Posts Tagged With: food

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

At this time of year, I’d quite happily live on soup.

I just have time to squeeze this post in before driving to Durham and the sparkling NEVFest (North East Vegan Fest).  The first time that Jane and I have not been to a food festival this year together.

Durham is where all of my family are from and I’m very much looking forward to cooking and doing a talk in the Stadium of Light, the home of Sunderland AFC.  For my sins, I support the red and whites.  It will be quite surreal.  I never imagined talking and cooking vegan in a football stadium but learnt recently that at least one professional football team in the UK has gone totally vegan, so maybe its not so strange.  Lentil pies at half time with some miso broth.  Yum!  The future…..

You may think that the life of a food blogger is all hanging out by the fire, sipping a cheeky Oolong whilst leafing through a mountain of cookbooks, but it ain’t.  We all have busy lives these days and posts are normally squeezed in somewhere or other.  Janice (over at the sparkling Nourished by Nature blog) and I were just chatting about this the other day.  Blogging is a labour of love for many of us and we are just crazy about food and sharing our foodie inspiration.

This is not helped by the fact that I am a complete luddite.  I still do not have a phone (hence the lack of Instagram action) and only have a bulky laptop.  I’m trying.  But in reality, I am a techno caveman at heart.  I like paper and pens, books and postcards.  The occasional stapler.  I do love sharing things online though and hope you enjoy these little recipes.  I’ve met such a wonderful global community via the BHK.  The internet is an AMAZING place!

I’ve been cooking with loads of squashes and pumpkins (actually pumpkins are members of the squash family) at Trigonos and at home.  Our local organic veg farm Tyddyn Teg has been growing a wonderful variety of squashes; spaghetti, the mighty crown prince and even little acorns.  Some are even larger than my head.

Squashes are perfect winter fuel, high in energy with loads (I mean loads!) of antioxidants and beta carotene.  Just what our bodies crave and thrive on come the wintery months.  In darker times, eat brighter foods!  Squashes also store well, but I doubt they’ll be lasting very long around these parts.


When I say coconut cream I mean the cream in a tin of coconut milk.  If  your coconut milk contains emulsifiers and the like, it will not separate and therefore you cannot extract the cream.

To extract coconut cream from a tin of coco milk, simply place it in a fridge for a couple of hours, turn it over, open the tin and pour out the coco water.  You are left with at least half a tin of very creamy coconut cream to play with.  Try whipping it up with some lime zest and juice or just add a little sweetener to make delicious, vegan whipped cream.   Use the leftover coco water in smoothies, on your morning cereal, add it to stews or even cook rice with it (one of our personal favs).

You may also like to use the hard, block variety of coconut cream.  Just follow the pack instructions.  Don’t worry about adding too much coconut cream to this soup, it will only make it even richer and more delicious.

Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven....

Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven….


I never waste my squash/ pumpkin seeds.  I always pick them out and quickly roast them in the oven with a drop of oil and salt.  Delicious!  Just place them on a baking tray and bake them for 8 minutes on 180oC.  Stir them and keep baking them for 5 minute intervals until they are dark golden and crisp.  Its so easy and each type of squash seed will taste slightly different and have their own texture.  Pumpkin seeds are nice and light, very crispy when roasted.  Perfect as a soup-topper.

...and after. YUM!

…and after. YUM!

I love adding ginger to soups and a little kaffir gives a vibrant fragrance to the rich, sweetness of the pumpkin.  You can use any type of squash here and you may like to half the recipe or freeze the leftovers.  I think cooking in big batches makes loads of sense.  We’ve also been experimenting with pumpkin smoothies and they are a real treat.  A pumpkin chai latte smoothie is a thing of beauty and I’ll hopefully get around to sharing it soon.

Enjoy and stay cosy,


Recipe Notes

As I mentioned, experiment with different squashes, they are all wonderful and have properties of their own.  Some sweet and firm, some lighter and slightly blander, others intense and wonderful roasted.  There are so many varieties and this is still (just about) the time to enjoy them in season here in the UK.

You’ll need an extra big pan for this one.  As I said, half the recipe for something a little more manageable.

Pumpkins are ace!

Pumpkins are ace!

The Bits – Makes 10 large bowls
1 medium pumpkin – 1.75kg (peeled and cut into rough 1 inch chunks)
1.5 litres water/ light vegetable stock
7 kaffir lime leaves
50-60g fresh ginger (peeled and finely diced)
2 onions (finely diced)
200g coconut cream

2 teas salt

Do It

In a very large pan, add 2 teas cooking oil, warm and then add your onions and salt.  Fry on medium heat for five minutes until softened and then add your pumpkin, ginger and lime leaves.  Stir well and cook for another two minutes, then add the water/ stock.  Bring to a boil and pop a lid on, lowering the heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the coconut cream, stirring well and simmer for another 10 minutes, adding more hot water if needed.  The pumpkin should now be nice and soft.

Pick out as many lime leaves as you can.  Taste the soup, checking for seasoning.  Now give the soup a blend until creamy and smooth with a stick blender or in a food processor.


In warm bowls, scattered with freshly chopped chillies and some roasted pumpkin seeds.  A little fresh coriander would also be a delight!

The flavours here do lend themselves to sesame and I have been serving this at Trigonos with sesame bread rolls.

Foodie Fact

Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which means they are cousins to melons, watermelons, cucumbers, squashes.

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of anti-oxidants and minerals, they even contain a good amount of iron and of course, plenty of protein.  Surprisingly China is now the worlds largest pumpkin seed producer.  Who knew!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Real Food – The Sustainable Way

Barefoot Vegan Nov_Dec Lee 1

Read my new article for the beautiful Barefoot Vegan Magazine here.  You just need to quickly subscribe for free.

The way we chose to eat is so important and has huge and far reaching effects on the environment and the world in general.  In the article I discuss practical ways of eating and cooking in a more sustainable way.

Join the Natural Revolution

Have a wonderful week!



Categories: Environmentalism, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Press, Sustainability, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mango and Coconut Lassi

Mango and Coconut Lassi - a taste of tropical India in rural, autumnal Wales

Mango and Coconut Lassi – a taste of tropical India in rural, autumnal Wales

A quick and delicious breakfast for us this morning.  The perfect antidote to a very grey day in Wales, some tropical flava!  We managed to pick up/ save some very ripe mangoes recently and have been trying out coconut water, which seems like a bit of a craze at the minute.  Mangoes and coconut, beaches and palm trees, a little escapism from the dark nights and storms of our little hillside retreat.

A lassi is something like an Indian milkshake that comes in many varieties, basically salty or sweet, but there are so many ways this yoghurt based drink can be enjoyed.  Salted lassi is lovely, normally flavoured with a little ground cumin.  Lassi’s are easily made vegan with the addition of non-dairy milk and vegan yoghurt, both are best used unsweetened we find.  You can then control which and how much sweetener you choose to use, if any.  The mango and coconut water are already sweet here and any sweetener is really only needed to give the sweet tooth a little treat.


We’ve eaten mangoes all over the world, but have to say that the best are Indian.  I don’t think any other country reveres a fruit quite like Indians with their mangoes.  Maybe the French with grapes?!  Italians with tomatoes?!!  Brits with apples?!! Its out there for discussion.  Surely having a mango tree in your garden is a sign of very good karma though!  Especially in Wales!!

The sheer diversity of mangoes in India is bewildering and the season is anticipated like the festive season over here.  Mangoes are now very expensive in India, especially certain highly regarded varieties like Alphonso, Badami, Chausa, Dasheri…..there are loads.  Where are you favourite Mangoes from?  Thailand and the Philippines are closely behind India in the mango nirvana stakes for sure.  The ones we bought here were from Brazil(!)

Adding turmeric to lassi’s is an age old remedy for stomach complaints in the sub-continent and we like adding turmeric to anything, such is it’s vibrant health giving properties (not to mention the colour!  WHAM!!  YELLOW!!!)

We are drinking these in autumnal Wales and need no extra chilling.  If you happen to be in a nice hot part of the globe (well done!) you may like to add a few ice cubes to the lassi and decrease the coconut water a little.  You could also freeze your coconut water into ice cubes, this works brilliantly and adds a lovely coco twist to cold drinks.

Other lassi varieties you could try:

Strawberry, Pineapple and Mint, Avocado and Lime, Beetroot and Thyme, Chocolate and Pistachio,  Apple and Chai Spiced…….

You may also like to check out the brilliant Vegan Richa’s recipe for a spicy Thandai Lassi.

How to pick a ripe mango?  Well worth knowing.

Mangoes are such a treat in Wales, they don’t come our way very often.  We think a lassi is the perfect home for a nice ripe mango and a breath of bright tropical air in the early dark nights and rain clouds of beautiful Wales.

Recipe Notes

If are struggling to find coconut water, go for non-dairy milk (like soya or almond) and even straight water will make a good lassi.

If you can get ground cardamom, please do.  Just a sprinkle on the top transforms the lassi.  Cardamom and Indian sweets got together perfectly, but remember that too much can be overpowering.  Lightly sprinkle.

These lassi’s are made without turmeric, so the colour is a little lighter.

Mango and Coconut Lassi (Vegan)

Mango and Coconut Lassi (Vegan)

The Bits – Makes two small glasses

1 mango (peeled and de-stoned)

175ml coconut water

5 tbs dairy free yoghurt

1-2 teas sweetener (we used brown rice syrup)

1/2 teas turmeric (optional)


Pinch cardamom powder

Do It

Pop all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy.  Check the sweetness and you can even add more yoghurt for extra creaminess.

Creamy sweet fruity YUM!

Creamy sweet fruity YUM!


Pour into your finest glassware and sprinkle over a little cardamom and chopped almonds or pistachios for a real authentic India style.

Foodie Fact

Soya is packed full of protein and coconut has amazingly healthy fats.  Mangoes are very high in vitamin A and C……as far as breakfasts go, this is a smooth and tasty winner!

Categories: Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homemade Vegan Mayonnaise

Vegan Mayonnaise

Vegan Mayonnaise

A quick post here, but something quite special.  Have you played with aquafaba yet?  It is a sensation and amazing in so many ways. This very simple vegan mayonnaise is both rich and creamy whilst purely plant based.


Aquafaba is basically the cooking broth of chickpeas or other beans.  It can be used in a whole host of amazing ways, from making vegan meringues, fudge, pavlova and macaroons to a brilliant egg substitute in baking.  See The Vegan Society’s 13 Amazing things to do with aquafaba.   There is also an awesome Facebook page called ‘Vegan Meringues – Hits and Misses!‘ which has thousands of people playing and talking about this bafflingly brilliant ingredient.  Exciting times!

It seems we are only just getting to grips with all of the uses for this aqua faba (Greek for ‘water’ and ‘bean’).  There is much experimenting going on in kitchens across the world.  I know most of my non-vegan friends are really excited about the prospects of converting something so innocuous and plentiful into sensationally light and dreamy cakes and whipped creams.  Even Baked Alaska is now possible, purely plant! (see the brilliant Lucy’s recipe here).

When making things like mayo, dips, hummus etc that call for quite a lot of oil, I normally opt for something a little less expensive.  Extra virgin olive oil is never (and should never be) cheap and is best drizzled unadulterated onto warm bread or salad leaves.  The flavours are so subtle and fragrant that they can be wasted on a dressing or hummus.  My advice, find a decently priced middle of the roader with good flavour but not a hefty price tag.  Rapeseed oil is a wonderful one and if you’re in the UK, its grown and made here and has the most amazing flavour and deep colour.  It’s making quite a comeback.  Many new modern style producers are making rapeseed oil in the same way that high quality olive oil is made.  It shows!  Here are two of the very best Blodyn Aur and  Bennett and Dunn.  Having said all of that, I wouldn’t use these oils here.  Something more neutral like a sunflower oil is perfect.

There are so many ways of flavouring things mayonnaise, blend with roasted red peppers or onion, try it with any combo of herbs, add chipotle chillies or smoked paprika, lime and coriander…….go wild with it!  Have fun……

Here goes our basic, everyday mayo recipe.  Nice amount of vinegar, touch of sweetness and a little kick of Dijon mustard.  After you give this simple recipe a try you’ll never go for shop bought mayo again.

Recipe Note

You may like to add 1 teas lemon juice and reduce the vinegar content.  We don’t normally do this as it is means your mayo won’t last as long in the fridge.  It does taste nice though.

Most vegan mayo lasts a good six weeks after opening, to give you some gauge of how long it will last in the fridge.  Our mayo normally doesn’t make it past a few days.

The Bits – Makes roughly 200ml Mayonnaise

1 1/2 – 2 tbs apple cider/ white wine vinegar

2 tbs chickpea/ bean broth

1 teas dijon mustard

1/2 teas sea salt

1/2 teas sweetener (we use rice syrup)

125 ml neutral oil (like sunflower)


All you need to make glorious mayo

Do It

Add all of the ingredients bar the oil to a narrow cup/ jug (a measuring jug works well).  With a stick blender, blitz the mixture a few times and then gradually drizzle the oil into the jug whilst the blender is running.

The amazing aquafaba makes such a creamy texture

The amazing aquafaba makes such a creamy texture

The mayonnaise will thicken and become white and creamy.  Keep blending, for a minute or two, until the thickness resembles your favourite mayonnaise.

Do not add any further vinegar to the mayonnaise at this stage, it will ruin the thick texture.

You can do this in a food processor if its easier.


You know how you like it!  Although we’ve taken pictures of mayo being served like a dip, its worth remembering that this is predominately oil.  Mayo is always  good spread over some freshly toasted bread and made into a sandwich or Jane’s favourite, with chips (they are French Fries to our American contingent)

Vegan Mayo - How do you like it?

Vegan Mayo – How do you like it?

Foodie Fact

Sunflower oil is light and highly nutritious and can also be used to keep skin moist and hair shining.  It has a good balance of mono and polyunsaturated fats (the good ones) and is also high in vitamins, especially Vitamin A and E, a potent antioxidant.

Unrefined oils, like sunflower, are best in recipes that do not require cooking.  Unrefined means that the nutrients, colour and flavour are still there.  Refined oils are generally more stable at high temperatures i.e. when frying or baking.

We've been on some lovely walks recently up near Snowdon

We’ve been on some lovely walks recently up near Snowdon

The lake beside Plas-y-Brenin, looking down towards Snowdon

The lake beside Plas-y-Brenin, looking down towards Snowdon

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Nutrition, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Come join us for a cooking retreat in beautiful Snowdonia!



I’ll be demonstrating the joys of vegan cooking. Delicious, creative and healthy (with loads of treats along the way).


Jane and I are excited to announce our first full retreat this December at Trigonos, located in beautiful Snowdonia, the retreat centre where I cook.  We’d love to welcome you there for a revitalising weekend with great food and much, much more!  Find details of the retreat below:

Discovering Vegan Cooking – Workshop and Retreat

with Lee Watson, Trigonos Chef

11th – 14th December 2015

The pleasures and benefits of a vegan diet are open to all. This workshop and retreat shows you how.

Join Lee Watson, Trigonos Chef (author of the vegan cookbook ‘Peace and Parsnips’ and presenter of ‘Meat vs Veg’ TV Programme) for a rejuvenating and instructive healthy vegan cooking adventure. The ideal mid-winter, pre-Christmas pick me up!

For further details and a booking form see here.

To reserve your place phone Trigonos 01286 882388 or email

Jane getting to grips with an onion - Udaipur, 2/14

Jane will assisting all weekend and showing us the wonders of juicing and smoothie making.

We'll be cooking some recipes from Peace & Parsnips (our new vegan cookbook)

We’ll be cooking some recipes from Peace & Parsnips (our new vegan cookbook)

You'll be sampling a whole host of vegan treats, from divine Indian curries.....

You’ll be sampling a whole host of vegan treats, from divine Indian curries….. tasty burgers.....

….tasty burgers….. desserts for all!

….to desserts for all and everything in between!

Trigonos is set in stunning lakeside grounds in the heart of Snowdonia

Trigonos is set in stunning lakeside grounds in the heart of Snowdonia

We will be using many vegetables from our farm, all grown using organic principles

We will be using many vegetables from our farm, all grown using organic principles

There will be plenty f time to relax and take in the stunning scenery.....

You are free, with plenty of time to relax, read in the library or take in the stunning scenery

The Nantlle Valley awaits!

There will also be daily gentle yoga and meditation and much more…….. The Nantlle Valley awaits! 



Categories: Detox, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegfest UK Awards 2015 – Last chance to vote!


You may have heard that Peace and Parsnips has been voted in the ‘Best Vegan Cookbook’ category at this years Vegfest Awards.  Its a wonderful accolade for us and we’re very, very chuffed.  Today is the last day that you can vote and every vote counts.  There are loads of amazing vegan cookbooks on the list and its a privilege just to be there.

Anyone can vote and there are load of interesting categories.  Its incredible to see so many vegan/ plant based products, restaurants, chocolate, fashion…..the list goes it.  It just shows how much a vegan lifestyle is growing.  Happy days indeed!


Hopefully see you in London on Sunday 11th October for the Vegfest awards ceremony and a Beach House Kitchen cooking demo and book signing.


Categories: Awards/ Recognition, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Eating for the Earth’ – An article written for the Barefoot Vegan Magazine

barefoot vegan sept_oct issue lee 1I am now a regular contributor to the Barefoot Vegan Magazine, something I am very proud of.  It’s a beautiful online mag, packed with interesting and enlightening articles.  It is a real wealth of insight into the modern vegan lifestyle and I would urge you all to have a look, whether a full-power plant-based shiner or a curious veggie dabbler, there is something for all.  You can subscribe for free here.

You know that we love nature in the BHK and I see that the state of our environment is a major issue of concern for most people.  In ‘Eating for the Earth’ I explore the environmental impacts of Animal Agriculture, the worst polluting industry on the planet (well above the entire transport industry).  Going vegan is the number one way to positively effect our environment.  Just one meal makes a difference.  Our forks are our greatest weapons in combating our negative environmental impacts and what we choose to eat has never been so important.

“Making ethical choices in what we buy, do, and watch. In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than laws.” Mark Bekoff 

There is more, Jane has also written an article for this edition of the Barefoot Vegan.  How cool is that!  Both of us in one shining mag!!!  Jane writes about her work within the Red Tent movement and how it supports women globally.  An empowering article for all women.  Jane started the local Red Tent in North Wales, which has been going for two years and which regularly transforms the Beach House living room into a sea of red fabric and smiling faces.

I hope you get the chance to read the articles and we always love feedback and a chat in general.  You’ll find regular BHK updates on twitter and facebook.  For more information about veganism or going vegan, two amazing resources are The Vegan Society and Veganuary.

If you are in the UK, Jane and I are attending loads of food festivals and doing book signings all over the place.  I’ll be at the Penarth Book Festival doing a talk about compassionate eating and Peace & Parsnips with Anthony Slaughter, Deputy Leader of the Wales Green Party.  We’ll also be down at Vegfest in London on 11th October where Peace & Parsnips has been voted in the ‘Best Vegan Cookbook’ Category.  You can vote here for our book, plus loads of other amazing vegan cookbooks, products, nibbles and restaurants.

Viva Veggies!!!!!  Surely the tastiest way of saving the world!



Categories: Peace and Parsnips, Press, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad – Original Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad - Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad – Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

A rich, zesty and highly nutritious salad that is ideal for an early Autumn lunch.  This is packed with ‘superfoods’ although I think most plant-based foods are superfoods (bar maybe the Jerusalem artichoke, which I love, but lacks much nutritional oomph).  So plants are all superfoods and it seems that being a vegan, no matter what you choose for dinner, your body and mind is going to thrive on it!  That is of course if you keep things natural and whole food.  We are what we eat and I don’t want to feel like a processed vegan hotdog.  Ever.  Just doesn’t appeal!  Radiant health is just one of the coolest things about being a plant muncher.  The other benefits are well documented, many times on this blog.  But I’m a cook, so lets talk food…..

This salad is a filling centre piece dish and can be made even more so by the addition of tofu/ tempeh or even a scattering of pulses/legumes.  To be honest, that’s a little OTT.  This fragrant number is already loaded with nutrition; protein, calcium, iron, vitamins, healthy fats….  For this reason, it is very satisfying and filling.  I love dill, its such a distinct herb that is seldom used.  In this salad it is not overpowering, but mingles in with the other strong flavours.

I love to create salads and toy with texture, colours and flavours.  Salads are the perfect medium to express the freshness and vitality of seasonal produce and tomatoes, carrots, kale are bang on season up here in the wild Welsh hills.  We’ve had a poor year weather wise (you may have heard me mention many times over!) but we’re hanging in there are getting some beautiful cavolo nero and curly kale and down on the Trigonos farm, we have a massive poly tunnel laden with a variety of sensational tomatoes.  Some of which weigh over 1 kg!  All are bursting with sweetness and fragrance.  Experimentation on ways of preserving tomatoes is under way, our own sun dried tomatoes lack one very important element.  So we are going to slowly dry them overnight in the oven, it will take several nights.  Needless to say, this time of year is filled with jar hunting, lots of roasting and creative twists and freezers fit to burst.  I’m a lucky fella to be cooking with such produce on a daily basis.  Thanks to Judy and team for producing the most amazing vegetables and fruits.  A cooks dream!

That's what I call a tom!

That’s what I call a tom!


As mentioned above, we’re in a ‘sea of green’ kale at the minute and not dreaming of complaining.  As we all know, many times over, eating greens is the quickest and most effective way of becoming a super happy wonder being.  It is (sort of) that easy!  Kale is a star for so many incredible reasons:

  • Kale is high in good fats.  Omega 3’s that is.  Good for the heart, brain and can reduce Type 2 diabetes.
  • Kale contains a huge amount of vitamin A.  The highest of any green leaf.
  • Gram for gram, kale has more calcium than milk.
  • By weight, kale has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange.

Eat your greens, live the dream……………

Sea of green. Kale harvest is going very well at

Sea of green. Kale harvest is going very well at Trigonos


(Any Marvin Gaye fans out there?)  The BHK is, of course, not just solely about food.  We do other things and like to keep you abreast of what’s happening in our lives up here on Bryn Teg (Fair Hill), North Wales.   We are going through renovations of the cottage and have recently built a deluxe wood shed, which could comfortably sleep a young family.  We need a lot of wood over the winter!  We have also been building a slate path out the front, all from local slate that we have scavenged and traded for.  Its looking like something out of the Hobbit at the minute.  Quite rustic, but very cool.  Add to that, loads of painting, gardening, oh working for a living and wandering around the hills, our summer has been packed.

We are now starting food festival season and this weekend we have two, Ludlow (Saturday 12th) and Beaumaris (Sunday 13th).  We will be doing cooking demonstrations, all recipes from Peace & Parsnips, and then book signings.  We are really looking forward to kicking things off this year and will be attending a load of food festivals around Britain.  Maybe see you there! (See ‘Contact and Press’, top right of the screen, for more details).

The Nantlle Valley, where we wander and work (looking great with the new heather growth, everything is going purple!)

The Nantlle Valley, where we wander and work (looking great with the new heather growth, everything is going purple!)

We have been sharing a much more on Twitter and Facebook these days and this has meant a few less BHK posts.  Its nice to mix things up a little!  Although Instagram is a step too far at the moment (I don’t have a mobile phone!)

This recipe has also recently featured in Your Healthy Living Magazine and posting it was inspired by Janice over at the wonderful Nourished by Nature blog, celebrating plant based food and natural health magic!  Thanks Janice.

This salad is great warm, just don’t let the rice cool fully and watch all those flavours come to life!  You can play around with the veggie components of this salad and keep it seasonal.  We are using sorrel loads at the moment, it growing in patches all over the garden and even likes to grow in the cracks in or front garden slates.  I can think of worst ‘weeds’.  Sorrel is delicious.  ‘With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue, the only thing I ever got from you, was …….’

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

The Bits – For 4-6

•250g wild rice
•1 carrot, grated (if you have any carrot tops, finely chop them and add)
•5 leaves of curly kale, cut from the stems and very finely sliced
•3 tbsp raisins, soaked for two hours and roughly chopped
•½ a handful of roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
•6 radishes, trimmed and finely diced
•6 sun-blush or sun-dried tomatoes, including any oil, finely chopped
•4 spring onions, finely sliced
•½ a handful of fresh dill, chopped
•½ a handful of chives, finely sliced
•A handful of sprouted mung beans or green lentils

For the dressing

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
•3 tbsp olive oil
•Juice of 1½ limes
•Zest of ½ lime
•½ tsp sea salt
•½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the garnish: •A handful of roasted pistachios
•3 tbsp chopped fresh dill

Do It

Rinse the wild rice in cold water a number of times until the water runs clean. Place in a pan, pour in water to cover by 3cm, then bring to the boil and put a lid on the pan.

Reduce the heat to its lowest possible and cook for 45-50 minutes, until the rice is soft and all the water has evaporated. Fluff up gently with a fork and allow to cool fully. Spreading the rice out on a plate will help here.

To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to mix evenly. Add the dressing, spoon in the rice and combine well.


In shallow bowls, garnished with the extra nuts and herbs.

Foodie Fact

The fats in this salad (oil) and the citrus (lime) will help the body to absorb the nutrients available.  They work in harmon together and carotenoids (part of the Vitamin A family) are fat-soluble and the high levels of iron in the kale are made more available by the acid in the lime.  Not only are they tasty, but all these ingredients are working together to keep our bodies shiny and happy.

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Salads, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls plus the benefits of soaking nuts and seeds

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

Nutty Apricot and Sesame Energy Balls

I love these little energetic things. The perfect way of cramming loads of nutrition and energy into the smallest possible area. These little balls are packed with protein power and full-on flavour and are highly portable! They went down a treat yesterday, I had to share them with you.

Nuts and dried fruits are nutritional power houses and contain vast amounts of good stuff; sugars and fats. The last two should of course be enjoyed in moderation and these little balls are perfectly portion controlled. Unless you make them the size of a cricket ball ( I prefer more of a squash ball size and smaller) then you’ll be getting the optimum levels of everything you need from a revitalising, healthy between meal booster.

I have kept these very simple and natural. No added flavours, just the nuts, seeds and fruit. I like to use seeds primarily because they taste amazing, but they are also less expensive and work just as well as nuts. I used a good mixture of nuts, but you can mix and match with whatever you have handy. Nuts like walnuts, cashews and almonds blend smooth, it is more tough to get a Brazil nut to play ball! This is great when mixed with other nuts, adds a crunchy texture. The same can be said for sunflower seeds, once soaked they blend up nicely, unlike pumpkin seeds which take a little more blitzing action. If you have a high powered blender, non of this really applies, as they will take care of anything you put into them. They’d quite happily blend a bean tin I’m sure (this is an untested theory).

I mention nut soaking quite a lot in Peace & Parsnips, I think its important to know about and can really accentuate the flavour, texture and nutritional properties of nuts and seeds. It takes a little forward planning but is very much worth it. Nutrients are tucked away in our food and in some occasions, are missed by our bodies. They are not available to the body, so we miss out on all the goodness. This is known as the ‘bio-availability’ of nutrients and soaking nuts in water before using them opens up the nutrients to be absorbed by the body. They have known this for thousands of years in India and soaked almonds are promoted within the Ayurvedic diet for a number of health boosting reasons.

Soaking nuts in water, preferably overnight, inhibits the potentially harmful effects of enzymes inhibitors, tannins and toxins in nuts.  Nature doesn’t want seeds and nuts to germinate until the right conditions are present, by soaking nuts and seeds we are creating these conditions.  They literally come to life!  Enzymes are essential to good health, just as important as minerals and vitamins.  Soaking releases more beneficial enzymes that our bodies love.  Most nuts also taste better after they have been soaked, they plump up nicely and become crisp.  We normally soak to order, but you can soak in bulk.  This just means that your nuts need to be dried out a little.  You can do this in a dehydrator or in a low oven.  The nuts can then be stored in a air tight container and used on cereals and salads.


1 – Increase the amount of vitamins, especially B vitamins

2 – Produce greater levels of beneficial enzymes

3 – To make digestion easier

4 – Allows easier absorption of protein

5 – To limit enzyme inhibitors, tannins and potentially harmful toxins

We soak nuts in warm water and some people add a little salt.  Cover the nuts and leave them overnight, between 7 – 24 hours is best.  That’s it!


Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is one of our favourite ingredients.  A wonderful source of vegan creaminess that creeps into dressings, sauces, stews/ curry’s or mixed with jam/ molasses/ maple syrup and lathered on toast and crackers.  Tahini normally comes in light and dark varieties, dark has a much more toasted, full flavour.  Its not only the delicious aspects of tahini that are attractive, nutritionally its a proper superstar, its is actually one of the best sources of calcium found in nature and also keeps your skin vibrant and muscles toned.  It contains 20% protein which is higher than most nuts and is high in very good fats of the unsaturated variety.   See our Foodie Fact below for more nutritional bits and pieces.

Feel free to sweeten them as you see fit (taste the mix before rolling up) but I think they are mighty fine with just the apricots.  Good dried apricots will not be bright orange.  Try and get some un-sulphured apricots, they are out there and well worth the effort and slightly higher expense.  Hunza apricots especially (from Afghanistan) are really interesting.  If you are living in an area where loads of apricots grow, you could dry your own and even use the kernels instead of nuts or seeds.  Apricot kernels are delicious and becoming quite popular in the UK.

We love to play around with combinations of nuts, seeds and flavourings. The possibilities are huge and its much more satisfying and cheaper to make these at home. The main thing is having a dried fruit to bind everything together, normally soaked so that they break down nicely into a sticky paste. Then add nuts and seeds to the equation, any type that takes your fancy and flavour with things like citrus zest, cocoa/ cacao, rose water, orange blossom water, vanilla extract, pomegranate molasses, spices……etc.  Energy balls are a medium for a healthy snack charged with all the nutrition we need when leading an active and healthy life.

Nice sticky mix

Nice sticky mix

The Bits – For 12-15 energy balls

300g mixed nuts and seeds (soaked in water for at least 7 hours beforehand.  I used cashew, walnuts, brazils and sunflower seeds)

150g dried apricots (soaked in water for at least 1 hour before hand)

4 tbs toasted sesame seeds

2-3 tbs light tahini

2-4 tbs sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup etc)

Do It

Drain your nuts and place in your blender/ food processor.  Blend them for a minute of so, scraping down the sides of the blender a few times.  Add the drained apricots and continue to blend until a chunky paste is formed.  You can keep the apricot soaking water, its lovely and sweet.  The mix should be sticky, you will be able to form small balls with  it between our fingers.  Stir in the tahini and sweetener (if using).

Pour the sesame seeds onto a plate and spread out.  With damp hands (stops the balls sticking to your fingers) take a roughly squash ball sized amount of mix (3-4 tbsp) and roll in your palms into a ball.  Pop it onto the plate and roll in the sesame seeds.  Apply a little pressure when doing this to make them stick.  Place the finished ball onto a serving plate.  Repeat until all the mix is used up.

These energy balls will firm up in the fridge and keep well in a plastic container out of the fridge.   Of course, they will not be lasting that long…..!


These type of energy balls are designed to be portable and travel perfectly.  They are especially good sustenance when exercising, down the gym or hiking.  They are a boost anytime and sometimes I like to nibble one before a busy day in the kitchen.  Intensely nutritious and easy to roll.

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls

Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls – a simple variation with walnuts, sunflower seeds, cacao, coconut and vanilla extract

Foodie Fact

Tahini is a great friend of the BHK.  Very high in many vitamin B’s and vitamin E.  It also contains lot of minerals like iron and potassium and contains chemicals that help our liver detox.  Tahini is alkaline which makes it easy to digest and helps with weight loss.  As mentioned above it is very high in protein and even higher in calcium.  Try a scoop of tahini in the morning instead of dairy products and you are covering yourself for calcium and a healthy raft of other things.


Have you met Cosmos yet? He’s our new garden cat.  You may remember our dear Buster who has moved on…….where to we are not sure>  Cosmos is a character and it’s good to have him hanging out, lying down and occasionally purring.  Cats are great teachers in so many ways.

Cosmos - The new cat on the scene

Cosmos – The new cat on the scene

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Avocados – Friend of Foe! (plus all you need know)



Avocado on toast.  Who saw that craze coming?!  It has swept the UK and has placed the humble avo at the forefront of healthy eating and dairy alternatives.  But many are still a little sceptical about eating it regularly.  Surely one of our favourite exotic fruits in the BHK, avocados are a vegans dream when looking for a healthy dose of richness and a convenient spoonful of heaven.   Avocado is considered a ‘complete food’ due to its amazing nutritional profile.  We love them so much, we felt compelled to write a whole post about them where the glorious AVO takes centre stage…..

Finding a good, consistent supply of avocados in Britain is like the holy grail for a cook.  They can be so hit or miss.  Some are overly ripe, but generally they are as hard as bullets and sometimes never seem to soften up.  Its the avocado lottery and you’re never sure until you cut into one just what you’re going to get.  This makes sense, they are fragile guys, easily bruised and oxidised.  They’ve also come a long way and when we are in Wales (and not Spain, or somewhere else wandering the world) we treat them like rare and precious jewels.  Enjoying them accordingly.

My favourite avocadoes are in Mexico.  I camped in the Michoacan region, actually in a avocado farm and had memorable breakfasts, avocado feasts, sitting happily under a tree with a big spoon and smile.  I find it incredible that we’ve come up with a way to get them all the way to Wales, in tact and generally (most of the time) edible.


Avocadoes are actually classed as a berry, a tree in the same family as cinnamon and bay and are sometimes interestingly called an ‘Alligator Pear’.  They have been used by humans since as early as 10,000BC and are indigenous to Mexico and Central America, although are now grown all around the world; from Spain to Vietnam, the Philippines to Rwanda.  In Britain we only became aware of the avo in the 60’s when Sainsbury’s began stocking avocado pears.  This could explain the sudden rush from avocado coloured bathroom suites (which are actually coming back into fashion).

The avocado tree needs a climate without frost and little wind, although the Hass variety can put up with temperatures below zero.  The ‘Hass’ is now the most popular tree in cultivation, accounting for 80% overall, and each one is related to a single Mother tree, grown by a mail carrier named Rudolph Hass in California, 1935.  It is a very productive type and is known as a hybrid Guatemalan. Other varities include Monroe, Bacon, Zutano and Lula.  The word ‘Avocado’ comes from the Spanish ‘Aguacate’ which in turn comes from the Nahuatl ‘Ahuactl’ which was also used to describe testicles.  You can see why!

One of the largest avocado trees in Veracruz, Mexico

One of the largest avocado trees in Veracruz, Mexico


Avocado is a fruit, sporting one of the proudest pips going!  We get 75% of the energy from avo’s via fats.  They are also full of protein and dietary fibre.  Its a brilliant source of vitamins A, some B’s, C, E and K.  It also boasts a load of minerals; potassium, copper, zinc, iron and manganese.

Avo is a fatty fruit, something you don’t see very often.  These fats have put some people of avo, but I think awareness about good fats is spreading far and wide and avo’s are a brilliant source of health giving monounsaturated fats.  These account for around 63% of the overall fat content and our bodies love them.  Polyunsaturated and saturated fats account for the other 20 and 17 percent respectively.

Avocado oil also helps to fight harmful free radicals and assists in the absorption of several essential healthy nutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene.  Folates and Omega 3 Fatty Acids in avocado help to keep the brain healthy and help to combat Alzheimer’s.   Folates also help to reduce the risk of strokes.  Folic acid can also help during pregnancy, aiding the development of a healthy foetus.  Avocadoes also contain anti-oxidants that support the immune system and help revert premature aging as well as enzymes and nutrients that aid digestion by reducing inflammation.


The monounsaturated fats in avo’s contain oleic and linoleic acids.  These are fats that take care of our hearts, regulating cholesterol and helping to fight LDL (lower density lipoprotein) cholesterol and increasing HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol.   This is great news, as LDL leads to furry arteries, which inhibit blood flow increasing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease.  HDL is our friend and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system.

Avo’s also contain something called beta-sitosterol, a plant based fat that reduces LDL cholesterol by blocking absorption from the intestines.  This improves the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol in our blood.  Omega 3 fatty acids are also present in the mighty avocado, which help to regulate blood pressure.  These polyunsaturated fats assist our heart in beating normally, reducing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease.



These friendly monounsaturated fats also speed up our basal metabolic rate (BMR).  This is the rate at which we burn calories when at rest.  Calories keep us ticking over, repairing cells, keeping our body temperature regular, pumping blood.  Eating avocado regularly can actually help us lose weight, contrary to what many people think.  These fats make us less fat.

Avocadoes can be mashed and made into a soothing face or hair mask, as well as a skin scrub.  Avocado oil has all kinds of magical properties, they are high in vitamin E which helps to eradicate free radicals and combat aging, promotes collagen growth and skin elasticity and hydrates the skin.  It can be used as a make up remover and is increasingly being used as a natural alternative in the beauty industry.

Beautifully rich avo's

Beautifully rich avo’s


There are the obvious ones.  Mash them up with a fork and make your favourite guacamole style salad.  Spread them on toast (all the rage in trendy city cafes at the moment).  Add them to smoothies, make ice cream out of them, chop into salads and they are great added as a soup garnish (like they do in Mexico).  Try a Indonesian style avocado smoothie, coconut milk plus avocadoes, blended and then drizzled with chocolate sauce.  Wow!  I’ve even heard of someone baking them, but I am yet to get around to this.  Will we see a baked avocado in this years Great British Bake Off (a tv program to those reading outside of Great Britain).  I doubt it, although would be intrigued to hear Mary’s comments.  In Glasgow, I am sure someone has battered and deep fried one (how did that go btw?)


Toasted Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Raw Courgette Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

Avocado, Apple and Coconut Breakfast Pudding

Avocado and Basil Cheese

Chard, Coriander and Avocado Smoothie


Avocados are best eaten when they have just a little give to them when pressed, although sometime a very ripe avocado is a thing of sheer beauty, this can be a gamble as they can turn very quickly into an over-ripe, blackened mush.  Do not buy avocados with blemishes or black dots on their skins.  They will ripen quicker when kept with apples and bananas, due to ethylene gas.  Some large producers and supermarkets use ‘ethylene rooms’ in order to ripen avocados quickly.

Once cut into, avocados can be kept in a fridge for a few days, best to either squeeze some lemon juice over them and store in a sealable container or wrap tightly in cling film.  Exposure to air is an avocadoes worst nightmare.  Avocadoes turn blackish brown due to their iron content.

The easiest way to peel a ripe avocado is to take out the stone and cut into quarters lengthways, then simply peel off the skin like a banana.  You can also scoop out the lovely fruit with a spoon.

Warning – avocado skins and pips can be dangerous to animals like dogs and cats, cattle, horses, goats and rabbits.  Be careful not to leave them hanging around or pop them into their feeding bucket.


You know the answer after all of that!  It’s highly conclusive, avocados are our supreme amigo!  Friend to the heart, brain, skin, eyes and tastebuds.  They help us maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure and make our skin shine.  They are a meal in themselves and surely one of the finest fruits to be found.  Love thy good fats and eat an avocado a day (keeps the grim reaper at bay).

PS – You have to try that Indonesian Avocado Smoothie.  Its sensational!!!!!

~ If you created the ‘Friend or Foe’ image, or know who did, please let us know and we’ll credit you.  Can’t find you online ~

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Braised Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Tabouleh and my Sisters Cornish Wedding

Braised Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Tabouleh

We’ve just spent a long weekend in beautiful Cornwall at my sisters wedding.  Weddings are always special, but this was especially special!  My own little sis!!!  Cornwall added a spectacular backdrop to everything we got up to.  I had been to Cornwall as a three year old, from which I surprisingly have a load of memories; staying in little farmhouse B and B’s, the intense smell of fresh manure, cream teas and the iconic Cornish lanes, where vegetation rises high above and it seems like all the roads are cut out of massive bush!  Its certainly a part of the world that leaves an impression.

My sis Laura and her new hubby Paul stayed in the most stunning little wood cottage almost on the beach, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and raging, white surf.  We all said that it seemed like South Africa or Australia, we couldn’t believe that these kinds of coastlines existed in our little island.  The surfers were loving it and there seemed to be a gang of pirates having a fire just down the beach.

The Watson family, all smart and ready for the wedding ceremony

The Watson family, all smart and ready for the wedding ceremony

My sis’s ceremony was on the beach and was a beautiful spiritual affair, although not ‘religious’, we revelled in the beauty of nature and the good things we all share; love, compassion, hope and freedom.  We also ate some sensational vegan food, prepared by the awesome Annie (who worked her socks off).  It was a Middle Eastern/ Southern Med style buffet, something Annie was vastly experienced in.  It showed.  Spicy carrots, green cous cous, fresh pitta, roasted pepper and almond puree, smokey aubergine salad and piles of crispy borek (with spinach and pine nuts).  Jane and I thought we’d died and gone spinning into a Lebanese form of nirvana.  I have rarely enjoyed food so much and the backdrop of the Cornish coastline, surrounded by our nearest and dearest, just added to the experience.

Laura and Paul in their little paradise cottage, Cornwall

Laura and Paul in their little paradise cottage, Cornwall

Jane and I drove our old Peugot estate, Hooty, down to Cornwall and camped in Hay on Wye for a night (central Wales), a real hot spot for second hand book shops and, as it turned out, vegan food.  Wahee!  The perfect combo. I love a good second hand bookshop, the smell alone transports me to a place of wonder and excitement.  I picked up a couple of antique books, precious heirlooms.  We also went to the amazing Old Electric Shop, a space for old vintage clothes, records and interior stuff as well as vegan food.  When Jane and I walked in, they were playing one of our favourite tunes at the moment, ‘Better Days’, we felt right at home immediately.  We missed out on their lovely looking lunch menu, we had to hit the road, but it all smelled amazing and their vegan cakes proved to be a full power breakfast as we took on the Glastonbury traffic.  We hope to go back to Hay on Wye this winter to go deeper into the bookshops and explore the beautiful local scenery.

We’re still on a high after getting back late last night and thought we’d share something in keeping with our awesome weekend in the beautiful south of England.  Here is a recipe taken from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ that would please anyone who has a passion for the cuisine of the Southern Med:

Tabouleh is a proper southern Med classic. Combined with great olive oil and sweet roasted cauliflower it makes a substantial salad. I love the spice mix baharat – if you can find it, substitute it for the ground spices. I like to use pomegranate molasses in the dressing – it gives a funky reddish tinge and has a sticky tang all of its own. For a special occasion, go the whole hog and sprinkle over herbs, baharat, pomegranate and chopped toasted almonds. Gluten-free option: replace the bulgar wheat with millet.

The Bits – For 4-6
100g Puy lentils
1 bay leaf
220g bulgur wheat, rinsed in cold water
about 450ml boiling water or veg stock
1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets, roughly 2cm in size, stalks finely diced (waste nothing!)
a large pinch of ground cumin
a large pinch of ground coriander
a large pinch of sweet paprika
a large pinch of ground turmeric
a small pinch of ground cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
4 spring onions, finely chopped
½ a cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and finely diced
1 tbsp great olive oil
½ a handful of dried apricots, soaked for 2 hours, then drained and finely chopped
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
seeds from 1 small pomegranate
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

For the garnish
4 tbsp pomegranate seeds
a handful of chopped fresh parsley and mint

For the Pomegranate Dressing
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses or juice of 1 large lemon
zest of ½ a lemon
1 clove of garlic, peeled and well crushed
a small pinch of dried mint
a small pinch of sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Do It

Put the lentils into a pan and cover with water. Leave for 5 minutes, then pick out any floating lentils. Drain, cover with fresh water, and add the bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring and checking the water level (add more if needed). The lentils should be springy, but cooked. Drain if necessary, though there should be very little liquid left.

Put the bulgur wheat into a large bowl and pour over the boiling water or stock, enough to cover it by about 2cm. Tightly cover and leave for 30 minutes. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and cool.

In a frying pan, heat the oil on a high heat, then add the cauliflower and begin to fry. Stir regularly and cook for 10–12 minutes. Once the cauliflower has softened and the edges are slightly charred, sprinkle over the ground spices and salt and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring well. Cover and leave to cool. The cauliflower should be nicely coated with the spices.

For the Pomegranate Dressing simply whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Add three-quarters of the lentils to the bulgur wheat, along with the cauliflower, herbs and the rest of the ingredients, then pour over the dressing and mix gently together with your hands until well combined. Place in a wide, shallow serving bowl and spread out evenly. Sprinkle over the remaining lentils and garnish with pomegranate seeds and herbs.

The beautiful North Cornish coastline

The beautiful North Cornish coastline

Quick Peace and Parsnips update – we’ve recently been in Reveal Magazine, Daily Mirror Magazine and the Waitrose Weekend.  The Vegan Life Magazine has just done a review which says its ‘…..probably the best looking vegan cookbook we’ve seen.’  Which makes us smile.  Also, thanks to all who have left positive feedback on Amazon, Waterstones, Chat Rooms, etc its amazing to hear what you all think and to see people cooking the recipes makes all the effort of writing the book more than worthwhile.  Viva Veggies!

Catch up with us this Saturday 4th July at the Newcastle Vegan Festival, where Jane and I will both be doing talks and then in Flat White cafe in Durham on Sunday 5th July at 10am for a book signing with perfect vegan coffees.

Cover of Peace and Parsnips

Recipe originally posted on the brilliant Happy Foodie site.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chermoula – Vibrant North African BBQ Saviour

Flamegrilled Vegetables with Chermoula (Recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

Flame-grilled Vegetables with Chermoula (Recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

Its that time of year when we dust of the BBQ and get things fired up.  A major part of BBQ season is what we choose to lather on our lovely smoky, charred dishes.  Something that can enliven and surprise, compliment and cut through all those powerful flavours.  Chermoula is a zesty, vibrant thing that compliments BBQ food perfectly.  A marinade/ sauce from Northern Africa, I first encountered it in Morocco and couldn’t quite believe what was happening in my mouth!  Its so full of citrus, herby freshness; the perfect antidote to the richness of a BBQ feast.

I think chermoula goes well with anything, it can light up a veggie tagine for example, especially if its made with squash or dried fruits.  The sweetness, with the zingy chermoula is a treat.  It can be stirred into warm Moroccan style grain salad made with cous cous/ millet et al and traditionally is used as a marinade.  Cover some tofu or tempeh in chermoula and leave overnight in a fridge and let this magic green sauce do its work.  I love things that look as good as they taste and Chermoula adds a splash of life to any plate.


I like to use a pestle and mortar when I can.  Its such a lovely piece of kit and there is something very wholesome about grinding your own spice mixes and condiments.  Yes, its a bit more elbow action than a food processor, but I have a sneaking suspicion that good food was not meant to be easy or convenient.  Sometimes, it takes a bit of work and is always rewarding.  If you are making a lot of chermoula, do it in batches, an overfilled pestle and mortar is not a pretty site (as it splashes all over your lovely kitchen counter like a Jackson Pollock painting).  I’d recommend popping it on a folded kitchen towel or something like that, this stops the P+M scooting around the place.  Also, food processor is a name that I struggle with.  It sounds a little industrial for my liking.  I like ‘whizzer’ or ‘blitzer’.

Here is the recipe from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ where I combine Chermoula with Flame-grilled Veggies (see below, I serve this dish regularly at Trigonos) and Raw Cashew Hummus, ideally all wrapped cosily in a warm flat bread.

Down at Trigonos right now, we have a heap of coriander coming from the poly-tunnels.  Along with a whole host of other herbs.  I am using them up in dressings and sauces like chermoula, the picture below contains more ‘erb than normal.  You can really play around with it, a thick chermoula is a delight if you are lucky enough to have a heap of coriander.

Chermoula!  North Afircas answer to a tasty BBQ

Chermoula! North Afircas answer to a tasty BBQ

The Bits – 1 small bowlful

1 teas coriander seeds (1/2 teas ground coriander)

1 teas cumin seeds (1/2 teas ground cumin)

100g fresh coriander

50g fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

2 tbs lemon juice

2 teas lemon zest

8 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Salt (as needed)

Toasting your own spices means so much more aroma and enjoyment!

Toasting your own spices means so much more aroma and enjoyment!

Do It

Dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small frying pan on a medium high heat for about a minute (they will pop).  Keep them moving and make sure they don’t burn or they will become bitter.  Tip the seeds into a pestle and mortar and grind them down into a powder.  Now add all the ingredients (except the oil) and continue pounding and stirring, then drizzle in the oil.  The chermoula should resemble a thin sauce, so add more oil if needed.  Put in a bowl and set aside.

If you don’t have a pestle and mortar and are using pre-ground spices, blending the ingredients together in a food processor/ blender is fine.  Just drizzle the oil in , as above, until you get the desired consistency.

Gorgeous peppers getting a griddling

Gorgeous peppers getting a good griddling


See above, with an array of vegetables or use liberally as a marinade for the perfect BBQ!

Foodie Fact

Coriander (or Cilantro) is a beautiful plant, filled with amazing nutritional properties.  There are  many different types of coriander and at Trigonos, Judy grows a very small leafed, but intense coriander, which looks a lot like dill.  It’s a delight to cook with and sets this particular chermoula alight!

Coriander seeds are a great source of iron.  They also have good amounts of vitamin C, copper and plenty of dietary fibre.  There are even some

Categories: Dressings, Healthy Eating, photography, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

World Meat Free Day Today! Is meat production costing the earth?

Today is World Meat Free Day  ‘One Small Step For Our Planet’!  I’ve been reading a lot this morning about the negative effects of the global industrialised animal industry.  There is no easy way around it, it is shockingly bad for the environment.  I don’t want to say too much about it really, the figures speak for themselves.  Here are just a few eye opening facts. Presently, our taste for meat is costing us the earth:

  • According to scientists at the World Bank, animal agriculture is responsible for over 50 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (AGHG) produced world-wide, making animal agriculture responsible for more AGHG than all forms of transportation combined and tripled.
  • Animal agriculture is responsible for more deforestation that any other industry in the world.
  • Animal agriculture uses more fresh water than any other industry in the world, which contributes to water scarcity.
  • Animal agriculture is the world’s largest polluter of fresh water.
  • In the United States, on-the-job injuries among slaughterhouse workers are three times higher than in other factory jobs.
  • And, according to a recent report by the United Nations, 70 percent of all diseases in humans are linked to animal agriculture.
  • Everyday, 10,000 children die from starvation and one billion people suffer from malnutrition.  In the U.S. alone, the amount of grain fed to livestock could feed 840 million people per year.

Taken from this article on the Vegan Future Now site. One meat-free day makes a lot difference.  One vegan day takes it a huge step further in the right direction!  If you are thinking about becoming vegan, or taking steps towards a vegan lifestyle, check out the Vegan Society site for a huge amount of helpful advice/information.  Their 30 day vegan pledge is an excellent resource to support anybody interested in giving it a go.

Changing the way we eat will change the world for the better and create a brighter future addressing; world hunger, water scarcity, deforestation, climate change, water pollution and many other escalating environmental disasters. Drop the quarter pounder and pick up a Portobello and Pecan Burger instead this World Meat Free Day!

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Plantain Breakfast Burrito with Pico de Gallo


Plantain Breakfast Burrito with Pico de Gallo (Original Recipe from Peace and Parsnips)

Here’s the perfect Saturday morning Burrito packed with colours and all the flavours we love from Mexico.  If you can’t get your hands on a plantain, use potato instead and cook it for a little longer.

I spent six months in Mexico quite a long time ago now, driving around from North to South. The food memories (and parties) have always stayed with me.  In fact, you could say that a street taco changed my life!  It certainly changed my ideas about food and what constitutes ‘good food’ or ‘fine dining’.  I ate some of the best food of my life, huddled under a light bulb on a street corner or hanging out at a 24 hour taco stall.  Maybe it was all that Corona, but Mexico was one long feast and my eyes were opened to the complexity of Mexican food and its distinct regional influences.

Burritos are something we all know and are very much a meal in a wrap.   There are so many ways to fill a burrito, but in the morning, when you’re looking for something a little bit different, a plantain is a very versatile and nourishing amigo.  It brightens up your day from the very beginning!

This recipe and others from Peace and Parsnips were posted yesterday on the Hello! Magazine website, the article was all about Beyonce and her new vegan venture.  Maybe Beyonce would like a Burrito for brekkie tomorrow!  Check it out.

Taken from Peace and Parsnips:

Most of us need a quick breakfast that is easy to prepare, and burritos are ideal. In Mexico, home of the burrito, breakfast differs from lunch in only minor detail – restaurants serve dishes almost identical to any other time of day. Pico de gallo is a classic, and easy enough to assemble for breakfast – although having a bowl of pico de gallo in your fridge is never a bad idea at any time of day. It can be found all over Mexico and Central America and bizarrely translates as ‘beak of rooster’. If you’re not serving your burrito with pico de gallo, I recommend mixing some fresh coriander leaves and tomatoes into the filling. Qué rico!

The Bits – F0r 4
2 large green plantains
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely diced
240g firm tofu or tempeh, well drained and mashed with a fork
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon oregano
1-2 green chillies, deseeded and finely sliced Oalapeiios would be perfect)
a large pinch of sea salt
4 large whole wheat tortillas (must be fresh – stale tortillas will crack when rolled – and they dry out very easily, so keep them covered: gluten-free tortillas are available)

Do It

Make the pico de gallo. Peel the plantains with apotato peeler, then halve them lengthways and chop them into lcrn chunks. In a large frying pan, heat half the oil on a high heat, then add your plantains and toss well. They will become nicely caramelized. Stir them regularly to prevent them sticking and remove when they have some nice crisp brown bits – roughly 5-7 minutes. Set aside, uncovered.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan. On a high heat, saute your onions and peppers (that’s posh frying) and stir well. After 5 minutes, when they are beginning to caramelize, add the tofu, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, oregano, chillies and salt. Cook and stir for a further 5-7 minutes, adding 1tablespoon of water to ensure the spices are not sticking to the base. Now stir in the cooked plantains and check the seasoning. Cover and set aside.

Wipe out the frying pan with kitchen roll and warm your tortillas for a minute on each side (or you can warm them beforehand on a medium grill). They should be just warmed through, fragrant and still soft and pliable. If they are too toasted, they break when wrapping.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of plantain filling into the centre of each tortilla and top with 2 tablespoons of pico de gallo. Fold in the two opposing edges, pressing gently down, then roll the whole thing over. A burrito is like a tucked-in wrap, a fat tortilla parcel if you like.

Salsa verde is also amazing lathered over burritos or served on the side. Serve these burritos warm, with more fresh chillies or chilli sauce. POW!

Categories: Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

Baingan Bharta (Minced Aubergine Curry)

This curry is perfect for a Saturday curry festival.  I love BB, its surely one of my favourite Indian dishes and is always a delight.  This is one of those recipes that I will surely be cooking for the rest of my days.  When we look at Indian recipes, they can look a bit long, but most of the ingredients are spices and when you break it down, this is a very straightforward recipe and packed with gorgeous smoky flavours.

Baingan Bharta is eaten all over India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.  Its like an Indian version of Babaganoush (or is Babaganoush a Mediterranean version of BB?).  There are many variations, they use plenty of mustard oil in West Bengal of course and it is eaten in many parts of the sub-continent at weddings.  Brinjals (Aubergine) in India normally come in quite a small size, but its alot easier and convenient in Europe to use the larger varieties of aubs for this dish, more delightful aubergine flesh and less skin to deal with.  You can imagine that traditionally, a warm flatbread is the best accompaniment to this dish.


Some would call BB a dip, but I cannot get to grips with the word dip.  Especially for something so majestically tasty as BB or Babaganoush.  I always think of a supermarket bought ’90’s style dip medley’ (those four shades of dodgy dips that come in plastic trays) and these dishes are light years away from that kind of fare.  BB has serious heritage and is a feast in puree form.

Because aubergine breaks down so much when cooked, this seems like one (only one I may add) of the finest ways of treating an aubergine.  In Turkey they do amazing things to aubergines and its known as the ‘Sultan’ of vegetables.  In Wales we’ll call it the ‘Tribe Leader’ of vegetables!  I made a version of Babaganoush a couple of days ago and will post it somewhere soon.  You can never have too much aubergine on one blog!  Impossible!!


I like to caramelise the aubergine in the pan, making it stick to the bottom a little.  A crust will form, this is fine and adds to the richness and depth to the sauce.  Just make sure that it doesn’t burn too much!  As with so many recipes, the pan scrapings are the best bits for making sauces/ gravy, basically concentrated flavours.

Traditionally Baingan Bharta is made a little like Babaganoush in that the aubergines are cooked over open flames.  Unfortunately, in the Beach House Kitchen we have an electric hob.  No open flames, so this technique is a decent option and more straightforward.  It also means that you get the benefits of all the goodness found in aubergine skins.

If you are getting a BBQ going this summer, I cannot recommend smoking a load of aubergines highly enough.  The flavour is wonderful and you can always freeze any excess aubs.  This gives you the base ingredient to make either of these delicious vegan dishes.  I mentioned on twitter recently that there is nothing as decadent as a well roasted aubergine and a few of you commented that you can probably think of a few things slightly more decadent.  This is probably true!  But aubergines to me are a sensational veg, especially for a vegan.  They have so many qualities, a wonderful vegetal creaminess and when mixed with something rich like olive oil or tahini, for example, I’ve got one foot in Nirvana.


Genetically Modified (G.M.) crops are becoming a huge problem in India as large multi-national agriculture businesses, with a myriad affiliates and branches, try to introduce GM crops to India.  There are many people fighting against this unnatural invasion, one of the main spokesperson in Vandana Shiva.  In 2011 to protest against the introduction of GM Brinjal (Aubergine) into India, the Meridien Hotel and Greenpeace volunteers in Delhi cooked a world record 342 kilograms of organic aubergine and presented a portion of the dish to the president at the time, Manmohan Singh.  A very tasty protest!


Its a lovely day up here on Tiger Hill and Jane is facilitating a Feminine Workshop, so I am home alone.  Jane has been working really hard on her new website this week, Womans Wheel.  It looks beautiful!  I’m off for a walk up ‘Myndd Mawr‘ (Big Mountain, also called Elephant mountain because it looks like a massive sleeping Elephant or ‘Yr Eliffat’) and will then plant Percy, our new Snowdon Pear Tree in the garden.  We’ve picked a nice sunny spot for him.  I’m also making tofu today and am seeking a nice firm tofu texture.  I’m going for a different salt to coagulate the beans and hopefully this will help.  Homemade tofu is really easy and cost effective, I’ll post the recipe soon.  Anyone got any top tips for homemade tofu?

Jane at the base of Snowdon with Mynydd Mawr in the background

Jane at the base of Snowdon with Mynydd Mawr in the background


We had a delicious meal at Jo Pott’s last night.  Each month Jo puts on a fantastic five course menu, served in a very cosy and stylish attic space above her cafe in the Kiffin area of Bangor.  Last night, the theme was South Asia and we enjoyed all kinds of traditional delicacies with a twist.  I loved the Aduki, rice and ginger balls and I think Jane was quite taken with the Watermelon and Vodka crush (which I ate half of because Jane was driving).  The Lentil Cakes in Citrus Broth was also really interesting.  Jo’s food is always creative and looks beautiful.  Jo does this every month and the fact that Jane and I could sit down to a 5 course vegan meal in a beautiful space was a real treat.  Nice one Jo!


The Bits  – For 2

2 large aubergines (cut into chunky batons)

3 medium tomatoes (roughly diced)

4 cloves garlic

3 cm ginger (finely chopped)

1 medium onion (finely sliced)


1 teas mustard seeds

2 teas ground cumin seeds (1 teas ground)

3 teas coriander seeds (1 ½ teas ground)

1 teas turmeric

1 teas sweet paprika

1 chilli (finely diced or 1/3 teas chilli powder)

1/2 teas asafoetida


1 -2 teas sea salt

3 tbs oil

125ml water



Fresh coriander (or sprouted lentils as we used)


Do It

On a medium heat, add your coriander seeds to a pan, toast for two minutes and then add your cumin seeds and toast for one more minute, until fragrant and slightly brown.  Bash up well in pestle and mortar.  Use ground spices if you’re in a hurry.

In the same pan, add 2 tbs of cooking oil on a medium high heat and fry the aubergines.  Stir/ toss them regularly and add 1 teas salt.  Cook for 12-15 minutes, until nicely soft and well caramelised.  They will stick to the bottom a bit, but this is perfect.  That crust equals deep flavour.  Set the aubs aside and cover with a plate.

Now put the pan back on the heat and add your tomatoes to the remaining oil on a high heat, stir them well and try to scrape up the aubergine crust to combine with the tomatoes. Fry for around 5 minutes.  Set aside and cover.

Wipe out the pan and add 1 tbs of oil and on a medium heat, fry your mustard seeds for 30 seconds, they will pop a little, then add your onions and lower heat slightly.  Cook the onions until they are becoming golden, 8 minutes, then add your garlic, chilli and ginger, cook for three minutes, then your spices hit the pan, stir them well, not allowing the spices to stick to the bottom, add 1 tbs of water if this happens.  Saute for two minutes and then add your tomatoes, aubergine and 125 ml water and cover cook on a fast simmer for 5 minutes.  Add salt to taste.

Baingan Bharta

Baingan Bharta


We love it with fresh, homemade super simple chapattis (recipe here).  They are really easy once you get into a flow.  We also love Baingan Bharta with pulao and pickles, or with daal, why not go the whole shebang and get a Indian feast together, Beetroot Raita and all.  It is Saturday night almost after all!

One of our new neighbours - Trev

One of our new neighbours – Not sure what to call him yet?  Trev?!  

Foodie Fact

Aubergine is just one of those veggies that has it all, good lucks, charisma, tastiness, and dashing nutritional properties.  I love all veggies and when I learn about their nutritional benefits to body and mind, I get even more excited.

Aubergine has loads of dietary fibre, which is amazing for the digestive system and is one of the most important factors in detoxifying our body.  Vitamins are important, fibre equally so.

Aub is a nightshade, like tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.  Called ‘eggplant’ in many parts of the world, I think the coolest type of aubergine is surely the ‘graffiti’ aubergine, with its purple, speckled skin.

Aubergine is a good source of B1 and B6, potassium, copper and magnesium.

Categories: Curries, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lee’s BBC Radio interviews with Steve Wright and Eleri Sion

I thought I’d pop these on #thebeachhousekitchen as I had such a laugh doing them, it was the first time I’d ever set foot into a radio studio and spoke to a nation!  Quite a day out.  All the people I met were lovely and made me feel very relaxed.  I’ve never had a problem talking (loads) about anything!  Especially veganism, something I’m so passionate about.  They could hardly shut me up!

I ended up chatting about all things vegan, fav foods, chia seeds, healthy eating, nutrition, vegetarian week and ‘Peace and Parsnips’.  I started the day with BBC Radio Wales and Eleri was a real star.  We kicked off with a little ABBA ‘Knowing me, knowing you’ and halfway through the interview we went for ‘Whhhaakkaaan Be Your Hero Baby’ by Enrique Inglesias.  The banter could hardly live up to the tunes, but we tried.  Eleri is the daughter of a cattle farmer and I had little chance of converting her to vegan ways (not that I expected to!) but we had a real laugh and some of Eleri’s questions were quite a surprise.  My favourite of the day was;

‘So Lee, tell us, where is the peace in ‘Peace and Parsnips’?’

I wasn’t prepared for something so deep!  I thought we’d just talk a bit of tofu.

Steve and Janie Lee Grace were very nice and welcoming, the interview was high energy with loads of chat and questions flying around the place. I challenged Steve to a ‘Roast Squash Gnocchi’ (a recipe from the book) which he didn’t fancy much, but I got the impression that they were both open to the idea of vegan food and more veggies in our diets.   I was sandwiched between the guys from ‘Made in Chelsea’ and Gilbert O’Sullivan.  A mixed bag!  I also got my picture taken outside of the BBC building by the paparazzi and touched Elton Johns piano.  Quite surreal times.

Todays cook off - Loads of new tasty recipes for the Beach House Kitchen.

Todays cook off – Loads of new tasty recipes for the Beach House Kitchen.

Click HERE for the Steve Wright interview.

Listen to me chatting with Eleri Sion HERE about vegan wind issues, the joy of plants and PEACE.  I start about 2:05 minutes.

Sunbathing today on Dinas Dinlle, many miles away from a Radio interview!

Sunbathing today on Dinas Dinlle, many miles away from a Radio interview!     PS – This is how we sunbathe up here, wearing jeans and hiking boots.

If you’re not in the U.K. I don’t think you can access these.  Sorry about that.  If you’d like to hear them, Jane’s recorded them on her ZOOM.  We can maybe transfer them across somehow.


Peace and Parsnips has been selling really well and even stormed the Amazon top 20 bestsellers recently.  It is still the number 1 selling Salad cookbook on Amazon and we have plenty more promotional behaviour planned for the summer.  Jane and I are organising some supper club style nights in local cafes and restaurants, I’ll be doing book signings and cooking demos around the country and we may even run a vegan cooking course (with yoga and hiking) this winter.  We’ll let you know. Add all that to tending to our veg patch and cooking up a storm in the BHK and 2015 is looking like a busy one!


If you’d like to win a copy of Peace and Parsnips, have a look here.  Plenty of sparkling veggie books being given away by the great folk over at The Happy Foodie.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Press, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat


Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat – bowls of sun in The Beach House Kitchen

I’m conscious that on a day like today, Monday, time is more precious than at other times of the week.  I am very much, in the same boat.  I made tonight’s soup as easy as possible, but did not want to compromise on deliciousness!  The roasting part here adds unmistakeable sweetness and the bharat brings a spicy edge to the soup.

You may ask the obvious question, “but Lee, you are in a hurry and yet you take pictures of your food and write a blog piece?!”  It does seem like a strange way to behave, I admit this, but such is the ways of the food blogger.  We are those people in the restaurants who unabashedly whip out their camera when presented with a particularly nice slice of cake while the rest of the table pretend they aren’t with you.  Its a passion/ affliction.  Once you blog, you can’t stop……

We are in the middle of some very stormy and chilly days up here in the Beach House and soups seems like a very good idea.  I love the bright colour of this soup, with added radiance from the turmeric.  Its sunshine in a bowl and is a real lift when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.


We’ve been celebrating a little after the release of ‘Peace & Parsnips’.  Jane and I took a trip down to Criccieth, a local beach and went down to Black Rock Sands for a proper bag of chips.  There is an amazing chippy in Porthmadog that we frequent on rare occasions.  Chips = celebration!  We sat on the flat sands, a rare place where you can actually drive cars around on a beach without the imminent danger of sinking like a stone.  Black Rock Sands reminds me of beaches in Australia, or what I imagine the tip of South Africa to look like. You can look out over maybe a kilometre of flat sand before you see the sea.  A truly beautiful place to scoff chips!

Us.  Catching some well earned rays...

Us. Catching some well earned rays on Criccieth beach


Is basically a spice mix from the Middle East, as well as Turkey and Iran.  Although the ingredients may vary, some usual suspects are: black pepper, cardamom seeds, cassia cark, nutmeg, chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds.  The baharat we use is very much a Middle Eastern style, in Turkey they add a lot of mint and in Tunisia they make a mix with rose petals, cinnamon and black pepper.  There are an almost infinite number of combinations of spice mixes, but most of the baharat sold in large shops in the UK is similar.   More a warming spice mix than a turmeric or chilli driven one.

If you don’t have any Baharat around the kitchen, use the same amount of Rae El Hanout or Garam Masala.  They will add a similar spice kick to the background of the sweet peppers and squash.

This soup is as easy as roasting a tray of very roughly chopped vegetables and blending.

The Bits – For 4 small bowls

1 medium butternut squash – 1kg (cut into 1/4 lengthways)

1 head garlic (skins on)

2 yellow peppers (deseeded)

1 large onion (sliced)

3 teas bharat

2 teas turmeric

2-3 teas salt

Olive oil (for roasting and frying)


Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC.

Grab a large baking tray and rub a little oil over the squash and peppers.  Pop them in the oven for 20 minutes.  Rub a little oil into the garlic cloves and take the tray out of the oven and scatter the garlic cloves onto the tray.  Pop back into the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.  Take the garlic and pepper out, check to see if the squash is nice and soft, if not, put back in for another 10 minutes.  Set the garlic and pepper aside to cool, do the same with the squash once it is lovely and softened.

In a large sauce pan, add 1 tbs olive oil and fry the onion on a medium heat for 6 minutes, until translucent and soft.  While the onions are on, peel the skin off your peppers, garlic and squash.  Chop them all roughly.  Add the spices to your soft onions and stir for a minute, then add the squash etc.  Pour over 1 ltr of hot water and check seasoning (add salt as needed).  Leave it to simmer for 5 minutes before blending the soup with a stick blender or using a food processor (leave the soup to cool a little beforehand for this).

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat


A nice idea, for added richness is to stir some tahini into the soup.  Tahini is also packed with goodness, so nutritionally the soup becomes a real shiner.  If you are going all out tonight (it is a Monday after all!!!) chop up some coriander leaves and finish with little sprinkle of baharat.

Foodie Fact

Butternut squash is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat.  It is much lower in calories than potato and leaves you feeling nice and full after eating it.  Calories are of course only one part of the dietary picture, counting calories is definitely not our thing (big bags of chips and all!)  You can tell by the colour that its loaded with some good carotenes, which are ace anti-oxidants.  Squash is also good for vitamin C and is high in dietary fibre.

Our car off in the distance, Black Rock Sands, North Wales

Our car off in the distance at Black Rock Sands, North Wales

And who can forget......CHIPS!

And who can forget……the glorious CHIPS!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia) with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia)

Falafels are a simple ‘go to’ in any kitchen, the addition of fava beans changes things up a bit.  Chickpeas are awesome, but fava beans are at least an equal.  They also happen to be indigenous to the UK.

Anyone can eat falafels (almost), no matter what the food allergy or persuasion (carnivore or otherwise) EVERYONE loves a well crafted falafel with lashing of creamy yoghurt and preferably a warm wrap somewhere on the scene.  They are almost always gluten free, dairy free, almost saturated fat free (depending on the oil  usage) but packed with the flavours and textures that we adore.

The idea for Egyptian falafels made with fava beans came from one of my old bosses in London, Henry Dimbleby, and his ever tasty Guardian column.  I used to work with Henry at Leon Restaurants and had a ball down there in the big smoke making healthy food for happy people.  His article claims ‘the worlds best falafel recipe comes from Egypt’, something I whole heartedly agree with.  I had some magical falafels over there in Cairo and surround, having said that, I am yet to visit Lebanon or Israel.  There seems to be alot of competition in the falafel/ hummus stakes in this whole region.  I have heard many a heated debate between various nations over bragging rights to the worlds finest chickpea creations.

Henry’s article is a quest to find the perfect falafel recipe and shows a great deal of passion for the subject.  I remember Leon’s sweet potato falafels bringing about a u-turn in my falafel habits and opinion.  I had once thought them late night, bland and stodgy, kebab shop fodder.  I came to realise that a day without a Leon sweet potato falafel, was a day wasted!

The great British outdoors - Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

The great British outdoors – Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia


Really, they are.  Fava beans have been growing in the UK since the iron age and would have probably been made into bread back then.  Something I’d be interested to try out.  They are Britain’s original bean.  Its strange how these things just come up, but I was in our local shop and saw a new brand Hodmedod’s, I liked the look of them and noticed they were selling Black Badger Peas.  Intriguing stuff.  I bought some and loved their full flavour (like a big pigeon pea, normally used in Caribbean cooking).  British peas and beans.  How marvelous is that!  I then noticed that they do split and whole fava beans and this recipe had to be made.

Split fava beans are perfect in in stews, dips, curries and can easily be made into a very flavourful daal.  They are like lentils in many ways, they don’t need soaking which is perfect if you’re in a wee rush.   Hodmedod’s have got some creative, global recipes on their site HERE.

Henry’s original recipe is brilliant and very easy to make.  I, of course, had a little play and added a few tantalising twist and tasty turns.  I’ve also toned down the oil usage to make them even shinier and healthy.  Hodmedod’s have a really nice looking Egyptian Falafel recipe HERE.

Plenty of variations to try, but I think falafels are so easy and delicious, once you’ve made one batch, you’ll be hooked and want to try them all!

The falafels may seem a little crumbly when yo handle them, but they firm up in the fridge and pan.  The ground coriander and gram flour help with this.  Just “try a little tendernessssssssssss……”

The Bits – For 12 falafels

250g fava beans (soaked overnight, or at least 6 hours, in loads of water)

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion (finely diced)

1 carrot (grated)

1 ½ teas cumin seeds

2 ½ teas ground coriander

1 teas turmeric

1 teas dried mint

½ teas bicarb soda

2 tbs gram (chickpea) flour

1 big handful fresh coriander (soft stems and all – finely diced)

Salt and pepper (to taste)



2-3 tbs sesame seeds

Extra oil for frying


Cucumber Yoghurt Sauce

6 tbs soya yoghurt

1/2 medium cucumber (grated)

½ lemon (zest)

1 tbs lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

½ handful fresh mint leaves (finely sliced)

The carrot mix with all those gorgeous, spicy aromas....

The carrot mix with all those gorgeous, spicy aromas….

Do It

In a large frying pan, on a medium heat, add the oil and warm, followed by the cumin seeds.  Allow them to fry for 30 seconds and then add the onions and carrot.   Stir and cook for 6-7 minutes, until they are soft and just getting caramelised.  Add the ground coriander (not fresh) and turmeric to the pan, stir in and warm it all through for a minute.  Take off the heat and leave to settle and cool a little.

Once cooled, add the carrot mix and the rest of the falafel ingredients to a food processor/ blender and blitz until almost smooth, but still ‘grainy’ and coarse.  This will take a few goes, you will need to scrape down the side of your blender with a spatula.

Scatter the sesame seeds onto one plate and have another clean plate ready.  Using your hands, make small, golf ball sized globes of falafel.  Press them gently down into the sesame seeds, flip them over and get a decent coating.  Pop the finished falafel on your clean plate and continue.  Once the mix is finished, cover the falafels and place them in a fridge for an hour or more.

Mix all the yoghurt ingredients together in a nice bowl.  Check seasoning.  Jane loves lemon, so we are liberal with citrus.

Preheat an oven on a low heat (160oC) and line a baking tray with parchment and pop it in to warm.

Clean out your pan and warm on medium heat, then add roughly 1 tbs of olive oil.  In a large frying pan, you should be able to fit 5-6 falafels comfortably.  Don’t over fill or it becomes fiddly.  Fry the falafels for 2-3 minutes each side.  Using a flat spatula, loosen the falafels a little and flip them over.  They will firm up in the pan, but need be handled gently.  Place the falafels onto the warm baking tray and keep warm in the oven.  Once the batches are finished, leave the falafels in the oven to warm through for 5 minutes.  Moderate the amount of oil in your pan, you will need to add a bit more as the falafels love soaking it up.

Playing the Preserved Lemon waiting game (they take at least four weeks)

Playing the Preserved Lemon waiting game (they take at least four weeks)


We made some Peanut and Lime Hummus (recipe coming very soon) and a big salad to accompany these lovelies.  A warm flat bread would also be nice.  We would serve this with some of our Preserved Lemons, but they need another week.

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt (vegan and gluten free)

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt (vegan and gluten free)

Foodie Fact

Fava beans are used all over the world in dishes, especially in the countries around the Med.  For some reason, they are not so popular in Britain, but I think that is going to change.  Fava beans are more British than baked beans!!!

When legumes grow, they actually enrich the soil with nitrogen, fixing it.  This means that they actually benefit the fertility of the soil as opposed to drain it.  Legumes and pulses are incredible in that respect.

STOP THE PRESS – I’ve just read that Hodmedod’s are supplying British grown Quinoa.  HOORAH!  Quinoa is back on the Beach House menu.

(Just for the record, we only promote products we really like and will say if anyone has sent us freebies.  Hodmedod’s, we just love the whole ethos and have received no bean-based bribes to promote their brilliant pulses.  We want to support the good guys ’tis all!) 

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

PEACE & PARSNIPS – Behind the scenes at the photo shoot

Peace and Parsnips climbed Snowdon recently

Peace and Parsnips climbed Snowdon recently

Only a couple of days until the BIG DAY!!!!! No, I’m not talking about the election (which surely must be a little refreshing), I’m talking ‘PEACE AND PARSNIPS‘!!!!!!!

‘Happy, healthy and hearty – it’s time to cook vegan…discover the delights of eating meat- and diary-free recipes, bursting with vitality and taste. Using fresh produce, Lee celebrates this incredibly healthy way of eating through recipes that are varied, nutritious and utterly delicious. From curries, burgers and bakes to show-stoppers….’

Preparations are almost complete, like Christmas Day, all of the vegan elves and parsnip fairies have been working overtime to get the book ready and on Thursday, all the good veggie (and non veggie) boys and girls of the world will wake to a massive slice of vegan deliciousness.  It’s a real tome, over 350 pages packed with recipes and gorgeous pictures of North Wales, many of which are gluten free (or with options for GF).  Its the full montilado!!!!

Here’s a little look behind the scenes of the shoot where I’m trying to keep my cool in the middle of a heatwave and full on cookathon:

Here’s an interview here:  The Happy Foodie


An article in the lovely Healthista

There will be some very exciting things happening in the press over the next couple of weeks.  Watch this space or twitter (below) for updates.

The first vegan cookbook ever to climb Mount Snowdon - clever thing!

The first vegan cookbook ever to climb Mount Snowdon – clever thing!

I’m new to twitter, but am sharing loads over there; pictures, recipes and all – @lee_the_vegan or check out #peaceandparsnips

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

‘Peace and Parsnips’ on Youtube – Vegan Myth Buster

Peace and Parsnips was a full-on shoot, Sophie and I worked our socks off getting the food looking scrumptious for the camera and Al, the photographer, did the rest….


HERE is our little article about the book.

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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