Lentil and Mushroom Loaf

I had the great pleasure recently of returning to a face to face Made in Hackney community cooking class. Although some restrictions are still in place – it was really great to meet new people (from a distance) and cook up a storm! There is something very therapeutic about cooking with others and making something great out of a few ingredients and then seeing and eating the fruits of your labour 🙂 I took my efforts home and me and my husband tucked into this excellent lentil loaf, roasted veggies and vegan onion gravy. The lentil loaf was made in a small loaf tin but you can double the ingredients and make in a normal tin. This is a great Sunday lunch dish and is really easy to whip up 🙂 you can of course chop any veg you like really small and add into the mix!

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Healthy Breakfast Spread (Tahin Pekmez)

tahin pekmezI stumbled upon this little gem by pure accident whilst looking for directions on making Turkish tea (I now own a fantastic Turkish double tea pot!) This amazing breakfast spread is a well kept secret and has become a firm favourite in my home. It is so simple but really delicious. This is a blend of tahini and molasses (I have used either blackstrap molasses or grape molasses) Molasses is good for the health, helps reduce PMS and reduce joint pain among other healthful properties. Grape molasses was used as a ‘cure-all’ in ancient times. Tahini is full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals and also very good for heart health – so you can slather this on warm bread in the morning without any guilt!
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Ital Red Pea Soup

red pea soup
Healthiersteps.com

This is probably my favourite West Indian soup – I have eaten it mainly at funerals! but nevertheless it’s been so tasty and filling and really comforting. Red peas are kidney beans and this soup allows you to experiment with different vegetables – pumpkin, sweet potato, yam, butternut squash etc. The beans need soaking overnight or use a pressure cooker to cook them and save time. Kidney beans are a good source of plant-based protein, fibre and have a low glycemic index rating – all round a good, healthy bean! Every time I have eaten this soup it has had ‘spinner’ dumplings in it – which are delicious and make it a meal on its own – so I have included the little dumpling recipe aswell.
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Pea and Basil Soup

pea and basil
homemakershabiitat.com

I don’t think the UK has got the memo yet that we are edging towards summer! We had a glimmer of good weather but it’s dissapeared again and its COLD! However, this soup is great for Spring and can be thrown together very quickly. Just because food is good for you doesn’t mean that it can’t deliver on flavour – the two should go hand in hand. The humble pea is packed with vitamin C, E and Zinc and helps to reduce inflammation (the cause of many illnesses). Basil tastes divine but also contains magnesium which can aid blood flow. This soup is a winner as it is cheap, tasty and has ingredients that you will normally have in the fridge or freezer.
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Thai Style Crunchy Salad with Coconut Curry Dressing

Thai-Noodle-Salad-with-Peanut-Sauce-105
Feastingathome.com

You know something is going to taste good when you see a rainbow of colours on your plate. The sky is the limit really with the ingredients for this refreshing salad BUT it needs to have crunch! You can be adventerous with salad leaves and you can use noodles or brown rice to bulk this salad out. The dressing is very tasty and easy to make. 

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Smokey Plant-Based Empanadas

downloadI love empanadas and the smokey, sweet tomato sauce that I used to have with tuna empanadas. These plant-based versions are just as tasty and very easy to make. I have now found ready made wholemeal shortcrut pastry (Thank you Tesco!) its light and crumbly and these little treats are great for a mid-morning snack. I bought a nifty little empanada maker from the internet which is amazing (come in three different sizes) and ensure your empanadas don’t come undone during baking. If you are having a gathering – these are very moorish and will disappear quickly!
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Tangy Panzanella Salad

panzanella-the-food-placeDespite the cold snap of weather we are having, better weather is on its way 🙂 (promise!) The lighter the days get the more I enjoy a nice tangy and fresh salad. This salad lends itself to a mix of tomatoes types – cherry, plum, yellow, vine etc. The addition of cubes of stale sourdough bread (or any uncut bread you have) make this more filling – this is a bit of grown-up salad! With origins in Tuscany, Italy the salad was created like most great, rustic dishes to avoid waste and is a typical peasant dish. If that makes me a peasant – I’m happy to be!

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Marvelous Oat Flour Cinnamon Muffins

UpSplash

Any kind of white flour is becoming an issue for me. My stomach just doesn’t appreciate flour too much – a little organic wholemeal is ok, or organic unbleached but any foodstuff that has refined flour in makes my stomach bloat and I feel uncomfortable. Soooooo, finding these little beauties was wonderful. The best bit is oat flour can be hard to find BUT you just whizz porridge oats in a blender and hey presto! Oat flour! These are great for breakfast or as a snack – I will be hiding them however as I live with a bunch of vultures! 🙂

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Plant Based Pastitsio

Akis Petrezikis

This was a dish I loved when I was a meat eater (many years ago) And finally a version with no dairy and no meat! You never need to be in a flap again when your non-meat eating friends come for lunch 🙂 The pasta used in this dish is readily available in most supermarkets now and the dish is very easy to make. A friend of mine in Rhodes used to make a vegetarian version of this which was amazing also. This recipe comes from one of my favourite Greek Chefs – Akis Petrezikis – who seems to be Greece’s answer to Jamile Oliver!
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Lentil and Rice Biryani

ddsdawatdilse

Our neighbours have blessed us a couple of times recently with some wonderful Bengali cooking (see – even in London there are still good neighbours!) The rice they have sent us via their young daughter was out of this world tasty, non-oily and just amazing. As you know by now I am starting to love Indian cooking and this dish is a great way to brighten up mid-week meals. Lentils are a rich source of protein and keep you full for longer.
Although it looks like a lot of ingredients  – the process is simple, so don’t let that put you off 🙂

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Spicy Ezme Salad

Bebosdish13

Although the temperatures here in London have plummeted I have been eating a lot of different salads and this one has no doubt been inspired by the amount of Turkish tv programmes I have been watching on Netflix! who knew Turkish tv was so good?! We are fortunate to have a lot of excellent Turkish restaurants here in London and this is a staple at all of them – but each restaurant makes it slightly differently. What I love about this salad is that it is quick, tangy and refreshing and can have as much chilli kick as you can handle! served with fresh bread it can be a meal on its own and will get you going back for more!

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Aubergine Meatballs

Healthy Food.com

Thanks to my good friend Charlene for making me lunch! I am trying to get away from all forms of processed food and that includes ‘healthy’ vegan or plant-based options – the list of ingredients still look too big to me with these convenience foods and if you make double the mixture for this home-made version, you can freeze them for those evenings when you just need to make something super quick. Add a lovely tomato sauce to these and you can serve with rice, bulgur or wholewheat pasta. The only thing you really need is a food processor or some elbow grease! You can add in the flavours that you like and adapt as you see fit but you will love these 🙂

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Caribbean Style Porridge

Sometimes I need a breakfast that will keep me satisfied until lunchtime -and this porridge does the job! My late Jamaican father-in-law was a regular porridge eater and he lived until he was 90! Some Caribbean porridge recipes call for condensed milk but as this is a blog site about longevity,  I am omitting the less healthy version 🙂  Oats are an all round good food – a great source of soluble fiber, a rich source of magnesium and it is great for controlling blood sugar. Best of all  – oats are fairly low cost (DO NOT use instant oats – they are not good!) and when my kids are hungry  – this is a go to for them any time of day.

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Bulgur, Freekeh and Green Beans

I love to find recipes that are bursting with goodness but still taste delicious and comforting – and this dish delivers. I found this on Ozlem’s Turkish Table and as I have never really used Freekeh before, thought I would give it a go. Not one spoonful of this went to waste! I ate it hot and cold and it was equally delicious. Freekeh is an acient grain (even mentioned in Leviticus in the bible) and is full of fiber, it has a unique, almost nutty taste and texture and aids digestion. Full of zinc, iron and calcium you can really eat without guilt!!! It’s simple to prepare and all ingredients are easy to source. Thank you Ozlem!

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Squash, Chilli and Coconut Soup

Pinterest

Another great soup for these crisp winter days. I have to say I do use a lot of coconut milk at the moment but it adds such a lovely creaminess and flavour that I can’t resist it.  This is economical and will last about 4 days in the fridge. This is delicious served with some black olives on the side and a toasted slice of sourdough. 🙂 I now have a brilliant pressure cooker which does the whole thing in 10 minutes but have given you the traditional saucepan recipe. Butternut squash is a great source of fibre and vitamins, coconut milk reduces blood pressure and cholesterol and improves digestion – so don’t take my word for it – make this and see how you feel after!
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Spinach, Lentil and Coconut Soup

This is a great soup to throw together quickly and have for lunch  – seeing as we are all mainly working from home these days. I have struggled some days with the workload and trying to really eat well, but this is the solution! You can prep this first thing in the morning, cook, leave the flavours to entwine and then blitz and eat 🙂 this soup combines taste and healthful benefits, lentils, spinach, leeks and coconut milk.
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Vegan Breakfast Stack

 

This is my new favourite breakfast/brunch meal. This packs a nutritional punch and tastes delicious – okay, my stack looks a little wonky! but I am sure yours will be much better! I added some mushrooms and a bit of toast which kept me satisfied until later in the day. Who knew that julienned  sweet potato in the oven could taste so good! This is also a great dish to serve when having friends over.

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Wholemeal Chapatis

I’m on a bit of a curry vibe at the moment 🙂 largely because I live very close to Brick Lane, the famous curry mile near Shoreditch in East London renowned for its excellent curry houses. I recently visited with a friend and we had a wonderful plant-based meal with lovely soft chapatis. It inspired me to learn how to make them.  It always concerns me that the shop bought ones have such a long shelf life ? Can’t be good.

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Creamy Cauliflower Curry

This is a weekday or weekend meal – its really cheap, very easy and soothing. If money is tight at the moment – then this recipe should fit the bill. I made this as I had a cauliflower sitting in my fridge that was in danger of going bad – so the whole thing was ready really quickly and tasted even better the next day!
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Fasolada (Bean Soup)

Let’s face it. Summer is pretty much over here in the UK. My thoughts are turning to soothing comfort food. I needed something comforting the other day and I remembered this simple bean soup that uses the best of seasonal vegetables and delivers in flavour and nutrition. I haven’t been so organised lately, long working hours and a family to keep on track has taken up a lot of my time. I am going to make another batch of this rich and thick soup for the week, so I know I have a bowl of goodness waiting for me at lunchtime. Just remember to soak your beans in cold water the night before you plan to make it.
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Mushroom Stifado

Most people are used to eating Beef Stifado but this is just as tasty (with the same spices etc) but the meat is replaced with mushrooms. Its best to use a really firm mushroom such as chestnut or portobello so they keep their firmness through the cooking process. I like this served with rice and a little tzatziki on the side! Continue reading “Mushroom Stifado”

Roasted Potatoes with Green Beans and Mustard Drizzle

Blue Zones

Another great longevity recipe from the Blue Zone community – this originates from the Seven Day Adventists in Loma Linda California who live long and strong and practice a plant-based diet (these Californians live about a decade longer than most other people!). Meals like this can be rustled up quickly and can be a meal on their own  – the addition of chickpeas means you will feel full without having resorted to adding any grains or rice etc.

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Spicy Spinach Stew

I had this dish for the first time when I went to visit friends and my friend got into a flap because I don’t eat meat. So she ran across to her Nigerian neighbour to ask for help! I have adapted the recipe to suit my family. It’s very easy and has a lovely chilli kick so goes well with plain rice. I am in Crete at the moment and have been able to get all the ingredients and put this together very quickly. You can use fresh, tinned or frozen spinach for this recipe whatever you have at hand.

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Walnut Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

tastespotting.com

I am eating a lot of salad at the moment and as much as I love olive oil, I am trying to cut down a little on the amount of oil I consume without compromising on flavour. This little salad dressing does the trick! I used my Nutri-bullet to blend it in seconds. This comes from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s bestselling book Eat for Life and is used as part of a whole food plant-based lifestyle. It’s easy and tasty and will allow you to add generously to salads!

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Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’

I just had this for lunch and it was delicious! I was very skeptical of this tasting any good but it was sooo tasty and the best part is that it’s cheaper than tuna! The humble chickpea is so versatile – they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, they improve digestion and the best bit for me is they aid weight loss as they keep you fuller for longer! Chickpeas are also high in protein and essential amino acids. I would recommend you use the chickpeas in a jar – they are much softer and easier to mash.
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Greek Butter Beans (Gigantes)

What4eats

This is a staple at any Greek taverna – it is almost impossible to find giant butter (Lima) beans in the UK but standard butter beans will do. It is always worth using dried beans (soaked overnight), the taste and texture are very good but if you are in a hurry you can use tinned butter beans which are also good and cheap!. This humble bean (very much overlooked in the UK) is great for heart health, diabetes prevention, increased energy levels, enhanced digestion and good blood circulation – again I stand in awe of the Greeks and their ability to take basic ingredients and make a delicious meal for a very small cost. You can buy this dish (Gigantes plaki) in a tin  – but once you have made them yourself there will be no turning back! The other benefit of eating beans like this regularly is that they fill you up, making you less likely to snack on other things 🙂
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Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Mushroom ‘Sausage Rolls’

These may look a little rustic 🙂 but they are very comforting. Although I have added them into the weekend section, they really didn’t take that long to prepare and cook. They got a thumbs up from my husband and would definitely be a winner at a social gathering – I even think meat eaters would like these. This is another recipe that you can adapt to your favourite spices and all the ingredients are readily available. Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious and support the immune system, and are rich in fibre, combined with chickpeas which are high in protein, mushrooms that have vitamin D and you have a winner!
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Aloo Gobi – Cauliflower, Potato, and Pea Curry

A traditional vegetarian dish served at nearly all Indian restaurants and this is healthy and very easy to put together. I love cauliflower and the great thing about cooking this from home is that you can put as much or as little spice as you like. This dish doesn’t use coconut milk and very little oil – so it is not a heavy dish at all. Served with warm wholemeal naan, it has a lot of flavour and digests very well. I will definitely be making this again!
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