Easy vegan corn chowder

Autumn has arrived, blown in on a cold wind that’s a bit of a shock after the warm weather of the last month. Chilly weather always makes me want comforting soup, something that will gives a big hug and warm me up right down to my toes.

This sweet corn chowder is perfect for that. Most corn has been harvested by now, but you might still find some fresh cobs in the shop, sweet and deliciously golden. If not, then frozen sweet corn is a close second best as, like peas, the kernels are harvested and frozen in super quick time to preserve both flavour and nutrient benefits.

I grew my first sweet corn this year in my new veggie patch. It was fascinating to see how quickly they grew, and how they developed. They also seemed very popular with the local ants, but they didn’t damage it. The biggest challenge was knowing when to harvest it. As you can see, not all the kernels had ripened at one end, although they were super ripe at the other. But it tasted absolutely awesome when freshly harvested.

There’s a surprising amount of nutritional goodies in sweet corn. Yes there is sugar (which of course makes it so tasty) but this is all bound up in fibre, so it’s released more slowly, meaning you get a more stable blood sugar. There’s also a lot of insoluble fibre in sweet corn kernels, the type the friendly bacteria in your gut just love to dine on – a tasty treat for you and your microbiome!

Eating yellow foods means you are consuming flavonoids, powerful phytonutrients that support your skin, mucous membranes and eyes. They also have strong antioxidant properties, as has ferulic acid, another phytonutrient that has anti-inflammatory properties thought to help with preventing cancer and slow the ageing process (something I think we’re all interested in 😉 )

Traditional sweet corn chowder recipes tend to include a load of cream, butter and even bacon – you’ll find none of those in my dairy-free vegan version! The creaminess comes from the sweetcorn and potato plus whatever dairy-free milk you choose to use. If you want a little kick to warm your toes, then add some chilli flakes both when cooking and as a garnish if you like. My ‘secret’ ingredient is celery salt. This is a fantastic ingredient to keep in the cupboard as it provides a lovely savoury flavour to dishes. It almost tastes like chicken soup. And so nourishing, it’s perfect if you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – it’s very easy and so tasty! If you give it a go, don’t forget to let me know.

Easy vegan corn chowder

A simple and delicious filling corn chowder that can be made with fresh corn in season or frozen kernels all year round
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 4 portions

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes cut into small chunks
  • 2 fat cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes optional
  • pinch celery salt
  • 400 ml dairy free milk of choice
  • 2 cobs sweetcorn, kernals removed or 300g frozen sweetcorn
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a large pan. Add the onion and potato with a pinch of salt. Sauté on a low heat with the lid on for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute before pouring in the stock. Sprinkle in the chilli flakes and celery salt and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on until the potato is soft.
  • Add the sweetcorn and dairy free milk. Bring back to the boil then simmer for another 5 minutes until the sweetcorn is cooked. Keep an eye on the pan though as the dairy-free milk might boil over.
  • Turn off the heat. Using a stick blender, whizz the soup until half is pureéd but leave a little texture. Season with salt and pepper then serve with a little extra chilli on top if you like it spicy!
Keyword dairy free, gluten free, healthy soup, OMS friendly, vegan

Maximising the opportunity to eat well

“We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly” says designer and author Anna Thomas. And it’s so true – food is a basic essential of life. But there’s so much food available (to most of us) alongside so many opinions on what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ that deciding what to eat has become complex and confusing. Continue reading “Maximising the opportunity to eat well”

Making a difference

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a challenging year to date. There is so much going on in the world that it can seem so bleak. And overwhelming. There has been much sadness and loss. But if you can look past that, there’s some positives too, in particular in relation to the environment.

Although some will still deny it, the climate is in crisis. But when humans went into lockdown, the natural world was gifted a much needed break. We used less resources, created less pollution and just had less of an impact on the environment. Animals roamed more freely, skies cleared and demand for oil dropped so much the price crashed.

But did this really make any difference? Well, apparently it did.

Have you heard of Earth Overshoot Day? It’s the day in the year when the human demand for natural resources and services exceeds what the earth can regenerate in a that year. Last year it was 29th July, which means we spent 5 months of the year taking more out of the environment than it could recover. That’s a shocking figure! In 2018 it was 1st August, 2017 – 2nd August. So as you can see, it was gradually getting worse each year.

This year, however, Earth Overshoot Day was 22nd August – that’s a big improvement, but still leaves 4 1/2 months of excess resource usage (especially now we’re out and about more!). So that’ still a big problem, but by the date moving so significantly (even though it wasn’t by design!) it shows that improvements are possible. If you want to find out how this was calculated, you can read about it here. Although I don’t think anybody will say that living with pandemic restrictions and related economic challenges is the best way to move forward!

Fortunately, there are lots of things we can do to reduce our impact on the environment. One of the biggies is also connected to how we can improve our health and resilience – eat a plant-based diet. Because plants agriculture uses less land and natural resources and produce less emissions than animal, changing to eating a plant-based diet has a direct impact on the environment. For the better. Which might not make much difference when one or two people change (although it still does) but when hundreds and thousands do, it can make a huge difference.

Which is why the groundswell in people looking to make positive changes to their diet is so exciting. It’s the slither of light in a otherwise dark and overwhelming problem. Every food choice can make a difference if we want it to. Even down to what milk you put in your coffee.

August 22nd was also World Plant Milk Day (an odd coincidence). The rise in demand for plant-based milks has led to a wave of disinformation questioning the environmental impact of plant milks. And of course there is some. But compared to dairy milk, it’s much less, especially when you look at the effect of huge, intensively farmed dairy herds that are increasingly found throughout the world. Have a look at this table to see the environmental impact of the most popular milks (including cow).

Seeing information like this shows the stark reality of our choices. And how those choices can make such a positive – and negative – impact. Certainly one of the things I love about plant-based eating (and there are many!) is that I know my choices are having a better impact on the world around me.

When I first changed to a plant-based diet, the information out there was limited. Now it’s everywhere, which is awesome as it makes it much easier, and more acceptable, to change. Plant-based food, ingredients and recipes are readily available – it really is the best time to eat more plants, especially as we are still mid-pandemic. Plant-baed eating boosts immunity and helps deal with chronic health issues, both big topics at the moment as well.

If you are looking to shift to plant-based eating but are still not sure where to start, or you have been trying but just can’t get inspired, then have a look at this amazing plant-based diet info stack – 22 incredible resources (courses, books, cooking classes, apps) that will definitely help you head in the right direction. It’s all online, so no physical resources used, and only $49 (approx £38). But it’s only available for another 48 hours though.*** I don’t normally promote things like this, but I can assure you it’s an amazing offer – and you’ll find a version of my course in there too! It’s a feel good offer for challenging times.

I hope in a few years time we can look back at 2020 and see it as a positive turning point, rather than the havoc and chaos we have today. I really do believe we can all make a difference in many ways but particularly by eating amazingly tasty whole plant foods. We have nothing to lose!

*** the plant-based diet info stack is available until 04.59 on 26th August – so grab it now!

 

 

Refreshing melon, mint and lime salad

When I think of August, it brings to mind long, hot, sunny days (hopefully!), chilled glasses of Pimms and gorgeously ripe melons. The memories of sunny days and melon go back to my childhood (not so much the Pimms 🙂 ) when a slice of sweet melon was a delicious treat. Then as a teenager we holidayed in the Algarve and ate deliciously sweet, fragrant melon for breakfast every day. Wonderful memories.

Even though you’ll find melon in the supermarkets all year round, now really is the time to enjoy them at their best. The flavour is sublime (something that’s definitely missing in out of season fruit) and the nutrients hidden inside are perfect for supporting the body when you might be exposing it to a little bit too much sunshine.

All melons contain special phytonutrients, those tiny little natural chemicals that help keep our bodies working well. Cantaloupe melons, with their orange-coloured flesh and slightly green, textured outer skins are particularly good as they’re packed full of betacarotene, the plant precursor to vitamin A which is essential for skin, hair and eye health. There’s also a shedload of vitamin C, polyphenols plus potassium. This is essential for good cell function and can help keep your blood pressure within healthy limits. Vitamin C and phytonutrients have a strong antioxidant effect in the body, helping to reduce inflammation and keep damaging free radicals under control. This occurs everywhere, but particularly in your skin at this time of year.

“But what about the sugar?” I hear you cry. Yes, there are natural plant sugars in melon but it’s all tied up in the fibre plus the large water content. If you eat melon in chunks rather than add it to a smoothie (which by-passes the first stage of digestion, the chewing bit), the sugar is released slowly as the fibre is digested, giving a stable and sustained energy release that your body can handle.

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The flavours in this salad complement each other rather wonderfully. The sweet crunch of the melon mixed with peppery salad leaves, minty freshness and sour lime juice create a taste sensation on your tongue that is light, refreshing and so thoroughly enjoyable that you will forget it’s also good for you too! Enjoy.

Melon, mint and lime salad

A fresh, light summer salad packed full of body-loving nutrients and flavour.
Prep Time 7 mins
Total Time 7 mins
Course Salad
Servings 2 portions

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 medium cantaloupe melon cut into small chunks
  • 2 handfuls peppery salad leaves
  • 8 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 small ripe avocado cut into small chunks
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 medium lime juice only
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional additions

  • 1/4 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp balasmic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed flaxseed oil

Instructions
 

  • Grab two plates. Scatter the green leaves over each plate. Top with melon, red onion (if using), tomatoes and avocado.
  • Scatter mint leaves over the top and season with salt and pepper. Finish with the lime juice. Garnish with balasamic vinegar and/or oil if using.
  • Eat straight away.
Keyword antioxidants, phytonutrients, summer salad

Okra and potato masala

Okra is one of those ‘marmite’ vegetables – you either love it or hate it. I’ve not come across many people who don’t really have an opinion! Personally, I love it, but I do get why some of you don’t – it’s the slime factor!

I fell in love with okra years ago when I first discovered bhindi bajee at the local curry house. It was always my go-to side dish, although I tend to avoid it now as it’s often drowned in oil. When I went to India, though, I discovered there was so many more dishes it could be used in and used to cook with it on a regular basis. Of course the advantage there was it was locally grown and fresh; most okra bought in Europe has travelled a long way and can lose its vitality and flavour, which is a shame.

Okra contains some great nutrients including a good dose of magnesium, vitamins C, B6, folate and K. It also has some powerful antioxidants including polyphenols which have been connected to good brain and heart health, which is good to know.

The fibre is the star of this veg for me – or rather the mucilage is. This slimy type of fibre has two powerful supporting roles when it comes to health. 1) it binds with excess cholesterol and transports it out of the gut 2) it lowers the sugar absorption so can help maintain stable blood sugars and support people with diabetes. In fact, if you already have diabetes and are prescribed metformin, you might be advised to avoid okra as it is so effective. Which is a shame. It just shows how powerful food is when it comes to promoting good health. And why changing diet and lifestyle before going to medication can make such a big difference.

This masala is super easy to make – don’t be put off by the list of ingredients as those are mainly spices and flavourings. You can make this as spicy (or not) as you like; if you’re not into heat then leave out the fresh chilli and use just a little chilli powder. That way you get all the flavour without the burn. If you’re not in a hurry, make this in advance and leave the flavours to develop. Leftovers taste great the next day or can be frozen for another time.

I hope you enjoy this super tasty curry – the taste as well as the super body benefits. If you give this a go, do let me know how you get on.

If you’re interested in discovering more about how the food you eat can affect your health (and the world around you), then check out my online courses by clicking here.

Okra and potato masala

A super tasty vegetable curry that is packed full of healthy fibre and amazing flavours
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 medium portions

Ingredients
  

  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cm chunk fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic peeled and grated
  • 1 medium red or green chilli deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder kashmiri if possible
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 medium potatoes scrubbed and diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 250 grams okra washed, trimmed and cut into 3cm chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon garum masala

Instructions
 

  • Toast the cumin and mustard seeds in a medium sized pan until they start to pop. Remove the pan from the heat and leave for one minute to cool slightly, then carefully add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan (it will be super hot and sizzle so take care). Put the pan back on the heat and add the onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes then add the chilli, ginger and garlic to the pan. Cook for another 2 minutes, adding a litte more water if needed.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, coriander powder and ground turmeric to the pan. Stir well to combine and cook for another 2 minutes before stirring in the chopped potatoes and tomato purée. Stir well to coat the potatoes then add enough water to create enough fluid to just cover them. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are just cooked.
  • Add the okra to the pan and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so until it is just soft - try not to over cook it or you will get more slime than you might enjoy!
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with fresh coriander and a sprinkle of garum masala (both optional).
Keyword curry, gut health, no oil, okra, OMS friendly

Seedy crackers

Crackers are great! Crisp and crunchy texture that carries off all sorts of flavours, they’re perfect to have in the cupboard for lunch or snacking. What’s not to love? Well, for many people, the ingredients in shop-bought crackers are not ideal, particularly if you have food intolerances, follow a specific way of eating for health or want nourishing whole foods that don’t include ingredients that have a negative effect on the environment. Continue reading “Seedy crackers”

Courgette, carrot and kohlrabi salad

The courgette glut continues! It’s amazing how quickly they grow, seemingly able to transform from  fledgling to enormous beast over night! They taste so good, fresh and grown without chemicals. We’re not bored of them – yet!

I used to find courgettes very bitter, but the flavour now seems much calmer. They’re delicious raw and work really well in salads, either grated or cut into thin strips with a peeler. Serving thin strips makes a salad look a bit fancy ;).

This simple salad is almost an alternative coleslaw; the kohlrabi replaces green cabbage and the courgette is an added extra. What’s different is the dressing – it’s not a thick, creamy calorie-laden mayo but a fresh, zingy sauce that contains just four ingredients – lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. It brings the veggies to life using an oil-free dressing whilst letting them be the main attraction rather than masking them with strong flavours.

Kohlrabi is a funny looking vegetable. I first discovered them when I started having a weekly Riverford veg box delivered. It’s part of the cruciferous family so it’s packed full of healthful nutrients and phytonutrients, even though the flesh is a bit white and bland looking. The skin can be different colours – the one I had was purple on the outside – so it’s good to try and use some of that if possible, although sometimes it can be a bit tough and woody. If you’re lucky, some of the leaves will still be attached – these also contain wonderful phytonutrients as well as vitamin C, so lots of lovely anti-inflammatory nutrients there.

The kohlrabi bulb also contains vitamin C and lots of potassium, particularly good for helping to reduce blood pressure and looking after electrolyte balance right down to cellular level. Both vitamin C and potassium are easily lost once a food is cooked, so having it raw is a real nutrient bonus.

Amongst the various phytonutrients, kohlrabi is a good source of quercitin. This tiny compound is essential at cellular level and can help support a healthy blood pressure, reduce inflammation and help with allergies – particularly useful at this time of year if your hay fever is out of control.

If you can’t find kohlrabi, try using daikon radish or finely shredded green cabbage. The lemon juice in the dressing will help your body absorb many of the nutrients from the greens, especially iron. Adding in the carrots, courgette and red onion (if you can handle it!) makes this super simple salad a smorgasbord of vitality!

Over the summer I’ll keep adding super salads to the blog, along with other seasonal delights. What would you like to see coming up in the future?

Courgette, carrot and kohlrabi salad

A quick and delicous nutrient-packed fresh summer salad.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Salad
Servings 4 portions

Equipment

  • Food processor for grating - advisable!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 medium carrots scrubbed and trimmed
  • 1 medium courgette washed and trimmed
  • 1/2 medium kohlrabi washed and trimmed
  • 1/2 red onion finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

for the dressing

  • 1 lemon juice only
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard or mustard of choice
  • salt and pepper

Instructions
 

  • Grate the vegetables in a food processor (ideally to save time) using a small grater disc. Transfer to a large bowl and mix well with your hands to muddle up the veggies.
  • Add the red onion, seeds and fresh herbs
  • Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Toss to coat and serve.
Keyword anti-inflammatory diet, healthy salad, quick lunch