Lentil and buckwheat bake

Just in case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m all about eating amazingly tasty food that just so happens to be good for the body too. Just as well, as I use the food I eat to keep myself healthy, and keep my multiple sclerosis under control.

Near the end of last year, I took on the role of Ambassador for the OMS programme, setting up and running a support group for people living in my county (Sussex). OMS stands for Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis. It’s a seven step, research-based programme that empowers people with MS to manage their condition with diet and lifestyle, as well as medication if needed. Food is a major part of the programme; the research indicates that a mainly whole-food plant-based diet is the way to go, which is why I wanted to get involved, as that’s my thing! This programme has had a fabulous impact on people’s lives, but it can be challenging, so being an Ambassador means that I can help give support to others nearby, and it also helps me too.

Yesterday we had our latest meet up. Everyone brings an OMS-friendly dish to share. We had a veritable feast, including three different cakes (I of course had to try them all). I had been pondering for a few days about what to take, but then remembered a recipe I had made years ago for my then boyfriend (who is my now husband!). This was in early days of veggie cooking, and I remember it was a bit too hard-core for him. He’d never heard of buckwheat and wasn’t very impressed with my ‘hippie’ offering. The recipe has been improved and refined since then so I decided to see how it went down with the OMS group. Fortunately, everyone loved it, and wanted the recipe, hence this blog post.

Buckwheat benefits from being soaked if you have time, in order to remove some of the phytic acid that can make it less digestible for some people. Phytic acid is a naturally occurring enzyme found in grains, seeds, pulses and nuts that prevents the produce from growing until the conditions are right. This is good for storage, not so good if you struggle to absorb nutrients due to poor gut health. Different foods have different amounts. Cooking often removes most of it; soaking beforehand also helps too – if you remember! Sometimes even an hour in some warm water will help. If you do that with buckwheat, you’ll see the drained water contains a cloudy gloop. That’s the phytic acid making an exit. If you don’t have time, don’t worry too much – the buckwheat gets a good boiling before being baked.

This dish takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes in total to make, so might seem a bit too much like hard work. Don’t be put off though as it can be eaten hot or cold, and freezes really well, perfect to grab for a packed lunch or quick evening meal. Play around with the flavours to fit your tastes. I like the addition of a few chilli flakes to give it a bit extra pizzazz.

So if you fancy a tasty, versatile, thoroughly fibre and plant protein packed meal, this lentil and buckwheat bake is for you. If you would like to know more about the OMS programme, or discover your nearest OMS group, check out their website here.

Lentil and buckwheat bake (makes 9-12 slices depending on how you cut them)

100g buckwheat groats***
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 small bay leaves
1 medium-sized tomato, chopped
175g red lentils
1 tablespoon Italian herbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon tamari
800ml water or vegetable stock
pinch of dried chilli flakes
2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
salt and pepper

Heat a medium-sized non-stick frying pan and toast the buckwheat groats for 5 minutes or so until they release a nutty aroma and start to brown slightly. Turn off the heat and tip out onto a plate to stop any further toasting.

Grab a medium-sized saucepan and heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom. When bubbling, add the onion, carrot and bay leaf. Sauté for 5 minutes over a medium heat until both start to soften. Stir frequently and don’t let the onion stick to the bottom of the pan – add a little more water if needed. Add the chopped tomato, herbs and tamari and cook for a couple of minutes, then stir in the red lentils and toasted buckwheat. Mix together well and cook for a minute, so the flavours start to absorb into the lentils. Carefully pour in the water or vegetable stock, bring to the boil, pop on the lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes or so until all the fluid has been absorbed and the mix is thick and gloopy. You  may need to remove the lid for the last 5 minutes to evaporate the last bit of water.

Whilst the mix is simmering, pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and line a square baking tray or dish with baking paper.

Once the mix is thick and gloopy, turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and stir in the chilli flakes, nutritional yeast and season with salt and pepper. Check the flavour and add more seasoning if needed. Spoon the mix into the prepared baking tin – you may wish to sprinkle a few more chilli flakes over the top if you like a little kick. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and leave to settle for 10 minutes or so before cutting – if it’s too hot the mix will fall apart when you cut it.

Using the baking paper, transfer the bake onto a board and cut into 9 – 12 slices (depending on how big you like them). Can be served hot or cold, keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days and freezes well.

*** Soak for 1 hour or over night if needed. Rinse well and pat dry on some kitchen roll before toasting. You will need to toast for about 10 minutes.


Amazingly tasty lentil and walnut paté

Life has been so busy over the last month, The Sensitive Foodie blog has been somewhat abandoned and forlorn. However, there’s been lots of activity in the kitchen so there’s plenty of new recipes and ideas to share – I just need to find more time to write about them!

Now I may have mentioned before (once or twice!) that I do love a bit of hummus – it makes a fantastic dairy free lunch option, is easy to make, even easier to buy. But no matter how much I like it, there is only so much hummus that one girl can eat! It’s time for a new lunch time option that’s equally enjoyable and flavoursome.

One of the objections people have when it comes to dairy free or plant based food is that it lacks flavour and depth. As The Sensitive Foodie, it’s my mission to prove them wrong, and I can definitely say that this paté hits the mark with both of these. On top of that, it’s packed with essential omega 3 fatty acids, tonnes of fibre and protein as well as fabulous amounts of magnesium, folate, manganese and iron.

When I used to eat meat, I did enjoy eating paté but did have my concerns about what exactly was in it – especially those with a course texture that had chewy bits in! Checking on the ingredients list, an ardenne pate, for example contains pork liver, pork, pork fat as well as pork rind with some dextrose (sugar), salt, herbs and preservatives added in. Hmmm, not really sounding too tasty now. Flavoursome, maybe, but packed full of saturated fat and cholesterol and no fibre, it’s a combination of toxins heading straight for the belly.

This lentil and walnut paté, however, is packed full of fibre, as the whole food has been included, and no cholesterol or preservatives. Texture wise, it’s pretty similar to a smooth meat paté, only softer due to the lower fat levels. It will last in the fridge for about 5 days. Oh and don’t forget that this is not only dairy free but gluten free too.

Personally, I cook my own lentils from the dried pulse, usually preparing a big batch to use in more than one dish. If you just haven’t got the time, or the lentils to hand, then used tinned, but don’t forget to drain and rinse really well under running water to wash away the salty fluid from the tin.
Everyone who has tasted this has been impressed – even my father in law – so give it a go and give your tongue, and body, a tasty lunch time treat.

Lentil and walnut pate
3/4 cup walnuts
1 cup cooked green lentils
1 onion diced
2 cloves roasted garlic (optional)
2 tablespoons tamari*
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
First, heat the oven to 160oC and toast your walnuts for a few minutes so they’re lightly browned. Take out and cool. Heat a little olive oil or water in a small pan and sauté the onion and bay leaf together until it’s lightly browned and soft. Leave to cool and remove the bay leaf. Once the onion and walnuts are cool, pop the walnuts, lentils, onion, garlic, tamari and lemon juice into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Taste and add extra tamari, lemon juice and salt and pepper as required.
Serve as you would any paté and enjoy!

*tamari is a wheat free, gluten free soya sauce, made from whole soya beans and brewed in wooden kegs. I buy mine in Holland and Barrett.