noticed myself picking up the pace when walking my dog this morning in an attempt to warm up. I am not complaining, to me cold weather means I can eat lots of gorgeous comforting soups.

This soup is a favourite of mine, I am surprised that it has not made it onto my blog yet. Maybe it because I have never measured anything when cooking it. And I don’t seem to be to consistent when making it either, there seem to be a few variations to this recipe. I have made suggestions below the recipe if you want to try them out. It is so easy to make that it became one of my staples whenI was in college, I would cook it in the morning and take it in a flask for lunch.

This soup is full of flavour, high in protein, comforting and pleasantly spicy. I use a shop bought Tom Yum paste for speed (I have been planning to make my own but somehow nit hasn’t happened yet...). Just make sure you buy one without shrimp paste, I found a shrimp free one in an Asian supermarket). A Thai red curry paste is a good substitute but will not give the soup the same hot and sour undertones.


IMG_5483



IMG_5485


KALE, SWEET POTATO, RED LENTIL AND TOM YUM SOUP
Serves 4

ingredients
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs - 2 tbs tom yum paste (or red curry paste)
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 orange flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm dice
1 cup of red lentils
5 cups of water (4 cups if using tinned coconut milk)
50g (2oz) coconut cream (or tin of coconut milk)
4 cups of shredded kale
salt and pepper to taste
lime juice to taste
chilli flakes to taste

method
  • Heat 60ml (1/4 cup) water in a stock pot, add onion and garlic and cook till the onions soften.
  • Add the tom yum paste, kaffir lime leaves, sweet potato, lentils and 5 cups of water and coconut cream.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 20 min or until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Next add the shredded kale and cook for further 10min.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with lime juice (I use up to juice of half a lime for my portion) and some crushed chilli flakes.

Variations:
Add tomatoes
- add 4-5 medium ripe tomatoes or a tin of chopped tomato after adding the tom yum paste, cook for 5-10min to soften, use one less cup of water
Change the greens - instead of kale you can use spinach (no need to cook, just let the spinach wilt in hot soup)
Change the sweet potatoes - use pumpkin or butter nut squash
Make it lower in fat - omit the coconut milk or cream, it will still taste delicious; you can add the above mentioned tomatoes instead
0 Comments

CURRIED ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP WITH COCONUT

CURRIED ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP WITH COCONUT

A recent study has reported that in 2012 the average price of more healthy foods was about three times higher – £7.49 for 1,000kcal compared to £2.50 for 1,000kcal of less healthy foods.
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/10October/Pages/Healthy-food-costs-you-more-claim.aspx

As the article pointed out this calorie comparison is controversial since healthy foods tend to be less calorie dense. Basing this research on calories only is very misleading. You would need to buy approximately 30 cucumbers to achieve 1000 calories whereas it only takes one packet (20 biscuits ) of ginger nut biscuits to do the same. Keeping this “logic” in mind, 1000 calories of cucumbers, 30 whole cucumbers (in today’s Tesco prices) would be £14.70. A packet of Tesco ginger nut biscuits cost a mere £ 0.39! This comparison doesn’t make a lot of sense. I bet if we compare a homemade lentil vegetable soup with ready made meals for 4, the soup would come on top.


Healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive. If you cut out the rubbish, look for seasonal produce and are prepared to improvise you can eat well on a budget. Recently I have noticed a lot of fruit and veg shops popping up, there is one called 5 a day not far from my house. Last week I drove by another advertising a bowl of produce for just one pound. These shops may not stock organic produce but any fruit and veg is better than none. I also love to get large bags of pulses or brown rice from Sweet Mart, a local ethnic food shop. Their herbs come in huge bunches and are much cheeper than supermarket ones. Their spices are also a bargain and make anything taste extraordinary.

I believe the problem is not the price, but the lack of cooking knowledge. So many people don’t know what to do with fresh produce (and many can’t be bothered). Any produce can be made into soups, stews, stir-fries, salads, veggie burgers. The wonderful Jack Monroe has proven just that in her successful blog A Girl Called Jack. Her blog is full of healthy recipes she creates for herself and her little boy for mere £10 a week.

My delicious soup comes to roughly £3.50, this includes a pack of curry spice mix and bunch of coriander, the latter can be omitted saving further £.74p. I buy my curry mixes at my favourite ethnic supermarket, the spice mixes are made in house and their taste is miles ahead of those sold in supermarkets. A sizeable bag (about 3 x supermarket pots worth) costs less than £80p. This is what I call a true bargain. I did find cheaper tinned carrot and parsnip soup (£2.30 for 2 tins ) in a super market but it had dairy and wheat flour and stabilisers added. And honestly can you really fill up 4 people with 2 tins of soup? You would probably need that pack of ginger nut biscuits for afters :)

IMG_5302


CURRIED ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP WITH COCONUT

ingredients
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 inch ginger, finely chopped
1 tbs curry powder mix (I used Bombay mix)
2 carrots, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2-3 cups vegetable stock
1 tin coconut milk
lime juice to taste
fresh coriander, chopped

method
  • In 1/2 cup water (or vegetable stock) sauté the onion, garlic and ginger till soften.
  • When water has evaporated add the spices and stirring constantly cook for 30seconds.
  • Next add the vegetables, stock and coconut milk. Cook gently for 20-30min till the vegetables are tender.
  • Puree the soup in a blender (or with a stick blender) till smooth.
  • Add lime juice to taste and add coriander as a garnish.

Cooking up hot steamy soup
IMG_5297



0 Comments

THE BIG 40 - ROASTED ROOT VEG AND PUY LENTIL SALAD

THE BIG 40
ROASTED ROOT VEG AND PUY LENTIL SALAD

“Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”
Charles M. Schultz

The big 40. Yes, I have joined the club last Sunday. I had a few pre-birthday drinks with my gorgeous girlfriends the previous weekend and this weekend was spent with family. Many women do seem to worry about turning 40, we all say :“it’s down hill from now on...”. I feel, however, that I am the happiest I have been. I have a great family, wonderful husband, two amazing kids who are my ray of sunshine everyday. I have got some fabulous friends and am working toward my goal of becoming a naturopathic nutritionist. I wouldn’t change any of this for being younger.

When you turn 40 you should:

  • Look after yourself even more. As we age we do need to ensure we eat well and move even more than before. Antioxidants plenty! Natural cosmetics! No junk!

  • Surround yourself only with people who are good for your soul (this may be hard at work, but in your personal relationships it is a must). Be there for your friends, call them, text them, hug them, feed them, laugh with them...

  • Find time for yourself everyday, it can be a cup of tea and a few chapters of a good book, a walk with the dogs or a spot of meditation. Anything that relaxes you is a good thing.

  • Spent time with the people closest with you. A glass of wine with your partner, shopping trip with your daughter or the latest Bond movie with your son are moments to treasure forever. Cook and eat together, dance and laugh everyday. Appreciate every minute.

  • Have goals. They may be small or big. Whether you want to run a marathon or learn to samba make sure you enjoy working towards them. Learning keeps us young.

  • Think before you speak. You don’t have to always speak wisely, but your words should never hurt.

  • Realize that wearing stilettos will not make your night out any more fun... they may just make your feet hurt like hell!

  • Enjoy the healing power of food (and enjoy my recipes)


roast-roots-puy-lentil


ROASTED ROOT VEG AND PUY LENTIL SALAD

Serves 4 as a main dish salad

ingredients
250g (1 cup) Puy lentils
1 large parsnip, cut into matchsticks
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 tsp rapeseed oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs ras-el-hanout (or Moroccan seasoning)
1 whole garlic bulb
3 Tbs cider vinegar
3 spring onions, finely chopped

method
  1. Cook the lentils in 3 cups of water for about 25-30min. Lentils should be soft but still holding their shape.
  2. Let the lentils cool.
  3. While the lentils are cooking put the parsnip, carrots and sweet potatoes, mixed with 2 tsp of rapeseed oil and the ras-el-hanout, on a baking paper lined tray. Add un-peeled garlic cloves to the tray.
  4. Roast for 25-30 min at 200C oven. Take care not to over cook the garlic cloves.
  5. Add the roasted vegetables to the lentils.
  6. Squeeze the garlic flesh out of the skins, mash them into a smooth paste. Add the vinegar combine togeher and add to the lentils.
  7. Mix in the spring onion. Serve warm or at room temperature.


veggies ready for the oven
roated-roots
0 Comments

COCONUT TURMERIC STEW WITH SWISS CHARD

COCONUT TURMERIC STEW WITH SWISS CHARD

What is your vice? One of my friends thinks that a day without a cake is not worth living, another one can’t relax without a glass of wine in the evening. My daughter cannot pass a cheese stall at a food fair without tasting it and my husband enjoys his weekend beer.

This weekend I made a lovely turmeric vegetable stew with coconut milk. According to one of Dr Greger’s videos ( www.nutritionfacts.org) , coconut milk has the same effect on our arteries as a hamburger. Pretty scary! Does this mean that coconut milk is my vice?

When I think about coconut milk Thai food springs to mind. We all associate Thailand with green or red Thai curry, Thom Ka soup, or coconut milk desserts. Therefore I did some digging to find out about heart disease in Thailand. I came upon a brilliant overview which you can check out in full via the link at the end of this blog.

Thailand had become more industrialised and Westernised in the last 30 or so years, this has impacted on the way the Thais eat. From 1960 to 1995 the consumption of rice,cereals and tubers has gone down by about 1/3, fish and seafood stayed unchanged, however meat and poultry consumption has gone up by 4 fold, dairy was not used at all in 1960 by 1995 has become more prevalent. Veg and fruit was up (good news), but so were fats and oils from animals sources, whereas fats and oils from plant sources were down (coconut?). Consumption of sugar, as everywhere in the word, is on the way up too.

Cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of death in Thailand since 1989, indeed non communicable diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity) have overtaken communicable diseases (transmittable). In Thailand, people are getting “Western” diseases due their diet and lifestyle change. To quote the report: "
Eating patterns have shifted from a traditional Asian diet – cereal- based and low-fat – to a more Westernised diet characterised by increased consumption of animal products, fats and sugars and decreasing consumption of complex carbohydrate foods.” Traditional diet high in carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits and low in animal foods, and moderate in fish/seafood served the Thai’s well for centuries even with coconut milk being a major part.

I am not advocating using coconut milk daily, I use it in moderation (always with lots of veggies) perhaps once or twice a month, less than it is traditionally used in South East Asia and Pacific. I treat it as a vice and indulge rarely. As my lecturer once said, if you are going to eat the occasional piece of cake, make sure you enjoy it. I try to adhere to 90/10 and I make sure I don’t feel guilty about the 10%.

Note: If you are trying to loose weight or have a cardiovascular disease, it is best to stay away from coconut milk all together:)

http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/nutrans/research/bellagio/papers/PHNThailand-Vongsulvat.pdf

COCONUT TURMERIC STEW WITH SWISS CHARD
Make sure to use black pepper when cooking with turmeric, it seems to awaken its anticancer power!

Serves 4
rainbowchard


ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1 cup vegetable stock
black pepper
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 large bunch of rainbow (or regular) Swiss chard
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
1 tin of coconut milk (whole or reduced fat) or 1 1/3 cups of cashew nut milk
3 spring onions, finely chopped
lime

turmeric-stew

method
  1. In a large lidded saute pan heat some water (1/3cup - 80ml) and add your onion, garlic and chilli. Cook gently till softened.
  2. While these are cooking wash the Swiss chard. If you have large leaves, cut them away from the stalks. Cut the stalks into bite size pieces and shred the leaves. Keep them separate.
  3. Add your turmeric and black pepper to the onions. Stir around for a few seconds.
  4. Next add the stock, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard stalks and chickpeas.
  5. Add the coconut milk, bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Gently boil covered for about 10 min.
  6. After the 10 minutes add your Swiss chard greens and cook further 5 min or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  7. Just before serving stir in the spring onions and lime juice to taste. (you can also add some fresh coriander - cilantro)
  8. Serve with flat breads, brown rice or rice noodles.


0 Comments

SWEETCORN AND CELERY VELOUTE

SWEETCORN AND CELERY VELOUTE

Back from our holiday in Disneyland Paris. We all had a blast and kids wanted to stay at least another five days. I must admit that even before we left for Disneyland I was already dreading the food. Not much understanding of veggie needs in France. Indeed I have returned with a bout of my irritable bowl syndrome which has been a very rare occasion over the last year and a half... Not sure whether it was the much richer food, less fibre or just the stress of a long tiring drive (and I was just the passenger).

Do you remember the book
“French Woman Don’t Get Fat” ? Well, I have to report that they certainly do. I am sure we all have an image of Marion Cotillard type woman in her Channel suit, elegantly lifting a Gitane to her Dior adorned lips while talking about French literature with her charming scarf wearing male companion. None of that in Disneyland. And yes French women, men and especially children are getting larger too. All around the world we seem to be on a slippery slope. I could not believe a young boy I saw in our hotel (about 14). His family were visiting the park from the Middle East. He was so large that he struggled to walk, his breathing was laboured and he was sweating profusely. It was painful to see. This was not a rare sight.

Interestingly in the Middle East, China and India it is the affluent who are putting weight on. Fast food, in these countries, can still be a luxury enjoyed by the well off. I remember when the first McDonald restaurant opened in Prague in the early 90’s the cost of a hamburger was twice of what a decent restaurant meal would amount to. On the contrary, in countries such as the USA, Great Britain and indeed France (even though it only has obesity levels comparable with the USA 30 years ago...), the poorer tend to be larger, due to junk food being cheap.

Sometimes, though, I can’t but think that blaming the cost is only an excuse, healthy food doesn’t need to be expensive. As I don’t go to McDonald’s I am not sure about the prices but I believe that you will have to spend at least £12 to feed a family of four. My veloute soup is for sure a quarter of the price or less. It is filling and much much better for you. This veloute (oh la la, how very French) is as rich as the egg yolk and cream thickened French veloutes. All thanks to the magic of a mere 1/3 cup of cashews. Provided you can get a white sweet potato (I had some from the Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range) the soup has a beautiful pale yellow colour, good enough for a Channel suit :)

sweetcorn-veloute


SWEETCORN AND CELERY VELOUTE

If you are not using a high speed blender make sure to soak the cashews for at least half an hour in some water, drain before adding to the soup.

Serves 4

i
ngredients
3 large stalks of celery
1 medium onion
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, preferably white variety, peeled and diced
500ml measure (2 cups) sweetcorn (frozen or fresh)
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
80ml measure (1/3 cup) of cashew nuts
cracked black pepper and coriander leaves for garnish

method
  1. In a large sauce pan heat up about 60ml water (1/4 cup), add the celery and onion and cook till softened. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of your pan.
    2 Next add both potatoes, sweetcorn and the vegetable stock.
    3 Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20min or until the potatoes are tender.
    4 Transfer the soup into your blender, add the cashews and process until smooth.
    5 Serve garnished with coriander and cracked black pepper.
0 Comments

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.
0 Comments

NOT SO CORNISH PASTY

pasty-banner

NOT SO CORNISH PASTY


Around the world people love cooking various ingredients in pastry cases very often formed into half moon shapes. Think of Cornish pasties, calzone in Italy, empanadas in Latin America, pierogi in Poland or gyoza dumplings in Japan. They are all different but the philosophy is the same. Roll a dough into a circle, fill with yummy filling and bake, boil or steam.

My husband’s family comes from Cornwall, the home of the world famous Cornish pasty, the, local speciality that dates back centuries. Any Brit will tell you that pasties were the perfect  “packed lunch” for the Cornish tin miners. Easily portable, the flaky pastry case was stuffed with beef, swede (in Cornwall called turnip), onion and potatoes. Apart from salt and pepper that was it. Sometimes one corner of the pasty encased a portion of stewed apple for dessert. 

Cornish people are very protective of their pasty, even down to the crimping of the edges. There is only one right way to do it and they will snigger at any rogue attempts. My husband’s grandmother made pasties at home. I had her pasty once, with vegetarian filling, only to discover years later that the pastry was made with lard :( This might have been the only animal product I had since going vegetarian... 

My pasty is not like the traditional one. The pastry is different, of course I don’t use lard but I also keep away from any vegetable shortenings that would make a credible replacement. Therefore I have decided to use a yeast dough, slightly crossing over the the calzone territory. Yes the texture is different, but it went down really well with the family. 

The filling of course is rather different too, no beef here, instead we have luscious combination of sweet potatoes, mushrooms and spinach, gorgeous healthy vegetables, and in keeping with Cornish pasty seasoned with lots of pepper.

The plan is to serve it to my mum-in-law next time she comes for a visit, I will dodge the comments about my lack of crimping but hopefully she will enjoy my take on the food she grew up with. 



NOT SO CORNISH PASTY

ingredients

the dough

1 cup of warm water
1 Tbs of olive oil, plus more for the rising of the dough
1 tsp of agave syrup 
1 sachet of instant (or fast acting) yeast
150g (1 cup) of fine wholewheat flour 
225 g (1 and 1/2 cups) of wholewheat spelt flour
salt

the filling 

2 medium large sweet potatoes (roughly 600g, just under 1 and half lb)
1 Tbs olive oil (separated)
3 large portobello mushrooms
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
200g (about half a lb) baby spinach
salt and lots of pepper to taste

IMG_2166

method

  1. First make the dough for the pasty.

  2. In a large bowl mix the warm water (just hand warm, not boiling hot) with the agave syrup, olive oil and yeast. Stir. Let it stand for 10min to get the yeast activated, the mixture should start to bubble up.

  3. Next start mixing in the flour. Don’t add all the flour at once, each flour is different and can yield different results at different quantities. After about 1 and half cups add 1 tsp of salt, get your hands in, mix, adding more flour until you get soft pliable dough, not dry or stiff. You are making a basic bread dough.

  4. Invert the dough on a floured surface and knead for at least 5 min until you get a smooth ball of dough. Add more flour if dough is sticking to your surface too much.

  5. Rub a little bit of olive oil all over your ball of dough, place in a large bowl, cover with cling film and let rest in a warm place for about 1 hr or until it has doubled in size.

  6. Preheat your oven to 200C.

  7. While your dough is rising, peel your sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch dice, place in a roasting dish lined with some baking paper. Add 1/2 Tbs of olive oil making sure all pieces are coated. Roast in a the oven for about 25 min or until the potatoes are cooked through and  caramelized along the edges.

  8. In a large frying pan, heat another half a Tbs of olive oil. Add the onion and cook for about 5 min or until soft. 

  9. Add the garlic in and cook for further minute.

  10. Cut the mushrooms into 1 cm pieces and add to the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 min or until mushrooms are soft. Don’t forget to season everything.

  11.  Next add in the spinach, cook until it is just wilted (about 1 min). 

  12. Place the vegetables into a bowl together with the roasted sweet potatoes. 

  13. Mix all the vegetables together, breaking some of the potatoes as you go. Season with plenty of pepper. Set aside.

  14.  When your dough has risen, invert it onto a floured surface and knead for about 2 min.

  15. Divide the dough into 4 (this makes large, calzone size pasties) or 8 pieces (for smaller pasties - perfect for picnic).

  16. Make sure to divide your vegetable mixture accordingly. 

  17. Roll each piece of the dough into a large circle (the dough should be quite thin, think pizza), place the filling on one half of the circle leaving about 1/2inch border. Fold the other half over trying not to make any holes. Press the edges down with a fork.

  18. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the pasties on top. Bake for about 25 minutes in a 200C oven or till the pasties are lightly brown and sound hollow when you tap on the pastry.

  19.  Enjoy!



IMG_0061

0 Comments

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND EDAMAME PEANUT STEW

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND EDAMAME PEANUT STEW

Every day I look at the latest health news and what particularly caught my eye in the last few days were several articles on the causes of obesity. It is a rather mixed bunch of possible causes. Here is the list:

  1. The less you sleep the more weight you gain
  2. The environment in mothers womb (due to lifestyle) might be linked to obesity
  3. CO2 concentrations in the air increases weight gain
  4. Gene mutation so called “greedy gene” causes weight gain
  5. Obesity is fuelled by gender-bending chemicals
  6. Obesity is contagious (microbe imbalance)

Wouldn’t it be nice if things were so simple? On the other hand if these studies are right we are all destined to become the chubby mobility scooter bound people from Wall-E. Of course things are not so simple, none of these studies seem to be conclusive. NHS behind the headlines had debunked the womb environment argument, the study only found a link to height not weight (but weight makes a better headline). The greedy gene mutation was studied in mice, but is extremely rare in humans. CO2 and gender-bending chemicals? Hm I am going to wait what NHS behind headlines comes back with but it seems extremely far fetched.

There has been an explosion of TV programs about obese people trying to loose weight and changing there lives. I particularly like
Obese a year to save my life (preferring the UK version) especially because the program explores the reasons behind the overeating habits of the person. Another great one is Supersized v Superskinny, how fantastic to be shown both sides of an eating problem. What is the common denominator of these programs? The people who are obese are eating 2-3 times their daily recommended calorie intake and lead sedentary lifestyles. They don’t seem to be particularly overdosing on CO2, or toxins from cans or having a gene mutation.Their sleep problems are stemming from their weight not vice versa. Most of them, under the right guidance and support ,strong will and determination, loose weight and regain health and energy.

It is human nature to blame something else, gene, toxin, our mothers, but in most cases it is us who are responsible for our health. Even if scientists come up with a pill that allows us to eat tons of doughnuts without putting weight on this would not equal health. Education is one of the most important ways to bring on a healthier future.


BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND EDAMAME PEANUT STEW
This stew is rich creamy and spicy. I have not used any added oil in cooking it, especially because I am adding peanut butter in the end which is high in fat. This dish serves 4 very satisfyingly therefore the amount of fat from the peanut butter is just about 10g per person (about what one average pork sausage would have).

Serves 4

peanutstew

ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped (use a peeler to remove the stringy parts)
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 small to medium, bell peppers (2 different colours), cut into 1cm (about 1/3 inch dice)
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, slit in the side
3 sprigs of thyme
450g (1lb) butternut squash (cleaned weight), cut into bite size pieces
1 orange sweet potato, peeled cut into bite size pieces
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
375 ml (1 and 1/2cup) of vegetable stock
130g (1 cup) shelled edamame beans (I used frozen)
80g (1/3 cup) smooth organic no sugar added peanut butter
fresh coriander for garnish

method
  1. In a large casserole pan heat 60ml (1/4 cup) water. Add the onion, celery, garlic, peppers, Scotch Bonnet and thyme. Saute till vegetables soften about 10min, add more water if they start to stick.
  2. Add the tin of tomatoes, the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  3. Next add the butternut squash and the sweet potato. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 min.
  4. Add the edamame beans and simmer for further 20min.
  5. To finish the dish add the peanut butter, let it heat through and melt thus creating sumptuous creamy sauce. Don’t forget to fish out and discard the Scotch Bonnet!
  6. Serve with quinoa or rice, garnish with fresh chopped coriander. Some steamed green veggies on the side will finish this dish perfectly.


0 Comments

MUSHROOM, SWEET POTATO AND GREENS STEW

MUSHROOM, SWEET POTATO AND GREENS STEW

Do you remember Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat series? First she would confront the serious food offender with a table full of the foods they consumed the previous week. It all looked beige and depressing, greasy and quite frankly dead. The next step was to introduce them to the plethora of nutritious gorgeous vibrant and lively foods. The food on the second table was alive. I would be excited to see all the amazing produce. The food criminals had long faces and were usually disgusted by the taste of their new food. Not for long though.

If you are addicted to high fat, high sugar, high animal and processed diet it is hard at first to adjust to vibrant plant based goodness. But it only takes few weeks and your taste buds get exited, they become alive. Vibrant food means vibrant mind and body. It means vibrant you.

Food should be colourful, vibrant, flavourful and full of goodness. Just like this very simple lunch I had today. It may take a bit longer to prepare than a sandwich, but it tastes great and packs an antioxidant punch. These ingredients are some of the nutritional heavy weights; luscious orange sweet potato, satisfying green spring greens, earthy brown mushrooms and don’t forget the mighty garlic. As I always say to the kids, if you eat like this your body will say : “Thank you”.


MUSHROOM, SWEET POTATO AND GREENS STEW

The cajun spices go so well with the sweet potato, there is no need for salt in this dish.
I managed to eat the whole bowl of this, the excuse being it is only veggies and there is no added oil. But realistically it should serve 2, possibly with the addition of some brown rice or lentils on the side. I can even see it wrapped inside a nice whole wheat wrap or chapati.


Serves 2 (or a very hungry 1)


3heavyweights

ingredients
1 orange sweet potato
1 head of spring greens (collards)
1 large clove of garlic
150g (2cups) of brown mushrooms (cremini)
1 tsp cajun seasoning

method
  1. Peel the sweet potato and cut into bite size pieces. Put into a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and gently boil till soft.
  2. Remove the potatoes from the water, reserve the cooking water.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking cut up the mushrooms (mine were small I only halved them).
  4. Prepare the spring greens, cut out the stalks and shred the leaves.
  5. In a medium sized frying pan heat about 60ml (1/4 cup) of the cooking water. Add the mushrooms and garlic and gently cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms soften.
  6. Add the cajun seasoning and cook for 30 seconds.
  7. Next add the shredded spring greens to the mushrooms, let them wilt and cook for about 3 minutes. Add more sweet potato cooking liquid if needed. Taste the greens, if you prefer them softer cook longer.
  8. Add the sweet potato and heat up. Serve.
0 Comments

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.
0 Comments