Vegetarian recipe posts for #nvw16

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I first went veggie when I was 9 and it lasted 2 years, until I went to secondary school.

My sister, Bec went veggie a couple of years later and has stuck with it.

My Gram (pictured) was a great influence as she made me delicious veggie foods, like rissoles, nut roast and these delicious tarts that tasted like they had bacon in them – I need to find that recipe. She also made vegetarian sausage rolls at Christmas which I will post later this year.

She worked for the Jewish Vegetarian Society in the 1960’s, and also knew the head of the Soil Association (according to my dad). She would send me off to school with some nuts which I would add to my school dinner, as at the time being vegetarian was pretty unheard of. And the dinner ladies were brilliant – they would make me a vegetarian version of meat dish – instead of spam fritters – cheese fritters! Tasty but really unhealthy!

Gram took us out to a vegetarian restaurant in the early 1980’s and it was memorable for being very, very bland. I think she’d be very pleased at how things are turning out today the amount of choice and options and … recipes.

I went veggie again in the new year (2016), with plans of making the whole family veggie, but it’s not quie worked out as planned, I am still eating fish, and the rest of the family are still eating meat, only organic, but meat. I’ve decided to see this as a bit of a journey, from meat eating to vegan, and I plan to take my family with me, so will be adding a new vegetarian recipe to the rota each week.

The one thing that’s made it tricky is time to try out new recipes. Vegetarian and especially vegan diets need to have a good amount of high quality protein: eggs, seeds, nuts, lentils and beans. So any recipes I make will include those ingredients as a general rule.

So right at the end of National Vegetarian week, here are my veggie posts to celebrate:

First up is mushroom and red lentil pasta which is a quick an easy midweek supper.

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Then there’s nettle and red lentil soup – which is perfect for this time of year.

nettle soup
nettle soup
Then a favourite in our house, Spanish tortilla, we make our’s with smoked paprika, and you can add all sorts of left over veggies – I’ve made it with sweet potato, carrot and beetroot too, which is really tasty.

Minestrone soup is a great soup to make anytime of the year as the vegetables are available all year round.

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One of my favourite soup recipes is this one by Rose Elliot – who’s an amazing vegetarian cookery writer, It’s a celery and tomato soup and is literally, onions, celery, garlic, stock and tomatoes, and it is delicious.

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Then there’s this post on cauliflower three ways: cauliflower cheese – was something often had when I was growing up, and then there’s roasted cauliflower which I much prefer to steamed now, and of course cauliflower base for pizza, which adds more high quality protein to the dish (from eggs and ground almonds) compared to pizza with a bread base.

Cauliflower cheese

I had also forgotten about veggie spag bol which is a great alternative to the classic dish.

dished up veggie spag bol

Roasted vegetable lasagne is one to get back on the rota as my eldest used to love it – I need to try adding some berlotti beans to up the high quality protein content, and you can get gluten free lasagne sheets too.

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Then there’s chickpea and leek soup which is quick and easy to make for lunch, especially if you have tinned chickpeas.

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And finally, Summer bean stew with chickpeas – which I haven’t made for ages and peppers are just coming into season so it’s time to try it again…

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Pulling all my veggie posts together has shown me that I need a bit more variety, inspiration and creativity. So am off to get some…

 

 

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Avocado and frozen berry #smoothiebowl

This recipe feels like a bit of a cheat really, as it’s made up and is so simple. I am all for keeping things fast and easy in the kitchen, as life is so busy at the moment. So anything that fits in with the daily routine and saves time and is healthy is a win, win, win. I never really ever follow recipes for smoothies or juices and I don’t have much time when I am working from home so this is a healthy option for me for breakfast after I’ve done the school run or for lunch.

I’ve been seeing smoothie bowls on my instagram feed for a while and didn’t really get them until I made a smoothie in my NutriNinja and it was too thick so I poured it into a bowl and it was delicious – I didn’t realise how good it would taste especially with the toppings – I used fruit, coconut flakes and local bee pollen. And of course it looks so pretty and the possibilities are endless – the only limitation being your imagination and of course, your tastebuds!

I will post some info about the nutrition info soon, but just need to get this posted for #WakeuptoOrganic events happening in independent retailers on 15th June.

Avocado and frozen berry Smoothie bowl

Makes: 2 smoothie bowls
Prep time: 10 minutes tops

You will need…
1 Avocado peeled chopped
120g frozen berries
300ml coconut water
1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 tablespoon of bee pollen
1 dessert spoon of spirulina, wheatgrass or chlorella
1 lemon peeled and chopped
1 carrot peeled, top and tailed and chopped
1 beetroot bulb, top and tailed and chopped (if you’re using a high powered blender)

How to…

Blend together with a normal blender or high powered blender, put in bowls and decorate with toppings of your choice.

#WakeuptoOrganic breakfast bars with #noaddedsugar

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This time last month I was at Natural and Organic Products Show Europe where we launched the Organic Trade Board’s Wake up to Organic Campaign with the help of food blogger and food tutor, and more, Laura Scott. Laura made a cool green smoothie which had a great minty zing and a sumptuous granola breakfast parfait.

The campaign will take place on the morning of 15th June (it’s our second year) where all over the UK independent retailers will host #WakeuptoOrganic events where they serve free organic breakfasts to their customers and passers by to show how easy it is to make the switch to organic.

Why organic?

There are plenty of reasons to choose organic, it’s better for the environment, the animals are reared using higher animal welfare standards and of course organic produce has lower pesticide residues and is GM free. There is evidence now that there’s a difference in terms of nutrition.  A recent study  by researchers at Newcastle University, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that organically grown fruit and vegetables have:

  • Higher levels of antioxidants
  • Lower pesticide residues (which were 4 times higher in non organic) and
  • Significantly lower levels of the toxic heavy metal, Cadmium.

A recent meta analysis published by the same researchers in British Journal of Nutrition found that organic meat and dairy had:

  • about 50% higher levels of healthy omega 3 fats (which are good for heart and brain health as well as protecting against cancer)
  • Under organic standards cows must eat a 60% fresh grass based diet or hay/silage (conserved grass) which is likely to be a factor in the higher omega 3 levels.
  • Organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats linked to heart disease.
  • Organic milk and diary has 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has been associated with reduced cardiovascular heart disease, some cancers and obesity.
  • Organic milk contains slightly higher concentrations of vitamin E.
  • Less iodine than non-organic milk.¹

Both studies were meta-analyses of the available evidence which assessed peer-reviewed papers. Where studies did not meet the standards set by the researchers for methodology and/or reporting they were excluded from the review. This means the quality of the evidence included is good and the evidence is robust.

So to celebrate our Wake up to Organic launch I made these breakfast bars, based on my popular no added sugar banana and date flapjack recipe. I’ve also added nuts and seeds to increase the protein content. While these contain no added sugar they do have dried fruit in them, so it’s a good idea to have them with a glass of milk and drink water after to protect your teeth!

Wake up to Organic breakfast bars

Preparation: 20 minutes
Baking: 25 minutes
Makes 12

You will need…

150g Oats
2 large bananas (about 200-220g)
50g desiccated coconut
120g chopped dates (if you don’t have enough dates substitute chopped raisins)
100g melted coconut oil (or butter)
80g nuts and seeds (I used pumpkin seeds, chia and pecan)

How to…

Mash the bananas on a plate and put in a bowl.
Add the coconut oil, dates nuts and desiccated coconut and mix well.
Now add the oats and again mix well
Turn into a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Press down so it’s evenly spread
Bake in an oven at 190 °C or 160 °C in a fan oven or gas mark 3 for 25 minutes.
Cut into slices whilst still warm.

 

¹Historic research highlighted that organic milk contained less iodine. However, the industry has taken steps to address this. OMSCo (the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative) representing over 65% of the UK’s organic milk supply, announced that in 2015 organic milk had achieved comparable levels of iodine to conventional and in 2016, following recent testing of bottled milk, they announced these levels of iodine have been maintained. Richard Hampton, managing director at OMSCo, said; “We initiated projects to boost iodine levels and applied these to our farmer members’ enterprises, and by early 2015 we announced that we’d achieved comparable levels with those in the conventional market. Our latest results have shown that one year on from the initial milestone we’re maintaining those levels.”

 

 

Pecan and date spelt breakfast muffins

 

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I’ve been looking for healthier breakfast muffin recipes because, who doesn’t love cake for breakfast, especially children. And if it’s lower sugar then you’re good to go.

Helping with the Organic Trade Board’s  Wake up to Organic campaign has made me want to come up with some new ideas for breakfast. On 15th of June all over the UK independent retailers will dish up a free organic breakfast to their customers and passers by. The idea is to show easy it is to make the switch to organic. Follow us on twitter to keep up with the campaign

Gluten free

I haven’t tried this recipe with gluten free flour but I am sure it will work – you can also use gluten free oats. I am going to try to make them with buckwheat flour and will report on how well it works.

Dairy free

This recipe is dairy free but if you want to use butter instead of coconut oil or milk instead of dairy free alternatives to milk.

Sugar

These muffins have no refined sugar in them – though they do have maple syrup which as a syrup is classified as sugar. I will be trying this recipe without maple syrup as I think they can easily be made without – 30ml contains about 15g of sugar which is equal to about 1.3g of sugar per muffin, the dates contribute 7g of sugar, the bananas provide just under 1.8g sugar per muffin, the coconut milk provides less than a gram. So in total each muffin has about 2 teaspoons of sugar which sounds like a lot but most shop bought muffins will be bigger portion sizes and contain 4-5 teaspoons of sugar, and they also won’t be in natural fruit form – which of course include lots of micronutrients, from vitamin B6 in the dates, to potassium in bananas. Under the latest Scientific Advisory Committee guidance this is equivalent to just over 1 teaspoon of refined sugars.

We do have some sugar in our diet in our family and I want to reduce it. Have you found that children don’t notice any changes to what you feed them, if you don’t mention it and also make those changes gradually. In between work, parenting, and walking the dog I don’t have much time to experiment in the kitchen so I need tried and tested recipes that work, like this one. These make a great treat breakfast and of course can be put in lunch boxes too.

Pecan and date spelt breakfast muffins

Vegan, soy free

Makes 12 muffins
Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes

You will need…

240g white spelt flour (or a mixture of white and wholemeal)
130g dates chopped
190ml coconut milk or almond milk or other diary free milk.
2 small to medium bananas mashed (about 180g)
30ml of maple syrup
30g chia seeds
30g pumpkin seeds
50g pecans chopped
30g oats
60ml coconut oil melted
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
Medium carrot finely grated (about 80g)
pinch of salt

How to…

  • Preheat your oven to 190˚C/gas mark 5/350°F.
  • Put the mashed banana in a big bowl with the carrots, milk, maple syrup, vinegar and vanilla extract  and melted coconut oil, mix well.
  • Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, mixed spice and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
  • Gently fold in the seeds, nuts, dates and oats.
  • Don’t over mix as this helps keep the muffins fluffy.
  • Place the mixture in 12 muffin tins.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes. You can test with a skewer and if it comes out with mixture on it bake for a few more minutes.
  • Cool on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Serve with some chopped fruit and/or a cup of milk.