Aubergine, walnut and rocket spaghetti

No matter how much you enjoy cooking, there’s always the times when you just want something quick and easy that doesn’t keep you tied to the kitchen whilst it’s cooking. Particularly on those busy weekdays. Even though we’re still in lockdown and not physically going anywhere, I’ve found my weekday evenings seem to be just as busy with online meetings, webinars or social chats.

Continue reading “Aubergine, walnut and rocket spaghetti”

Parsnip and cauliflower soup

I love parsnip soup. And I love cauliflower soup. So it only seemed like a natural progression to try the two together. And it was definitely worth doing!

When cooked, parsnips are naturally ‘creamy’ – and so is cauliflower. When cooked and blended together, it creates a lovely rich and unctuous texture that is wonderfully comforting, perfect for those grey January days.

I’ve used both a curry powder mix that contains turmeric as well as a little additional turmeric. This is to ensure that as well as super tasty, this soup also gives the immune system a bit of a helping hand.

Turmeric is a beautifully golden yellow spice (or root rather) that contains some powerful medicinal compounds that have been well researched for their positive effects on both the body and the brain. The main compound studied is curcumin, although there are many more within turmeric that all work together as a team, so as always, trust nature and consume turmeric as a whole rather than an individual compound.

To maximise absorption of these helpful compounds, it’s best to consume alongside some black pepper (for the compound piperine that massively aids absorption) and a little fat. As you know, all my food is cooked without oil, but I have included some almond milk plus I like to garnish my soup with a drizzle of cold-pressed flaxseed oil. This provides some healthy omega 3 fatty acids and helps absorption of the turmeric compounds.

This soup keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days plus it freezes well, so you can make a big batch and have portions on hand when you need a tasty lunch that will hug you from the inside out! Enjoy.

Parsnip and cauliflower soup

A deliciously thick and warming soup perfect for chilly winter days.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Soup
Servings 4 big portions

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 4 medium parsnips peeled and diced
  • 1/2 medium cauliflower chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1.5-2 teaspoons medium curry powder
  • 700 ml vegetable stock
  • 100 ml almond milk or dairy-free milk of choice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • drizzle cold pressed flaxseed oil optional

Instructions
 

  • Place a medium-sized pan on a medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
  • Tip the parsnips into the pan and sauté for 3 minutes, then add the cauliflower and garlic along with a little extra water to stop it sticking to the base of the pan. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the ground turmeric and curry powder and stir in to coat the veggies. Pour over the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
  • Pop on the saucepan lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the veggies are soft.
  • Turn off the heat and add the almond or dairy-free milk of choice. Using a stick blender, blend to smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Gently reheat if necessary then serve piping hot with a little extra black pepper and glug of flaxseed oil
Keyword cauliflower, gluten free, healthy soup, OMS friendly, parsnip, plant based

Roasted squash and lentil filo swirl

It’s only a week until Christmas Day! Have you decided what you’re having for Christmas lunch this year? It could well be nut roast – and why not? It’s delicious. Especially if you jazz it up a bit with a filling, like this stuffed nut roast recipe. But what if you fancy something a bit different? Or can’t eat nuts? What else can you make for that special meal?

This super tasty roasted squash and lentil filo swirl might just hit the spot for you. The soft and flavoursome filling contrasts perfectly with the crunchy flaky filo on the outside. And it looks dead posh too, even though it’s pretty simple to make.

To make this recipe easier, it’s a good idea to roasted the squash ahead of time so it’s ready for when you want it. And to make it even easier, you don’t even need to take the skin off. Peeling squash is just all too much 😉 It’s enough to wash the skin, then slice, remove the seeds inside and cut into chunks to tip into a roasting tray. Simple!

I’ve used filo for this tasty swirl as it contains only a few ingredients and is easy to use. But if you’re gluten free, it’s not ideal. You can buy it, but it’s hard to find. And you can make it, but it’s pretty tricky!

As an alternative, you could use bought gluten free pastry either short crust or puff pastry. But these can contain higher levels of saturated fat or animal fats, which again is not ideal. So an alternative is to use a large cabbage or winter greens leaf. Yup you read that correctly! It’s not as crazy as it sounds, honest!

Remove the inner stem and lightly steam for a couple of minutes. You want it to soften but not cook.  Refresh the leaf in some cold water, pat dry, then place some of the filling on one side and wrap it up in to a little parcel. Secure with some thin strips of leek or a cocktail stick. This can then be baked in the oven. It’s not a swirl, but it still tastes fab!

Of course, this recipe can be made any time of year – it’s not just for Christmas! But if you do make it for Christmas Day, I hope you enjoy it with all the normal trimmings. Do let me know how you get on!

Roasted squash and lentil filo swirl

A delicious main course for those special meals filled with delicate seasonal flavours and comes with a satisfying crunch.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
resting time 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 4 swirls

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium squash
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150 grams mushrooms a woodland mix or chestnut mushrooms are good
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, coriander and cumin
  • 250 grams cooked puy lentils
  • 50 grams dried cranberries or raisins soaked in warm water
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander and/or parsley chopped
  • 4 sheets filo pastry
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or soya milk

To garnish

  • extra sliced almonds and chopped herbs

Instructions
 

Roasting the squash - can be done the day before

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas4.
  • Chop the squash into smallish chunks –there's no need to peel at the moment. Place in a large baking tin, massage in a tiny bit of olive oil (optional) and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or so until soft and lightly caramelised. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Make the filling

  • Finely chop the onion. Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a medium-sized pan and add the onion and bay leaves. Sauté for 5 minutes until soft. Stir regularly and add a little more water if needed to ensure the onion doesn’t stick.
  • Finely chop the mushrooms and garlic cloves. Add them to the pan with the tamari. Stir well and sauté for a few more minutes.
  • Chop the squash into small pieces – remove any thick, chewy bits of skin but otherwise keep the skin if its soft from roasting. Mash half the squash, keep the other half chopped.
  • Add the squash to the pan along with the spices and lentils. Stir well. Add the soaked fruit along with a little of the soaking water and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the ground flaxseed, sliced almonds, fresh herbs and lemon juice. Leave to cool for 15 minutes. The mix with thicken slightly.

Construct the swirls

  • If not already on, pre-heat the oven to180ºC/350ºF/Gas4. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
  • Divide the mix into 4 in the pan.
  • Carefully lay out a sheet of filo pastry onto the worktop or large board long side horizontal (landscape). Spoon one portion of the mix along the top edge of the pastry in a narrow line. Brush the rest of the pastry lightly with olive oil or soya milk and carefully roll into a long sausage shape.
  • Pinch one end of the sausage to seal then care wind it up into a swirl. Transfer to the baking tray using a spatula and brush the top with more olive oil or soya milk.
  • Repeat the process another 3 times until you have 4 swirls on your tray. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly brown and crisp.
  • Garnish with almonds and herbs if you are serving straight away or leave to cool and keep in the fridge for 24 hours. Gently reheat in the oven before serving.
Keyword Christmas, entertaining, OMS friendly, plant based, vegan

 

Warming rainbow veggie chilli

Autumn really has hit with the wind, rain and dark evenings. So time to hunker down with some comfort food 😉

When you hear the expression ‘comfort food’, what do you think of? For many its stodgy bread, rich puddings, cake or chocolate eaten with a mix of guilt and pleasure. Often associated with childhood or times of abundance, sweet calorie-laden comfort food certainly does hit the pleasure centres in the brain, but for how long? And with what effect on the body?

Whilst I remain a huge fan of cake (for life would be dull without it!), I prefer my comfort food to nourish as well as nurture. Something nutrient dense and warming, like a big hug on the inside that has more than a fleeting effect – and doesn’t go straight to my hips!

This rainbow chilli is my perfect comfort food for this time of year. Packed full with veggies of different hues, it’s pleasing to the eye as well as the body. Every colour has its own tiny powerful phytonutrients, many of which act as anti-oxidants that help reduce inflammation and support the immune system, super important with all the autumn colds going around. And of course there’s Covid too!

And it’s not just the veggies that get up to good on the inside, but the spices as well. Chilli is super warming and contains compounds that help with chesty coughs and colds (amongst other things) and cumin helps calm the digestive system as well as supports immunity.

Of course, no chilli is complete without the beans. I use two different types in this one, kidney and pinto beans. Both have their own different phytonutrients as well as lots of plant protein, minerals and of course fibre. Keeping our microbiome – the colony of friendly bacteria living in the large intestines – happy is key to us being happy and healthy. And beans are full of gut loving fibre. They may make you fart, but beans are one of the healthiest foods you can eat – and yes they’re good for the heart too!

So if your evening is feeling rather dull and in need of something comforting, why not try this hug- in-a-dish rainbow chilli? It’s so good! And don’t forget to let me know how you get on. And if you feel in the need for something even more nurturing, then have a look at our next online retreat – Winter Glow. A whole weekend full of relaxation, company and great food ideas to really get you set for winter. Check it out here and come and get your glow on!

Warming Rainbow Veggie Chilli

A super tasty comforting dinner packed full of immune supporting ingredients
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 4 hearty portions

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium red onion chopped
  • 2 medium orange or purple carrots chopped
  • 2 medium sticks celery chopped
  • 2 medium bell peppers colours of choice
  • 1 fat clove garlic finely chopped
  • 400 gram tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder mild or hot
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 400 gram tin red kidney beans rinsed
  • 400 gram tin pinto beans rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 40 gram fresh coriander or spinach chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Chop the onion, carrots and celery. Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a medium-sized pan and add the veg with a pinch of salt. Sauté on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly so the veggies don't stick.
  • Whilst the veg are cooking, chop the peppers and garlic. Add the peppers to the pan with a little extra water if needed and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another minute.
  • Pour the tinned tomatoes into the veg and add the spices. Stir well. Pop on the lid and simmer for 15 minutes until the veggies are soft.
  • Stir in the drained beans and the tomato purée and cook for another 5 minutes. Add a little water to the pan if the mix is too thick - I like a good amount of sauce!
  • Turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped fresh coriander or spinach. Serve on a baked potato, with wholegrain rice or wholewheat wraps.
Keyword gluten free, immune support, no oil, OMS friendly, plant-based diet, rainbow eating

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”