butternut squash

Detox Winter Vegetable Quinoa Bowl with Cranberries + Pumpkin Seeds

roasted veg

I feel quite sorry for brussel sprouts, they have a hard life. First off, they are a hugely love/hate food and brussel sprout haters seem to feel strongly about these poor green vegetables, like there’s hatred there!! The other reason why I feel sorry for brussel sprouts is they only come out once per year for a little christmas festivity + are generally always just a token at the dinner table. I propose we grow more and eat more sprouts outside of the festive season and secondly to promote the poor brussel sprout to something other than a side to a piece of meat. Don’t get me wrong, I like a side of sprouts, especially dipped in ketchup (is that wrong?) but I just think we’re selling them short that’s all. There are endless ways to celebrate sprouts and get more involved.

roasted sprout quinoa salad

How about a winter vegetable quinoa bowl?

Hail to brussel sprouts in curries, stir fries, roasted vegetable dishes, veggie skewers, salads and vegetable hash. They are versatile little buggers.roasted veg sprout quinoa salad

These are a super dietary form of vitamin and mineral antioxidants which helping to address chronic and excessive inflammation, they provide fantastic cardiovascular support with their powerful cholesterol lowering properties and being super detoxing they’re ideal for the excesses of the holiday season. But don’t wait ’til any holiday season to enjoy the deliciousness. Have this now and detox the tasty way!

quinoa sprout veg

Winter vegetable quinoa bowl with cranberries + pumpkin seeds

(serves 2)

2 cups brussel sprouts, cut in half
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
2 cups chestnut mushrooms, cut in half
1 red onion, chopped into segments
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt + pepper
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
herbs + lemon juice for dressing

method:

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Prepare vegetables + spread evenly on a large baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season + roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven when softened + starting to brown.
2. Add the quinoa, pumpkin seeds + cranberries to a large serving bowl. Fold through the roasted vegetables, add a squeeze of lemon + adjust the seasoning.
3. Serve dressed with extra seeds + cranberries.

White Bean, Kale + Smoked Paprika Stew (GF + Vegan)

smoked paprika stewThe clocks have gone forward so it’s officially time to eat hearty stews (it’s always OK to eat big stews in my opinion)…….like this warming Spanish white bean, kale + smoked paprika one pot wonder. I’m going to do you a favour now cos I’m feeling nice. Here goes – if you don’t already have this smoked paprika in your life then get involved…….immediately.Smoked paprika

It’s Spanish, it’s sweet, it’s smokey, it’s rich, it’s burnt red, it’s magical, like in a transform a mediocre dish kinda way. And it’s just a spice so try it out for an authentic Spanish tasty addition to your fav meals. This sweet variety is not at all spicy but you can buy a hotter version also, cunningly called ‘hot smoked paprika’ – be careful which one you pick up! Smoked paprika is great in stews, in stir fried spanish style rice, dips, sprinkled over potato wedges, stirred into casseroles, in pasta sauce…………yep, La Chinata may turn into your new best friend.A big pot of smoked paprika stew

This white bean, kale + smoked paprika stew is a feel good eat, packed full of flavour, warming, nourishing -hugging you from the inside out……ahhh bless. It’s super versatile so add your favourite veggies and preferred white beans. I would suggest haricot or cannellini to anyone who’s not keen on pulses as they’re no different to the ones in a can of heinz…..this will be a lot tastier though, naturally!process

This white bean, kale + smoked paprika stew really does care a lot, with it’s 6 servings of vegetables per portion and warming smokey tones – it really is the stew that just keeps giving.

Served with socca (of course) but rice, breads or potatoes would be  nice.Smoked paprika stew + socca

White bean, kale + smoked paprika stew

(serves 2)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 cup butternut squash, cubed
1 tablespoon sun dried tomato paste
1 can chopped tomatoes + 1 can water
1 teaspoon each of dried thyme + smoked paprika
2 large handfuls kale, torn into small pieces
250 grams white beans (haricot, cannellini, butter or chick peas)

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a large pan + gently fry the onion, garlic, carrots, pepper + squash for 10 minutes until fragrant + softened.
2. Add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, water, thyme + smoked paprika. Stir + simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Add the beans, kale + season to taste. Continue cooking for a further 15 until the beans begin to soften + break down.
4. Serve immediately with warm bread or baked sweet potatoes.

 

Spinach, Butternut Squash + Lentil Curry (GF + Vegan)

Lentil, squash & spinach curryI’m convinced I was Indian in a former life, seriously! I should have been born Indian though because I love all things Indian and of course it’s my favourite food ever. This particular dish is my number one. Everyone has a certain dish they love and are pretty proud of, this is mine. My beloved spice tray is one of my most prized possessions ‘cos without it there is no curry! I’m going back to India this Christmas and I plan to get fully involved with some Indian cookery classes to brush up my curry skills and make me feel like a pro! To me, this curry is too delicious, it’s my curry and of course in my head it’s the best but still, I’d be nervous to give this to my Indian friend! I hope they’d rate my favourite curry creation. Roll on December, I’m excited and eager to learn some fabulous recipes to bring home and use for years to come.Simple & quick process

Curry is comfort food. Lentils are comfort food. So you can only imagine how comforting this lentil curry is. It is very, don’t take my word for it  though, just try it yourself!Pappadums & curry

I love how something so delicious can be so immensely healthy too. This dish is packed full of healing spices including turmeric, coriander and cinnamon. The lentils, squash and spinach provide an almighty helping of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants too. Lentils may be small but they pack a nutritional punch – full of B vitamins, cholesterol lowering fibre, protein and iron. Lentils have endless health benefits, are easy and quick to cook and fill you up, not out! These are perfect for those watching their weight as they satiate, regulate blood sugar and are very filling too. Lentils get a bad rap but I really don’t know why as they give a smooth creaminess to dishes and with a little less cooking time a harder texture to other dishes such as burgers. Lentils of any variety are a staple for me, definitely a veggies best friend. Curry, pickles & India

I’ve been making my own curry for over ten years now and I usually just a play around with a pretty basic recipe. I used to try different recipes but over the years I’ve always come back to this for it’s simplicity, flavour and overall deliciousness. Indian is probably the simplest yet healthiest food to make – once you have couple of the basic spices you’re set to go. This particular dish uses only ground spices for ease with very few overall ingredients in comparison to other curries but feel free to add coconut milk, yoghurt or cashew cream for a creamier curry. I usually dollop the lentils with a heaping tablespoon of the creamiest cashew cream.

This is a dish I crave lots. It’s too too good served with basmati rice, pickles, salad, eggs, papadums and chapatis. I must say though, after I’ve piled my plate sky high it doesn’t look the neatest dish out but it sure does taste delicious!Lentil and the rest!

Spinach, butternut squash+ lentil curry

1 tablespoon ghee (or coconut oil for vegan recipe)
1 small onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaped cup butternut squash, cubed
1 cup dried red lentils
1/2 can tomatoes + 1 can water
salt + pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric, coriander, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, chili + 3 teaspoons garam masala
6 nests frozen spinach (2 handfuls of fresh is fine)
handful coriander, chopped

Method:

1. Heat the ghee over a low heat in a non stick pan. Add the onion & fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic & cook for a further 5 minutes.
2. Add the squash, lentils & tomatoes to the onions, stir through. Add the spices & simmer on low for 30 minutes. Be sure to add a little more liquid if required.
3. Add the spinach & chopped coriander & cook for a further 5 minutes.

Note: If adding coconut milk be sure to adjust water quantities.

Smoked Chipotle Black Beans – GF

Beans, taco & tortillaThis is my favourite, most delicious dish EVER! Really, I mean it, I adore these black beans, they’re my go to comfort food and always will be. Some cuisine is just better without meat and even when I wasn’t veggie I always preferred my Mexican meat free, same for Indian come to think of it. Of course now I prefer everything meatless and I eat these chipotle beans a lot. If I had a pound for every time I’ve made these I would be…….well maybe not rich but it would be enough to put a smile on my face! Now I’m actually wondering how much it would be!

Food like this makes it easy to be a vegetarian. They’re delicious, simple, full of goodness and adaptable! What more could anyone want? Except perhaps eating them at the beach, in Mexico, watching the sunset, listening to the gentle crash of the waves with a coconut margarita in hand. I digress but I can dream and it’s good to do so! Anyway, I’m proud to say that Russ classes these as his favourite food, EVER! So much so that we eat them twice a week sometimes and always once. Is that a bit habitual? The thing is I love them, they are comforting, healthy and a real vegetarian victory!Russ & his black bean taco!

I prefer to use black beans for the size, colour and softer texture but this works perfectly well with kidney, pinto, haricot and black eye beans. In fact, kidney beans being just under thirty pence in most supermarkets make this dish a seriously cheap option.  For added sweetness, texture and nutrient bumping I add cubed squash and red pepper but they’re equally yum with carrot, green peppers (any peppers), sweetcorn, peas and courgette. See what I mean about being super healthy – full of protein and vitamins!Beans, salad & tortilla!

I know chili and chocolate is no new partnership but I was still a little reticent when I first lobbed a hunk of gloriously dark chocolate into my chili bean hard work. However, it adds a real deep rich colour and aroma when combined with the smokiness of the chipotle chili. The chipotle dried chilies will need overnight soaking but I’ve found that a few generous shakes of chipotle sauce work pretty well if you don’t these. Smokey dried chillies are fantastic for Mexican cuisine and simply require soaking for five or more hours.  We buy our chipotle chillies from the Mex Grocer who provide an amazing array of Mexican goods. I make a point to never run out!! Yep, in fact I’m addicted to these beans and stuff my tortillas to the brim with them, there’s no such thing as too much! Just ask my tortilla………Chipotle chili & licked bowls!

Fantastic served with crunchy tacos (always heat before serving – gosh it’s like a completely different food), soft tortillas, lettuce wraps (for those wanting something lighter). or simply rice and nachos. Dress up or down with copious amounts of salad, cheese, sour cream and salsa and be transported to chill choco black bean heaven. Prayers answered!

Smoked chipotle black beans

(Serves 2)

1 tablespoon of oil
1 onion, peeled & chopped
2 gloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
salt & pepper
2 chipotle chilies, presoaked & chopped finely
1/2 can of tomatoes & 1 can of water
4 squares dark chocolate (dairy free for vegan beans)
1 teaspoon oregano/cumin/coriander/cinnamon
1 cup of squash (peeled and cubed)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 handful of coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a non stick pan. Gently fry the onion, garlic and pepper. season with salt & pepper.
  2. Stir in the chipotle chili, tomatoes, water, chocolate, spices & squash. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Stir through black beans & coriander until heated through.
  4. Serve as a hearty stew or as a filling for tacos & tortillas.

“5 a day” Lentil & Spinach Stuffed Peppers- Vegan & GF

Stuffed peppers & salad

Lentil, spinach, butternut squash, tomato & onion = 5 a day in one delicious hit.

I’m itching with sheer impatience to go on holiday but there’s still 6 weeks to go so I gotta reign it in and slow down! We’re hitting Alaska and Canada in an RV and I literally cannot wait to get there, like now! It feels like forever (officially 3 months!) since we were last away and I’m too excited about hitting the Yukon national park and experiencing some of Alaska’s highlights. I’m actually thinking, ‘will I see a real bear?’! Oh and the supermarkets, I like those too. Yep, bears and supermarkets are the theme of this trip. What is it about supermarkets abroad anyway? I doubt it’s just me, they’re like a whole new world. I just love grocery shopping in the States, it’s so much better and there’s way more choice compared with the UK. I’m quite happy to idle down the supermarket aisles in any country but my own, it’s like a day trip in itself for me. Oh and the coffee, they do coffee so well and i’m not talking about frothy, chocolate dusted coffee but rather your straight up filter coffee, normal coffee. No frills coffee is good in the USA and it’s absolutely everywhere. This is a very good thing seeing as there will be a lot of driving happening. Russ is our designated driver and I’ll be busy navigating and not bear spotting! I’m a newbie to Canada but my Canadian buddy Amy has advised that the coffee chains will live up to my high standards, so ‘Tim Hortons’ and ‘Second Cup” here I come. I reckon we’ll be making an obscene amount of coffee stops on our Anchorage to Vancouver road trip so not only will I be taking in the amazing scenery (and bear watching, seriously!) but I’ll be on the lookout for coffee and big supermarkets!Stuffed peppers

Talking of supermarkets (an English one this time), I got a good deal on bell peppers yesterday and this recipe is a super way of putting them to use.  These lentil and spinach beauties contain all 5 of your ‘5 a day’, so serious bonus points here. However, sorry to disappoint but I reckon just forget ‘5 a day’, let’s all aim for 7 or more! Roasting whole veggies like bell peppers, courgette, aubergine and whole squash is one of my favourite ways to cook veggies, an oldie but a goodie! Slow baking brings out the sweet flavours of the vegetable whilst creating a soft gooey texture to the flesh. And they’re pretty accepting of most fillings. And, if prepared in advance they’re a nice and easy evening meal or a delicious cold lunch the next day. Let’s face it, these are just a good idea.Stuffed peppers process

So, why don’t you get stuffed?! Not you, the vegetables. Why don’t you stuff some veg for tea tonight? Really nice served with garlic bread, rice or cous cous and lot’s of salad. A Russ salad is preferable.Stuffing peppers

We’re planning our Christmas holiday NOW, well you gotta have something to look forward to! Where’s your next trip?

Russ' salads are actually amazing. i am a lucky girl.
Russ’ salads are actually amazing. i am a lucky girl.

‘5 a day’ lentil & spinach stuffed peppers

(serves 2)

4 whole bell peppers, tops/lids & seeds removed
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, peel and minced
1/2 can tomatoes
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano, thyme & nutmeg
1/2 cup red lentils
1 large handful spinach, chopped
1 cup cubed butternut squash
oil for frying

Method:

1. Slice the tops off 4 whole peppers, cleaning the seeds out with running water. Arrange in a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes at 180 ºC.
2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onion & garlic for 5 minutes. Add the seasonings, tomatoes, lentils, spinach and butternut squash, mixing to combine. Let the lentils simmer for 10-15 minutes.Remove from the heat when cooked.
3. Remove the peppers from the oven & spoon in the lentil mixture, pushing down to compact. Replace the lids and return to the oven for 15-2o minutes. Careful not to over char.