I hope everyone survived the last week of snow! It was becoming ridiculous and quite scary how food supplies in the shops dwindled so fast. It's always bread and milk that go first and thankfully I bake my own delicious sourdough bread and had just stocked up on lots of organic flour from Waitrose, at 25% off! I can't resist a good bargain! It did make me very grateful that I can bake my own nutritious bread from only three ingredients and I actually consider it a life skill!!
Wee plug for my upcoming workshops, where I share all my knowledge and tips on how to make sourdough, kefir, kombucha and fermented veggies so you can go away and make your own fermented goodies! It could be a life saver the next time there is a food shortage!!
I only have one place left on Sat 17th March and one place on Sunday 25th March so contact me asap if you want to join the fun!
Here is the link
Anyway we could survive for at least a month. Our cupboards are well stocked with every type of pulses, grains and beans and I have a massive jar of fermented garlic in the fridge along with dried mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and loads of onions! I also have lots of fermented veggies, packed full of probiotic goodness!
My freezer is full of kale, spinach, frozen fruit and Alastair has a fish drawer full of fish!
I only buy dairy milk for my kefir grains and can easily make milk from almonds, oats, cashews or rice, all of which I have lots of.
It does make you think though how fragile our food system is and how long it would take for us to run out of food completely?
Anyway I'm so glad the snow has gone and the sun is actually shining today and the sky is blue! Hurrah spring is coming! My favourite season!
So I've been meaning to share this recipe for a while. I posted a photo on Instagram a few weeks ago and lots of people commented on it.
It's one of those recipes that you can vary endlessly according to what veggies, lentils or beans you have available.
I have made a few variations myself. The star of the recipe is good old Linda McCartney Veggie Sausages, a staple in our house, and only £1 per pack at Home Bargains! I always have a few packs in the freezer for weekend breakfasts and brunches!
However they work really well in this hotpot/casserole and make a really delicious and healthy dinner!
I love using up whatever veggies I have in the fridge, which I did a lot of last week, when we were snowed in, and I had a great time looking through my many cookery books for new ideas!
Anyway this recipe I just made up so its simple but rather versatile and works great with a big pile of creamy mashed potatoes and steamed greens or with pasta, rice or couscous. Any leftovers can be eaten cold for lunch.
You essentially cook the sausages in the oven for 15 minutes while you get on with making the sauce. Its a tomato based sauce with onions, carrots, peppers, mangetout, frozen peas or green beans with flavour from cumin, smoked paprika, mustard, and some tomato ketchup for a bit of added sweetness.
I have made this with the addition of puy lentils, which I cooked separately then added to the sauce with the cooked sausages and also with kidney beans and I had a bag of cooked quinoa and bulghur wheat to use up so just added that too. You can essentially just use frozen peas, carrots and onions and a tin of kidney beans and tomatoes but be adventurous and add whatever veggies you have. Celery and mushrooms would work well too and any cooked grains, lentils or beans. Also spinach stirred in at the end is always a good addition and a great way of boosting your greens for the day!
So here is my basic recipe..
SMOKY SAUSAGE & BEAN CASSEROLE
Ingredients for 6 people
.....your health in your hands....
I've been experimenting a bit with options for our Christmas dinner and I've decided on this rather delicious dish!
I came across the idea on the rather fabulous plant based blog mygoodnesskitchen and the simplicity of this appealled massively!
My criteria for any recipe really, festive or not, is flavour, simplicity and nutrition and this one ticks all the boxes!
Plus it looks great too and is sure to impress your guests!
We stick with vegan options for Christmas although Kathryn always requests a veggie lasagna which isn't festive at all but it's her favourite so we make a separate one for her.
We tend to have lots of options and a table full to overflowing with festive fare but we all love cooking and have the time to spare but food is a priority in our house.
The saying there are those who live to eat and those who eat to live and we definitely fall into the first category!!
We love food!!
So back to this really simple but elegant dish. The most difficult part is cutting holes in the butternut squash! I have a really good plain round cookie cutter which worked really well. I also tried a fluted option which although more difficult to cut through, left a lovely flower shaped hole, although the hole is filled with stuffing mix so just go with the plain option!
Cut slices about an inch thick and buy a butternut squash with a long neck end so you can cut a good few slices out!
I decided also to try the stuffing mix with portabello mushrooms and it worked really well and was simpler and quicker since the mushrooms don't need pre cooking prior to adding the stuffing and you don't have to cut a hole in them! You just give them a wipe with a damp cloth, put them on a lightly greased baking tray and spoon generous amount of stuffing mix and a wee drizzle of oil then bake them for around 20 minutes or so!
Doesn't get much easier than that!
Okay so the stuffing has a lovely festive flavour from the cranberries, chestnuts and herbs. If you can't find chestnuts then you can replace them with walnuts or hazelnuts. I used Merchant Gourmet vacuum packed cooked chestnuts from Waitrose.
Another time saving tip is to use a can of cooked lentils! Then its simply a matter of frying an onion, garlic, herbs then adding the other ingredients and heating it through.
I am going to make up my stuffing mix and freeze it so I'll be good to go on Christmas day.
If you have fresh sage, rosemary or thyme in the garden then add a good chopped spoonful of all of them. Alternatively you can use dried herbs.
I served a slice of squash and a big mushroom with a delicious gluten free, extremely healthy mushroom gravy, which is made with cooked brown rice, mushrooms, stock, herbs, garlic, tamari or balsamic vinegar and optional nutritional yeast flakes!
All you do is simmer the mushrooms, stock and cooked rice for 10 minutes then add herbs, garlic and seasoning and blend the lot into a delicious vegan gravy. No faffing around with lumpy flour and butter for me!! The recipe is included at the end of this post.
On a health note, cooked and cooled rice, potatoes and pasta have way more benefits for our gut bacteria, due to increased amounts of resistant starch, and everyone knows how much I go on about these wee critters! Its a symbiotic relationship on a massive level, with huge benefits for us, their hosts!
So do yourself a favour and provide your gut microbes with a festive feast this year and they will repay you with enhanced health on every level!
A feast to these wee guys is fibre, lots of it from different sources, so veggies, fruit, wholegrains, lentils, seeds, nuts, beans and pulses is the way to go!
If you decide to make this delicious dish your festive choice then you will be doing your health, your taste buds and your gut microbes a huge favour!
Whatever graces your festive table this year, enjoy it and have a wonderful Christmas...
Here are the simple recipes..
FESTIVE STUFFED SQUASH
Ingredients to serve 6
VEGAN MUSHROOM GRAVY
Fiesta relates to the wonderful colours of all the veggies. Eat the rainbow for vibrant good health and this paella has all the colours, as you can see from my vibrant photo!
We have made it twice since the retreat and it is delicious. You can vary the veggies according to what you have available and your personal tastes. We have used cubed aubergine instead of fennel, mushrooms could easily replace artichokes, since they are a bit of an acquired taste but I rather like them!
You can add frozen peas or sweetcorn instead of the beans and/or fennel and just leave the artichokes out if you don't like them.
Flavour is provided by smoked and sweet paprika, two of my favourite spices! Oh and turmeric for amazing health benefits and colour and garlic just because it adds amazing flavour and is natures antibiotic! Great to include loads of it as we move into colder weather, and who wants to succumb to colds and flu, most definitely not me!
It is essential when making paella to use the right kind of rice! You need short grain white rice or paella rice, most supermarkets stock it. It's different to risotto rice which is stickier and not what you want. Gloopy paella is not great!
A top tip don't stir your paella, its not like risotto! This is a good thing which makes this a perfect dinner party dish! No standing over a hot stove while your guests are knocking back the wine! There is actually wine in this so a great reason to crack open a bottle and have a wee glass while you are prepping all your veggies!
Serves 4 to 6
🍃 Health educator🍃