vegetarian

Go Plant Based – Get Healthier, Happier + Richer!

Who doesn’t want to be healthy, happier, richer?
I do, and it’s too easy ‘cos all you gotta do is get involved with some plants. Plant based food rocks and you don’t have to be a full blown vegan to get stuck in. It’s all about the small steps and anyway, life’s a journey hey? By adding a few extra veggies into our daily diets we’d all get a bit happier, a little healthier and life would be good…..man. Seriously, eating less meat and more plants is easier than you think.

There really is no reason to miss meat when there are endless tasty and exciting ways to create truly amazing food entirely from plants and whole foods. This is not about recreating, substituting or missing meat but rather a way to enjoy a world of plant based nutrition and making any recipe work! Being a vegan shouldn’t (and doesn’t) mean you’re missing out – quite the opposite really. It’s an opportunity to try something completely different, discover new flavours, experiment and share new meals safe in the knowledge that you are doing yourself the world of good. If you are just starting out on a plant based diet it can be a struggle at first but here are a few of my suggestions to make life easier and to offer a little inspiration.

Going plant based:

  • Learn to love your beans and of course lentils too! I’m bean mad and urge you to experiment with them. Beans are amazing in casseroles, curry, bakes, lasagnes, dips and of course most veggie burgers are bean based. There’s such a variety out there, why not try a different bean each week until you find your favourite? My top two are haricot and black turtle beans. A mexican is never complete without black beans.
  • Red, green + yellow lentils = staple store cupboard ingredient. The humble lentil has a bad rep but they are deliciously creamy and carry taste better than anything else. They’re perfect for replacing minced meat in Italian and Greek dishes and a sturdy foundation for a veggie burger. You can easily replace meat ingredients with lentils. They work a treat in lasagnes, shepherds pie too and a marriage made in heaven in curry.
  • Fancy that pumpkin sausage casserole? Why not replace the sausages with the meaty texture of chestnuts, portobello mushrooms, butter beans or simply replace with use some veggie sausages.
  • Mushrooms not only have that all important umami flavour but have that ‘meaty’ texture. There’s such a variety in the supermarkets these days just waiting for some experimentation. Pulse them up or slice them to imitate slithers of meat in a casserole or pasta sauce for that deep, rich flavour.
  • Tofu. Drain and press (with a heavy weight) for several hours to minimise water content. Slice into quarter inch strips add a robust sauce and bake. This is a great way to utilise an otherwise tasteless product. Tofu is fantastic not only in stir fries, curries and baked versions but is brilliant for making sweet treats like cheesecakes and mousses. Tempeh, Seitan (gluten wheat powder) is great for making veggie sausages and equal protein to lean meat. I’m not a huge fan of faux meat products but they can be a good solution if you’re struggling every now and then.
  • Use FLAVOUR to enhance your meals! Strong and distinctive flavours are the best way to adapt your recipes and create deeply rich layered flavours. I find that smoked paprika is perfect for replacing chorizo and a great way to add a rich Spanish flavour. Liquid smoke gives a fabulously smokey tastes to salads, beans, burgers sausages, dips, well anything really. Try it! Also, dried fruit and preserved lemons are great for creating that authentic North African and Middle Eastern flavour in stews and tagines. Indian food utilises an array of rich, warm and healing spices that lend themselves fantastically to vegan food. Veggie friendly umami flavours, chipotle, smoked paprika, harissa, garam masala. Of course the vegan umami flavours; mushrooms, fermented foods, sea vegetables, tamari and tomatoes are key in creating that all key satisfying flavour.
  • Just leave the meat out and use more of an alternative ingredient. Don’t sweat the whole protein (most people actually get way over recommended daily amounts, even by eating JUST veggies) thing anyway but if you’re concerned about levels just add some nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, quinoa or dairy alternatives to cheese. Anyway, what about some scrambled tofu……
  • Get bang into blogs. There’s lots of easy veggie recipes for endless inspiration in the blogosphere.
  • Just let your creative side take over and get involved. Fill your plate with colourful produce and creative dishes. Some of my favourite meals have been on the spot, open the fridge and make it up as you go!

plant based
Converting to a plant based diet is a wonderful opportunity to experiment with flavours and get in touch with our creative sides whilst getting healthy and reducing harm to our environment and of course, the animals.

Can you believe I’d never even purchased smoked paprika, liquid smoke, chipotle chilis or nutritional yeast (the list is endless) before I went veggie. Gosh, I really was missing out! So if you haven’t already added a few meatless meals to your week, challenge yourself and see how easy, delicious and feel good it really is. Peace 😉

Simple Spiced Cookies (Vegan)

christmas spiced cookies

When I was a kid I used to make these incredible ginger, crunchy, hollow biscuits that everybody seemed to love, including me. They must have been pretty good ‘cos I was literally making them every Saturday! I miss them. Simple spiced cookies

Anyway, these are not those biscuits but I will be having a little think about sourcing that old recipe for old times sake. These are a bit different from my childhood favourite as for a start they’re softer with no crunch and don’t contain any dairy (this is a good thing of course) but they are packed full of ginger and other warming winter spices. Think Christmas cake; orange, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon……love, love, love these flavours. Oh, these are quick too, super simple to throw together and ready in a jiffy. I actually think it would take longer to drive to the supermarket and buy a packet of ginger nuts! They have currants in too, I like currants, they seemed to have been forgotten about. It’s all about raisins and sultanas so I buy currants to keep the love alive! It’s true isn’t it?Simple spiced cookies

There’s no rubbish in these either, wholegrain, low gluten and no dairy, yep just wholesome healthful ingredients. This is my kinda cookie. This should be everybody’s kinda cookie!Simple spiced cookies

Simple Spiced Cookie

(makes 12-15)

1/2 cup currants
1 cup spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon + ginger
1/4 teaspoon each of nutmeg + all-spice
3 tablespoons vegan butter
1 flax or chia egg (1 tablespoon of seeds to 3 of water)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup powdered sugar
juice + zest of orange

method:

1. Preheat oven to 175ÂșC. Combine the first 6 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. Combine the remaining wet ingredients in a measuring jug. You will need to melt the butter for 20 seconds in a microwave.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry + combine thoroughly to form a sticky cookie dough.
4. Using a teaspoon scoop, form small cookies + place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Allow to cool before removing.
5. Mix the sugar + enough orange juice to make a thick syrup. Drizzle over the cookies + zest the orange zest over the top.

Healing Miso Noodle Soup (Vegan)

Healing Miso Noodle Soup
Have you ever read the back of a pot noodle pack? Don’t do it, it’s really quite scary. Instead make yourself these 5 minute instant ‘pot’ noodles that are crammed to the brim with goodness. Loads of it.

Healing Miso Noodle Soup

This is the polar opposite of a pot noodle. It’s a healing miso noodle soup!Healing Miso Noodle Soup

A soup to cleanse. Heal. Invigorate. To simply feel good. Just what you deserve.Healing Miso Noodle Soup

Buy some miso soup right away, the stuff is an amazing health tonic. Just add hot water. Chop a little veg with a little love. A lotta love. Get some really nice noodles (wholegrain always). Put it all together and smile at what you just did.Healing Miso Noodle Soup

A great big heaping bowl of healing goodness. Make this your winter soup. Your cold fighting, immunity boosting broth. Your go to ‘I need to feel good food’ food, flavoured with garlic, ginger, a little chili, onion and mighty miso. Healing Miso Noodle Soup

I defy you to eat this and not feel really good after. It’s impossible. Use this as a weapon, a powerful weapon against getting ill, run down or coldy and you’ll be smugly dodging all those seasonal nasties. Good stuff.Healing Miso Noodle Soup

Super quick + healing miso noodle soup

(serves 2)

150 grams brown rice noodles
3 teaspoons miso paste
thumb size piece ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled
large handful broccoli florets
6 mushrooms quartered
handful baby leaf spinach
1 chili, deseeded + finely chopped
2 spring onions, chopped finely

Method:

  1. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions + set aside. Heat the miso paste over a low heat with 4 cups water + turn off just before it reaches boiling point. Add all the vegetables to the broth.
  2. Refresh the noodles with cold water, add to the miso broth + vegetables. Stir well to combine.
  3. Serve immediately topped with spring onion + a little chili. Actually top it with whatever you like. Smugly slurp on your own wonderful pot noodle.

Pinto Quinoa Burger (GF + Vegan)

pinto quinoa burgerLeisurely run, lazy delicious breakfast, taking time over coffee, reading, movies, cooking, walking, a sneaky massage, eating and just general relaxation………yep, my perfect weekend. The simple things are the best, like peace, quiet and down time. This includes taking time over lunch with a pinto quinoa burger, cos let’s face it this isn’t gonna happen for a mid-week day time meal and right now there’s no chance of grabbing one of these bad boys in my local fast food joint. Not yet. pinto quinoa burger

Weekend lunches are always infinitely better, much longer, more social and just generally extra yummy. Come on, who has the time to make a burger like this for a weekday lunch? There’s an idea – let’s make triple next time, freeze them and hey presto- a delicious dirty mid week lunch. Yes thank you.pinto quinoa burger

This is one big dirty, eye-crossing pinto quinoa burger and believe it or not, it’s OK to pick up and eat, really. The addition of cashew cream and chipotle sauce takes this stack of deliciousness to a whole new level. Delicious and finger lickin’ messy. I told you it’s dirty. But I like dirty. pinto quinoa burger

D’ya know what else is great? Plant based burgers like this pinto quinoa gem are never bad for you, always packed full of goodness and dripping with health. There’s no way you can make a plant powered burger unhealthy, it  really is very hard to do. This pinto and quinoa burger is high in protein and fibre rich, it contains zero saturated fats, no sugar whatsoever, is low in sodium, great for blood sugar regulation and immensely satisfying. Feel good food is what this is. pinto quinoa burger

I’ve long been a veggie burger obsessive and am always looking for new ways to jazz them up but sometimes you just wanna plain, straight up, no frills ‘go to’ burger and this one ticks my boxes. A crunchy outside texture, creamy and mushy inside and an unbeatable mexican smokey flavour. Definitely one of my favourites so far. Luckily, there’s no such thing as too many burgers so I’ll keep going with the veggie burger trials cos a decent burger is hard to beat.pinto quinoa burger

I reckon these are at their best with some lovely salad, a sauce or dressing that makes you smile and a delicious gluten free bun like these quinoa rolls from Waitrose.

pinto quinoa burger

Oh, don’t eat this in front of somebody you are trying to impress….just take my word for it. You’re welcome.

What’s your ideal weekend?pinto quinoa burger

Pinto Quinoa Burger

(serves 2)

1 can pinto beans, drained (1 can=240 grams)
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax + 3 of water)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
small handful coriander, chopped finely
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons oat flour (sub with any flour)
salt + pepper to taste

2 burger buns + tomatoes, lettuce, onion, cashew cream, chipotle sauce or whatever your heart desires

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200ÂșC. Add beans to a bowl + mash with a fork so that some beans are still visible. You can use a food processor too, but I find crushing with a fork allows greater control over texture.
  2. Once mashed down, add the remaining burger ingredients + combine fully to form a large burger dough.
  3. Divide the mixture into 4 + form into burger patties. Place on a greased baking tray + bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Slice buns, add burgers + dress to the nines with salad, pickles + cheese.

 

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.

 

The Healthiest ‘Cup’ Cake Ever (Gluten Free + Low Carb)

A cake to celebrate!Cake in a mug

Life’s too short not to eat cake. I whole heartedly agree but life’s also too short to eat over processed junk and be unhealthy, sick and unhappy. And there really is no need to be, not when you can actually have your cake and eat it. This healthy coconut, cranberry + dark chocolate mug cake is a nutritious, protein rich, gluten free, low carb, sweet and nutty cake served mug style.

Oh, and it’s delicious, I mean really delicious. It’s the kind of deliciousness where I wish I was eating it, like all of the time. It’s in a mug, there’s a microwave involved so you know that this is minimal on the washing up and pretty quick too. I love baking with coconut flour as its gluten free and high in fibre and lauric acid which is essential for a healthy immune system, great skin and optimal thyroid function.Mug cake in a bowl

The healthiest ‘cup’ cake ever is flavoured with extra coconut, cranberries and dark chocolate purely because I believe this is a perfect combination and essential for my peace of mind! It works, take my word for it, no don’t do that, make it and see for yourself! Any variety of dried fruit, chocolate chips and nuts would work so this is great for adapting to suit your mood or the contents of your kitchen cupboard. I used coconut flour purely because I really do love it and it’s grain free but any flour would work well, as long as a cake batter consistency is achieved. Mug cake = easy

I eat this as part of my lunch when I fancy something a little sweeter, sometimes breakfast and often an afternoon or evening snack. Oh OK, I eat it whenever, because it really is that good, and healthy too, it’s definitely that.

See if you can get it out of the mug without breaking it in half like me – it’s hit and miss! Just grab a mug and have your cake and eat it, a healthy cake at that. Mug cake

Healthy coconut, cranberry + dark chocolate mug cake

(serves just you)

1 heaping tablespoon coconut flour
1 tablespoon dessicated coconut
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/3 cup coconut milk (or nut milk of choice)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon maple syrup
sprinkle of cranberries + chocolate chips (dairy free)

Combine the dry ingredients in a mug + stir thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients and mix to fully combine. Stir through the cranberries + chocolate chips. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Eat from the mug or transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with extra sweetener. Maple syrup is good.

Healthy Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Kale + Cashew Cheese (Paleo + Vegan)

Cauliflower is more than just a cheese bake or a token side of veg.Cauliflower crust pizza with kale + cashew cheese

And this cauliflower crust pizza with kale + cashew cheese has been a long time coming. I’ve been planning on making this for over a year but I gotta say it’s totally worth the wait. I’m so sold on cauliflower as a pizza crust, in the same way I’m a fan of it as a rice replacement. Sometimes you just want a lighter alternative, maybe you’ve ditched the grains or perhaps you just want a variation on a favourite pizza. Regardless, cauliflower crust just works, it’s tasty and a great way to reduce the carb load of your meal whilst increasing the nutritional density. You really don’t think you have to be following a paleo diet to enjoy such things either.Cauliflower pizza dough

This cauliflower pizza is entirely plant based but of course you can add cheese (and anything you want for that matter!) but I wanted to keep this fresh and vibrant with crisp clean greens and creamy unadulterated cashew cheese. Can we take a moment to appreciate the humble cauliflower………………The humble cauliflower

Aesthetically pleasing, versatile and healthy too, very healthy and not surprising as cauliflower belongs to the kale, cabbage, broccoli and collard family. So let’s not reserve this wonderful vegetable for a cheese bake or a token side dish but commit to using more of this good stuff. Here’s some good reasons to include more of this humble vegetable in your meals:

a cruciferous detoxifying vegetable scientifically proven to contain cancer prevention properties
high in vitamin C, K and antioxidants, it really is a powerhouse of nutrients
fibre rich and perfect for digestive support and optimum function
a milky, sweet nutty + low carb option for ‘rice’ and pizza ‘dough’

Cauliflower pizza pre cashew cheese

See, cauliflower really is the perfect base for a grainless pizza, ticks pretty much every  box and beats a heavy, dough laden, soggy pizza base any day. It takes no longer to throw together than a regular wheat dough but is a whole lot healthier. Of course you can replace the chia egg with 2 regular eggs if you eat animal products but I found the chia egg did a great job. A shop bought tomato sauce can be subbed if you are really tight on time but this one really is very quick, can be made in advance and stored in the fridge.Cauliflower pizza process

Feel free to add any topping you love but I just had to use some pretty greens to ramp up the nutrient levels. I’m still living by the rule, ‘eat more kale’ but now I have the addition of, ‘eat more cauliflower’! Not hard to do with a recipe like this.A slice of pizza!

This cauliflower crust pizza with kale + cashew cheese is nutrient dense, fibre rich, grain free and suitable for most diets. Now that’s what I call plant power.

Enjoy.Cauliflower pizza with kale + cashew cheese

Cauliflower crust pizza with kale + cashew cheese

(serves 2)

for the cauliflower dough:
1/4 cup chia seed
3/4 cup water
1 small head of cauliflower
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons almond flour

for the tomato sauce:
1/2 can tomatoes (200 grams)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon raw brown sugar
salt + pepper

toppings:
kale, torn into small pieces
red onion, sliced finely
black olives, sliced
cashew cheese
rocket

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 ÂșC. Prepare the chia egg by combining the chia seeds with the water + setting aside for 15 minutes.
2. Break the cauliflower into smaller pieces + place in a blender. Pulse until a light cauliflower flour like consistency is achieved. You may need to do this in batches. Transfer cauliflower mixture to a large bowl. Using your hands, squeeze handfuls of the cauliflower over an empty bowl to release any excess water. Add the remaining ingredients to the cauliflower along with the chia egg. Combine fully until a doughy consistency is achieved. Add more almond flour if necessary but the dough will always be ‘wetter’ than wheat doughs.
3. Transfer the dough ball to a greased baking pan + push down into a pizza shape (I like oval), leaving the edges slightly thicker. Place the base in the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and set.
3. Meanwhile heat the olive oil + lightly fry the garlic until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients + simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Lightly fry the red onion + kale in olive oil for 5 minutes until softened. Set aside.
5. Remove the pizza base from the oven + add the tomato sauce, followed by the red onion, kale + olives. Return to the oven for 8-10 minutes.
6. Drizzle with cashew cheese + sprinkle with rocket.

Plant Powered Butter Bean + Harissa Burgers with Honey Lemon Onions (Vegan)

Harissa burgerRuss and I had a fabulous time in Alaska and Canada but now I have serious case of post holiday come down fueled by my worst jet lag of all time, it’s cruel! The last two weeks were pretty special though, definitely this year’s highlight as I adore travelling by RV road trip style. We managed to cook some amazing food on the move too, stopping off at local stores for a fridge top up and a mosey. I fell in love in Canada, with Whole Foods. I have to say I really have developed quite the love affair with Whole Foods supermarket. Why oh why is this not a permanent fixture in my life, come on the UK – get with the programme. Whole Foods is almost reason enough to move to Canada! Seriously, I was so impressed by the layout, the actual food, the choice, the cosmetics, the take out counter, come to think of it I was impressed by Canada in general. But shopping in that supermarket is pure pleasure, I need Whole Foods here!

Moving on, travelling by camper van really is pretty special and gave us total freedom and flexibility to explore and make stops at our leisure. The kitchen was amazingly user friendly and well equipped so there really was no excuse not to make some great food. It was so nice to stop off somewhere different everyday, make a fabulous meal and soak up the scenery.  The only thing is the van did have the faint aroma of cumin and curry powder when we delivered it back to Vancouver. Oops, that’ll be those black beans and the delicious lentil curry!Harissa burger al fresco :-)

I made this butter bean and harissa burger before we went away, when it was a little warmer and we were eating outside. What is that about- I’m away for two weeks to return to close on winter weather? No matter, I’m layering up and will continue eating outside until it’s near freezing! Bring on the chili sauce and harissa paste for a bit of warmth. The harissa (formed of red peppers) in this burger has a some good spice and adds a very authentic North African flavour and makes a great colourful looking pattie too. The lemony onions are a delicious and sweet addition to the punchy and spicy flavours in the butter beans, I just have to, actually need onions with my burger. Any bean would work really, I just happened to have some of these handy the day of my burger craving.10 minute recipe!

You just gotta love a good old juicy bean burger. They’re just so satisfying and beans are fabulous for carrying robust flavours and are miles tastier than meat varieties. Making bean burgers is sooo easy too, they take no time at all and it’s really pretty satisfying to create your own burger from scratch, in a flavour to suit your tastes. I really do think you can pretty much form a workable burger entirely from guess work and have it in the frying pan in 10 minutes flat. You can adjust quantities as you combine the ingredients to create a workable consistency and more importantly have full control of what is going into your burger. Let’s face it, you cant say that for any shop bought varieties out there. This better, I mean ‘butter’ bean and harissa burger is entirely plant powered as it contains chia egg for binding the mixture but a regular egg would work also.Easy, spicy, plant powered and delicious. Nice.

Today’s the day for making a super plant burger. What’s your next veggie burger going to be?Plant power harissa burger

Butter Bean + Harissa Burgers with Honey Lemon Onions

(makes 2 large burgers or 4 small patties)

1 can (240 gram drained) butter beans
2 teaspoons chia seed just covered in water or 1 egg if not vegan
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt + pepper
handful basil leaves
3 teaspoons harissa paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 burger buns (I used Waitrose gluten free quinoa rolls)

for the onions:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
juice of half lemon
1 tablespoon honey

Method:

1. Drain the butter beans + transfer to a large bowl. Mash the beans with a fork + add the remaining ingredients continually pressing down with the fork until you have a pliable burger ball. If the mixture is too sticky add some oats + if too dry add a little milk.
2. Divide the mixture into two + form into 2 burger shapes.
3. Preheat a medium grill. Heat the olive oil in a large pan + fry the burgers on 1 side until browned. Flip + finish cooking under the grill for an even brown finish.
4. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small pan + add the onion, lemon + honey. Cook until softened.
5. Slice the buns, add the burgers, top with honey lemon onions + salad.

Spicy Tomato Spelt Spaghetti (Vegan)

Spicy tomato spelt spaghetti Are you a creamy or tomatoey person? I’m definitely the latter but regardless, everybody needs a solid go to tomato pasta sauce in their life, I know I do. I’ve always loved spaghetti coated in a rich, vibrant, sweet and spicy tomato based sauce. It doesn’t get much better than that. It was one of my favourite meals as a kid, oodles of spaghetti piled high and tossed in a rich red sauce. I used to have fun eating it too, relishing in the fact the table was set with spoons and forks as opposed to the traditional knife and fork (why can’t I get excited over such things anymore?!). There’s only one thing I don’t like about this meal and that’s the noises, you know the ones – sucking, slurping, general pasta suction techniques, we’ve all done it. I can’t deal with my emotions when I’m subjected to this. Surely, you can ONLY do this when eating alone and isn’t this the reason why you never order spaghetti on a first date?Spaghetti topped with parmesan

This spicy tomato spelt spaghetti is a 15 minute meal that couldn’t be more simple. It’s too true, the simple things are often the best. This is so speedy, it’s quicker than picking up the phone, ordering take out and waiting for it’s delivery. A basic italian inspired tomato spaghetti that’s delicious as is but would work really well powered up with your favourite veg, especially chestnut mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, a handful of rocket or a sprinkle of lemon zest. It’s a truly versatile dish. I like to use spelt spaghetti for the lower gluten and higher vitamin content but any wholegrain pasta would make a worthy nutritious and filling meal.Simple spaghetti ingredients

In my book a perfect tomato sauce needs good quality tomatoes, a good glug of olive oil, generous garlic, correct seasoning, a little sweetness and some spice. I like it really spicy but then again I do have a slight addiction to all things chili so if you prefer it a little milder then use a little less spice. It’s a great idea to make a large batch of the sauce and freeze half as it’s so versatile you could use it for another pasta dish such as lasagne, mixed with butter beans, poured over veggies or as a base for stuffed veggies. Just a thought. Two bowls of spaghetti

So, are you a creamy or tomatoey pasta person?

What’s your view on spaghetti eating etiquette?Spaghetti twisted on fork ready for slurping!

Spicy tomato spelt spaghetti

(serve 2)

200 grams spelt spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red chili, finely chopped
1 teaspoon oregano + 1/2 teaspoon crushed chili
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt + pepper
generous handful of black olives
fresh basil leaves, torn

Method:

1. Place the spaghetti into salted boiling water + cook according to packet instructions.
2. Heat the olive oil + add the garlic, chili + oregano stirring until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, sugar + seasonings simmering for 10-15 minutes.
3. Drain the spaghetti + set aside. Add some of the pasta water to the sauce if it needs a little thinning. Stir the torn basil leaves, black olives + cooked spaghetti through the spicy tomato sauce.
4. Serve immediately + garnish with extra olives + basil leaves.

Peanut Butter + Brown Rice Granola Bars (GF+ Vegan)

Granola bars + white chocolateIt’s finally happened. After all these years of hoping, praying and wishing only to be faced with the disappointment of not being quite there. But then just out of nowhere, boom (I just have to stop saying this word, I’m 32) and I’m there, success. I’ll never forget this day.

Peanut butter + brown rice granola bars of course. I’ve finally found what I’ve been hoping for. They just work for me, a granola bar that’s so crazy tasty, ridiculously healthy and holds together perfectly. Like I dropped it on the gravel and it didn’t even flinch, not even a chip on the the side. I really didn’t think it was possible but here’s a granola bar with spot on taste, a chewy texture and an impressive health rating. The other thing I like about these is they’re super good value too, often I find that granola bar recipes contain a lot of pricey superfood ingredients. These peanut butter + brown rice bars use simple, healthy, using widely available and very cheap ingredients. Each bar cost less than 25 pence which is a steal when compared to how much store bought varieties are.Granola bar process

The urge to get some white chocolate involved proved a little too much and why not because these are spectacularly good for you, too good really. They’re so tasty I had no choice but to have two with my coffee, it’s almost as if the decision was out of my control. No worries though, the recipe makes 14 good sized bars so with 10 remaining I can divide these with Russ for our weekday work snacks – 2 for him and 8 for me. Sorted!chopping

Here’s why you need these in your life:

utterly delicious
100 % whole grain
gluten free
high in B vitamins+ potassium
high in heart friendly monounsaturated fats
sweetened naturally with maple syrup
a good protein source
breakfast on the runStoring granola bars

As if you need any more convincing but what the hell we’ll go for some bonus points. These bars are extremely easy to put together, I’m talking 5 minutes and they require zero baking time. You can use the nut butter of your choice and add any of your personal granola bar favourites. These don’t need the white chocolate drizzle as such, but I just love the peanut butter and white chocolate combo so yes, I guess they do need it!

I do hope you’re having a fabulous day!A granola bar pile up

Peanut butter + brown rice granola bars

(makes 16)

1 1/2 cups brown rice cereal
1 1/4 cups gluten free oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup natural smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil

chocolate drizzle:

1/4 cup dairy free white chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil

1. Add the brown rice cereal, oats & salt to a large mixing bowl. Stir until evenly distributed.
2. Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to a pan & simmer over a low heat until fully combined.
3. Add the cereal mix to the pan (or the wet mix to a bowl if the pan is too small) & combine with the  wet ingredients thoroughly. Transfer to a greased 9X13″ baking pan.Press down evenly so that the mixture is compact.
4. Place in the freezer for 45-60 minutes until set. Remove & slice into 12-16 bars.
5. Melt the white chocolate & coconut oil over a low heat. Spoon this over the cereal bars & place in the freezer for 15 minutes until set. Store in an airtight container.

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