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
....your health in your hands....
So this week before all the true frantic madness of Christmas begins, I am sharing a few new recipes which are all worthy of a place at your Festive table, whether you are catering for meat lovers, vegetarians or vegans.
This mushroom, walnut and lentil pate is absolutely delicious and actually tastes quite meaty so I'm sure everyone will love it.
I am a massive fan of mushrooms, lentils and nuts so this is my idea of an ideal starter. Served with some thinly sliced sourdough or delicious crackers (recipe coming soon!)
this will surely impress your guests! It can be made a few days in advance and will happily sit in the fridge until you need it. This also works well stirred into a mushroom risotto or as a topping for a baked potato or a pizza!
I've made this a few times and played around with the recipe a bit. The original recipe from the wonderful Dearbhla Reynolds book The Cultured Club uses fermented mushrooms, which adds another layer of flavour and nutrition but since most folks won't have time to ferment the mushrooms first then this adapted recipe is equally delicious and the addition of seaweed flakes adds that unique umami flavour.
There are also lots of fresh herbs in this, all of which I have growing in the garden, so rosemary, sage and thyme and flat leaf parsley all feature in this delicious pate.
Garlic, onion, tamari and lemon juice add more flavour and nutrition and the addition of flaxseed and breadcrumbs firm it up so that you have the option of setting the pate in a small loaf tin, which looks rather wonderful and can then be served in slices.
Other options are to set the pate in small individual ramekin dishes or just put it into a serving dish and serve dollops rather than slices! It's whatever suits your needs best and makes life easier! If you are catering for gluten free then you would need to leave the breadcrumbs out or use gluten free ones. I always have a supply of breadcrumbs in the freezer, which are very handy and a great way to use up any slightly stale bread.
So back to the ingredients, any mushrooms will do but I always purchase organic mushrooms. Mushrooms absorb and concentrate whatever they are grown in, good or bad. I'd rather not have a side of pesticide residues or heavy metals with my food, thank you very much! It's always safer to buy organic and most of the supermarkets sell organic mushrooms these days at a reasonable price. Button mushrooms, portabello, chestnut or shitake mushrooms will all work well or indeed a mixture!
I will be making the version with fermented mushrooms for our Christmas dinner! Jenna is home from Cornwall for Christmas and is missing her mamas sourdough, kimchi, krauts and condiments so I'll have to get her gut microbiome restocked while she is here.
I have festive kombucha and lots of lovely fermenty things on the go!
So without further ado, here is the recipe....
Decadent Mushroom & Lentil Pate
....your health in your hands.....
Okay this week I'm hanging onto the remnants of summer and sharing another fabulous recipe from the One World Vegan Retreat.
This is just summer in a pan and reminds me of warm sunny days!
I think we are all aware that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest and this dish originates from sunny Spain so join the ranks of the healthy and make this fantastic dish a regular part of your repertoire!
It is a real crowd pleaser, it's so colourful and tastes amazing!
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!
Most supermarkets sell artichokes in a jar, usually beside the antipasti, sun dried tomatoes and olives, I bought mine from Aldi and they are a great price and perfect for this dish.
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 from Lee, 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!
This is a wonderful dish to take straight to the table, it has a real wow factor and can easily be served at the table. Some delicious artisan bread is a lovely accompaniment and of course a nice big glass of wine!
I served mine with a 3 day fermented delicously tangy freshly baked spelt sourdough!
Yum and extra brownie points for me! I also used my homegrown wee yellow tomatoes, my other tomatoes are all still green! I will be making some green tomato chutney and fermented green tomatoes, I have loads of them! Maybe my next blog post....
Here is the recipe.....
Ingredients - Serves 4 to 6
.....your health in your hands.....
Well since the vegan cooking retreat in Wales, I have discovered a love of smoky flavoured food!
Smoky flavours are big in Mexican food and we had a whole spread of chilli, bean, dishes to eat our way through! It wasn't difficult, the food was all delicious!
The main ingredient to impart a smoky flavour is smoked paprika, quite different to sweet paprika or normal paprika. It generally comes in a wee square tin and is a lovely deep red colour. A little goes a long way! This is a store cupboard essential in our house.
Jenna spent a few months in Mexico last year and just loved all the vibrant food. Chillies are a big part of the cuisine and there are so many varieties, some of them extremely hot! I am a total chilli wimp and really can't handle hot food, unless I have some cooling yoghurt or a big jug of cold water!
Anyway, back to these delicious and so simple big portobello mushrooms with a lovely smoky marinade.
These literally take 5 minutes to prepare, then they are cooked in the oven, no faffing about with hot frying pans! I like to make life as simple as possible and will always choose to oven bake rather than fry foods in oil. Oven baked is healthier too so another reason to use this method.
I love mushrooms of all varieties but the big portobello mushrooms are fabulous sliced and marinated, they almost taste meaty so make a great alternative to animal protein.
Mushrooms are a great source of protein, fibre, iron, zinc, selenium, folate, B vitamins and are low in carbohydrates so are always a healthy choice.
So back to this extremely simple recipe! I kind of made it up and it worked so well I've made it a few times! Great when you need a meal in a hurry and this tastes and looks good enough to serve up at a dinner party!
I have served them on a bed of sweet potato mash and also on a pea & mint puree, both delicious drizzled with any extra marinade.
You can use a mixture of mushrooms, you will need around 500g or around 6 big portobello mushrooms for 4 people. They do tend to shrink a bit when cooked!
I really hope you give this a go, its so easy and tastes delicious! You can impress your friends and family with a healthy meat free main!
So here is the very simple recipe.....
Smoky Portobello Mushrooms
......your health in your hands.....
I've been running a series of Healthy Eating Workshops with North Glasgow Homes in Springburn.
The focus is on healthy, cheap, tasty food, made with ingredients that can be bought locally.
All of my workshops are plant based with a heavy reliance on lentils, beans and pulses which are cheap, versatile and extremely healthy. Add in loads of seasonal veggies and you have an extremely climate friendly, healthy, inexpensive way of eating.
This week the theme was Indian so we made lots of delicious rice, lentil and bean dishes. The favourite dish was this Coconut Lentil Dhal so I thought I'd reshare the recipe! I posted this one last year, it really is one of our go to family favourites.
It's perfect comfort food, like a big warm coconutty hug! Richly flavoured with spices, this lentil dish is good enough to impress your friends, your husband/wife and kids!
It's made with orange split lentils, the easiest to digest and fastest to cook so its a perfect dish for the weekend. You can rustle it up in no time!
All lentils are high in protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and literally support every system in the body. They are also incredibly cheap, versatile and you can store them for ages and they won't go off ( less waste!) so they do tick a lot of boxes!
Delicious, nutritious and super healthy; with superstars turmeric, garlic, ginger and coconut providing bags of anti inflammatory, pain relieving, circulation boosting, energy boosting, immune boosting benefits.
You can up the nutritional benefits even more by serving with brown rice and steamed greens! Dinner, in my opinion, is just incomplete without some kind of greens. My favourites at the moment are kale, cavolo nero, pointed cabbage and spring greens, all highly alkalising, and packed with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fibre.
Food is medicine right enough and what a delicious way to improve your health! I hope you give this a go and consider at least having one or two meat free days a week, your body and the planet will thank you!! All the recipes I share are plant based so you won't be short of ideas and inspiration! If you haven't already then consider subscribing to the blog so you won't miss any posts! They will all be sent directly to your inbox, the power of technology!! And its free so go ahead and fill in your details, it could be the best decision you make for your health! Well you'd have to actually make and eat some of the food before it would benefit your health! Just reading the posts won't do a thing so follow up with action steps! Go out and buy some healthy staples including lentils and beans and no I don't mean Heinz baked beans, they are high in sugar and salt! I've just had an idea for another post, Healthy Shopping List..., coming soon....!
Here is my recipe...
COCONUT LENTIL DHAL WITH TOASTED ALMONDS
Wee point to note, I added a spoonful of Coriander Detox Pesto to mine instead of fresh coriander. This adds bags more flavour! I just dolloped a spoonful on each portion before serving, then topped with toasted almonds. Delicious!
.......your health in your hands......
Happy Pancake Day everyone! I've been busy recently running healthy eating sessions and Big Cook Little Cook sessions with parents and kids at St Bartholomews in Castlemilk.
It's so rewarding seeing kids excited about cooking classes and to be honest kids are far more likely to eat something if they have made it themselves!
I've been trying out lots of new fast, simple, kid friendly recipe ideas. The limitations are we only have an hour to prepare, cook, eat and clear up, the school have very limited cooking equipment and we have 7 kids with a parent at each session, all keen to do some hands on cooking!
A big saving grace was a couple of mini ovens I bought from Aldi for £10 each, they are so good and perfect for wee mini pizzas!
I have to do a fair bit of the old Blue Peter, here is one I made earlier!!
So far we have made Lentil Soup, Soda Bread, Mini Face Pizzas and Berry Smoothies!
Next session is tomorrow and I'm contemplating either mini filo pastries with apple and cinnamon and veggie fillings or these rather awesome pancakes!
I did an earlier banana pancake post using only banana and egg but for most kids its a bit too eggy, so when I came across this recipe I was immediately excited to try it!
This one has the addition of oats and the eggs are separated, the whites are whisked which makes these light and fluffy.
Anything which avoids added sugar and white refined flour gets my vote, as do these lovely pancakes!
These would be fun to make with your kids at the weekend when time allows for a more leisurely breakfast! Added sliced fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey adds a lovely natural sweetness. These would also be lovely served with some ice cream! These are also a great way to use up over ripe bananas!!
So without further ado, here is the recipe!
BANANA OATY PANCAKES
Ingredients - makes 8 pancakes
....your health in your hands....
Mince pies are odd things. You wouldnt be alone if you believed they actually had mince in them! The mincemeat is actually diced dried fruits and peels mixed with spices and often some brandy.
This a lighter take on the classic. Why add sugar to dried fruit when it is already very sweet?! The filling is very simple and tastes like christmas in a bowl! I chose to make a gluten free oat crust which is very lightly sweetened with maple syrup. Its a bit fiddly but has a lovely crisp texture and doesnt feel like a stodgy lump as many pastries do!
If the pastry is a bit too faffy you can easily use ready made shortcrust pastry or follow this recipe for a simpler non-gluten free option.
makes 12 tarts with a bit of filling to spare. Keep in a jar in the fridge and try as a decadent festive porridge topping!
200g dried fruits (I used apricot, fig and cranberries but really any dried fruit would work)
50g nuts (almond, apricot, brazil, pecans, walnuts etc.)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 small pear, chopped very finely or grated
1 small apple, chopped very finely or grated
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
optional: 2 tbsp chcoclate chips
note: pastry is rather crumbly but very nice and crispy!
180g jumbo oats (certified gluten free if necessary)
20g dessicated coconut
4 tbsp oil (rapeseed, sunflower or neutral tasting olive oil)
4 tbsp cold water, more as needed
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
Place a heaped tbsp of filling into each case then top with a star. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Leave to cool in the muffin trays before carefully loosening each pie with a knife and sliding out on to a plate or into your mouth. Up to you. Heat them up in the oven again before serving if you like, for extra crunch. Dust with icing sugar for extra festive cheer.
...your health in your hands...
I'm sharing another sweet recipe this week but I promise to move on to healthy savoury dishes and main courses suitable for a plant based Christmas next week!
Who doesn't love a chocolate truffle...? We love healthy, delicious chocolates but not so much the dairy and refined sugar kind! Last year I shared this recipe for festive chocolate truffles which are nut free and lovely too, but these ones
are a bit fancier and more festive in flavour.
The base for these delicious truffles are dates and nuts, two of my favourite ingredients and packed with fibre, protein, minerals and good fats so as well as tasting great these truffles do your body good as well!
These also make a lovely gift, packaged up in a nice box or a wee bag. I just think there is something special about a home made gift and just love to receive them!
I am very lucky that my daughter Jenna always makes special gifts for the whole family, she is a very talented and creative young lady! Handmade chocolates, chutneys, jewellery, lip balms, body scrubs and lotions, hats, place mats and beautiful natural floral arrangements have all been given and received with love. One year Laura, my youngest daughter, gave everyone a voucher for home made cakes, to be redeemed throughout the year! She is an ace vegan baker so her cakes are a real treat!! Kathryn writes lovely poems and puts such thought into them and that only leaves Emma, my oldest daughter who although she says she isn't good at making stuff, made delicious sloe gin last year with a handmade label!
It's just so nice when someone takes the time to make something.
We are fortunate in that we spend a lot of time trying out recipes and having lots of fun in the kitchen, one of the great things about writing this blog actually! So I hope that the recipes and stories I share are of interest and inspire someone out there to try something new!
So back to these very simple and delicious Festive Truffles, Chocolate Mint and Ginger, two flavours which I love, especially chocolate and mint which is a winning combination!
The method for making both flavours is the same so here are the ingredients you will need!
Gingerbread Truffles - makes 12
1 cup of soft pitted dates
pinch sea salt
1 cup of almonds, walnuts, brazil or pecan nuts or a mixture
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger or 1 inch piece of freshly grated ginger
pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves
coconut or finely chopped nuts for rolling
Chocolate Mint - makes 12
1 cup of soft pitted dates
1 cup of almonds, walnuts, pecans or brazil nuts
pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons of raw cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (taste and add accordingly)
cocoa or raw cacao for rolling
1. In your food processor, pulse the nuts until they are finely chopped. Put into a bowl.
2. Add the dates and sea salt and process on high until a smooth paste forms.
3. Add the processed nuts and the remainder of the ingredients. Process until thouroughly mixed.
4. Roll the mixture into balls ( makes 12 truffles) and coat in chopped nuts/coconut/cocoa.
5. Store in a covered container in the fridge or the freezer.
...your health in your hands...
I haven't shared a beetroot recipe recently so thought I'd share this humdinger of a beetroot casserole with sweet potatoes, herbs and mushrooms with a good glug of red wine to lift the flavour to dinner party fancy!! I assure you, its that good! If you love beetroot and hearty casseroles then you will absolutely love this recipe!
Beetroot ticks a lot of boxes for me, its cheap, readily available, delicious, a fabulous colour and has lots of health benefits! It can lower blood pressure, improve memory and brain function by basically improving blood flow and relaxing the arteries, all down to nitric acid which beetroot has lots of! Its also a very effective internal cleanser, due to the powerful antioxidant betacyanin and supports kidney, liver and gallbladder function. Its also a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and easily digestible carbohydrates for a wee energy boost!
It's also extremely versatile and lends itself well to juicing, cakes, dips, soups, salads and casseroles!
I really do love the humble beetroot, whats not to love?
Anyway back to this fabulous recipe, the idea came from the awesome Anna Jones cookbook A Modern Way to Eat. I love Anna Jones, she makes the most delicious vegetarian food, wholesome, flavoursome and nutritious. A fabulous book if you want to transition to a more plant based way of eating, full of family favourites, lovely photos and simple, easy to follow recipes.
So back to this one...
I used vacuum packed beetroot, instead of fresh beetroot. I always have packs of beetroot in the fridge for dips, houmous, salads and soups and it's already cooked so can just be added for the last 10 to 15 minutes. Fresh beetroot can take up to an hour to cook, so if you are using fresh then cut into smallish chunks, to speed up the cooking time.
Puy or dark green lentils are another favourite ingredient of mine. They are packed with fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins and support health on every level. They are really filling and make a great substitute for meat. They don't require soaking prior to cooking and cook in around 20 minutes. All the supermarkets sell puy type lentils now, they hold their shape well and don't go mushy, which the more common red lentils do! I always have a selection of lentils in my cupboards, they are so versatile and delicious and great for adding fibre and protein to a meatless meal.
Sweet potatoes add lots of beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A and supports skin and digestive health. They contain a wonderful sugar called fructo-oligo-saccaride which acts as a food source for good bacteria in the gut, producing a chemical called butyric acid that can repair and strengthen the gut wall and rejuvenate the digestive tract! We should all be feeding our good gut bacteria and sweet potatoes are just so delicious this is just another excellent reason to eat loads of them. Even though they are naturally sweet, they contain blood sugar regulating properties and improve the cells responsiveness to insulin, so won't spike your blood sugar!
So all in all a very healthy dish to make for dinner, its just full of beneficial veggies, lentils, herbs and lots of garlic to boost the immune system and add lots of flavour!
We had this served with a big pile of creamy mashed potatoes and steamed green beans and Jenna used the leftovers by adding more mushrooms, stock and potato and blending it to a smooth velvety pink delicious soup!
We never waste food at Nourished by Nature!!
So here is the recipe, please leave a comment if you try it!
Ingredients Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
8 to 10 small cooked beets, quartered or fresh beetroot peeled and diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into dice
4 bay leaves
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
250 ml red wine
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup (200g) small dark lentils, rinsed and drained
handful of mushrooms, halved (optional)
....your health in your hands.....
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.