Posts Tagged With: food

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.

PLAY BALL!
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).

BENEFITS OF SOAKING YOUR NUTS
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.

TOP FIVE REASONS TO SOAK NUTS, SEEDS (AND LEGUMES)

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!

REASONS TO LOVE TAHINI (AND SESAME SEEDS)

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…..!

Serve

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.

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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: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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FRIEND! *

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.

A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON

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

PACKED WITH BRILLIANT FATS AND THINGS TO MAKE YOU SHINE!

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.

HEALTHY HEART

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.

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SPEEDY METABOLISM

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.

BEAUTY TIPS
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

TASTY AVO IDEAS

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?)

TOP 5 BEACH HOUSE AVOCADO RECIPES

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

RIPEN WELL AND KEEP ‘EM FRESH

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.

SO FRIEND OR FOE?

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: , , , , , , , , | 2 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.

TO PESTLE OR TO PROCESS?

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

Serve

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.

IS IT A DIP?

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!!

COOKING TIPS

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.

G.M. CROPS IN INDIA

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!

A RADIANT DAY ON THE HILL

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

JO POTT SUPPER CLUB

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)

Spices

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

 

Garnish

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

Serve

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 ROCKS THE TOP 20

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!

WIN!

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.

rsz_p1250242

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

BAHARAT

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

Serve

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

FAVA BEANS – AS BRITISH AS A BEAN CAN BE

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)

 

Coating

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)

Serve

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

PLUS

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: Books, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , | 2 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….

Mythbustin’…..

HERE is our little article about the book.

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

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Caramelised Garlic with a Red Lentil Sauce (No fuss extravagance)

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Leeks with Caramelised Garlic and Red Lentil Sauce (Quite a mouthful in so many ways!)

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Leeks with Caramelised Garlic and Red Lentil Sauce (Quite a mouthful in so many ways!)

We are really giving it to you here!  A restaurant-ified dish made at home with very little mess and fuss.  Our kind of food!  It also happens to be outrageously good for you.  This is utter, guilt-free indulgence.

These stacks sound quite complex, but are actually anything but. In fact, it would be a good restaurant dish for the same reasons. It’s simplicity. A few ingredients speaking nicely together all wrapped up in a creamy lentil sauce.

If you meet a vegan/ vegetarian who says they don’t like Portobello mushrooms, look them right in the eye and repeat the question very slowly and slightly suspiciously. “Are you sure????” They may be an undercover carnivore. All veggies like Portobello mushroom, they are so flavoursome and have a magnificent texture. They can be used in all sorts of ways to sate even the most ferocious of carnivores. Some whack them in a burger, other use them as a base for stacking fun and games (that’s me).

Hazelnut tofu is not that easily sourced, but you can always use firm tofu instead. I’d recommend marinating it in a fridge for a while.  Press the tofu to get rid of most of the excess moisture and then glug a little tamari (or good soya sauce) over the top. Toss the tofu in the tamari and leave for a couple of hours before use. Hazelnut tofu can be bought in health food shops and the like, it can also be ordered online and is one of Jane and I’s favourite treat bites.

You would like the lentils quite thin, it is a sauce by name after all. Add a little more water to make it the consistency of a thick gravy.  Leeks, how we have missed them. Most of our recent dishes have revolved around the mighty leek.  Wales does many things well; sunsets, leeks and hail stones and you can only eat one of them.

Cookin' up a stack!

Cookin’ up a stack! (Fleece essential)

The Bits – For 2 (as a big plate) or 4 (as a little plate)

Red Lentil Sauce

1 tbs olive oil

3 garlic cloves (peeled and finely sliced)

2 tomatoes (roughly chopped)

200g red lentils (well washed and rinsed)

1/2 teas dried thyme

750ml water

Leek Greens (finely sliced, see below)

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Stacks

1 pack hazelnut tofu (roughly 250g, cut into 8, 1 cm thick slices)

4 large Portobello Mushrooms

2 leeks (washed well, green part cut off and finely sliced, white part cut length ways into quarters and then sliced into 4, 3 inch pieces/ chunks)

1 whole head garlic (seperated into individual cloves, skins still on.  Use three of the cloves for the lentil sauce)

A good drizzle of olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Garnish

Something green (preferably a little fresh thyme, parsley or even finely sliced spinach – as I used here)

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Do It

Wash your lentils well, cover them with fresh water and drain.  Keep doing this until the water is clear.  Grab a medium sized saucepan and add 1 tbs oil, warm on a medium heat and then add the sliced garlic, stir and fry for a minute, then add the chopped tomatoes, stir well.  Pop a lid on and allow to bubble on a fast simmer for 5 minutes.

Now add the lentils and water, turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Drop a lid on and lower the heat to a steady simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Stir in the leek greens and the thyme, place the lid back in and cook for a further 20 minutes.  Adding more water to make thick, gravy like consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Keep warm.

Preheat and oven to 180oC.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment, drizzle over a little oil and rub over the tray with your hand.  Then lay out all of your veggies onto the tray, including the tofu.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, remove the mushrooms and tofu, turn over the leeks and garlic, place them back into the oven for 10 minutes (if they need them, they should be nice and soft with the occasional caramelised hue).

Assembly job – in a warm serving dish (or you can serve each stack individually on warm plates).  Cut your tofu in half lengthways, pop the garlic out of their skins (they should not need much encouragement).  Now place two pieces of leek and two cloves of garlic onto a mushroom and top those with four nice slices of tofu (criss-crossed looks cool).  You can put these back in the oven on a low heat to keep warm until serving.

Serve

Pour a thick layer of lentil sauce over your serving dish/ plate and gently place one of your towering stacks on top.  Sprinkle with something green, a little more seasoning with salt and pepper and a slight drizzle of good olive oil.

Stacked P........YUM!

Stacked……..YUM!

Foodie Fact – Leeks

Leeks can be a little overlooked from a nutritional point of view, their more popular cousins the onion and garlic get all the attention.  This means there isn’t as much nutritional info out there about them.  However, we know that leeks are champions of Vitamin K (see our last article, No-Knead Everyday Loaf, for more on ‘K’).  We also know that they are high in Manganese (good for bones and skin) and Folates (Vitamin B’s that keep our cardiovascular system in order).

Probably the most interesting thing  about Leeks are their history.  They originate from Central Asia (not Wales) and were highly revered by the Romans, in fact Emperor Nero used to eat alot of leeks to help give him a strong voice.  Leeks were in fact introduced to the UK by the Romans and are probably most famous for being worn in the helmets the Welsh army, who defeated the Saxons in 1620.

Read more excellent nutritional info here.

Jane on a walk in the hills, the gorse is right out in bloom (lovely honey smells)

Jane and I on a walk in the hills, the gorse is right out in bloom (lovely honey smells)

Follow all the Beach House Kitchen shenanigans and updates on whats going on with the new book Peace and Parsnips on Twitter.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Healthy Eating, Photography, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Peace and Parsnips’ is really taking off!!!!

'Peace and Parsnips'  our new cookbook, taking off!

‘Peace and Parsnips’ our new cookbook, taking off!

 

We went up to the top of Tiger Hill and it turned into a full power ‘Peace and Parsnips’ fest, with various pictures of me goofing around with our brand new cookbook (out on May 7th!).  Forgive Jane and I, we are little excited about it all.

Our friend Shira was amazing at catching me in mid air, looking like I’d just been dropped out of a passing plane.

I also went back to cooking at Trigonos Retreat last week, which is always a real pleasure.  You could call this my day job, cooking vegan fare for meditators and yoga folk.  I am a very lucky chap indeed.  It is the place where many of the cookbook recipes were tried and tested.

Playing with food, back cooking at Trigonos Retreat Centre, Nantlle, Wales

Playing with food, back cooking at Trigonos Retreat Centre, Nantlle, Wales

Once more, just for kicks.....

Once more, just for kicks…..

rsz_p1170801

‘Peace and Parsnips’ is coming to get yaaaaaah! (Its all in the hips)

We’re also sticking loads of new Beach House Kitchen stuff on Twitter and Facebook.  Check.  It.  Out.  Xxxx.

If you haven’t bought the book yet (tuttututututututututtttttuuuut), HERE is a great place to pre-order your very own copy for a superbly reasonable price.  Over 200 vegan/ gluten free recipes straight from the Beach House Kitchen.  How cool is that!  Priceless…..  The books contains chapters like: Nuts About Nuts!, The Vegan Larder, Eating from soil, shoot or branch, Seasonality, A Very Meaty Problem, Homemade Milks, The ‘Whats Up’ With Dairy and of course the recipes:

Breakfast, Smoothies, Juices, Steamers and Hot Drinks, Soups, Salads, Sides, Nibbles, Dips and Little Plates, Big Plates, Curries, Burgers, Bakes and Get Stuffed, Sweet Treats and finally Sauces, Dressings, Toppers and Other Stories.   

That’s quite a plateful of vegan fare.   It’s a tasty vegan tome.

Friends, family and loved ones (everyone) I will even sign your copy for no extra charge!!!!  Expect many more gratuitous ‘Peace and Parsnips’ plugs coming in the next couple of weeks.

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.”  HH Dalai Lama

Viva Vegan (peaceful, bright and bountiful food)xxxx 

 

 

Categories: Books, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

Risk free, no brainer baking.  Perfect!  If you have never made bread before, start here…….if you’re a pro kneader, give this one a whirl, you’ll be surprised by the results.

This is bread making without all the fuss and mess.  In fact, its as simple as; combining, baking, eating.  This is a light loaf, with a slightly crumbly finish, like an Irish soda bread (without the faint twang of soda).  You can really taste the yoghurt which is a nice addition, giving richness to the loaf.

This is a bread that we make regularly and is perfect for a quick loaf in a hurry.  There is no proving or hanging around with this one.  Mix it up, whack it in the oven and before you know it, your whole house is fragrant with the joys of imminent warm bread.  Homemade bread is the only way to go and with recipes like this, its hassle free.

Adding sparkling water to your baking really adds a lightness to proceedings.  Normal water works fine here also.

Jane nibbling on a Tostada con Tomate - One of the recipes in our new cookbook - Peace and Parsnips

Jane nibbling on a ‘Tostada con Tomate’ – One of the recipes in our new cookbook – Peace and Parsnips

Modified from the awesome vegan baking book ‘The Vegan Baker’ by Dunja Gulin

The Bits – Makes a 1/2kg loaf (around 8-10 slices)

275g unbleached white flour

125g wholewheat flour

2 teas baking powder

50g rolled oats

1 ½ teas salt

250ml soya milk

225ml water (sparkling water is best)

4 tbs soya yoghurt (unsweetened)

2 tbs olive oil

Everything in neat bowls, probably the tidiest bread making recipe (no flour everywhere for a start)

Everything in neat bowls, probably the tidiest bread making recipe (no flour everywhere for a start)

Seed Mix

3 tbs rolled oats

1/2 teas caraway seeds

2 tbs flax/linseeds or sunflower seeds (any seed will do….)

Loaf ready for the oven

Loaf topped and ready for the oven

Do It 

Preheat an oven to 220oC (425oF).

Sift the white flour with the baking powder, then stir in the oats and salt.  Mix well.

Mix in the wet ingredients and combine well with a trusty wooden spoon until a sticky dough is formed.  It should be easy to spoon, add a touch more water if needed.

Line a loaf tin with oiled baking parchment, the neater, the better.  Sprinkle half of the seed mix on the base and then spoon in the bread mix.  Level with a spatula (a wet one works best) and sprinkle over the rest of the seed mix.

Pop in the oven and lower heat to 200oC (400oF) and bake for an hour.  If you’re using a fan oven, check after 30 minutes that the top is not burning (our oven is a beast and tends to burn tops).  Cover with more parchment if this is happening.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin. Turn out and peel off paper.  Leave to cool further on a wire rack, the crust will now crisp up nicely.

Store as you do, this bread lasts well, 5 days.

We let it cool outside, meaning you can start eating it sooner!

We let it cool outside, meaning you can start eating it sooner!

Serve

Warm with Marmite and good olive oil or some of Jane’s lovely Apple and Tomato Chutney (coming soon on the B.H.K).  This loaf is a good toaster.

Foodie Fact

Oats are a concentrated source of fibre and nutrients, a pocket battleship so to speak.  They are very high in minerals like manganese, phosphorous and copper.  It contains beta-glucan, which is a special type of fibre that actually lowers cholesterol.  Isn’t nature kind!  Have loads of fibre also means that oats help to stabilise our blood sugar level, meaning a better metabolism and less freaky weight gain.  Oats are very cool.

Sunset last night from the BHK window

Sunset last night from the BHK window

 

Categories: Baking, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mindful Eating – The Top 5 Good and Bad Mood Foods

Foods that make you go ZING!

Foods that make you go ZING!

MOODS

Moods. What can we do? Sometimes you’re up and then for no reason whatsoever, your down. Can food help? Most people realise that moods affect what we eat, but does it work the other way. Do foods effect our moods?

There has been much research into the matter which has shown a link between moods and the food we eat. A recent survey has shown that a large proportion (over 80%) of people felt better when they changed their diet. Eating healthier makes us feel better inside and out.

SCIENCE BIT

From what we can tell this is down to serotonin, the happy chemical, produced in our brains. Serotonin cannot be produced without tryptophan (an amino acid), so its a good idea to eat foods high in trypophan to make us happy. Simple enough!? Low serotonin levels are blamed for anxiety, cravings, mood disorders and IBS. The concept of eating foods high in trypophan is similar to that of taking an anti-depressant like prozac. Holistic anti-depressants.

Moods cannot be gotten rid of, but can be brought under control. The extremity of the ups and downs can be lowered, meaning you feel more centered and grounded in a good place. Eating and living well can be essential in maintaining not just our physical, but also our mental health.

TOP 5 GOOD MOOD FOODS

1) mung beans

2) nuts

3) tofu

5) bananas

Taken from the e-book The Serotonin Secret, Dr Caroline Longmore

After too many 'good mood' foods Jane sometimes tries to fly!!!!

After too many ‘good mood’ foods Jane sometimes tries to fly!!!!

WHAT MAKES THEM FULL OF ‘HAPPY’?

Foods high in fibre, wholegrains and protein can also help boost moods. Food with a low glycemic index, like oats for example will help the brain absorb all of these happy amino acids. Tryptophan absorption is boosted by carbohydrates.

These foods should be combined with lots of clean water and fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating regularly and not skipping meals also boosts our mental health. A balanced diet is always the best way forward.

Foods that have the opposite effect are sometimes called ‘Stressors’, the main culprits are listed below:

STRESSED FOODS

– Sugar

–  Caffeine

– Alcohol

– Chocolate

– Wheat-containing foods

– Additives

– Dairy

– Saturated Fats

Provided by the ‘Food and Mood Project’, backed by the mental health charity ‘Mind‘.

A diet heavy in the ‘stressors’ can lead to all sorts of problems including anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, lack of concentration and unfortunately, many more…

Sugar has a powerful effect on our sense of well being, if we eat too much, we can get into a sugar roller coaster, which is never nice. Our blood sugar levels are all over the place and we feel drained and fatigued when the sugar is lessening and high as a kite when its peaking.

OVER INDULGING

If you do over indulge (who doesn’t?!) one of the worst things that you can do is feel guilty about it. Feel great about it! You have just treated yourself and you deserve it. Move on and make efforts to eat better and feel better, step-by-step, slowly slowly. It’s a long road without any fixed destination.

Apparently we all have ‘triggers’, foods that can take us up and down. This depends on you, have a little experiment. If you are feeling a bit sluggish and down, think about what you have eaten that day or the night before. Trends will inevitably form. We found it really helpful to take the plunge and go for a full raw, vegan diet. Just for a month or sometimes just a week or so.  Our bodies became sensitive to what we ate and we learned alot about what makes us feel good and otherwise.  There seem to be definite trends in the foods that take the shine off things, and in our experience, most of them are all noted above as ‘Stressors’.  You don’t have to go this far of course, just cut out certain foods for a period of time and see how you feel.  Many people are doing this with gluten at the moment and feeling the benefits.

The occasional treat can never be a bad thing!!!!

The occasional treat can never be a bad thing!!!!

MINDFUL EATING

Eating well is one thing, but thinking well is another level completely. They both tend to rise inclusively.  Once we are feeling more stable and peaceful in the mind, our eating habits seem to change.  We become more aware of how we are fueling our bodies, the effects that the foods we eat have a profound effect on health, both mental and physical.  We all have a good idea of how to make our bodies fit and lean, but how is our mind shaping up?  Are we happy and content?

Thinking positively is the key, a good place to start.  If we can practice thinking only positive thoughts for a minute at a time and build on that. If this is done whilst meditating, even better.  Meditation doesn’t need to be done on a Tibetan cushion, you can do it anywhere.  On the bus or train or even when walking or simply sat in a waiting room.  The days are filled with moments of potential mediation, windows of unexplored peace and rejuvenation.  In our opinion, meditation is the most important practice in creating/ maintaining a more peaceful mental outlook. Once your thoughts are flowing in the right direction, the body tends to follow.  The cookies you crave one day are the carrot sticks you cannot live without the next.  Habits change very quickly.  It is really surprising.  We have been through all of this ourselves and being ‘mindful’ requires discipline and dedication.  But it does have incredible, trans-formative rewards.  Add that to your new found passion for mung beans and you’ll be shining away for all to see.

Here is a meditation clip for those interested.  Jane and I recently attended a Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat up in Dharamasala, India.  This is there style of doing things, but there are so many styles and methods of meditating.  The most important thing is feeling a sense of peace.  That’s it!  Whatever works for you is the way.

We have a very soft spot for Tibetan Buddhism, so here’s how they focus the mind (this Rinpoche has the most lovely, smile-inducing voice):

If meditation is not your thing, how about some good exercise, get the blood pumping; a long walk in the countryside or a park, turning the computer off and doing some gardening, turning the mobile phone off and cooking your loved one the most beautiful feast, painting, writing, putting up a shelf with care and attention.  Anything that gets you away from the tidal waves of thoughts and ‘thinking’ will no doubt rejuvenate.  Taking care of ourselves, being gentle with ourselves, nourishing mind and body.

For more information on mood foods, check out theMind site. There is information here for Brits on how to contact dietitians and nutritionists to get started on a new diet plan and lifestyle.

Take it easy, have a handful of sunflower seeds, meditate peacefully and shine onX

Bananas always make me smile!

Bananas always make me smile!

This piece is a revised version of something we wrote a few years ago.  We just love the idea that foods can have such a profound effect on our sense of wellbeing, or otherwise…  

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Peace and Parsnips – Our New Cookbook with Penguin (Out May 7th)

WE WROTE A COOKBOOK!  PEACE AND PARSNIPS

Just a quickie to let all our lovely followers of the B.H.K that we did a cookbook and its coming out very soon with the great folk at Penguin. Pure vegan, pure delicious and packed with stunning pictures of the Beach House and beyond.  We couldn’t have done it without all of your inspiration and encouragement along the way.

Peace and Parsnips is simple and decadent, spicy and sultry, moreish and quite an  eye full.  There are recipes here for everyone, we’ve even tested them on all on ravenous carnivores and they smiled and asked for seconds.  YES!

(The veggie prints on the front cover were hand printed by Sarah, our amazing Art Designer, and her daughter on a Sunday afternoon.  How lovely is that!)

“This book will rock your concept of vegan cooking – join the meatless revolution and the trend for cooking healthy, hearty food! Nutritious, cheap, easy, diverse and mouth-wateringly delicious, Lee Watson is set to reinvent the way we think about vegan cookery with an incredible range of styles and flavours. Packed full of fantastic recipes that range from basic bites to gourmet delights. This vegan tome is the answer to all your cookery needs, whether you’re a vegan or just want to give it a go. Burgers, curries, salads, pies and sweet treats, this is a book that will appeal to everyone – including carnivores! Welcome to Peace & Parsnips, the ultimate vegan cookbook.”

We are very, very, very happy with the book.  It looks AMAZING and the recipes really shine and the food photographs are just plain sexy!  Some beautiful shots of the Welsh landscape and plenty of Jane and I cooking up many storms and trays/ bowls of full power vegan goodness.  You’ll even see us surfing, hiking in the hills, attacking sandwiches, sitting under a waterfall and laughing.  Lots of laughing.  IT WAS FUN!

We  have filled ‘Peace and Parsnips’ with the recipes that make us smile and shine; Portobello and Pecan Burgers, Macadamia and Blueberry Cheesecake, Kashmiri Turnip and Spinach Curry, Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi, Asparagus and Cashew Tart…..there are over 200 shimmering purely plant-based recipes to get stuck into! There’s even a section on making your own nut, bean and lentil milks.

You can pre-order the book HERE for a special 5 pounds off.

We will be sharing excepts and bits from the book on The Beach House Kitchen as we move towards the launch date.  As you can imagine, Jane and I are getting quite excited about it all!!!!!

We’ll also be doing alot of stuff on our facebook and twitter pages.  Follow us there for more vegetal fun, games and deliciousness……..

VIVA VEGAN!!!!Xx

Categories: Books, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Toasted Cashew and Green Pepper Pulao plus the healthy magic of Cinnamon

Toasty Cashews.  YUMAH!

Toasty Cashews. YUMAH!

Toasty cashews with sweet peppers and a raft of spices and fluffy rice.  Its all there.  Indians taking a staple dish way up there towards Nirvana and beyond!!!!!!

A simple rice dish (don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients) with some seriously tasty touches.  Toasted cashews are ever delicious.  Pulao is basically a side dish, but can really be a main course, something like a Biryani for example, with a few more veggies and a little more spice.  Pulao is like a toned down cousin of Biryani.  Just like all Indian food, flavours here are turned up to 11 and the possibility of spice combing are fully explored.  This may seem like alot spices to be putting into your rice, but they are worth it and if you are interested in cooking Indian food, you will find that all of these spices are used almost on a daily basis in your average Indian kitchen.

In India this March, above the Himalayan snowline in a family home.  Dinner time was a huge highlight (we could warm out hands over the rice)

In India this March, above the Himalayan snowline in a family home. Dinner time was a huge highlight (we could warm out hands over the rice)

A SPICY CONUNDRUM 

When you see the recipes for many Indian dishes you are immediately confronted with the sheer length and seemingly mind boggling array of spices in even a simple dish.  Do not fret, once you get them all together and start cooking more Indian food, your dhaba (spice rack) will become your best friend.  I always bang on about this, but keep your spices in sealed containers and preferably in the fridge (if you live in a hot place or your central heating is potent).  Don’t mix strong smelling spices with, like Hing (Asafoetida) with other spices, they’ll all be tinged with the funk of hing.  Get your spices ready, in one bowl if possible, before hand.  Then when the pan is hot and the spatula is flying, you can simply pour them in with no real fuss.  Bear  in mind however that some spices are better added earlier or later in the cooking process, depending on the dish/ spice.  Its a little complex really!  Being a bit organised with your spices beforehand saves you clambering around with slippy jars and unruly spice bags.

I’ve used brown rice and thrown some of my favourites, flax seeds in, but both are not exactly traditional.   If you use white rice, you could knock 10 minutes off the overall cooking time.

One of the main men in Nainital market.  Great onions.  India '15

One of the main men in Nainital market. Great onions. India ’15

The Bits

1 tbs cooking oil (vegetable/ sunflower etc)

400g brown rice

600ml light vegetable stock

1 green pepper (as finely diced as you can)

1 handful of cashews (chopped in half lengthways, like half moons)

2 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed up or finely diced)

1 large tomato (finely diced)

 

Spices

1-2 large red chilli (dried and cut lengthways, remove seeds for less heat)

6 green cardamom pods (split)

1 small cinnamon stick (2 inches long)

5 cloves

6 green cardamom pods (split)

1 teas cumin seeds

1 teas fennel seeds

½ teas nigella seeds

1 tbs flax/linseeds

 

Optional Topping

1 handful toasted cashews

1 handful fresh coriander leaves (roughly chopped) – we didn’t have any (soz)

Fried Pulao - Just add a few tomatoes

Fried Pulao – Just add a few tomatoes for a super simple lunch treat

Do It

In a large saucepan, with a good fitting lid, warm the oil on medium high heat and add the green peppers, fry them for a couple of minutes before adding the cumin and nigella seeds, stir for a minute and then add the rest of the spices and garlic, stirring all the time.  Cook these for a minute and then it’s time to pour in the rice and tomatoes.  Combine all the ingredients well and leave to warm through for yet another minute.

Pour over the stock and turn the heat up a little until the rice is vigorously boiling.  Now place a well fitting lid over the rice and turn the heat down to minimum.  Leave to steam away for 40-45 minutes (white rice, know off 10 minutes cooking time).

While the rice is cooking, grab a small frying pan and on medium heat, add the cashews and toast them gently.  Tossing them about, getting them nice and coloured.  Toasty.  Gorgeous.  Dark golden.

Once cooked, have a peak, the rice should be nice and fluffy.  With a fork, being careful not to scratch your nice, non-stick pan (if you are lucky enough to have one), gently tease and fluff the rice.  If you like added richness, you can add a drizzle of oil here and coat the rice.  It gives nice shine and richness and would be condone by most Indian cooks I know, although they would probably add a good knob of ghee.  Pop the lid on and leave to sit for a few minutes before serving.  The final, fragrant mingle……

Side/Main Dish (just add spoons)

Toasted Cashew and Green Pepper Pulao – Side/Main Dish (just add spoons)

Serve

Pulao is an occasion.  Mix in most of the cashews.  Warm a platter and pile it in the middle, this makes for a lovely centre piece for any Indian feast.  Or you can line some tea cups with cling film and spoon the pulao into them, packing it down quite well.  Turn the cups over, onto the plate you’re using for serving and gently lift off the cup.  This will leave you with a very neat and professional looking pile of rice.  Scatter with some freshly toasted cashews and a little fresh coriander.

Foodie Fact

All these spices are so very good for you.  At random let me pick cinnamon, a serious, serious anti-oxidants.  So much so, that it should be offered in all pharmacies across the country to treat and prevent things like colds.  Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help to stabilise insulin and hormones and can even help against heart disease.

Spices are our natural friends and the more spices you can add to your food, namely cook plenty of food from India or the Middle East, the healthier you will no doubt be.  Imagine the cumulative effects of eating decent amounts of cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves, cumin, coriander…………….you’ll live a healthy life until you’re 200 (with some decent karmic conditions along the way).

JUST ADD SPICEX

Jane in Norbulingka Palace, Dharamasala, India '15

Jane in Norbulingka Palace, Dharamasala, India ’15

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Side Dish | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

BEER! Is it vegan? If so, which ones.

A typically Black Dog greeting

 

The sun is out over Tiger Hill and Dad has just emailed me from our favourite pub in the entire world, the Black Dog in Whistable (Kent). Yes, its named after the Led Zeppelin song and the owner Mike is a thoroughly great publican and keeps a spectacular array of local ales, not to mention vegan samosas on the menu. So my mind has drifted towards the finest of British beverages…..BEER! (aka Real Ale)

Known as the ‘hammer of the gods’ I believe

Jane and I are not drinkers a la Ollie Reed (a British actor who famously claimed to have drank 106 pints in two days) but the occasional, proper glass of bitter, stout or porter is right up our winding country track. Wishy washy lager is a no no in the B.H.K.  We like beer with character and depth.  Ale with substance and meaning.  We don’t want to bloat up on ten pints of fizzy dish water, we are seeking that perfect, 1/2 pint of dark and potent nectar. There are a few breweries around us and a brilliant pub called the Snowdonia Park which brews all of its own beers in the cellar beneath the bar. You have to love that set-up!  An institution built on beery foundations.  It is also, sometimes conveniently, a campsite.   Their best ale is ‘Karmen Sutra’, named after the landlady.  A quirky name for a beer is much appreciated.

So the suns out and I’m wondering about beer……but wait, is it vegan? There seems to be a grey area around this and I’d like to attempt to clarify the question.

IS BEER SUITABLE FOR VEGAN?

Some, is the the best answer. The Camra website has some good info on this. Basically, the main ingredients of the vast majority of beers are very vegan; hops, barley, wheat, plants one and all. However, when it comes to clearing the beer of sediment, making it clear, many brewers use finings derived from the air bladders of the sturgeon fish (how random and disappointing is that!!!) These are called ‘isingas’ and draw the pesky yeast particles down through the beer.  Although these are not consumed in the final product, most vegetarians and vegans will opt out of non-veggie beer.

Beers can be sold unrefined, but they take longer to settle and can be slightly cloudy. Some pubs in the UK are now serving only ‘unfined’ beers. Vegans also need to keep an eye on honey, it can crop up in the production of some ales.  Some brewers may also use egg whites and gelatin in the brewing process.  The good news is that beers can be fined vegan-stylee, using seaweed!  How cool.

There is a directory of vegan UK beers below with some of my favourite names being Concrete Cow, Lizard, Fallen Angel, Wobble Gate and Why Not (?!) Which is a very good question, one I have posed myself many times before entering a pub.  One I may pose myself this evening.

Here’s a comprehensive list (you could even call it a database) of vegan beers from the good folk at Barnivore.  In fact, Barnivore is a one stop shop for checking all your vegan booze queries, including wines and liquor.  I love the fact that their commitment to booze have led them to research the beers of Nicaragua, Philippines and even France!

Local tipple.  Good stuff.

SOME POPULAR BRANDS OF BEER (NOT NECESSARILY GOOD ONES) THAT ARE VEGAN

Black Sheep Ale (Wahee!)

Goose Island (Waheeeee!)

Affligen beers (Hoorahhhh!)

Alhambra and Mahou Spanish Beer (Yeeesssss!  Fiesta!!)

Amstel (Hmmmmmmmmmmmm)

Asahi (Hmmmm, refreshing and points for being exotically Japanese)

Budweiser (Hmmmmmm.  Only in Wyoming.)

Aspall Ciders (Whoopp!)

Badger Ale (Double Whhooopeeee!)

Becks (Nostalgic nod of semi-approval.)

Black Isle, Isle of Skye (THANK YOU!  Thank you!!)

In fact, I’m only on ‘B’, I’ll be here all day.  There are more major brands listed below, but the good news is that most pubs will stock some vegan beers and you can always have a pint of Becks if you arm is being severely twisted.  Being vegan does not mean that you cannot be boozy.  Kale smoothies are wicked.  As is a tankard of tepid local ale!  We are British don’t you know!!!!!

Corona (plenty of lime please)

Pacifico (as above and very cold)

Peroni (if in Napoli, pleasant)

Fosters (Not if I was dying of thirst on a small antipodean island)

XXXX (See above but with much more conviction)

Bernard Beers (the absolute opposite of the past two comments.  Heavenly Czech nectar.)

Budvar (Fizzy yumvar)

Staropramen (Fueled my early 20’s misadventures.  Strong)

Stella Artois (no comment, except it can be decent if in Leeuwen.)

Conwy Ales (if you live in Wales, this is the finest of spring time news)

Birra Morretti (nice bottle and Italian, so brownie points)

Erdinger (!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!)

Kronenberg (who drinks beer in France.  Wine!)

Potentially, not everything these guys brew is vegan, but it seems like most.  Best checking with uncle Barnivore to be sure. 

I would say this, “vegans…..don’t be shy and ask at your local watering hole about vegan options.  The more we ask, the more awareness spreads and the more pubs stock vegan tipples.”  Many vegans I know provide their local pubs with excellent support and are a mainstay of their local public house.

VEGAN BEER!  Why not!!

Enjoy in moderation (or otherwise.)

Rainbow…..Dad, this ones for you big man!  Roberts still got it (never in doubt!)

Categories: Wales, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Beach House Radio – Our top choppin’ tunes

Some of our top tunes to chop to………..

rsz_p1170752

 

Categories: Music | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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