So this week I've been trying out a few new gluten free recipes and I came across the idea for these delicious bites in Aine Carlins new cookbook which is full of delicious healthy vegan recipes. It's called The New Vegan and I can highly recommend it!
The main ingredients for these wee bites you may have guessed from the title, are the equally awesome superfoods, quinoa and broccoli, both of which I love and are a regular part of my diet in various forms!
Lidl had a great deal on organic quinoa last week which I took advantage of and stocked up so when I came across this recipe idea I just had to try it!
We had them for dinner last night and they got a big thumbs up from everyone, even Kathryn, who doesn't normally like quinoa!
So whats so good about quinoa... well lots of things actually! It really does deserve its superfood title.
Although considered a grain, its technically the seed of a plant related to beet, chard and spinach. Cooked quinoa is fluffy and creamy with a slight bite to it and a delicate nutty flavour.
Quinoa is a great source of protein, containing all essential amino acids, is packed with magnesium, three times as much as the calcium it contains. Its also high in B vitamins, vitamin E and fibre and a great source of minerals including iron and zinc.
Its considered the least allergenic of all the grains and its a fantastic gluten free choice.
So these wee bites are really easy to make, I oven baked mine since I hate frying food and oven baking them is easier and healthier!
So all you need to do is cook the quinoa and steam your broccoli then you can essentially add whatever flavourings you like. I used paprika and nutritional yeast to flavour mine but you could use cumin, chilli, lemon, garlic or coriander. Nutritional yeast is a great source of B vitamins especially important for those on a vegan diet. They are really cheap and add a mild cheesy flavour. The tahini works as a binder to stick everything together but you could easily substitute an egg if you are not vegan.
I also added a tablespoon of milled chia seeds which needed used up and a tablespoon of gram flour, which is my gluten free go to flour. Its so cheap and its a great source of protein and minerals. It's used a lot in Indian cooking and is made from chickpeas, which I could eat every day of the week! Another great gluten free alternative is polenta which is made from corn and its a lovely colour and a great substitute for breadcrumbs in burgers.
I made these quite small and the recipe made 15 small bites which are perfect for lunch on a wrap or for dinner with a big salad and a spicy mayo or salsa. You could also make them into bigger burgers and have them on a roll with all the trimmings!
So here is my recipe...
QUINOA & BROCCOLI BITES
Ingredients - makes 15 small bites
1/2 cup quinoa (about 100g)
small head of broccoli ( about 250g)
I tablespoon milled flaxseeds or chia seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon gram flour or polenta
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tsp paprika
1 tablespoon tahini
sea salt & black pepper
It was Jenna's birthday this weekend and since she has been vegan for 10 years and has influenced our family food choices we enjoyed a fabulous vegan day out with her.
We started off at The Vegan Food Fair where we met the truly lovely Laurianne of Lauriannes Raw Vegan Cakes and were blown away by the wonderful selection of cakes and tarts she makes. We bought five and they were all delicious! Apricot tart, chocolate and salted caramel tart, raw chocolate sponge, vanilla & blueberry cheesecake and carrot cake!
All made without dairy or refined sugar, packed with nutritious ingredients and totally delicious!
She makes cakes to order from her cottage in Killearn and also supplies various outlets in Glasgow, she also runs workshops in and around Glasgow. I'll be booking myself on one soon!
You can find her on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. All details can be found here
Like most of us I really enjoy a delicious fruity creamy cheesecake but not the dairy variety which I find heavy and difficult to digest! Dairy and fruit are never a good combination and in ayurvedic terms, its a big no no!
So how do we acheive that creaminess without all the dairy and refined sugar?
With cashew nuts!!!
They are high in protein, fibre, minerals, good fats and health enhancing phytochemicals and they blend into the most delicious and healthy creamy base for cakes or sauces and are a godsend for those of us who would rather avoid dairy!
I buy nuts and dates which make up the base of this awesome cake from Lidl, whose prices are excellent! Nuts can be expensive and there are a lot of cashew nuts in this cake! I also bought delicious organic maple syrup for £2.99 which is an unbelievable price! Organic week at Lidl is officially over but you can still find organic bargains in lots of Lidl stores. It's well worth stocking up at these prices!
So what makes this cake so awesome...?
This is a really brilliant cake to impress your friends and family and can be made in advance and just thawed for 30 minutes before you serve it! Perfect for unexpected guests!
So the base of this cake is simply nuts and dates blitzed in a food processor and the delicious creamy topping is quite literally cashew nuts blended with maple syrup, berries, fresh or frozen, vanilla and lemon juice!
It doesn't get much easier than that!
All you need is a blender or a food processor and a freezer!
The cashew nuts need to be soaked preferably overnight but 6 hours would do if you are short of time. Any berries would work fresh or frozen. I used my own organic strawberries which are delicious and pesticide free! I have also used frozen blueberries and raspberries which works well too!
I used Aine Carlin's recipe here but have adapted it slightly.
Once the cake is frozen you can use your imagination for decoration but if you want to keep it frozen then don't decorate it with fresh fruit or edible flowers, neither of which freeze well!
I used sliced strawberries, borage flowers and lemon zest. Its actually nice to keep it simple and just pile some fruit in the middle!
So I give you the awesome No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake!
NO BAKE STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
Ingredients - Serves 8 to 10
For the crust
200g nuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts all work well
100g pitted dates, medjool are best
For the strawberry layer
250g strawberries or other berries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup
125g cashew nuts, soaked in cold water preferably overnight, but 6 hrs min.
For the vanilla layer
300g cashew nuts, soaked as above and drained
100ml maple syrup or brown rice syrup
seeds from a vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 or 3 tablespoons water
1. Place the dates and nuts in a food processor or blender and blend until crumbly.
Put the mixture into a 20cm loose bottomed spring-form cake tin and press down firmly using the back of your fingers or a spoon. Put in the freezer while you get on with the toppings!
2. Wash and hull your strawberries, put in your blender or processor with the drained cashews, lemon juice and maple syrup. Blitz until smooth. Taste for sweetness and add more sweetener if you like. Maple syrup is quite runny so don't add too much more!
3. Remove the base from the freezer and pour the strawberry mixture over it. Smooth with a spatula and put it back in the freezer.
4. Wash your blender and then add all the ingredients for the vanilla layer. Blitz well, you don't want bits of nuts so just keep blending until it's completely smooth!
5. When the strawberry layer has set, carefully pour over the vanilla mixture. Smooth with a spatula and return to the freezer for a few hours.
6. Decorate just before you are going to serve your cake, sliced strawberries, edible flowers and grated lemon zest all work well but use your imagination!
I served mine with a strawberry coulis, just strawberries blitzed in my Vitamix with some lime juice and maple syrup!
You can also just do a single layer, which is slightly less faffy, in which case, just soak all the cashews together and blend the ingredients for both layers at the same time! Less washing up but your cake won't look quite as pretty!
....your health in your hands...
This Lentil Chilli recipe is a family favourite and a real crowd pleaser! Meat eaters won't even notice the lack of meat!
Its just delicious and so filling and its one of those dishes which is even better the next day!
I have adapted this recipe over the years and I'm confident that this version is the best.
There are a few unexpected ingredients including dark chocolate and mango chutney which give real depth of flavour and adds a lovely sweetness to balance the heat from the chilli.
I have as usual crammed lots of veggies into this dish, along with lots of beans and of course lentils so this chilli is just bursting with nutrition and literally supports every body system!
I usually serve it with Guacamole which adds even more good fats and vitamins and a cooling yoghurt based dip with mint, coriander, cucumber and lime.
We are a very divided family when it comes to hot and spicy food. Alastair and Emma love hot food and the rest of us are total wimps so I usually compromise and make ours medium hot!
The chilli lovers can always add extra chilli at the end!
This is a great weekend dish and can be served with rice, tortillas, toasted pitta breads or with baked potatoes for a wee change.
I tend to use tinned beans which are just so handy although I do also cook batches of beans in my pressure cooker if I'm really organised!
I use dried green lentils for this dish but puy or brown lentils work equally well. I cook them first in twice their volume of water for 15 to 20 minutes, then add them to the chilli. I cup of lentils will yield 2 cups of cooked lentils and I generally add them all but if I'm using tinned lentils then I just use one tin since they are quite expensive!
The frozen peas and sweetcorn are optional although they add a splash of colour and extra vitamins and fibre.
I tend to add spinach to most of my dishes. Its just so easy, wilts in minutes and adds so much extra nutrition. Always add it at the end and just mix it in, don't carry on cooking it or you'll destroy some of the valuable antioxidants which boost our immune system and help us to fight disease. You can quite easily freeze spinach and just add it frozen. It will thaw in minutes.
A couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate and a couple of spoonfuls of mango chutney make all the difference to the flavour of the chilli.
Cumin, turmeric, garlic, cayenne, chilli and mustard add a real depth and heat!
I really hope you give this a go. I'm convinced it will become a firm favourite!
We had this last night and it easily fed 7 of us with fairly large portions! If you are using just one tin of lentils then obviously it will feed less. That's one of the reasons I cook my own lentils, it's way cheaper and you can add double the amount! For folks with smaller appetites this could feed up to 10, if you serve it with rice, tortillas, pittas, guacamole and yoghurt dip!
Please leave me a comment if you try it!
So here is the recipe.....
BEST EVER LENTIL CHILLI
Ingredients Serves 6 to 8
.....your health in your hands.....
I love houmous, our whole family does, and I honestly can't imagine life without it! Its a perfect snack spread on oatcakes or with vegetable crudities. It's packed with protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and in my opinion, its a superfood!
So houmous is just chickpeas, tahini, good quality olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and whatever other flavourings take your fancy!
Now I like to mix things up a bit and plain old houmous can be a bit boring so I decided to jazz mine up a bit! I also love beetroot, it has so many benefits for our health and its such a fabulous vibrant colour and its incredibly cheap.
All the supermarkets sell vacuum packed beetroot, which is simply cooked in water, then vacuum packed to preserve it. Jars of beetroot are very popular in Scotland though they are pickled in vinegar which can be a bit overpowering so I always use the vacuum packed beetroot for dips.
Tahini is another one of my favourite ingredients and an essential ingredient in houmous. Its basically just sesame seeds ground into a paste. Its packed with calcium and magnesium and high in protein and its alkaline so easy for the body to absorb. Its a great food for building strong bones so great for growing kids and for all women to prevent oesteoporosis which is a horrible disease, mostly affecting women after the menopause. Exercise is another great bone builder so get yourself outside for a walk! Prevention is always better than cure so don't wait until your bones start thinning, do something about it now!
Anyway a wee digression there but back to the houmous!
Houmous is very versatile and I frequently have it as a topping on a baked sweet potato for my dinner, with caramelised red onions, tamari seeds and a big salad. Its actually one of my favourite dinners and so easy!
I have so much mint growing in the garden, it smells wonderful, is incredibly good for the digestion and I frequently have a big pot of mint tea, after dinner. If you have mint in your garden then just take a handful of leaves, put them into a warmed tea pot, then add boiling water and let the tea infuse for 5 minutes before you drink it. It's so delicious and way nicer than peppermint tea bags. A perfect end to a meal!
I guess the amounts of mint in this houmous are entirely up to you but I tend to use about 10 big leaves. Equally you could omit it altogether if its not a flavour you enjoy. That's the beauty of making your own dips, just add whatever you have to use up and switch ingredients around to make new combinations. Olive and coriander and sun dried tomato and basil are another two flavours I really enjoy. I can now add beetroot and mint to those two!
I had half an avocado to use up so added it to my houmous to make it extra creamy and delicious but its equally good without it. Just add another tablespoon of oil or water to get the consistency you prefer.
I have posted various other dips on the blog here so you can try a few other options!
BEETROOT & MINT HOUMOUS
1 tin chickpeas, drained
300g vaccum packed beetroot (about 3 to 4 small to med beets)
2 tablespoons tahini
juice of half a lemon ( approx 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled (optional)
10 big mint leaves ( add more or less to your taste)
1. Quite simply put everything in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add more oil, salt or lemon juice to taste.
2. Enjoy as a spread on oatcakes, wraps, baked potato topping or with vegetable crudities!
.......your health in your hands....
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.