Moroccan-style Low-carb Stew

This is a vegetarian dish, but can easily be made vegan by replacing the Quorn with a tin of chickpeas or other non-meat mince. It serves 6 with leftovers, and is easily freezable.

 

You will need:

2 onions, chopped (I use my food processor’s chopping blade to chop things quickly and easily)

2 celery sticks, chopped

4 carrots (I used three ginormous carrots), chopped

2 red or yellow peppers, chopped

1 tin reduced-sugar baked beans (chickpeas would be better, but I didn’t have any in the cupboard)

300g Quorn mince

2 vegetable stock cubes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp asafoetida

2 tsp ready-chopped ginger (I used Batts Easy Ginger from Lidl) or a 5cm piece of ginger, chopped

5 tsp ready-chopped garlic (again, I used Batts Easy Garlic from Lidl) or 5 cloves of garlic

4 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

5 tsp paprika

4 tsp turmeric

100g dried apricots, chopped (you can buy chopped dried apricots if you’re a Spoonie, like me)

Water

img_20161028_134108

What a mess after I cook! I have to rest before I can begin tidying.

1. Put the olive oil in a large saucepan or in a slow cooker.

2. Add the onions and peppers. Cook on a medium heat until soft (around 20+ minutes on high if you’re using a slow cooker).

3. Add the remaining ingredients.

4. Add 2l water.

5. Give it a good stir.

6. Now you have several options:

a) bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

b) leave on the lowest hob (stove top) setting for four hours or more.

c) if using a slow cooker, cook on high for four hours or low for six hours.

7. Enjoy!

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TOP TIPS

Why not try some garlic bread or, for a low-carb vegetarian option try this recipe for Almond Flour Dumplings? It’s not my recipe but I am going to try it.

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‘Instant’ Hearty Veg Soup

This recipe is not ‘instant’ in the sense that it is immediately edible, but sometimes on a bad day (especially if you’re a Spoon counter) you need something that is both extremely easy to prepare and healthy.

You will need:

500g no-soak soup mix (this will typically consist of red lentils, yellow split peas, green split peas, dried onion, dried carrot, dried pasta, etc.). It’s vital that this is a no-soak soup mix otherwise you’ll make yourself very poorly. If you buy a soup mix in the UK that needs soaking, it will say so on the packet.

2 tbsp powdered onion

2 tbsp dried mixed herbs

2 tsp garlic powder

2 stock cubes, crumbled

2 handfuls small dried pasta (or larger pasta, crumbled a bit)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Serves 6

 

1. Place all the dry ingredients in a large jar. Twist and turn the jar so the ingredients all mix. Make sure the lid is tightly sealed.

2. Put a label on the jar, then stick it in the cupboard and forget about it.

3. When you need a tasty, easy family meal, put the contents of the jar in a large saucepan with the two tins of chopped tomatoes and add about 2 litres of water (you will need plenty of water because the dry ingredients will swell and absorb a lot).

4. Bring to the boil and let it bubble vigorously for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Serve with bread and grated cheese (I wonder if a sprinkling of nutritional yeast would work well here, for a tasty vegan option?).

 

TOP TIPS

You can adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes and that of your family. If using half, or less than half, of the dry mix, add only one tin of tomatoes and adjust the amount of water. Cook for exactly the same length of time. If more than half, follow the instructions above.

Heavenly Healthier Chocolate Cake

I have been experimenting with gluten free, grain free and dairy free cakes for a while now, and I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Lower in fat and sugar than typical chocolate cake this recipe even contains fruit, yet still tastes decadent with its blend of vanilla, cinnamon and coffee. It also contains cacao powder, which is a good source of nutrients and is naturally sweet. Go ahead: try it warm from the oven with homemade yoghurt and blueberries. Mmm…

You will need:

4 small apples

1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh or bottled

2 tbsp coconut oil, softened (vegetable oil will work here too)

2 tsp instant coffee (I use cafedirect fair trade organic decaffeinated  coffee – caffeine doesn’t like me)

3 medium eggs

2 tbsp powdered stevia

30ml almond milk

2 tbsp rice malt syrup

65g coconut flour

50g raw cacao powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

7″ baking tin with a removable base, lightly greased

 

1. Chop the apples and remove the cores. Put the oven on to 180°C (160°C fan).

2. Place apple pieces in a small saucepan with the lemon juice and just enough water to cover.

3. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 10  minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a food processor place the coconut oil, coffee, stevia, rice malt syrup, milk and eggs. Whizz on a high speed until well combined using the blade attachment.

5. Add to the food processor the flour, cacao, baking powder, vanilla extract and cinnamon.

6. Strain the cooked apples and add to the mixture.

7. Whizz again for a full minute, scraping down the sides as needed.

8. You should have a soft dropping consistency. If not, add a tablespoon of almond milk or apple water.

9. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in a pre-heated oven for 35 minutes or until a metallic skewer comes out clean. The top of the cake should be crackled but not burnt.

10. Store in the fridge (if it lasts that long).

 

adapted from this recipe: 

http://www.theculinaryjumble.com/2016/02/24/deeply-rich-chocolate-cake/

Healthy No Grain Chocolatey Breakfast

I initially tried this with wheatgrass powder instead of the cacao powder. It was disgusting. It looked like dried pond scrapings. It tasted worse. So revolting was it, indeed, that I ate a bowl on two consecutive mornings and then decided to throw the rest away. I hate wasting food, but it really was vile! However, this altered recipe is very palatable.

Yes, it’s possible to combine healthy eating and chocolatey-ness and have it for breakfast! This takes just a few minutes to prepare but will last for many breakfasts. Although the initial ingredients are expensive, a little goes a very long way, so this does not become too uneconomical.

 

You will need:

150g chia seeds

150g raw buckwheat

50g banana chips, crushed

50g dried cranberries

50g pumpkin seeds

30g popped amaranth

20g gogi berries

15g dried apple pieces

1 tbsp raw cacao powder (or more, to taste)

 

1. Wash buckwheat and leave to dry on a clean tea towel or kitchen roll paper. If you do this last thing at night it will be dry by the morning.

2. In a bowl combine the chia seeds, banana chips, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, popped amaranth, gogi berries, apple, cacao and fully dry buckwheat.

3. Stir gently to combine.

4. When fully combined, place in an airtight container.

 

TO USE:

Place one tablespoonful in a bowl. Add around 150-200ml water or almond milk and leave to soak for at least 15 minutes (you can even leave it overnight) before eating.

 

TOP TIPS

Watch this YouTube video for how to pop amaranth (you can also buy it ready-popped):

https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=sqbQDKxDyW4

 

 

 

 

Simple Salad

Takes 10 minutes to prepare.

You will need:

1 cucumber, cubed

250g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (or salad tomatoes, diced)

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)

1/4 tsp Dijon, whole grain or French mustard

 

  1. Combine the cucumber, tomatoes and carrot in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad.
  4. Mix well.

 

Serve with rice, jacket potatoes, quiche, etc.

 

Summer Refresher

In an attempt to boost my family’s ‘five-a-day’, I recently bought a juicer. This is one of my best recipes so far. I urge you to try it. It’s gorgeous. Who knew healthy eating could be so much fun? 🙂

Serves 2

You will need:

100g watermelon (not including rind)

100g raspberries

200g carrots

1. Wash your fruit/veg.

2. Place the watermelon into the juicer, followed by the raspberries and finally the carrots.

3. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

TOP TIPS

Wash the juicer straight away after use, other wise the pulp can become difficult to clean off and could lead to staining or rust.

Although the recipe says to remove the watermelon rind, it is not necessary to remove the seeds.

Scarlet Blast

I made the following smoothie this morning for breakfast and it was so good that I didn’t even notice that I’d forgotten to take my medication.

Handful fresh spinach

Handful blackberries

Handful raspberries

400ml water

2 small dessert apples, chopped

2 tablespoons lime juice (I cheated and used bottled lime juice)

1 tablespoon agave syrup

1. Place ingredients in blender.

2. Blitz until smooooooth.

3. Drink straight away otherwise the liquid separates from the solids and it’s not so nice.

Serves four (unless you’re greedy and only share it between two, like we did)

TOP TIPS

If spinach, raspberries and blackberries are not in season, you can use frozen versions. When using frozen, I use spinach direct from the freezer, but usually defrost any fruit overnight in the fridge. 

Ice would also go well with this, especially on a hot day.

Muesli

Still on the theme of breakfast, did you know it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy to make your own muesli? What’s more, you can make it to suit your tastes, rather than the taste of some manufacturer who will likely have added sugar and charged you a small fortune for the privilege. It’s easy. Honest. And it tastes great because you can adjust it to suit your taste.

 

You will need:

A large storage jar, e.g. a Kilner jar, because you’re going to put the ingredients in layers so that they’re evenly distributed. This took me some time to figure out lol!

Porridge oats (I buy the cheap 1kg bag in my supermarket for 75p)

Sultanas

Chopped dried apricots

Hazelnuts

Toasted flaked almonds*

 

I love these jars. They are so useful. I have pretty labels on mine (I knew that calligraphy class would come in handy some day!)

1. Put a 2cm layer of oats in the base of the jar.

2. Mix the other ingredients together.

3. Add a 1cm layer of the fruit and nut mix to the jar.

4. Put another 2cm layer of oats in the jar… and so on until the jar is approx ¾ full – don’t fill it to the top!

5. Tip the jar back and forth fairly vigorously, to mix the ingredients together – don’t worry, there is no perfect way to do this so 30 seconds of shaking is fine.

 

TOP TIPS

*You can buy toasted flaked almonds or you can just use flaked almonds and toast them yourself, or even leave them be, if you prefer. In my opinion toasted almonds add a lovely roundness of flavour, and work very well with the crunch of the hazelnuts.

You can try adding some malted flakes in with the fruity nutty mixture.

Don’t be afraid to experiment – there are no rights and wrongs other than what suits your taste. You could try: dried cranberries, chopped dates, walnuts, dessicated coconut, coconut flakes, raisins, etc., etc., basically whatever you like as long as you keep to the 2/3 oats rule, although you could use 3cm of oats to every 1cm of fruit and nuts. It just depends what you prefer.

I love home made soya yoghurt with my muesli – and sometimes I like to add a handful of fresh fruit such as blackberries or banana.

COCK-A-STRONE SOUP WITH GARLIC BREAD

This is not cock-a-leekie, nor is it minestrone, but it has elements of both. It is not too thick for a summer supper, but is chunky enough to be filling in winter. Serve with warm, crusty garlic bread. 

 

You will need:

3 leeks, washed and chopped into bitesize pieces (1-2 cm)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 carrots, chopped into chunks

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 tin baked beans

2 teaspoons Herbes de Provençe*

125ml white wine**

2 stock cubes***

1 tablespoon cornflour

black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic granules

1 packet of instant noodles (see below)

Water

noodles

Packet noodle, not pot noodle.

 

For the garlic bread:

One baguette

1 teaspoon garlic granules

1 teaspoon dried parsley

50g butter or margarine****

 

1. Place the vegetable oil in a large saucepan with the leeks and cook over a medium heat until soft. Do not allow to brown.

2. Add the carrots, tomato puree, baked beans, Herbes de Provençe, white wine and garlic granules.

3. Without opening the packet, crunch the noodles with your hands until broken into small pieces. Open the packet, remove the flavouring sachet and discard.

4. Add the stock cubes.

5. In a teacup, mix the cornflour with a little water. Add to the saucepan and stir.

6. Add enough water to cover all the vegetables by 3 or 4cm. Stir well.

7. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.

8. Add the crushed noodles.

9. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the margarine, dried parsley and garlic granules using a fork.

10. Cut slices into the baguette using a bread knife but don’t cut all the way through, leave about ¼ uncut.

11. Scoop a teaspoon of garlic ‘butter’ into each gap using two teaspoons.

12. Place in the oven at 180ºC for five minutes to allow the garlic ‘butter’ to melt and the bread to warm through.

13. Serve the soup with the garlic bread and enjoy!

 

TOP TIPS

*If you don’t have Herbes de Provençe, or you are on a very tight budget, use generic dried mixed herbs.

**If you don’t have white wine, you can substitute apple juice, white grape juice, or even water.

***You can use chicken stock cubes or vegetable stock cubes. You could even use one stock cube along with the contents of the favouring sachet from the noodles.

**** As we have two family members who are dairy free, I use a vegetable margarine called vitalite. It has more flavour than other vegetable margarines, although I do use a cheaper version for baking.

vitalite