Category Archives: Recipes

Healing Garlic, Ginger and Butterbean Soup

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It’s mid December! Which means it’s cold outside (cue cosy jumpers, hoodies and scarves), party season is upon us and Christmas is just around the corner. Plenty to get excited about!

But with that excitement usually comes extra strain on our bodies and minds; lack of sunlight, indulgence in naughty foods and alcohol and excess stress over pulling together the perfect Christmas can all take its toll on us physically.

So if you’re feeling a little under the weather, this nourishing soup is the perfect pick-me-up.

Garlic boasts amazing antibacterial and antiviral properties, while ginger stimulates immune function and helps fight infection, as well as reduces nausea. Together they pack a mighty nutritional punch, and combined with onion (also a natural antiviral decongestant) these benefits are boosted even further.

On top of that, butterbeans are a fabulous source of B-vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, fibre and protein. And along with cashews, which are packed with eye, heart and blood healthy vitamins and minerals, they help give the soup a warming, creamy consistency.

Even more to get excited about, this dish is so easy to make!

Ingredients:

1 head of garlic

3 carrots

1 tin butterbeans, rinsed and drained 

2 red onions

4-6 inches ginger

3 spring onions (plus extra to garnish)

Handful cashew nuts

1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano

Pinch of paprika

500ml vegetable stock

50ml almond milk

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°c.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a baking tray and add the carrot and whole garlic cloves. I left the skin on the garlic for added nutrients, but these can be removed before blending if you prefer. 

Coat well in oil, 1/2 tbsp oregano, paprika and a little salt and black pepper, then roast for 20-30 min until soft, shuffling and turning half way.

Meanwhile season the butterbeans with 1 tbsp dried oregano and black pepper. Roughly chop the red onion, ginger and spring onions. 

Sautée the red onions and ginger for 3-4 min, then add the butterbeans for another 5 mins. Finally add the spring onions, carrot and garlic for the last 2 min.

Stir in vegetable stock, bring to boil, cover and then reduce to simmer for about 5 mins.

Add to blender (I used an immersion blender) along with almond milk and pulse until soft and creamy.

Serve and garnish with chopped spring onion.

Enjoy, and embrace the healing feeling and delicious flavours, while those antibodies get hard at work fighting your physical corner!

Stoptober: 31 Days Sugar-Free

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This year I decided to participate in ‘Stoptober’, opting to quit sugar for the entire month. So I thought I’d share my experience, plus a few handy ‘alternative’ products that quite frankly, I probably couldn’t have survived without.

To clarify, by ‘no sugar’, I mean cutting out the refined stuff, or anything where the top 3 ingredients are sugar (or products which are clearly laden, though may not make it clear on the pack).

So, things like biscuits, sweets, chocolate, most cereals, baked beans, yogurts, store bought sauces, cordial and fizzy drinks, cereal bars, cakes etc.

To be honest, most of these things I’ve generally avoided for a long time anyway (I haven’t had fizzy drinks or cordial for years, and since I switched to a plant based diet I only ever make my own sauces), but chocolate admittedly is my weakness, as can be cereal (if I’m bored at night I can put away 3 bowls without blinking). So to say it was a challenge is still somewhat an understatement.

In our western culture, we’re introduced to sugar from almost day 0. And quickly we become addicted to it, going through childhood with fists full of candy, throwing tantrums if we can’t get our fix. Then progressing into later life, as adults we find solace in chocolate bars and cakes (I know this is the main thing that gets most of my work colleagues through their day in the office, besides gossip). And if we try to resist, the temptation is more often than not too much, despite the huge sense of guilt that usually accompanies even just one Miniature Hero.

Now, many studies have emerged showing not only how detrimental the white powder is to our health (leading to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even cancer), but also how highly addictive a substance it is (it stimulates the same pleasure receptors in the brain as cocaine!!).

Personally I’ve known this for a long time, never being able to have just one bite of anything that’s laced with it. And who knows how many times I’ve woken the next morning with a ‘sugar hangover’, belly feeling like it took a powder beating, hardly room left for real food yet feeling like I’m starving.

So when I quit, I found that the ‘hunger’ I often feel, despite having had substantial meals throughout the day, isn’t hunger at all but just a sugar craving.

Here’s what happened when I quit:

  • I stopped waking up feeling groggy/ inexplicably hungry. 
  • I lost weight, particularly that stubborn belly fat.
  • My cravings reduced.
  • I had more energy throughout the day, due to replacing it with more natural/sensible energy sources.
  • I was generally happier.

Of course, these things didn’t all happen at once, but did precede one another. 

The main change for me I noticed really was in the mornings; I was no longer dragging myself out of bed, subconsciously looking for my fix. Instead I had lots more energy, and really looked forward to my breakfast.

Here are some of the (delicious) alternatives that helped get me through:

  • Fruit (fresh, frozen, dried)
  • Maple syrup
  • Xylitol
  • Raw Bran Flakes
  • Pancakes
  • Home made popcorn
  • Raw cacao
  • ‘Plamil’ sugar free dark chocolate
  • ‘Pulsin’ raw brownie bars
  • Smoothies

These two together with soy milk are actual Love in a bowl 😍

Buckwheat pancakes – click for recipe

Cinnamon & maple syrup popcorn- click for recipe

Admittedly, once October was over I did succumb to 3 bars of cooking chocolate in one week (ugh, gluttony). But I’m trying my best not to fall back into that pattern again. And avoiding the sweets aisle in the supermarket is actually easier than it was before! 

I’d recommend anybody give detoxing from sugar a try- there are so many alternatives out there that help us maintain our energy levels without spiking then dropping our blood sugars (which only leads to further cravings). Like any drug, it’s a vicious circle and we all know addiction to any substance isn’t the ideal. 

Why not give it a try? 🙂

Peace and love, Warriors 

Healthy Cinnamon & Maple Syrup Popcorn 

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I’ve always loved popcorn, but couldn’t continue to justify pumping my body full of store bought, sugar – laden versions any more. 
When I first made it at home myself, I actually couldn’t believe how easy it is! Not only that, a 1kg bag cost less than £2.00… what a bargain!

And surprisingly, the corn is full of whole grains, fibre and antioxidants. Boom! (or should I say Pop!?)

Cheap, healthy and delicious.. can it really be? Well try the recipe for yourself and find out!

2-3 servings:

2 handfuls popcorn kernels 

1 tbsp coconut oil/ EVOO

For the topping:

2 tbsp coconut oil

1-2 tbsp ground cinnamon 

2-3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp xylitol (optional)

Method: 

Heat the oil for popping in a large saucepan. Add 2 kernels and place lid on top. Once the kernels have popped, the oil is hot enough and you can add the rest of the popcorn.

Replace the lid and wait until all the kernels have popped (or until there are 4-5 seconds between pops). Remove from heat and transfer to suitable bowl.

While the popcorn is cooling, melt the rest of the coconut oil in a saucepan and add maple syrup and xylitol (if using). Keep stirring until well combined, then add cinnamon and stir quickly.

A sticky mixture will form. Before it dries, pour over the popcorn and mix it all up, ensuring even coverage.

Sit back with your favourite film and enjoy (guilt free)!

Vegan Buckwheat Flour Pancakes with Blackberry Sauce

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Vegan Buckwheat Flour Pancakes with Blackberry Sauce

I couldn’t resist tucking in before I snapped the photo🙈

Hello Autumn. ‘Tis the season for juicy blackberries!

To celebrate I whipped up these buckwheat pancakes with warm blackberry sauce.

Best of all, I had them for breakfast, cos I can! Buckwheat flour is super healthy; not only gluten-free, it’s jammed with protein and fibre, an array of nutrients including magnesium, zinc and iron, it helps lower cholesterol, aids digestion and even has cancer fighting antioxidants. Win-win.

To make 3-4, all you need is:

120g buckwheat flour

200ml almond milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp ground flax seed (aka linseed)

2 handfuls blackberries

Handful blueberries to top (optional)

Maple syrup to top (or other optional sweetener)

For the sauce:

Add 50ml boiling water to a saucepan, with the blackberries. Heat for a few minutes until the blackberries soften, drain the water and add the fruit to a food processor.

Whiz until a sauce forms and set aside to cool.
For the pancakes:

Simply whisk together all the ingredients until a batter is formed (it shouldn’t be too thick, just similar to regular pancake batter).

Spread a little olive oil evenly around a frying pan. Then add a thin layer of batter and cook on either side for around 4 mins each, until the edges are nice and crispy.

Topped with blackberry sauce, blueberries, maple syrup and walnuts

I’m always full of energy and excited for the day after eating these babies!

You can top them with anything you like, but this blackberry sauce was certainly a sweet deal. I often mix it up with vegan chocolate spread, strawberries, raspberries, nuts, bananas and maple syrup. 

Enjoy!

12/11/16 UPDATE: Vegan pancakes 2.0.. stacked and layered with fruit is the way forward 👌

Crispy Cauliflower Bites

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I recently discovered these bad boys, the same time my best friend was giving birth to her first child- what a momentous day.
Believe me when I say, these are one of the tastiest vegan foods I’ve had the pleasure of consuming.

Having experimented with a few flavours, I’ve found that this ‘curried’ version came up top. But it can of course be amended to include any herbs and spices you like.

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

120g buckwheat flour

220ml almond milk

3 tbsp coconut oil (measured solidified)

3 tsp paprika

4 tsp ground turmeric

4 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

3 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt (I use pink himalayan)

2 cloves garlic (crushed/finely diced)

1 inch finely diced ginger (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 200°. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper and melt the coconut oil in the oven on the tray for a couple of minutes. Spread evenly.

Chop cauliflower into medium – small florets (it’s really up to you, I prefer them smaller as they go crispier).

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger,  salt and pepper. Ensure everything is combined nice and evenly.

Next, add the almond milk to a separate bowl and begin dunking a few florets of cauliflower. Once soaked, dip them into the flour until well coated and add to the baking tray.

Try double dipping some of them (milk-flour-milk-flour) which will create a batter – like consistency, giving a thicker, softer coating (the mix between crispy and soft is amazing).
Don’t leave out the tiny florets either- these are extra special as they work great for a super crispy coating.

Bake for 15 minutes before turning them over. Add more almond milk to any florets that might still have dry flour on them and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.

Serve up with your favourite vegan main and enjoy!

Big hit with the dog who lives off junk food

Fun, nutritous and delicious.. you can’t go wrong 🙂
P.S. I’d love to know if anybody has tried making a similar version of these? I’ve read great things about pan frying them..

Accompanying home made vegetable pattie with rocket

12/11/16 Update: just felt the need to add this – after I mentioned to my friend about making these the day she gave birth, she admitted she’d had total crispy cauliflower cravings throughout her pregnancy, and had visited the restaurant we first discovered it multiple times towards the end!

Needless to say I whipped her up a batch in a nice little food parcel with some houmous and salad, and she loved it!

Ahh, universe, how you continue to fascinate me so.💚

Rice Krispie & Oat Energy Bars

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Since going vegan, I actually can’t get enough of puffed brown rice. I use it for so much, like when I want that naughty sensation of eating cereal and cold milk covered with sugar, I fill a bowl with puffed brown rice, almond milk and xylitol (a plant based sugar subsititute which ironically even has oral health benefits)… snap, crackle and pop.
Or I make something like these Krispy, nutty oat bars. They’re packed full of fibre and protein, and the chia seeds give them an extra energy bursting nutritional kick – great for before or after a workout. Plus they take just a few minutes to whip up.

Ingredients:

140g almond butter (or any nut butter, though almond seems to taste best as it isn’t overpowering like peanut can be)

3-4 tbsp maple/date syrup

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 banana

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup puffed brown rice

Method:

Melt the coconut oil, almond butter and syrup gently in a saucepan. Blend together with the banana, chia seeds and cinnamon. 

Mix oats and rice well until sticky. Transfer the lot to a baking tray lined with parchment and freeze for about an hour.

The beauty of these babies is that you can take them straight out of the freezer and they’ll be edible within a couple of minutes. Hope you’ll try and enjoy 🙂
You can also of course mix n match- try opting just for just rice krispies and setting them deeper in the pan- leaves them nice and chunky with lots of bite.

Move over s’mores…it’s BBQ Oreo time

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BBQ #6 this year and #6 being vegan… and aside from Linda McCartney sausages and veggie patties, this time I discovered a real gem; WARM OREOS.
That’s right, whack a bunch of Oreos on the BBQ for a few minutes, wait for the biscuit to warm (it smells like cake), the cream to melt and you have yourself a delicious, naughty vegan treat that gives s’mores a run for their money. Just wow.

They are so exciting and moreish, especially on a restricted diet. Just try not to eat the whole lot (we got through 3 packs).

For the second batch I got crazy and added some dark chocolate on top😍

Skewers are a BBQ-loving Vegan’s best friend

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My fourth BBQ in 3 weeks of turning vegan. And I’ve realised how much of a life saver 4 simple metal skewers have been.

Just simply marinating some chopped vegetables in the morning, transporting them in the same container, poking the skewer through them when you’re ready to cook, and whacking them on the grill, has proven deliciously helpful.

I went to a treetop climbing/zip line adventure in the woods today to celebrate my birthday with friends. We decided late the night before to have a BBQ, leaving me no time to prepare.. “F***, I’m vegan, cooking on a BBQ for dinner! ”

Then there’s always a nice side dish to go with whatever the main may be. My favourite veg so far has been courgette, red onion, pepper, mushrooms and baby plum tomatoes. They can be nice and crispy or just warm and tender, with a hint of smoky charred BBQy loveliness.

Because there’s nothing quite like cooking and eating outdoors, and the alluring smell of the coal heating up, drifting through the warm spring/summer air… and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t continue to be an enjoyable experience, whether vegan or vegetarian.

For these I have no recipe… I literally poured Nandos garlic sauce over and let it baste. Super quick, tasty and vegan.

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Adding some colour

Vegan Black Bean Quesadillas with Salsa & Guacamole

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Vegan Black Bean Quesadillas with Salsa & Guacamole

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Mexican food is one my favourites, and I’m delighted to be able to still enjoy those delicious flavours, without meat or dairy products.

In fact, the elimination of these transforms any meal into a powerhouse of nutrients, while masking any suspect ‘healthy’ ingredients with a clever mix of herbs and spices.

So I had a stab at some vegan alternatives this weekend, and they were a huge hit with my meat eater and vegan guests alike!

I’ve included the recipe and method below, and if you’re a fan of Mexican food I highly recommend you give them a go!

(Serves 6)

For the Guacamole:

2 nicely ripe avacados
2-3 large ripe tomatos
1 red onion (finely chopped)
1 chilli (deseeded, finely chopped)
Lime juice

Chop tomatos into small chunks and place into a bowl. Scoop out the avacado flesh, discard the stones and add flesh to the bowl. Mash the avacado with a spoon and mix well with the tomato, chilli and onion. Sprinkle with lime juice.

Tip: Make the guacamole last, right before serving. Or if it needs to be stored, add extra lime, place an avacado stone in the middle of the mixture to stop it browning, cover tightly and refrigerate.

For the salsa:

6 ripe tomatos
1 onion
1-2 chillies (deseeded)
1-2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
Pink salt/black pepper
Bunch of fresh coriander

Finely chop the tomatos and add to a bowl. Blend the chillies, garlic, olive oil, onion, some of the coriander and salt and pepper. Add mixture to tomatos and combine well. Finish with the rest of the coriander.

For the Quesadilla and filling:

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes
2 courgettes, chopped into small cubes
400g black beans
Brown rice
Garlic infused olive oil
Fajita seasoning
1 pack of tortilla wraps

Prepare and cook the beans as you prefer. I used dried beans, soaked overnight then simmered with onion, garlic and cumin for 60 mins. Tinned beans can be simply drained, rinsed and simmered.

Add courgettes and butternut squash to a deep baking tray. Cover with a few tsp of olive oil and coat well. Add fajita seasoning and flip everything over so it’s all coated evenly. Roast at 200° for 40 mins or until cooked; the outside of the veg should be crispy.

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I used a packet of fajita seasoning, but if you’ve taken the plunge of a sugar free diet as well as veganism, you can make it yourself really easily:

Just mix together chilli powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, garlic, and salt, for a fresh, sugar – free alternative.

Boil the rice to the packet instructions, then once it’s very almost cooked add it to a frying pan with some garlic, freshly chopped tomatos, chilli, pepper and coriander. Fry it off in a little olive oil to infuse the flavours. The rice should become a little crispy.

Once all the parts of the filling are ready, layer a little of each onto one half of a tortilla wrap. Then fold it over and add to a dry frying pan for a couple minutes each side, until the filling is warm and the tortilla pockets sort of seal together.

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Once warm and crispy, remove from the pan and carefully cut into quarters.

Serve with guacamole and salsa. Or for a creamier filling, add some of these to the tortillas as well as the veg and rice before frying. You can even add vegan cheese inside if you wish!

..Delicioso!

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Spicy Veggie Burgers

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Veering into the world of the vegetable patty can be somewhat daunting; “how can vegetables surpass a juicy beef burger?” one has probably asked.

As a lifelong carnivore, I myself was always reluctant to even bother tempting my taste buds to adjust to what may be considered a travesty against meat eaters.

But after visiting an all-vegetarian restaurant for the first time this week, I’ve been convinced a meatless diet isn’t as bland or big a deal as my mind might have once tried to tell me.

I’ve dabbled with home-made falafal before (drool), but had continued to shy away from the veggie burger. And these were so easy!

So here is my first attempt, and they turned out super delicious! In fact, there’s so many variations I can’t wait to try mixing it up next time.

These were actually a combination of sweet potato, carrot and kidney beans. And if you’re keen to experiment with a wider range of veggie meals, I’ve included the recipe I used below:

Ingredients (makes roughly 4 patties):

1-2 carrots, grated
2 sweet potatoes
1 can red kidney beans
1 tsp tahini (optional, but adds flavour and helps bind everything together)
Chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Pink himalayan salt/black pepper to taste
Sesame seeds, for a crispy outer layer
1tbsp olive oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 200°

Cook the potatoes  (I boiled until soft but roast is of course an option), then mash up in a bowl.

Drain and rinse the kidney beans, mash them up or put them through a food processor until smooth (I kept a few in chunks as I enjoy the ‘bite’ of a kidney bean).

Mix beans and potato together with the carrot, garlic, tahini and chilli flakes, season with salt and pepper if needed.

Spread the olive oil evenly across a baking tray.

When all ingredients are combined well, roll into patties and sprinkle with sesame seeds (or breadcrumbs, etc) to give a nice crispy outside.

Place onto baking tray and turn over so they’re coated in oil on both sides.

Pop into the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through.

Serve on toasted brioche bun, topped with houmous and crispy salad (..or however you fancy, baby).

Tasty, filling, nutritous and not an animal in sight! Enjoy 🙂