vegetarian

Peach, Maple & Cinnamon Rice Pancakes – GF

Rice pancakes & peachesA randomly acquired food rule I broke yesterday: Pancakes are reserved for weekends or holidays. Yeah right!

Well first up, what a silly rule and such a terrible way to live! To think about all those weekdays I’ve been missing out on my own personal pancake (well these are more crepe like) party. I suppose I’ve always associated pancake breakfasts with lazy weekends or scenes from American sitcoms where nobody’s in a rush to get to work. But these aren’t even time consuming. In fact, they’re quick, very quick, so I’m gonna make a point of eating these during the week in the hope of tricking myself! If this means I’m late for work then so be it, my pancake stack is worth it. I’m worth it!Peachy pancakes

As if being delicious isn’t enough, these are a great way to start the day and an excellent canvas for adding fruit and other delicious extras. I’m trying to eat less gluten so rice flour provides a tasty alternative  to wheat. These are a little heavier than they would be if you used almond or oat flour but the overall result is pretty satisfying. I love peaches, especially when they’re on the verge of over ripe. Yep, I reckon peaches are my favourite fruit and I love them even more with cinnamon and sticky syrup. These would work with any fruit really, dress them up or down, they’re easy going and accepting of most additions. Just be sure not to eat all your fruit before the pancakes are finished, like me! How can anyone in their right mind slice a ripe juicy peach and leave it alone? Peachy pancake process

These are just too simple not to make, enjoy them any way you want them. Be sure to break your own food rules and take some time over breakfast…..even if it makes you a few minutes late!

Peach, maple & cinnamon rice pancakes

(Serves 1)

50 grams rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 organic egg
1/4 pint coconut/almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
coconut oil, for frying
1 ripe peach, sliced
Maple syrup for drizzling

Method:

1. Combine the rice flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Place milk in a measuring jug, adding the egg and maple syrup.
2. Combine the wet and dry ingredients to form a smooth batter.
3. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add a ladle of batter. Cook on each side for a minute and transfer to a warm plate. Repeat until batter is finished.
4. Arrange pancakes and peaches on a plate. Drizzle with maple syrup. Enjoy.

Courgette & Quinoa Pizzas – GF

Courgette & quinoa pizzasThis isn’t strictly ‘pizza’ pizza but honestly, it’s just as tasty with a courgette base and of course it’s healthier. I didn’t know what to write in the title post – courgette or zucchini. I’ve always been a courgette person although zucchini is infinitely nicer sounding so I may even swap teams! It ‘s always interesting to see where others fall too, the same with aubergine/eggplant, coriander/cilantro and turnips/swedes. I witnessed a full blown argument with the last two, over whether it was indeed  a swede or a turnip. It was definitely a swede but needless to say I stayed well out of it! I don’t even think it’s an American / English thing either as I’ve heard British people say zucchini and friends from the States have a preference for courgette. Anyway, it’s just one of those things that fascinates me, same goes for you say tom-ay-to, I say tom-ar-to, I say pot-ay-to, you say pot-ar-to! It’s probably just me but I love all these little differences and preferences in life. Courgette & quinoa pizzas

Names and titles aside, these are neat little low carb pizzas with a good protein kick and 2 servings of vegetables. Sometimes you just want a lighter meal and these are the perfect way to lighten up. Pizza would work equally well in aubergine, mushrooms, beef tomatoes but I think courgettes (I mean zucchinis!) are pretty ideal and there was an abundance at the market this week. They’d be really tasty with some fresh baguette or pitta bread if you’re looking for a more substantial meal. We had them with some leftover spelt buttermilk bread which was really nice. These are super easy and can be made ahead of time for a quick grilling before teatime. Courgette pizza process

Any cheese would be nice but mozzarella is a an ideal choice as it turns stringy and pizza like under the grill. The quinoa gives the stuffing a pleasing texture but also boosts the protein which along with the cheese makes a protein rich dish.Courgette pizzas with cheese

Are you in team courgette or team zucchini?

‘Zucchini’ & quinoa pizzas

(serves 2)

2 large courgettes, hollowed (see pictures)
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
handful chopped olives

Method:

1. Cut the courgettes in half and scoop out the insides. Put innards aside and place courgettes on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil & bake for 15 minutes at 180 ºC.
2. Lightly fry onion, garlic & courgette innards, adding the herbs and seasonings after 5 minutes followed by the tomatoes and cooked quinoa.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Remove courgettes from the oven and fill the courgettes with the tomato quinoa mix. Dress with mozzarella and chopped olives. Place under a hot grill for 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and stringy.

Quinoa, Coconut & Blueberry Granola – GF & Vegan

Quinoa & blueberry granola

I was lucky enough to travel Peru last year and over the course of several weeks I ate my own body weight in this grain, what with daily helpings of quinoa cereal, quinoa soup and quinoa veggies! Needless to say, it was a tad overload and me and quinoa went on a break. Clearly this was just a temporary hitch because we’re now back in business, as we should be because this really is a super amazing whole grain. Just 1 cup of  this cooked inca grain has more than 8 grams of protein and to me that’s pretty good BUT there’s more. Not only is the protein content impressive, it’s the type of protein that really gives this grain the winning edge. Quinoa (like chia seeds!) has the perfect balance of 9 amino acids and is therefore a COMPLETE protein, like the type found in meat. I make a point of arming myself with these lovely facts in answer to the  well meant ‘but where do you get your protein from?’ queries! But it’s OK, quinoa is just one of many super protein sources available to vegetarians – I really like this post by ultraman Rich Roll on his top 7. Posts like this just reinforce how amazing a plant based diet is, it really does provides us with everything we need and much more.DSC_5877

Not only is quinoa is a vegetarian’s best friend, it’s pretty versatile stuff too.  If you can cook rice, you can cook quinoa and like rice, it can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner. This super grain of the Incas is perfect for porridge, veggie stuffing, planting in salads, on it’s lonesome or as a base of crunchy, sweet, nutty granola. Quinoa granola works particularly well and it can be put together in a jiffy for a week’s worth of protein jacked breakfasts. The coconut oil and honey add a sweet smooth flavour to the clusters and allow the quinoa, oats and nuts to form a light crisp texture, kind of granola-esque!Granola ingredients

This cereal is packed full of healthy fats, protein and fibre, providing a satisfying and low GI start to the day. Adding fresh fruit will ramp up the vitamin and mineral content and fortified nut milks will give a calcium boost too.  Delicious served with ice cold milk, on oatmeal, yoghurt or simply on it’s own from the jar.Granola & banana

Quinoa, coconut & blueberry granola

(6 servings)

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup gluten free oats
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup desiccated or shaved coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except coconut oil & honey.
2. Melt the coconut oil & whisk in the honey. Add this to the large bowl & combine all the ingredients until thoroughly coated.
3. Place the mixture on a large baking tray and place in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Turn clusters over mid way through baking taking care not to over brown.

Note: If using larger sized nuts it’s advisable to add these at the start followed by smaller nuts & seeds half way through the total baking time for an even bake. The total bake time may need to extended by 5-10 minutes.

Lentil & Portobello Burger with a Quick Apricot Chutney – GF

Lentil & mushroom burgerKiller circuits this morning, a murderous self inflicted session in the living room! There was no trainer yelling at me to man up and give him twenty more, it was just Russ and I and we were going for it! In all honesty, when it’s just me I swear I don’t work out as hard but when we join forces and workout together it’s like we just push each other that bit harder. There’s an unspoken ‘keep it going’, ‘don’t be a god damn wimp’ type pressure and it’s pretty effective! This is why I love working out with someone else, time flies and it’s way more fun. Needless to say today’s Saturday session was a fabulous full body workout, followed by amazing stove top coffee and quinoa granola! But this isn’t even about granola, that granola was good though. This is about burgers, vegetarian patties, healthy bun fillers, veggie sliders….I’m always on the endless quest to find a great burger.

The great lentil portobello burger.

Lentil & mushroom burger with apricot chutney

These lentil based beauties are bursting with rich umami flavours resulting from a hearty mix  of onion, garlic, mushrooms, parmesan, soy sauce and red wine. They have a rich, earthy, savoury taste and a pleasant texture which firms up nicely after a quick fry and a good grilling. There are so many options when it comes to plant based burgers but this is ideal for those looking for a slightly richer flavour and hoping to avoid some of mushier bean varieties.Lentil & mushroom burger process

It’s pretty filling too and satisfied a ravenous circuit induced hunger nicely. The apricot chutney is definitely a good friend to this burger with a sticky, smokey sweetness shining all over the bun and down my fingers! We had our burger in polenta topped buns with lettuce, tomato and onion and it was good.Lentil & mushroom burger with salad

Who’s your workout buddy? Do you push yourself that bit harder when you have someone with you?

Lentil mushroom burger & a quick apricot chutney

(makes 2 ‘big’ and 4 normal burgers- we made 2 of course)

1/2 white onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup of portobello mushrooms, chopped finely
1 carrot, grated
splash red wine
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1.2 cup cooked lentils
1/4 cup vegetarian parmesan, grated
1/2 cup oats
1 egg
parsley, chopped
oil for frying

apricot chutney

6 small apricots, chopped
i cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon liquid smoke or chipotle sauce

Method:

1. Saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms & carrots for 5 minutes. Add the red wine, soy sauce, thyme & cooked lentils. Keep on a low heat until all liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl & allow to cool a little.
2. Add the oats, parmesan, parsley & egg to the cooled mixture, combining thoroughly. Set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Shape into 2 large or 4 smaller burger patties.  Transfer to a greased frying pan for 5 minutes to set on one side. Turn over and finish under a medium grill for 10 minutes or until firm to the touch & browned. Reduce grilling slightly if making 4 burgers from the mixture.
4. Enjoy in a bun with salad and liberal quantities of apricot chutney.

For the pickle:

Combine all ingredients and simmer on a low heat until apricots have softened & the chutney has a sticky appearance. Add more water if necessary. Transfer to a serving dish to cool.

“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.

Smokey Bean Burger

I like a good eye crossing burger (don’t worry, i’ll explain later) and as a vegan, burger making prowess is a handy skill to possess. Burgers mean a lot to me and as such I’ve made a lot of veggie burgers and I am still by no means ‘there’ yet, but I really like this one.

smokey bean burger

So, the first and most key burger rule I have learnt on my 8 year burger learning curve is that the mixture consistency is sooooooo very important, and to get the correct consistency you need to experiment! Soft and mushy is just annoying but at the same time you really don’t want to break a tooth at first bite. I usually have the former problem. My first veggie bean burger was a big floppy sloppy mess and despite tasting pretty good it was a mission to eat! If I remember correctly we also ‘spilt’ too much chill into the mix, so really it was more super hot vegetarian chill in a bun than burger- uuuuummmm yummy. Potential future recipe perhaps?

There are a mass of bean burger recipes around but as long as you take care of the main elements such as mixture consistency, texture and size I think the actual ingredients boil down to personal tastes. The smokey chipotle and raw cocoa provide a rich, lightly spiced and sweet tone throughout the burger but this can be adjusted to personal taste. The oats and almonds add a slight nutty crunch and firmness without drying the mixture out and once combined with the smoothness of the beans a workable consistency forms. It’s really important to drain the beans thoroughly as they are pretty water retentive.! If you find mid way through combining that it is a little sloppy you can add more wholemeal flour or oats to dry it out. It really is one of those recipes that require a bit of judgement and experimentation.

smokey bean burger
ready to go!

Best to use a high burning oil such as rape seed to achieve that crunchy exterior. I usually give them 5-6 minutes each side but keep an eye on them anyhow!

I divided this mixture into 4 good sized burgers and shape into…..well burger shapes! If using cheese slice, place on the burger 1 minute before removing from the hob.

smokey bean burger
It’s all in the consistency………

Obviously, serve with a decent bun, I top it with cheese, some pickles, crunchy salad and tomato ketchup 🙂 I really like a few nachos in the burger for added crunch!

smokey bean burger
Amazing with mustard coleslaw

My favourite part is picking it up, squeezing it together and taking an almighty bite whilst trying my hardest not to go cross eyed! I still can’t do it, ever since I was a kid my eyes start wondering inwards towards my nose when tackling an oversized burger, much to the amusement of my family!

So, if there were a veggie burger making rulebook what would you add to it?!

Smokey Bean Burger

(makes 4 burgers)

1 can of black beans, drained very well
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1/2 onion, peeled & chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 large carrot or squash, peeled and chopped
1 chipotle chili, chopped
1/4 cup of almonds
small handful of cacao nibs or grated dark chocolate
1 cup of oats
coriander/cumin/cinnamon/smoked paprika
salt / pepper
flour to dust
oil for frying

Note: Most pulses work well but all need to be thoroughly drained.

Method:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a non-stick pan and soften onion, garlic and chopped carrot. Meanwhile drain the beans thoroughly.
  2. Add 2/3 beans to a mixing bowl followed by the onion mix, chill, almonds, oats, spices, salt & pepper. Blitz mixture in a blender.
  3. Stir through remaining beans and cocoa nibs and partially blitz. Now is the time to add any peas/sweetcorn.
  4. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions. Shape into buns and dust with flour.
  5. Use remaining oil to fry the burgers for 5-6 minutes on both sides.
  6. Top with sliced (dairy-free) cheese if desired and serve immediately in a grainy bun.

Healthy Moroccan Chickpea Stew

tagine collage
I am in love with Moroccan cuisine. In fact I love everything about Morocco from my favourite leather handbag, to the vibrant throw that adorns my sofa to the ceramic bowls I fill with salsas and sauces. See, I like this country a lot!  Did I mention there’s something special about the food too?

Culinary discoveries are one of the highlights of travel and when visiting Morocco several years back I was overwhelmed by the colours, aromas, tastes and general sensory attack from the exotic, sweet, delicate but sometimes pungent flavours that filled the air in markets and cafes. Morocco is a country that overloads the senses. I spent days wondering the bustling medinas mesmerised by daily life, spending hours mingling in markets, squeezing pass tables of mountainous of red, yellow, brown and orange spices, and others close to toppling with juicy plump olives. I found myself lost in huge markets, wondering sprawling alleyways overspilling with fresh vibrant produce. I took the time to learn about these new foods and spices whilst loitering to observe the daily hustle and bustle of daily life. I took great pleasure in the bread section watching locals toss balls of soft flexible dough ready for the oven. Once charred these unbelievable pitta breads were served with my favourite fruity, spicy but delicate fresh tagines.

knife, board, chop!
Knife, board, chop!

In Morocco tagines were usually served with a side of salad, olives and as much fresh pitta as I could eat (dangerous!). It really was the most colourful, tasty and satisfying meal, perfect after hours of idling and bartering for leathers and silks.. I ate tagines most days and decided that I wanted to start making Moroccan food myself on my return home.

Once back in the UK I was keen to put my newly purchased spices and amazing culinary experiences to good use and began experimenting. I wasn’t looking for 100% authenticity but rather a dish to remind me of Morocco and my memorable experiences. This is pretty much a one-pot wonder and doesn’t the authentic tagine dish.  Over the years I’ve played around with the spices and order of vegetables into the pan as sweet potato cooks much quicker than carrot, however when the potato does break down it adds a lovely thick consistency and smooth sweetness to the whole stew. Parsnips seem to hold their own as does squash so I don’t worry too much when keeping it simmering on the hob. It really doesn’t matter and that’s why I love this dish because it never seems to go wrong….well not yet anyhow! It’s all about personal tastes.

I like adding peas towards the end for the pretty contrast it creates against the warm orangey/yellow and red tones. Chickpeas go in last to avoid them hardening too much….nobody likes bulletesque chick peas!

Delicious served with a mint yoghurt dip, a crisp green salad and warm baguette. This is my heaven. Where is your favourite country in terms of cuisine?

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

(serves 2)

1 onion, peeled & chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
thumb sized ginger, chopped finely
salt & pepper
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 cup of squash, peeled & cubed
1 parsnip, peeled & chopped
10 apricots, chopped
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled & chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin & cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric &  paprika
1 tin of tomatoes & 1 tin of water
juice and zest of 1/2 an Orange
generous pouring of peas
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
small handful of coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Add the oil to the pan and soften the onion, garlic and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the carrot, parsnip, squash and continue softening for 5 minutes. Add the apricots, sweet potato, spices, tomatoes, water, orange juice and zest and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Stir through the peas, chickpeas and coriander and heat through thoroughly.

Pick ‘n’ Mix Bubble & Squeak

Don’t you just love leftovers? Cold pizza, cheesy pasta, pesto pasta, tomato pasta, lasagne (any pasta!), curries that somehow taste better the next day, roasted veg stuffed into wraps, cold oats and even stodgy cold pies.  In fact I quite like cold food generally and I certainly hate piping hot food; like the kind of food that destroys the roof of your mouth! You know that that horrid realisation that yep you just did it, that cheese pizza you’ve chomped down on has just scorched your palate and now you have no palate because everything you eat for the next 2 days will taste of nothing! So cold food is fine with me but we were talking about leftovers weren’t we?

yes, this really is made from leftovers!
Yes, this really is made from leftovers!

Bubble and squeak is the perfect next day recipe to use your leftover vegetables. I love this so much that sometimes I boil up veggies especially but it tends to work best with veggies straight from the fridge.

lovely leftovers
Breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Traditionally potato, carrots and something green such as cabbage or sprouts make up a bubble ‘n’ squeak. I adore sprouts (yep you heard right!) so use them lots but any green vegetable or potato will work. Other great options are swede, kale, collards, parsnip – you get the picture and i’m sure you don’t need a lesson in vegetables. Adding peas, sweetcorn or a cheeky sprinkle of crushed chill all add to the aesthetic appeal!

So pick ‘n’ mix your leftover veggies and add to fried onion in a non stick pan. Push the mixture down with a spatula and crisp on one side. The hardest part is turning the cake over but you can cheat by brushing the top with oil and grilling! Or failing that, don’t fill the whole pan but make mini bubble and squeaks.

Serve hot, not cold and definitely not piping hot! I love this with a couple of eggs or some mature cheese and always copious amounts of ketchup.

Bubble & Squeak

(serves 2)

1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons of oil
bowlful of mashed potato
bowlful of leftover vegetables (pick ‘n’ mix but carrot and cabbage work great)
salt & pepper
Optional: Chilli & Cheese

Method:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a non stick pan and soften the onion. Meanwhile add the leftover veggies, season and work together to combine.
  2. Squash the mixture down with a spatula and brown/crisp on one side.
  3. Turn the mixture over and crisp on the second side. You can use a chopping board to turn the pan onto or grill the top. Add cheese if you wish to.
  4. Divide into desired portions and serve immediately.

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