Lemon cheesy roasted vegetables


I served my lemon tamari chickpeas from yesterday's recipe with lemon cheesy roasted veggies for dinner, so I thought I'd share that recipe with you too - even though its so simple, it hardly needs a recipe.


Often times however, people just roast veggies in oil but I love the addition of lemon juice and zest.

Ingredients:
Variety of vegetables cut into small pieces, with tougher veg cut smaller than soft veg - enough for a large baking sheet/pan.
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs lemon juice
Grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Approx 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (heavy sprinkle - but optional)

Preheat oven to 415F. Mix the first 5 ingredients together on a large baking sheet, lined with a non-stick liner (see yesterday's post for my favorite).  Sprinkle heavily with nutritional yeast and gently mix.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes then toss them around, adding another sprinkle of nutritional yeast, and roast for an additional 10-20 minutes.

Serve hot or cold.


The veggies I used were what was on hand: blue potatoes (I love blue potatoes!), red onion, multi-colored carrots, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus, but you can chose your favorites.  Think of a rainbow as you select however, trying to get lots of different colors. You can see from the photos that I got orange, yellow, green, and blue/purple in there, so plenty of color just on one dish.


If you aren't familiar with nutritional yeast, it brings a really cheesy flavor to dishes - so is perfect for those who are dairy free or vegan. It is also a great source of B vitamins so for those who are gluten free and not eating many grains, or anyone who isn't getting many B vitamins, adding nutritional yeast gives a real boost to your B vitamin levels.
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Oatmeal smoothie or my green tinge smoothie

I've been making a new breakfast smoothie lately instead of having oatmeal or muesli.  I'm loving it so I thought I'd share it with you.  While initially it was my "oatmeal smoothie", for the last few days, I've been adding a green tinge to it - not from veggies, but from green tea, so now its my "green tinge" smoothie. Yes, another way to get green tea into my diet when I don't like the taste of green tea!  And just a tinge of green as sometimes, I just don't fancy veggies for my breakfast!


I vary it most days but the basics are:
1/4 cup rolled GF oats
1 cup organic, unsweetened soy milk
1 small banana
1/2 tablespoon matcha green tea
1 tbsp of sun choke or yacon syrup (optional)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed.

Here the reasons for my ingredient selection:
I use soy milk in this, as it has a higher protein level than other non-dairy milks.  While I am definitely not one to say we need a lot of protein in our diets, it is good to have a little in every meal/snack.  Almond milk, which I like a lot, only has 1g protein per cup, whereas soy milk has 9g per cup.  I need about 45g a day so this smoothie provides about 15g in total - a third of my daily needs.


The sunchoke syrup - or as its called above, sunroot sweetener, is a relatively new product on the market and worth a try for its health benefits  It is a prebiotic made from sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes. Prebiotics are functional foods that your "good" gut bacteria thrive on. Basically it is something that we can't digest ourselves, so it passes to the colon and, bacteria, particularly bifidobacteria just eat it up! They thrive and their numbers increase and that helps us thrive.  Yacon syrup is a similar product but made from yacon root ( and is more expensive!).  It is a syrup - even though its only made from sunchokes/yacons, so can be used as a sweetener. I don't think this smoothie needs sweetening actually, but I use it for its prebiotic component.  1 tbsp has 7g of fiber in it. Added to my flaxseed in this smoothie and other ingredients and I'm getting a total of 14g a fiber, just for breakfast.

Our lovely green nectarines are ripe on the tree right now so I've been swapping out the banana for them some mornings, so choose whatever fruit you have ripe right now.  I actually prefer it with the nectarines - but I'm using the ones that fall on the ground so as not to waste the perfect ones. Yes, they are green - outside and in. Not sure what the varietal is but they are wonderful.

What's your morning smoothie right now with all this yummy fruit and veggies in abundance? Share your recipe.
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New favorite cookbook - Oh She Glows

Photo Credit: Angela Liddon
My new favorite cookbook - The Oh She Glows Cookbook - is definitely helping me have 100 happy days.  I'll count it today as my Day 14 of #100happydays - but truly, I could count it for just about everyday.

The cookbook only came out this month and I had pre-ordered.  Its just a lovely book.  It is vegan but I think it has an appeal to everyone. The dishes are delish and will suit all palates.

First off though, it looks like a "proper" cookbook.  So often vegan or  plant based cookbooks aren't so appealing in their layout and design but this one is beautiful with gorgeous photos of every dish.





I started flipping through the pages and adding stickers to the recipes I wanted to try - but quickly ran out of stickers! It would have been easier to mark the couple that didn't appeal to me!

There are more than 100 recipes, 90 of which are gluten free. They are higher in sweeteners and oil than I typically use, but easily adaptable to reducing those levels if you so wish.  There are considerations for other food allergies too, with soy free, grain free, and nut free recipes as well.

I've really enjoyed cooking from the book. We had friends stay the weekend so I made the ultimate nutty granola clusters and they were a huge hit.

Other dishes I have tried include:

  • raw buckwheat breakfast porridge
  • taco fiesta potato crisps - with walnut taco meat
  • chakra caesar salad with nutty herb croutons
  • perfect kale chips
  • lightened-up crispy baked fries

and today I'm giving the "present glo bars" a try.  I'll let you know how they turn out.
Photo credit: Angela Liddon
Walnut, avocado and pear salad with marinated portobello caps and red onion
I highly recommend this book - for vegans, vegetarians, omnivores or whatever.  It'll make you happy.
Here's the link to it on Amazon

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Castagnaccio - chestnut cake

I recently taught a couple of classes on managing blood glucose levels.  One of the recipes we cooked together was a Tuscan dish called Castagnaccio. Its a sweet/savory cake made with chestnut flour and no added sugar.


This winter I've actually had a bit of a chestnut obsession, to be honest.  I just love chestnuts and keep finding new ways to use them.  I think I'm just going to have to find space to plant a chestnut tree.


Edible  sweet chestnuts - not to be confused with horse chestnuts, nor water chestnuts, are in the beech tree family.  They are one of the lowest calorie nuts, containing no cholesterol, very little fat (mostly unsaturated) and gluten free.  They have similar carbohydrate content as rice and wheat and are the only nuts to contain vitamin C.  We always think of nuts as being high in fat - but not the chestnut.



I throw them on my salads, add  them to lots of other dishes and now am using chestnut flour in baked goods.  You can also buy them dried and reconstitute them, and pureed, and as "chips" which you can use to make a chestnut type hummus.  See - they are so much more than just a subject of Christmas songs! Get out there and buy a jar of roasted chestnuts - or roast your own, before they are all gone!



Castagnaccio is a little different from what you imagine a cake to be. It is solid with a more unusual texture - and combines the flavors of sweetness from sultanas (golden raisins), with pine nuts and then fresh rosemary.  I love the combination - but I have to say, I haven't tasted anything else quite like it.  I've tried a couple of variations using walnuts instead of the pine nuts and regular raisins or cranberries instead of the sultanas.  And with or without the orange zest. I like them all and its a great portable food that I take with me in the car on my trips to the city.



I've never had Castagnaccio from Tuscany. Have you?  I'd love to know how this recipe compares.....

Anyhow - if you are feeling like something a little different, give it a go:


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups chestnut flour (I bought mine online)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 sultanas/golden raisins
1/4 pine nuts
1 large sprig of rosemary
Grated zest of 1 orange (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Soak the sultanas in the 1 1/2 cups warm water for approx 5 minutes.  Drain - reserving both the sultanas and the water.
  3. Meanwhile, remove the rosemary leaves from the sprig.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chestnut flour and drained warm water until smooth.
  5. Place the olive oil in a pie dish and place int he oven to just a couple of minutes to warm.
  6. Pour the batter into the pie dish and swirl with a whisk to carefully mix in the oil into the dough.  
  7. Sprinkle on the nuts, orange zest and soaked sultanas.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until the whole surface is dry and a little cracked.
  9. Serve hot, warm or cold.
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Cherry Walnut squares with chocolate drizzle

In the cooking park of my classes last week, I wanted to make a nice treat that included some omega 3 fatty acids....so I adapted a recipe I got from Dr Fuhrman's latest cookbook " Eat to Live Cookbook".   I definitely recommend the book.  I often use his recipes.



He used equal amounts of walnuts and almonds in his recipe (1 cup of each) , but I tried it just with walnuts.   You get a much higher ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats if you use all walnuts, but choose for yourself.  Also, I love Montmorency dried cherries, so included those instead of goji berries.

What I love about these squares is that they live in the freezer and you just pull them out as you want one. They don't get too hard so you can eat them straight out of the freezer - or else you could warm them or let them defrost - but I doubt if you can resist it that long!


Its a tasty treat with omega 3 fats, good soluble fiber from oats, anthocyanins and antioxidants from the cherries, along with melatonin to help sleep/circadian rhythm, dates and banana for sweetness instead of refined sugar and just a little drizzle of  good quality chocolate - that makes it feel quite decadent.

Here's my recipe:

1 1/2 cups old fashioned/rolled oats (I used gluten free)
2 cups walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup dates, pitted
1/2 cup water
1 banana
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries (I used Eden's Montmorency cherries but any dried fruit/berry will work)
1 ounce >75% cocoa dark chocolate (I used Equal Exchange Panama Extra Dark 80% chocolate)

  • In a blender or processor, blend the oats until they look like flour.  Empty into a mixing bowl.  
  • Repeat with the walnuts, but don't over-process or they will start to release their oils and turn into nut butter.  Add to the bowl with the oat flour.
  • Put the dates and water into a high speed blender and process until it forms a slurry.  Add the banana and continue to blend until smooth and not large pieces of dates are evident.
  • Add the date mixture to the oats and walnuts and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla and cherries.

  • Line a 8 inch square cake pan with foil or parchment - with overhang so you can easily pull the whole thing out.  Put the dough into the pan and spread evenly.  Smooth the top by using a knife or back of a spoon, dipped in water.
  • Place in the freezer for approx 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the chocolate, broken into pieces, in a small bowl, and set over a larger bowl of hot water to melt the chocolate. Take care not to get water into the chocolate.
  • When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the dough from the freezer and lift it out whole on the parchment paper.  Cut the block into 36 small squares ( you can do larger if you like, but you'll find just one small square quite satisfying).  Don't lift them off the parchment - keep them in place.
  • Using the small spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the whole block of the dough in diagonal lines.
  • Return to the freezer, wrapped in the parchment or place in a container and store in the freezer, for a guilt free snack.  

The recipe is gluten free (if you use gluten free rolled oats), oil free, refined sugar free, vegan and tastes like a nice treat.   Health benefits come from the omega 3 fatty acids, the fiber, anthocyanins, cinnamon,  cocoa.......  
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Baked Oatmeal to go

I often hear people tell me that they eat oatmeal some mornings for breakfast but when they are in a rush, they often choose something less healthy and sustaining.  "Why not try baked oatmeal?" I say - so today's recipe is an easy grab and go baked oatmeal.  Make it at the beginning of the week and you have nearly a week's worth!



This recipe was also good timing for me as we leave today to go back to England for a couple of weeks.  I always take my own food on the plane so I have been thinking what to take for my in-the-air breakfast. I figured if  I baked my oatmeal in muffin cases, they would work perfectly!


And voila!  I also used up some of my quince puree too before we leave - but if you don't have quince, you can use unsweetened applesauce instead.  This quince oatmeal to go is gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and with no added sugar or fat.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 banana broken/chopped into little pieces
1/8 cup flaxseeds (whole or ground)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tbs cardamom powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup non dairy milk
1/4 cup quince puree or apple sauce/puree

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Spoon into 7 muffin cases in a muffin pan.  Bake at 375F for 35 minutes.

To serve - just grab and enjoy if you are on the go or if you do happen to be at home, you can break one up in a bowl and pour over some extra warm non-dairy milk. Store in the fridge.


(Bet you end up having them not just at breakfast time!!! I've got to make sure I don't eat them all before I fly off.)
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The Best Homemade Soy Yogurt


My life has been transformed since I successfully started making organic soy, unsweetened yoghurt!  It makes me so happy. I want to get out of bed in the mornings, just so I can eat some yogurt!  It is so creamy and delicious and only has four ingredients:
  • organic soybeans
  • water
  • organic raw cashews
  • probiotics
The "active" part of making the recipe also takes only about 5 minutes.  Then it sits and ferments for 8 hours, then goes in the fridge - and is then ready to be gobbled up!

So here is the recipe for you to give it a try.  Let me know if it changes your life too!!

Ingredients
3/4 cup raw organic cashews, soaked in water for at least 1 hour, then drained
32 oz carton of WestSoy organic, unsweetened plain soy milk
3 probiotic capsules or 1 scoop probiotic powder. I use Custom probiotics CP1 or their 6 strain powder


1. Put approx. 1 cup of soy milk and the soaked cashews into a blender and process until smooth and creamy.


2. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the remaining 3 cups of milk.  Whisk to combine.

3. Warm over a low heat, whisking occasionally until the mixture reaches a temperature of 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) or if you don't have a thermometer, until a few drops on your wrist feels slightly warm.  Remove from the heat. Don't let it go above this temperature.



4. Open the probiotic capsules and add the contents into the milk - or add the powder and whisk to thoroughly combine.

5. Pour into a yogurt maker and switch on, for 8 hours. If you don't have a yogurt maker,  leave the mixture to rest in covered jar/pot in a warm place in the kitchen, for 8 hours.  Taste to check the desired degree of tartness in flavor.  If it isn't as tart as you like it, leave it another hour or two.  Then refrigerate - it will thicken more as it cools.

6. Store covered in the refrigerator for upto 2 weeks.

Notes on the recipe:
a) Most non dairy recipes are typically not very thick. Adding the cashews thickens this one nicely, without having to add any other thickeners.

b) I use an infrared thermometer (~$15) to measure the temperature of the milk.  I bought mine a few months ago and love it.  Basically nothing has to touch the food - it just shoots an infrared beam and measures the temperature from that.  No washing up!  It's also fun to play with around the house and check room temperatures, each other, draughts, etc etc!  You can of course use a regular thermometer or do the wrist heat test - but its not as much fun!


c) I haven't tried this with other milks or changed the cashew nuts for another nut.  That's because I love it as it is and if it ain't broke, don't fix it!  If you give it a try with something else, do report back and let me know how it goes.

d) The yogurt machine holds the yogurt at a constant 108F.  If you don't have one, try leaving it in a switched off electric oven with only the inside light switched on. This should give it enough warmth to ferment.  Or just put it in a warm place in the kitchen.  I've tried it both ways and even when I did it side by side, there was no difference.  If the temperature where you leave it is not that warm, you may need to give it 10 - 12 hours to ferment instead of just 8 hours.

e) The probiotic capsules work perfectly.  The company, customprobiotics sells a yogurt starter, but I've never tried it, as I had the probiotics and they work just fine. If your yogurt doesn't ferment, its probably because you have used a different probiotic that isn't "live"!

f) I have only used WestSoy milk for this recipe as it is made from only whole organic, non-GMO soybeans and water. No other ingredients.  It has a high protein level and reasonable fat content.  Don't try fat free as you need the fat to make the yoghurt thicken.


g) Once you've made your first batch, instead of re-inoculating subsequent batches with fresh probiotic every time, you can just keep approx. 1/4 cup of the previous batch of yogurt and add that to the milk and cashews. The bugs will still be alive.  I tend to do this for a few batches, but then start afresh with fresh probiotics every 6 or so times.

h) Sometimes some liquid separates slightly from the yoghurt. You can pour this off or just stir it in.  Your choice, depending on how thick you want the yoghurt.  You can also strain the yogurt and make soft cheese from it too.

i) If it doesn't set or get sour, its probably because your probiotics are no longer active. This should be a spoonable yogurt.


I start my day with my yogurt with added fruit grown in our garden - like pears and figs right now -- and then also use it at other times through the day - add it with some turmeric to steamed cauliflower, make a salad dressing with it. How will you use yours?

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Lemon juice or lemon zest?

I was watching Yotam Ottolenghi on telelvision today and something he said, struck a cord with me. He said lemon juice just tends to add acidity to a dish, but adding lemon zest, adds so much more.  Isn't that true!



The zest contains aromatic oils, which is where the real flavor and perfume of lemons comes from.  So don't try and substitute lemon zest for lemon juice.  You just won't get the flavor.



I still use juice in many recipes, but if I want a real lemon flavor, it has to have zest in it, for example when making my gluten free vegan lemon cheesecake,  as opposed to adding lemon juice to a savory dish.



If you are going to juice a lemon, zest it first - its much easier than trying to do two halves!  And use the zest immediately when it is most flavorful.

A great citrus you buy if you want a lot of zest is a Buddha's hand! They are all zest and no fruit pulp.  Just pull a finger off and zest it.  The Buddha's hand was traditionally used as a room freshener - for more info, check out my post on Buddha's hands!



Hands down (!) lemon zest is one of my favorite flavors. As we have 3 very prolific lemon trees, I use it a lot. What about you?  If you don't - give a go - using the zest for real flavor and the juice for acidity.
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Kitchen tools: Bamix immersion blender and grinder

I love my Bamix.  I've had one for years - originally had one in England so that must be over 20 years ago.


The Bamix is an immersion blender with a small processor/grinder attachment.  I actually rarely use it as an immersion blender but use it all the time with the grinder. It gets used a few times every week especially as it is my go to piece of equipment for grinding my flax seeds.

I also use it for making nut butters. As the grinder is only a small size, it makes great nut butter.  I never want large quantities anyhow so it is perfect.


Today and last week I used it for a batch of nutella, as I'm making nutella ice cream for friends this weekend.  If I'm making nutella ice cream just for me, I make everything in the grinder - as all it is one tablespoon of healthy nutella plus one frozen banana.  Whip them up and you get yummy ice cream. I'll be making enough ice cream for 3 of us so  the bamix made the nutella and I'll use my regular processor for the frozen banana bit.


I also use the grinder for spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, making bread crumbs, etc.  You can use dry and wet ingredients in it. Unlike a coffee grinder, which many makes you can't wash properly, the bamix grinder comes apart for easy cleaning.

The immersion blender comes with different blades for doing different things. There is a flat disk useful for whipping and you can whip non dairy milks into the texture of cream with that as its so powerful.  Great for fancy coffee drinks if you like those.


It is more expensive than other immersion blenders but it is also more powerful and the small size of the grinder is perfect so many things.


Here's my latest version of a healthy nutella recipe - just made with my Bamix:

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raw cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon coconut nectar or sweet freedom
1/8 cup water

If the hazelnuts aren't already roasted, dry roast them in a pan and the rub them in a kitchen towel to remove the skins.

Place the hazelnuts in the Bamix grinder and grind/blend, stopping frequently to scrape down the sides.  It does take a reasonable amount of scraping - and grind for about 5 minutes until the consistency of a nut butter.  Add the remaining ingredients to the grinder and whip in the grinder until smooth.

Store in the fridge.

Healthy nutella ice cream (vegan, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free)

To make healthy nutella ice cream, for one person, blend 1 chopped frozen banana with 1 tablespoon of healthy nutella.  Enjoy!  Easily multiplies up for more people.
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Book Review: The Vegan Cheat Sheet

This week's book review is for a book just out this past week: The Vegan Cheat Sheet by Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey.



It is described as
a take-anywhere resource that puts all the essential information about eating vegan at your fingertips.
Basically it teaches you how to become vegan by offering:

  • information on myths vs truth about vegan lifestyle
  • describes what foods to eat and which to avoid
  • reasons to go vegan
  • vegan replacements
  • shopping lists to stock your cupboard
  • recipes
  • a 21 day vegan program with meal plans
  • how to eat out  - including restaurant guides
and more!

Authors Amy and Lisa
I like the book.  It's one I would recommend to my students and is ideal for someone wanting to move into a vegan lifestyle.  It covers all the basics. 

The recipes are easy and relatively quick.  Nothing fancy but there were quite a few that I marked and may make, like chana masala, mushroom risotto, creamy corn chowder.  Throughout all the recipes, they don't use any added oil - which is how I cook too.

The book isn't gluten free but you can make the usual gluten free substitutions to the recipes. 

I'm never sure about the 21 day plans...do people really want every meal laid out for them for 3 weeks??  Maybe they do, or maybe they are just examples to play with.

The "Party" chapter was a good one -  where they group together different recipes that would work well for a gathering.  For example, for a 'French gourmet' evening, they suggest their recipes for white bean pate, cassoulet, mushroom risotto, ratatouille followed by chocolate mousse.  For 'Passage to India' there is curried butternut squash soup, chana masala, saag paneer, brown rice, whole-wheat pita bread and chia pudding.

Like last week's book, this was a quick read.  It's a nice introduction to starting a vegan lifestyle and covers all the bases.  And its written in a friendly accessible style.
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Healthy fudge recipe

If you are fancying a tasty treat, or want to make a healthy gift for a friend's birthday, try this healthy walnut fudge recipe.



Don't be put off by the ingredients - yes, it has black beans in it.  You don't taste them at all - and they provide a nice texture and great fiber in a treat.

Here is the recipe:
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 banana, cut in slices
1/2 cup raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup pitted dates
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup ground rolled oats/oat flour (grind rolled oats in coffee grinder or food processor)
2 tbs ground flax seeds
2 tbs chia seeds

Decorations:
Ground walnuts (ground in a coffee grinder or food processor)

Combine all the ingredients, except the ground walnuts, in a food processor and blend well until thoroughly mixed and a dough is formed.

Divide the mixture into 2 and from two long logs of dough on a board.

Roll each log in the ground walnuts to cover completely and as rolling, shape nicely.

Use a sharp knife to cut the logs into discs/rounds.  Store in the fridge and enjoy!

The recipe was inspired by Including Cake. It's a wonderful vegan fudge recipe with fruit, beans, no added sugar or oil, no dairy, and a good source of omega 3 plants based fats from flax and chia seeds.  They also add to the fiber content too.  In the photos, one fudge log was rolled in dessicated coconut and the other log in ground walnuts. I liked the walnut ones better than the coconut ones.  The coconut seemed to be a little overpowering and took away from the fudge, in my opinion.  You could try other ground/finely chopped ingredients too.
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Thursday's Food as Medicine group - final class

Yesterday was the final class for my Thursday group.  10 months together.  I'll miss them.


We had  a lovely few hours - covered a lot of things and made some yummy healthy food together.  We ate a rainbow - with no added sugar, salt, or oil - and no dairy or gluten either. I'll share some of the recipes soon.

The photos are after we'd eaten most of the lunch together with only the sugar free chocolate mousse remaining.


Two new classes start in September.....so I only have one group continuing through the summer now.

Time to get planning some new things, I think.

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Bell Pepper and tomato soup


This is my new favorite soup!  I love it.  It's smooth and warming with a little kick. Today has been rainy, which is sooooooo unusual for Northern California at this time of year, so I decided to make some soup and feel all warm and cozy.



Here is the recipe:

40g or 1/4 cup red lentils
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped/crushed
5 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped or a can of tomatoes (eg Pomi chopped tomatoes)
2 peppers - one red and one yellow
400g or 1 3/4 cups water or stock
shake or two of cayenne pepper
To serve - hemp and pumpkin seeds

1. Begin by grinding the lentils into a powder/flour, using a coffee grinder or spice grinder. Put to one side.
2. Dry-fry the onion, garlic and peppers in a medium saucepan, until soft (approx 5 - 10 minutes)
3. Add the stock/water, tomatoes, ground lentils and cayenne and simmer for 12 - 15 minutes
4. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
5. Serve sprinkled with hemp and pumpkin seeds.

You can use just red peppers, but I like to use one red and one yellow - just coz they look pretty! They are a good source of Vitamin C and also carotenoids.




The lentils are used like flour, to thicken the soup.  I'd never tried using ground lentils in a recipe - but grinding them first helps you achieve a smooth texture to the soup and they cook quickly.  I can see myself using them to thicken lots of other dishes too.



It's quick and easy to make.  As the soup will be pureed, you don't have to spend a long time on chopping things finely, as the blender will do that.  And the kick of cayenne (to your taste) gets your taste buds dancing!


If you feel like you need to cozy up, give it a try.  A healthy, warming, tasty soup.
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Overnight oat berry breakfast parfait



While yesterday's OOO-breakfast is yummy - it is quite sweet, even though it has no added sugar - but the sweetness comes from the bananas and mango.  So I made this version of a 'pretty parfait' - OOBBP, using berries instead and changing the oats a little. If you have a sweeter tooth - you can still use this recipe but go for all strawberries - but I like a bit of tartness so added cranberries as well.


Here's the recipe: 3 servings

1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup cranberries (can be frozen)
1 cup gluten free oats
1 cup dairy free milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened organic apple sauce

Puree the strawberries and cranberries together until smooth in a food processor.

Place the oats, chia seeds, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl and stir together.  Add the apple sauce and mix thoroughly.

To assemble the parfait, divide approx. half of the oat mixture between three serving glasses/bowls.  Add a layer of strawberry/cranberry puree using approx. half of the puree.  Add the remainder of the oat mixture to make a third layer, and finally top with the remainder of the strawberry/cranberry mixture.  Top with a sprinkle of oats and chia seeds. I also added a dehydrated apple ring.



Put in the fridge overnight, during which time the oats will soften and thicken.  This will last for 3 days....if you can stop yourself eating them for lunch as well - which is what I did!

Again, this breakfast is giving you a good dose of omega 3 fatty acids from the chia seeds - and I used flax milk as well. I have found a flax milk I really like, called Good Karma Flax milk - only 25 calories  and 1200 mg omega 3 per cup serving.


You can use fresh or frozen fruit for this - and any berries that you like. I think it would be lovely with blackberries and raspberries together.  Or strawberries with cooked rhubarb - yum!

Which do you think is prettier? The mango/banana or the berry parfait?  I'd go with the berry - love that bright red coloring with the neutral colored oats.  
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A Strawberry Birthday cake

Strawberries are just perfect right now. And so they were my inspiration for a birthday cake for my hubby.


There are a few strawberry fields nearby and their fruit is just heavenly.  But these fresh, unpreserved strawberries go off really quickly, so I decided to use some for the birthday cake and then dehydrate the rest for later, and for decoration.  I already had the dehydrator on for something else, so it was easy to add a couple of thinly sliced strawberries.


The recipe for the cake was a new one for me.  It came from La Tartine Gourmande - but I made a few changes.  For example I halved the recipe, didn't use butter, didn't use buttermilk, didn't use cane sugar, nor eggs.... but you get the general idea!!



Having fresh strawberries in the cake itself made it a very moist cake - you didn't need anything to go with it.  The dehydrating concentrated the strawberry flavor in the strawberry slices and gave a nice crunchy texture to the cake topping.  I'll do that again - and next time, with more than just a couple of strawberries, as they'd make a lovely snack.



The strawberry cake finished off a birthday dinner just nicely.
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Mustard pomegranate coleslaw

I make a big bowl of coleslaw at least once a week.  It's a great way to enjoy cabbage - a cruciferous vegetable and an easy way to add whatever else you have in the fridge.


Today, I made a different style of dressing for it - a mustard dressing.  It gives it a "meaty" sort of flavor. I always think the taste of mustard is suggestive of meat.  When I make my lentil pate, it always tastes like it isn't vegan, because of the mustard.

I have a few staples in my coleslaw recipe and these are:
cabbage (!), shredded
carrots, grated
raisins or sultanas - I love the sweetness of the fruit in there
black cumin seeds - for their immune boosting power





Today I also added:
pomegranate seeds - yes, you can still buy fresh ones at Trader Joes
sun dried tomatoes - my new favorite brand

The dressing was made from:
1 tablespoon yacon syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard



I often also add turmeric to the mix, but my hubby doesn't like it looking quite so yellow, so I held off today so maybe he will have some too! Fresh mint is a great addition too....

It's a great snack, side dish, salad....and lasts a few days in the fridge.  Unlike most coleslaws, it isn't made with mayonnaise or heavy in fat or dairy products.

What are your staples in coleslaw?
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Two Ingredient Nutella Ice Cream

The recipe we used my homemade nutella for in our recent dairy-alternative class was to make Nutella ice cream.  There are only two ingredients - nutella and a banana.


It is a version of frozen banana vegan ice cream - that is creamy and delicious and with the nutella, you wouldn't even think of having dairy ice cream again.


Here's how to make it:

Ingredients - for 1 serving.
1 banana
1 tablespoon Nutella - preferably homemade

Slice the banana and freeze overnight.  Put the banana in a small blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You will probably have to scrape down the sides of the machine a few times, but keep going. It will take a couple of minutes and suddenly, the "ice cream" will come together. Add the nutella and blend again.

Serve immediately and enjoy.


If you haven't had frozen banana "ice cream" before you'll be amazed at the creaminess of it.  It is very satisfying and so quick to make. The consistency of soft serve ice cream. Obviously you can add whatever you like to the banana if for some reason, nutella isn't you thing.... from other frozen fruit to spices to nut butters to ......

Give it a try and you'll be converted to the ultimate healthy ice cream - with no cream, nor refined sugar.



Instead you get fiber from the banana, plus phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins.  I'm going to make this for my ice-cream loving dad when I go back to England next month!  Yes, he's a vanilla ice cream man, but we'll see!
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Vibrant Quinoa Salad

I made this lovely green quinoa salad for some friends last week, when they visited for lunch.


It is very easy to make and seems so perfect for springtime with the lovely green colors.  It tastes nice and fresh with the lemon juice and mint.

Give it a try and let me know what you think:

Ingredients:
1/3 cup quinoa
2/3 cup water
4 scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup frozen green garbanzos
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
1/4 cucumber, diced

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve to remove the bitter coating.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the quinoa.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. When its cooked, the quinoa should still have a little crunch.  Rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.  Place in a large bowl.
  3. Put the green garbanzo beans and peas in boiling water and cook briefly for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.  Add to the quinoa.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well. Serve.
  5. Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Can be made in advance.
You can obviously add whatever vegetables you like to this dish. I like the green garbanzo beans - as they are new in the stores here, so its good to find a nice dish for them...but you could use sugar snaps or edamame or another vegetables instead.  You could also try celery, or green pumpkin seeds or green pistachios.


The dish provides a good protein source and calcium from the quinoa, and plenty of different phytonutrients from the vegetables and lemon.  The cumin is rich in phytoestrogens and may help with osteoporosis and diabetes.
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Lentil Cottage Pie

One of the dishes I made for the choir retreat this weekend was a lentil pie with potato topping.  It is similar to a cottage or shepherds pie that are popular in England - but is vegan.  I hadn't made it before, but was really pleased with how it came out.  So I thought I'd share the recipe.



The recipe makes enough for 10 people and it can all be prepared the day ahead.  Then you just need to heat it in the oven for 30 minutes, and its ready to serve. Or you can make it in advance and freeze it. The perfect dish for entertaining when you want to not be in the kitchen on the day!

Ingredients:

2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, diced
1 head of celery, chopped
300g/10 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried thyme
3 cans cooked green lentils or 500g/1lb dried green lentils
100 ml red wine
500 ml water
3 tbsp tomato puree

Topping - Barries Mash
5 large sweet potatoes
Non dairy milk
Bunch Fresh thyme

Clean the potatoes and bake them in the oven until soft (approx 45 - 60 minutes).

While the potatoes are baking, dry fry the onions, carrots, celery together in a large pan, until soft and golden.  No oil is necessary. If the vegetables start sticking to the pan, add a little water - 1 tablespoon at a time.  Use a lid to keep the moisture in.

Add the mushrooms and cook with the lid on for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the herbs and add either drained and rinsed canned lentils or the dried lentils.   Pour over the wine and stock.  If using canned lentils, cook for 10 minutes.  If using dried lentils, cook for longer, according to package instructions (normally about 30 minutes).

When the lentils are cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the tomato puree, and season to taste.

When the potatoes are cooked, remove and let cool for a while, until you can handle them.  Scrape out the potato flesh from its skin, keeping the skin for the topping.  Mash the potato flesh well, adding non dairy milk until it is the consistency you like for mash.

Chop up the skins of the potato with the leaves from fresh thyme.

The front two smaller versions didn't have potato skins on top
To assemble the pie, put the lentil mixture in a dish. If there is a lot of liquid, don't add it all. You can always have some as a sauce/gravy to serve.  (The amount of liquid will depend on whether you use cooked or dried lentils and how much they absorbed. There should be some liquid but not excessive liquid.) Top with the mashed potato.  Sprinkle the chopped potato skins over the mash.

The dish can be frozen at this time (when cooled). Defrost before baking. To serve, heat the oven to 190C or 375F and bake for 30 minutes. The potato skins will crispen up as it bakes.


The idea of using the potato skins on top of the mash came from an old recipe I used to make from my aga cookbook. It was called Barries mash.  It's a lovely way to add crunch to mash - and in this recipe, is a great alternative to the usual grated cheese put on top to crispen things up. Instead, the skins get crispy and it add a lovely texture.  I'd never done it with sweet potatoes before, but it works well.

This recipe is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, no added oil.

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Chickpea crepes (and upgraded Moroccan Bean Stew)

As I said a couple of days ago, I made a yummy Moroccan bean stew this week - enough for a few meals.

Reheating it, I've added a few other ingredients - which has bulked it out a little so it's gone further, and also improved the flavor, I think.


First of all I added a bunch of kale, fresh from the garden.  Yummy. Tastes even better because you feel all that green is good for you!

And for my last bowl, I've added a handful of currants. I loved the sweetness as part of the spice mix, and wanted to build on that a little, so the currants did the trick.  Not too sweet, like I think raisins could have been, but the currants lift the flavor nicely.


These photos also show my chickpea crepes I made to go with it.  I tried using the batter to make small blinis, but they tasted heavily of "bean" so I wasn't that keen on them.  But the thin crepes don't taste beany at all - so could go with sweet or savory accompaniments.

Here is the chickpea crepe recipe: Makes 6 crepes.
150g chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)
1 egg or egg replacement
200ml water

I made the crepes on my aga, so put a non-stick sheet directly on the simmering plate (no frying pan needed) and poured the batter on there, so I didn't need any oil.  I love making pancakes, crepes etc on the aga, directly on the plate!

But if you don't have an aga :-(, heat a little coconut oil in a frying pan.  Add some batter and swirl it around the pan to spread it out into a circle and cook on medium heat until the edge start turning golden (~1minute).  Flip it over and cook for another minute.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.

These will make nice wraps too - quite flexible and strong enough to place lots of vegetables in them.

Do you change your meals throughout the week when you make a big pot of something? What sort of things do you add?
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Festive Cranberry Vegan Tart

After yesterday's spice cake recipe from Christmas, I thought I'd show you the tasty tart I made for my Christmas dinner.  It was made from chickpeas, walnuts, oats, cranberries, spinach....etc



The recipe was from the lovely book Let them eat Vegan, by Dreena Burton.

I made it as 3 little individual tarts instead of one large tart, and then froze some of the filling to have without a pie crust.


The only other changes I made to the recipe were to omit the olive oil, make a gluten free pie crust, and then also added some fresh cranberries to mine, to boost the lovely color.


I made them again when friends came for dinner between Christmas and New Year. The non-vegans/vegetarians loved them too.  I was very happy with them.

What did you have for your special holiday meal?
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Salt and Pepper Quinoa crackers

I made myself some yummy crackers this morning.  I used a recipe from Jennifer Katzinger's book "Gluten Free and Vegan Holiday".

I've made these salt and pepper quinoa crackers a few times and just love that salt and pepper flavor. I'm a big fan of pepper - but use very little salt so I reduced the amount of salt somewhat.

Don't you just love my salt and pepper bunnies!
It's very easy - just quinoa flour, coconut oil, water, baking soda, salt and pepper.

When it comes to rolling the dough out, Jennifer suggests cutting shapes and lifting them onto the baking sheet. However, I find the dough too soft for that. So I roll it straight onto parchment paper, cut to the size of the baking sheet. When rolled, I then cut into lengths, but don't move them.  They cook all together and come out perfect every time.

Here's the recipe.

I also made some lentil pate to go with them. I'll share that with you soon.
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Neal Barnard on Diabetes

Here is the latest talk, published this month, from Neal Barnard on Type 2 Diabetes and how is it curable. Recorded at the TED Talks in Fremont.

This research has been available for some time now, yet so many are still ignoring it.  Hopefully this talk will help share the information to those who need it.  I ran a Food as Medicine group yesterday - and another tomorrow which was all on this subject.  More people need to know.


If you are interested, read his great book :Reversing Diabetes  and check out the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website for more information.  They lead an online 21 day vegan kick start program - in many different languages.

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Anniversary cake for two - chocolate and ginger

It's our wedding anniversary today so I made a cake for two (it could even be for one, but not today!). Seventeen wonderful years together.

It's only 2 inches diameter by 2 inches high.  A perfect little celebratory cake.



So often one of the issues with eating desserts is that they feed a few and then you still have left overs.  Thus you don't just eat dessert one night as a treat, but you keep eating it to finish it off.  I'm quite taken with the idea of creating desserts for 1 or 2 people so you eat it in one sitting, for an occasion, and then that's your treat done.  Making desserts without eggs means its much easier to make smaller versions as you don't have to try to halve eggs etc.

This cake is chocolate and ginger.  I was inspired by the small cake idea from this German Chocolate Cake for One.   I used Katie's recipe, using a gluten free flour blend, coconut palm sugar instead of sugar and ginger extract instead of vanilla extract.  I baked it in the microwave but I think next time I'll use the oven. I'm not a keen microwave user.  I made a different icing/frosting using coconut cream and walnut butter.


The whole cake is gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. The sweetener I used throughout was coconut palm sugar, including grinding up the sugar to make a powdered version for the frosting.

It's yummy and cute!  And the icing/frosting is something I will definitely be using frequently.  It's delicious and thick and creamy and fluffy and just wonderful.  I'll be trying some different flavorings in it too - thinking it would go well in my cream puffs.....  I'll definitely be using it in my "food as medicine" classes next week.  It lasts a while in the fridge too and doesn't deflate.  A great dairy free whipped topping.

So this cake is for you, hubby dear. Happy anniversary xxxxxx.  Nearly as cute as you :-D
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Tastiest food of the week - Chai fudge

I've never had anything "chai" before.....mainly because Chai normally has something to do with  tea and dairy milk - neither of which I like!!! But when I read a recipe for chai fudge it sounded so good with all those spices in it, that I had to give it a try.  It was a friend's birthday so it seemed like a good reason to make a treat for her.


The fudge is gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free - and raw, so keeps those wonderful nutrients of the raw cacao bean.  There is homemade almond milk in it, plus cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  It really is the spices that make it, oh, and the chocolate!!!

It was a little bit squishier than you would normally think of for fudge and in fact it turned out to be a lovely thick dipping fudge for some dried apples I had...but for my friend's birthday, I rolled it in crushed pecans so you could eat it without getting your fingers dirty!


The texture is divine!  So smooth and creamy yet light and kind of fluffy in a way.... I wish you could try some!

Then when I had a friend over for dinner this week, I used the same fudge inside some gluten free profiteroles I made!

I will have to experiment more with this combination of chocolate and spices.  Definitely my tastiest food of the week!...maybe month.....maybe.....
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Making Flax Seed Milk

Continuing in my non-dairy vegan milk posts (oat, almond, banana, brown rice recipes), today I made milk using flax seeds.


You can get brown or golden flax seeds - both are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants.  The flavor is somewhat stronger with the brown seeds so for milk, I recommend golden flax seeds.

Here is the recipe:

1/4 cup organic golden flaxseeds
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup or other sweetener (optional)

Place the flaxseeds and water in a high powered blender and blend for 3 minutes.


Strain the liquid through nut bag or double thickness cheesecloth, squeezing out the milk.

As seed milk tends to be a little bitter, taste the milk first, but you may want to add a little maple syrup or stevia to the milk to suit your own taste.

Store in the refrigerator and use within a week.
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Cauliflower crust pizza

I came across a recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust the other day, so thought I'd give it a go.  To be honest, I have never been a great fan of pizza and then after stopping eating gluten all those years ago, I just rarely bother or even think about it.


But for some reason, the idea of using cauliflower instead of a dough base, was intriguing to me.

I adapted the recipe slightly and used just three ingredients - cauliflower, egg replacement (Orgran) and non-dairy cheese.  You use one cup of riced cauliflower, the equivalent of one egg and 1 cup of cheese.  The full description using dairy cheese and egg is given in the link above.

Cooked riced cauliflower
Cauliflower with egg replacement and non-dairy cheese
I loved it! And it stood up to being a finger food too.  I topped it first with a layer of a parsley and pistachio pesto I'd made the previous week. We have lots of parsley in the garden right now, so I was looking for a way to use it up, and came up with this recipe for parsley pistachio pesto! Basically its just parsley and pesto whizzed up with a little bit of lemon juice!
Parsley and pistachio pesto

Then I cooked some peppers and mushrooms and added them on top, with some avocado and a little more cheese!

Toppings!
Even with all these toppings, the crust was firm enough to be handled.  I really did enjoy it and decided to try making it again with the remaining riced cauliflower but this time substituting the cheese out to make it even healthier. I tried instead to add another egg replacement, but that didn't work, and then I tried adding some psyllium husk powder to bind it, which was better, but just didn't quite make it!  The cheese not only adds great flavor, but also holds it all so that it can be a finger food.  

So the dish ends up being mainly vegetables and some cheese.  Let me know if you give it a try.  Hope you like it. 
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What's wrong with what we eat?

A call to action talk by Mark Bittman, New York Times Food writer, on "What's wrong with what we eat" and how it is affecting the planet.  What will you do?


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March is National Nutrition Month

March has been named "National Nutrition Month" by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly ADA) with the aim of spotlighting the importance of healthy eating habits, better food choices and maintaining a physically active lifestyle.  The focus of this year's nutrition month is  "get your plate in shape".



So I'm letting you know about this on the last Monday of February, to give you some time to prepare for getting your plate in shape for the beginning of March on Thursday.

Why not select some goals for the month of March to improve your diet?  Think about healthy eating ideas such as:

  • adding more fruits and vegetables; 
  • eating less meat and dairy; 
  • reducing your salt intake; 
  • reduce sugar and processed foods; 
  • try new foods and recipes
What do you think YOU could do for yourself to create a healthier diet?

Photo by Alex E. Proimos
During March, I'll be posting some ideas for you to consider.   But take some time this week to decide on your first goal for Thursday.  That way, when you go food shopping, you can buy what you need.  What will that one change be that will start you on the path to a healthier diet?

If you need a little more motivation, check out my previous blog post about trying something for 30 days.
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Meatless Monday

How often do you eat meat ? Everyday?  More than once a day?

Take a look at this short video and see what going meatless on Mondays can do for YOU and the ENVIRONMENT.


It's easy to just start with one day - like this coming Monday - and see how it goes..then commit to doing it every Monday and then........

You can sign up to receive meatless recipes every Friday, so you are all ready for Monday. Give it a try!
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