vegan

Paleo Almond & Chocolate Chip Cookies – GF & Vegan

Paleo almond meal

A healthier approach.

Lately I’ve been trying to squeeze a little yoga in before bedtime, to stretch out my runners legs and as part of a wind down routine. Let’s call it a spot of self care. For the most part it’s working out pretty well, it’s calming on the mind and loosening those tight muscles little by little. Years and years of heavy running along with my penchant for hard hitting circuits (pain is good, isn’t it?) means that I’m not exactly Miss flexible. In fact I’m about as flexible as a wafer! The thing is I know what I need to do to, stretch, foam roll, massage but I guess I’m a bit lazy. I’m hoping that my nightly 10 minute yoga sequence will help, I’ll let you know.Almond cookie stack

One thing I have no trouble sticking with in the evening is my nightly ice cream habit! It’s one of my vices but  really I could do with something a little healthier. I shouldn’t think a sugary dairy hit is not what my body wants before bed, despite what my mind is telling me. So I wanted to make something equally as delicious, more healthful and with way less sugar.  My mind didn’t immediately gravitate to a cookie but this isn’t any old cookie! This is a super cookie made from such healthful ingredients you could have easily get away with having them at breakfast.

Right, I’m going to convince you why you need these cookies in your life. First up, they’re utterly delicious and I’m not just saying this, truly. They’re not overly sweet and contain just a few healthy ingredients including almond meal, coconut oil, honey and almond milk. The best part is they are really low carb which is perfect for some late evening paleo snacking. The low sugar content wont give you any crashes and as they’re jam packed with almonds, this healing food will in fact stabilise blood sugar which is important if you’re crashed out for the next 8 hours. See, these cookies are amazingly for you, just check out the ingredients list for yourself. I devoured a couple last night during a ‘Dexter’ session and I must say, I was impressed all over again and I could see that Russ felt the same!Cookie dough

Cookies for breakfast anyone? I’ll be having a couple tonight, before bed,  a habit I don’t feel the urge to kick.

What do you eat to satisfy evening cravings?Almond cookies

Paleo almond & chocolate chip cookies

1 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
dash of cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon almond milk
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Method:

1. Add the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl. Combined the wet ingredients whisking thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the almond meal mix along with the chocolate chips. Bring together to form a cookie dough.
2. Roll into 8-10 small cookie balls and place on a baking tray. Press down lightly with a fork.
3. Bake at 175 ºC for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden. Be careful not to over cook. Remove from the oven & allow to cool before storing.

“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.

Quinoa Salad Bowl with Cumin & Lime dressing – GF & Vegan

Mexican quinoa salad ingredients

Lunchtime salad

Lunch is my least favourite meal of the day. It’s usually a sandwich on the run, occasionally second rate canteen food, it can be a second breakfast (I know, not necessarily a bad thing) or worse still, I have no time for lunch. That’s why I like working from home. I can make lunch, I can take the time to enjoy my lunch and I don’t pay inflated prices for a simple but healthy midday meal. Russ has the right idea, he buys a job lot of ingredients at the start of the week and makes lunch at the office.
DSC_5610My body will thank me for it. Our bodies will be thankful for it. This colourful quinoa salad is bursting with protein, healthy fats and antioxidants…wait a minute, this is really the perfect midday pick me up. I love quinoa and avocado (together is best) especially with a drizzle of this mexican inspired dressing.

Salad is so underrated, it has the ability to actually be one of my favourite meals. A huge, superfood laden, bulging, hearty dressed up salad. Oh, black beans, it’s too late but the next salad will have black beans, that will really complete it. Salad is a bit like lego, you can just keep building, using a variety of colours and the possibilities are endless. Of course salad tastes much better than lego!Avocado and quinoa salad

Now I’m thinking about holidays, Mexico specifically. Well it is my second favourite cuisine and I can’t believe I still haven’t been….and I have to go, to get truly inspired, to expand my mexican mealtime repertoire (it’s really very small) and of course hit the beach. Anyway, build this quinoa salad bowl on the day or the night before. I will be.

I always eat with chopsticks but that's another story!

I always eat with chopsticks but that’s another story!

Quinoa salad bowl with a cumin & lime dressing

(serves 2)

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced finely
1 avocado, sliced
2 heaped tablespoons sweetcorn
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 small red chilli, chopped & desseded if you wish
handful fresh parsley (or coriander), roughly chopped

for the dressing:

1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper twist

Method:

Assemble the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk the dressing ingredients thoroughly. Drizzle generously & enjoy.

Note: If, like me you will be making this the night before then I’d advise to keep the dressing in a separate container ready for when you plan to eat.

 

Easy vegan smokey fennel sausages

Smoked fennel vegan sausage

Easy & meat-free!

Supermarkets are chock a block with nicely packaged veggie sausages, both fresh and frozen, so why bother making them yourself? Well, in my opinion the flavours are usually pretty dull, the majority are over processed and I just don’t think shop bought sausages are that good. Anyway, this recipe is really easy, with a professional looking end result so I had to give it a shot. Oh and I’ve been looking for a tasty filler for my lunch rolls and these looked like they could be a contender.

Apparently, the key to homemade sausages is the vital wheat gluten which binds the recipe and is the main ingredient in seitan. I purchased the powder from Ebay, 100 grams at first because new ingredients scare me! When it arrived I noticed it was sold by a fishing bait company……..ummmm slight confusion and worry. After sending an email to the company my mind was put at ease – apparently they buy this stuff to sell on as bait! I’m no fisherman so who am I to question?

I used the Post Punk Kitchen’s recipe for inspiration but being short on vital wheat gluten and lacking nutritional yeast and soy sauce there’s quite a deviation. I also formed 6 sausages rather than 4 as the mixture went quite far. I would have preferred to use white beans but completely forgot to buy them so subbed these for kidney beans which were ok. So after confirmation that the key ingredient is meant for human consumption I got to work on this ridiculously easy recipe (pretty much a throw it all in and mix it up). I had no idea what to expect from the vital wheat gluten but it really is quite……..well weirdly wonderful I guess. It’s stretchy, glutenous and snaps into any shape formed pre-steaming! During the mixing stage it starts off pretty sticky and then becomes stretchier,  forming a workable sausage ‘meat’. These don’t look the most appetising in the formation stage but once steamed they take on a smoother,  sausage like appearance.

Vegan sausage collage

Vital wheat gluten is fantastic for carrying strong flavours and is pretty robust stuff so it can take a beating in the pan or steamer. These are also a great base for adding other flavours instead of the paprika and fennel. Apricot, apple and sage would work really well in these.

The end product is quite chewy but not in an unpleasant way, I’d make them again! These were enjoyed sliced in a chunky roll with salad, mustard and pickles.

DSC_5020

Smokey Fennel Vegan Sausages

(makes 6-8 sausages)

1/2 cup beans, pre-cooked (cannelini, haricot, kidney)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 garlic clove, grated
100 grams Vital Wheat Gluten
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
A healthy twist of cracked black pepper

Method:

  1. Cut out 4-6 square tin foil sheets to set aside. Meanwhile get steaming apparatus ready.
  2. Mash the beans in a bowl so that no whole ones are left. Then add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed.
  3. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll into sausage shapes and roll into the foil squares. Be sure to secure them at each end by twisting.
  4. Place in the steamer for 40 minutes.
  5. Unwrap and enjoy straight away or chill for later use.

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