I do love a vegetable that’s adaptable, something that can be used in all sorts of dishes both sweet and savoury. And sometimes in surprising ways. Pumpkins and squash definitely hit that criteria. In beautiful shades of orange, these lovely gourds maybe be harvested in autumn, but can last all through the long winter. Continue reading “Sweet pumpkin pie”
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
- 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
- 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.
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
- 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
- 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!
I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the look out for a decent plant-based cheese alternative. I know they’re not the same as ‘normal’ cheese (which is just as well when you’re intolerant to it!), but it’s so good to find something that gives a little bit of cheesy satisfaction. Continue reading “Tofu ricotta”
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
- 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
- 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).
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”
If I had a pound for every time someone said ‘oh but I couldn’t give up cheese’, then I would be rich! It is the most common difficulty people envision. Even though if you think about it logically, it’s a pretty foul product – concentrated cow breast milk and mold! Continue reading “Homemade dairy-free ‘cheese’”
One of the things discussed on my Eat Well Live Well course is how to successfully transition to eating a whole-food plant-based diet with minimal pain and maximum pleasure. Change can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be an austere process. One of the most frequent difficulties I hear is “but what do I eat for lunch?”.
If you’re used to making a cheese or ham salad sandwich, or going to your local sandwich shop or deli for chicken or tuna mayo baps, thinking of new and tasty fillings can seem a bit daunting. Of course there’s always hummus – and who doesn’t love hummus? – but not every day!
You could go for the vegan alternative and have fake meats or vegan cheese. But these ultra processed, factory-made products are often full of damaged fats, concentrated proteins and few nourishing nutrients. Maybe ok every now and then, but certainly not a staple and not if you are eating a whole-food plant-based diet to transform a health condition. For that, you need real food that’s had limited processing.
This chickpea sandwich spread is a mix between a tuna mayo alternative and the acidic sandwich spread filling I used to get as a child (did you ever have that? I’m not sure if I ever liked it, but I do have fond memories of it – weird!).
Chickpeas are an awesome source of plant-based protein, fibre, potassium, iron and magnesium (to name a few). They share the fabulousness of all pulses (this blog post tells you more). They also take on other flavours well so can be used for all sorts of recipes. Which is handy as they are also super cheap so good if you are feeding a family on a budget or relying on a student loan to keep you fed and watered.
This filling can be used for sandwiches, baps or wraps. If you are gluten free or avoid bread, then pop it on a baked potato or use as the star of a simple salad. Vary the fresh herbs to whatever you have to hand or the season. Parsley and chives work well as standard flavour. If you use coriander, swap the lemon for lime juice and add a little ginger for an Eastern flavour. Basil or oregano create a more Mediterranean vibe, so swap the spring onion for a little red onion if you have it. Or, if you can’t tolerate onion, just leave it out and try adding a few capers for a more sour taste.
As you can see, this base recipe is so flexible you can create a different combination for every day, or for the season. And as eating and socialising outside are going to be more popular if you want to meet up with friends (due to the pandemic), you might find this recipe features a lot over the next few month. Just adapt it to what you have available and what you like to eat. And enjoy!
Chickpea sandwich spread
- 4 heaped tbsp cooked chickpeas
- 1 lemon, juice only grated rind optional
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- water if needed
- 1 medium spring onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley and chives chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped optional
- Place the chickpeas in a bowl with the lemon juice and Dijon. Mash with a fork, adding a little water if it's too dry. You want soft, mushed chickpeas with a little texture and a thick sauce.
- Stir in the spring onion, herbs and seasoning (plus capers if using). Mix together well and taste for flavour - add more seasoning, lemon or Dijon as required.
- Use to filling your bread of choice or as suggested above. Keeps in the fridge for 2 days.
I do love a good curry! Going to India really gave me a passion for Asian cuisine. There are just so many different types of dishes, many of which we rarely or never get to sample outside of the country, unless you’re lucky enough to have a friend who hails from there! Continue reading “Malabar curry”
One of the positive things about the Covid 19 lockdown is that more people are getting in the kitchen and cooking. It may be due to an increase in free time or a lack of access to shopping options. But I would like to think – and hope that – it’s down to a sudden awareness that food is really important to health and to wealth and that giving it the attention it deserves is a key way forward in staying well. Mind you, I’ve always been an optimist….! Continue reading “Chocolate and banana muffins”