Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad

Roast Winter Vegetable Salad

You know me, I like a salad anytime of year!  Lots of classic flavour combos and textures going on in this simple and nourishing winter salad.  Sweet apple and roasted winter roots, crunch of toasted hazelnut and the rich and zesty roasted garlic yoghurt dressing.

With all those bright seasonal colours, it’s a bit of a looker too and something bright for the eyes and taste buds, to get enlivened in the festive times.

Jane’s working hard at the minute and challenged me to make something that was substantial but not stodgy, we seem to have been eating a load of stodge of late.  Feels good when we’re eating by the fire to fill our bellies with big plates of rich stews and pies with mounds of potatoes, but we’re not exactly sprightly afterwards!  Maybe that’s what winter is about though.  Taking it easy and going with the flow of the season.  Chilling out!!

I think a tray of roasted veggies is one of the most satisfying things you can do with an oven and winter roots offer up so many tantalising combinations.  It amazes me that nature is so kind to us, putting all those nutrients and colours beneath the soil, pre-packed, giving us all we need through the long winters.

I like to roast at least two trays of veg and keep stocked up for a couple of days.  Make a quick soup, add to a stew/ curry, or mix with grains like we do here.  They’re just ideal things to have hanging out in the fridge.  I encourage you to double these quantities and roast away!

I know that pearl barley has slipped out of most peoples cupboards, other grains will also be great.  Something hearty like buckwheat would be really nice to try, wild rice, millet is one of my favs (all those gluten free too) as well as freekeh (well worth a try).  Good full flavoured grains.

Barley has that lovely chewy, nuttiness and is also really filling and inexpensive.  It’s the ideal winter grain for the UK!  I like to cook a mixture of wholegrains in a pan together, millet, quinoa and buckwheat are my staple for whole grain salads.  The flavours a knockout, especially when the grains are toasted in a dry pan for 5 minutes before adding any water.

Whole grains are one of the cornerstones of our diet in the BHK,  we definitely wouldn’t get very far without them.  We tend to eat them for two meals a day on average, ranging from oats to amaranth, faro to freekeh, we love ’em all.    Whole grains are super foods, nutritional powerhouses and give our body an amazing source of slow release energy, the ideal fuel for us wrapped up in little, easy-to-cook grains.

I would serve this on Christmas day, it would be especially good in the evening, when we want something tasty, but a little lighter.  You can serve it on a large platter and it will look amazing!  A real centre piece.

Recipe Notes

This salad can be served hot or cold.  It’s nice to plate it up and then pop it back in the oven to warm for a while.

Use any range of winter root veg you like here, squash and parsnip would be nice added to this recipe for example.  Even potatoes would be awesome

I’m not sure if you’ve ever put lemon on a radish before, check out the transformation.  They get even pinker and the pink leeches and they just look incredible.

If you don’t have fresh thyme, go for other wintery herbs like fresh rosemary or sage.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad

The Bits – For 2 as main 

100g pearl barley (rinsed in a colander)

 

2 large beetroots (chopped into wedges)

1 large carrots (thickly sliced)

2 small red onions (chopped into wedges)

6 cloves garlic (whole, skin on)

2 tbs rapeseed or any cooking oil

 

2 radish (finely sliced)

1 apple (cored and cut into wedges)

1 big handful kale (chopped)

 

30g hazelnuts (roasted)

3 tbs fresh thyme leaves

1 lemon (juice)

1 teas rapeseed/olive oil

5 tbs unsweetened soya yoghurt

Salt

Do It
Place your rinsed pearl barley in a saucepan and cover with plenty of water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 mins – 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 220oC.  Place your beetroot, carrot and red onion on a baking tray and toss in a little oil and salt.  Roast for 40 minutes, turning everything at least once. Take out the garlic after about 20 minutes, when its nice and soft.  The hazelnuts will take around 5-10 minutes to roast on a tray in a hot oven.

Toss your apple half the thyme leaves and your radish in a bowl with the juice of half the lemon.

In a bowl, take the skins off your garlic and mash with the back of a spoon, squeeze in half the lemon, a little salt and the yoghurt.  Mix well together.

When your pearl barley is cooked, toss in the kale and stir, cook for a minute and then drain in a colander, pouring over cold water to cool the grains and kale fully.  Alternatively, serve it warm if you prefer.

Arrange the pearl barley on two plates, top with the apples and radish, then the roasted veggies, before spooning over the yoghurt dressing and finishing the dish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves and hazelnuts.

Foodie Fact

Barley is a great source of minerals and fibre and it may also lower cholesterol.

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Roast Carrot & Ginger Hummus

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Roast Carrot & Ginger Hummus – Get dippin’!

This is a lively one; zesty, colourful and filled with spice.  Ideal for a winter party, sure to brighten things up!  Playing with hummus flavours is something I believe all vegans enjoy, absolutely nothing wrong with the classic, but hummus is one of the tastiest vehicles imaginable for fabulous flavours!  Hummus is important!!  It’s one of those things that we can all cook, and we all have our own take on, some prefer a little more tahini, some more garlic…..

This hummus is not only a great combination of flavours, it’s also filled with all we need at this time of year to keep us shining, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, citrus and of course tahini (we love it!)  I have added a small amount of oil here and think its rich enough, but by all means, add more to make it a really rich treat.  Just sub the water for oil.

I’ll be sharing some more festive recipes soon…..

The Bits – One medium bowlful, For 4-6 for dipping

500g chickpeas (cooked, drained and rinsed)

2 large carrots (roasted and chopped)

1 1/2 teas turmeric

1 teas ground cumin

1/2 teas cinnamon

4 tbs light tahini

2 tbs heaped ginger (finely diced or grated)

2 limes (juice)

50ml olive oil

50ml water

Salt

 

Do It

Add carrots, chickpeas, spices, lime juice, ginger, 1/2 teas salt and tahini to a blender and blitz for a while.  As it’s going, pour in the water and oil.  It is fine a little chunky, but blend for longer if you like a really smooth hummus.  Taste and add salt if needed to really bring out those zingy flavours.

Foodie Fact

There is so many vibrant and healthy ingredients packed into this hummus, it’s difficult to know where to begin with this foodie fact.  Shall we talk about turmeric?  Why not!  Turmeric is a colourful root, that looks a lot like ginger in it’s raw state.  Most of us know that turmeric is an incredible ingredient from a nutritional point of view, here’s a quick low down.  It full of beneficial bits and pieces, loads of iron, vitamin C, magnesium and good amounts of protein and fibre.  I like to sneak turmeric into meals, smoothies etc whenever I can.  Turmeric is also known as an anti-inflammatory and has been said to cure a whole host of ailments.  It is also a very cool colour (which is important;)

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Pickled Jalapenos – Easy & Quick Way to Pickle

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Pickled Jalapenos – The easiest way to pickle

This is a legendary way to spice up your winter burgers, burritos or pizza (?!) plus homemade pickled jalapenos are way, way better than shop bought.  When not pickled, I even like ’em in a smoothie, something like kale, banana and apple, is awesome with a few slices of jalapeno, great also paired with pineapple.

You can take this recipe wherever you like flavouring wise, add spices or herbs, but I went for simple garlic with a little tickle of ginger.  Maybe some chipotle or other Mexican dried chillies, I wonder how that would go, never tried it…. let me know!

Use this method of pickling for most veggies, it’s a really simple way to preserve and enhance the flavours in vegetables.  For some strange reason, they were selling off jalapenos for pennies at our local shop in Caernarfon, I snapped them up and knew exactly where they were heading.  Jane is not a massive chilli fan, so having a jar of jalapenos in the fridge is perfect for me, I pop in there every now and again to add a little zing to dishes, of course, these will light up anything remotely Mexican.  They are surely one of the most legendary Mexican ingredients.

When I love a dish, I always want to find a way to make it myself.  These pickled are something I first really got a taste for in Mexico, I especially like the big jars of pickles in most street food style eateries, called ‘Escabeche’, huge jars of things like carrots, radishes, cauliflowers and onion.  A perfect lift to go with the rich Mexican dishes.  You can make ‘Escabeche’ like this, maybe add some black peppercorns to the mix.

These chillies will be nice served with our Cashew & Kale Black Bean Mole with Tofu Bacon or Mexican Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa.

Recipe Tips

I said this will work for most veggies, which is true, but with watery vegetables like cucumber, it’s best to salt them first.  Rub some salt into them and leave them to drain over a colander for an hour or so then rinse well.  This removes a good amount of the water and makes for more intense pickles.

If you leave the seeds in, expect fireworks!  In a good way if you’re a chilli head.  Take them out for milder, more placid results.

I love pickled garlic, so I’ve added a load of garlic cloves.  They mellow when pickled and are really crunchy and lovely.  If you’re not a fan, just omit them and add more chillies.

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Pickled Jalapenos

The Bits – One large jarful

14 jalapeno chillies (sliced)

 

175ml white wine/ distilled white vinegar

175ml water

8 or as many as you like garlic cloves (peeled and whole)

2 bay leaves

4 slices fresh ginger

2 tbs sugar

1/2 tbs sea salt

Do It

In saucepan, add all the ingredients, bar the chillies.  Stir and bring to a boil, making sure the sugar is dissolved.  Add the chillies and leave to cool for 15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, pack your chillies, garlic and ginger into a clean jar, pour over enough pickling brine to cover.  Seal the jar and leave in the fridge and enjoy!  You can eat them straight away, but they’re better after a day or two.

The chillies will be quite happy in the fridge for a few weeks.

 

Foodie Fact

Chillies are full, full, full of Vitamin C.  Perfect for a boost in the winter.  They are also rich in vitamin A and K, they even have a little fibre going on.

 

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Chestnut, Millet & Sage Sausages with Homemade Ketchup

I just felt like a sausage sandwich and these chestnut sausages from ‘Peace & Parsnips‘ are some of my favourite vegan bangers going.  Teamed up with the Rye & Stout Loaf that I just posted and some home made ketchup (recipe is in the book;), made creamy with macadamias or cashews, you’ve got yourself a really top breakfast/ brunch.

I haven’t shared a recipe from the cookbook for a while and thought this one is arriving at an ideal time, a great way to start a chilly morning and these sausages freeze well, so you can make a stock for the freezer to last you through winter.

THE BIG QUESTION – WHAT’S ON THE XMAS MENU?!

I’ll be in Murcia, Spain for Christmas, a tough call, but someone’s got to do it! I’m spending time with family over there and no doubt Mum’s already thinking about Xmas lunch (as am I).

I think these sausages will be made over the festive period, there are huge mountains of local castana’s (chestnuts) down at the local food markets and after a quick roast in an oven, and especially when eaten straight from their shells, it’s one of my favourite tastes of Christmas.

I see Christmas as a great time to try out new things and I’m surprised how chestnuts can be neglected at this time of year, for me, they’re as essential as cranberry sauce or mince pies.

Do you already have one eye on your Xmas menu?  It’s such a feast, a celebration of good food and drink, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be really unhealthy.  I’m looking at a balance between indulgence and food that makes us shine.  Xmas doesn’t need to be an eating marathon that makes us feel sluggish and heavy all the way to February, I think we can get the best of both worlds.  I know we can get the best of both worlds!!

I’m going to share some recipes with you and there are a few on the BHK already.  Here’s one to get you into the spirit;)  Maple Roasted Parsnip, Walnut & Mushroom Roulade with Cashew Cream Sauce.

Let us know what you have in mind for this Xmas and generally what’s inspiring you in the kitchen, it’s always awesome to hear from you in the comments below.

I love the winter walks in Snowdonia, especially on clear day like this:)

Here’s the intro from Peace & Parsnips:

“Chestnuts seem to have been a little neglected of late, and you rarely see the lonely chestnut roaster on the festive street corner these days. But chestnuts are so plentiful on our island, and can be used in a variety of dishes, both savoury and sweet. They come to life when paired with the robust and earthy sage, and will live with most herbs in harmony. I like to use them in sausages and burgers because they are quite starchy and help with the binding process, which can be a major failing in many vegan sausage and burger recipes. Most vegan sausages/burgers are best cooked straight from the freezer – they hold their shape better that way. The key with vegan sausages/burgers is to be gentle with them in the pan, and don’t mess with them unnecessarily. They just need a precise flip on occasion and they are perfectly happy. To make things easy, you may like to use pre-cooked chestnuts.”

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Chestnut, Millet & Sage Sausages with Homemade Ketchup

The Bits – For 15 small sausages

75g millet

250g cooked chestnuts

300g firm tofu (mashed with a fork)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

a handful of toasted sunflower seeds

1 onion (grated)

3 cloves of garlic (peeled and minced)

2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh sage

2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 red chilli (deseeded and finely diced)

a large pinch of ground allspice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

150g very fine wholewheat or gluten-free breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon tamari or teaspoon sea salt

Vegetable oil (for frying)

 

To Serve

Homemade raw ketchup (or your favourite sauce)

 

Do It

To cook the millet, put it into a small pan and cover with 2cm of cold water. Bring to the boil, then pop a lid on, lower the temperature and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Fluff up with a fork – the millet should be soft and tender but quite sticky.This is perfectly normal. Allow to cool.

In a food processor, blitz your chestnuts to fine crumbs. Add half the tofu and pulse a few times until quite smooth. In a large bowl, mix the chestnuts and tofu with the rest of the ingredients apart from the vegetable oil. The mixture should be firm enough to form into sausages, slightly tacky to the touch. Check the seasoning and add more tamari or salt if needed.

Using dampened hands, form your sausages, making them look like big chipolatas. Roughly 15 will do, but you may prefer just a few longer ones instead. Place them on a plate and cover lightly with cling film, then pop into the fridge and chill them for 30 minutes (you can also freeze them at this point).Put 1 tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan on a medium heat and fry your sausages for 5minutes, turning them regularly to get a good colour all over.

Serve with a big blob of homemade raw ketchup and some warm toast. And normally I’ll have a few green leaves for the plate. Sausage sandwich, anyone?

Foodie Fact

Chestnuts are best kept in the fridge and are the only nut to contain good levels of vitamin C.  You’ll also find some of the vitamin B’s along with a decent amount of fibre and minerals, especially copper and manganese.  Nut-wise, they are low in fats and are unusually starchy for a nut.

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Join us in Murcia, Spain next year for our blissful vegan cooking and yoga retreat, we have a couple of rooms still available in our beach side villa and we might even get some chestnuts in the oven! 

 

Categories: Breakfast, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Rye & Stout Loaf

Rye & Guinness Loaf

Rye and stout just works!  There’s a harmony there.  I’ve been wanting to use stout in a recipe for a while now.  The deep, full  flavours mingle perfectly with the big flavours of rye and dark treacle.  Nutritious and really flavourful, wholesome in the best possible way.

Of course, there are many other amazing stouts and dark ales which will be equally as nice in this bread, adding ale to a bread really boosts the flavour, deep and malty is this loaf (did I sound a bit like yoda there?) and the recipe calls for a layer of beer batter before baking, which made for a nice crust and finish.

This is a dense and delicious loaf which makes incredible toast!  I’m using a lot of Rye at the minute in baking, its a healthy flour option, low in gluten.   Its a great choice for a hearty wintery loaf.  Although I’d eat this bread at any time of year, anywhere, anyhow….

I’ve been making apple and walnut scones with a rye and white flour mix, they’re great.  The addition of white flour gives just enough lightness to the texture.  I find that this goes for most rye baking, add a little white flour, maybe 1/4 of the total flour quantity, for best results.  Although I regularly go 100% for bread with lots of seeds.   This combo makes a loaf that slices nice and thin, with a great texture.

Rye has always seemed a treat for me, we don’t use it so much in Britian, but in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and Germany, it is common place.  Rye used to be popular in the UK, but bizarrely, was always seen as being inferior to wheat.

I wasn’t sure about the bread in Portugal, I’m not keen on light and flighty white, so I took a loaf of heavily seeded rye bread on the plane with me.  It probably weighed a few kilos, but it was so worth it.  Rye toast with Portugese tomatoes, oregano and olive oil.   Yes please!  I seemed to get stopped consistently at airport security and they love having a good look through my old green rucksack.  The chap emptying the contents out this time seemed a bit surprised to find a loaf of seedy bread; “Did you bake this loaf yourself sir?”  My small umbrella was also a bit of an issue and they were not sure about my stash of chia seeds, but I got through in the end and Lisbon was an amazing city (more to come about that…..)

One of our neighbours.

This recipe is based on one by Paul Holywood that I played with it a bit.  Thanks Paul!  I liked the batter idea.  I don’t actually watch Bake Off, I find that when I’m cooking most of the day, watching more people cooking is a bit much, but the program has had a massive effect on Britain, when I cook for people and do demos, the level of baking knowledge is incredible!  Most people seem to know there way around a sourdough now lets put it that way!!

Wales has been shining this autumn/ winter, thought I’d share a few snaps of beautiful Snowdonia.  We’ve loved being back up here at this time of year and long may it continue.  Bit of frost livening up the mornings but generally, all has been bright and reasonably dry (weather report over!;)

So here it is, try it with some vegan smoked salmon (made with tomatoes or carrots, we may post a recipe soon) and cream cheese is my whole hearted serving suggestion!!

Recipe Notes

Vegan butter recipe I’ve been working on, if you’d like, I’ll post it soon.

Due to the low gluten in rye, it can take much longer to rise than wheat loaves.  Be patient and leave it for as long as it takes, we’re generally looking for around double the size it started.  You can leave it overnight in a fridge, which has worked for me in the past.

Because of the low gluten, there’s no need to go overboard with the kneading either.  Which I’m sure some of you are quite pleased about!

Sticky is good for me when making bread, better that  the dough is a little sticky, than a little dry.  When kneading the bread, only add a small amount, a thin layer, of flour for dusting.

Rye & Guinness Loaf

Rye & Stout Loaf

The Bits – For one medium-sized loaf

Dry

375g rye flour

125g strong white bread flour (plus extra for flouring)

2-3 teas salt

7g yeast (small packet)

 

Wet

3 tbs black treacle/ molasses

100ml water

250ml stout or dark ale

 

Beer Batter Topping

150ml stout or dark ale

100g rye flour

Large pinch brown sugar

 

Handful jumbo oats

Early winter in Wales has been beautiful! Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsula

Do It

Mix your dry bits together in a large bowl and add the wet bits, adding 150ml of the ale and more if needed.  Mix together until a wet dough forms.  The dough should be sticky but comes away from the edges of the bowl.

Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes.  The dough will be wet, use slightly wet hands to make the kneading easier and less sticky.  It will gradually become smoother, but not as smooth as a normal bread dough.  This is fine.  Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.  Loosely cover and leave in a warm spot for 2 hours.

Beer Batter Topping – Mix the ale, flour and sugar together into a thick batter.

On a baking tray, lined with parchment, and lightly oiled, form your dough into a ball and spread over the ale paste, sprinkling the oats all over.  Leave to prove for 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 220oC and bake for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 200oC and bake for 10 more minutes.

The loaf will have a nice crust and be golden brown, tap the bottom, it should sound nice and hollow.  Leave it to cool on a wire rack.

Home baked, can’t beat it!

Foodie Fact 

Rye is quite similar to wheat, but has different nutritional properties.  It’s lower in gluten, high in protein and is full of fibre with good levels of vitamins and minerals.  In fact, Rye is way up there in the fibre stakes. Here’s a quick top three……….

1- Barley   2- Raspberries  3- Rye 

Raspberries!!!  I know.  That seems a bit of a brilliant nutritional curve ball.

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I’d like to thank the good people of the BHK Vegan Cooking group, over on Facebook, who have inspired me to share a Rye Loaf recipe.  (Judy, I finally got around to it;)

Do you like rye bread?  How do you feel about it’s heavy texture and flavour?  Let us know if you try it in the comments below:)

Originally I listed Guinness in the ingredients for this recipe by mistake.  Guinness is only vegan draught, but cans and bottles will hopefully follow soon.

Categories: Baking, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Gado Gado – Indonesian Seasonal Salad with Kickin’ Zesty Peanut Sauce

I’m trying to prove that you can eat salads in winter!!  The sun is still shining!  What a beautiful autumn we’ve had here in Wales.  Here’s a seasonal salad with a seriously zesty and creamy sauce, a taste of autumn and early winter given a very Indonesian twist.

Some of the vegetables in Gado Gado can be served warm, which makes it idea for autumn, it is also so colourful and takes advantage of all those incredible veggies that are about at the minute.

Gado gado (or Lotek) is something you find all over Indonesia and basically means ‘mix-mix’, we travelled all over Indonesia last year and found that it changed most times we ate it.  We’ve added roasted veggies instead of steamed/ boiled and some of our favourite, colourful local organic veg.

Gado Gado vendour, Sulawesi, Indonesia

We use what is to hand for this salad, what is seasonal and looking great, with new potatoes and the thick peanut dressing, this seems to be the way things are done in Indonesia too.  The veggies may change but the POW of the amazing sauce is a constant.

You can use any mix of veggies really, in Indonesia, potatoes always figure, with things like cabbage, jackfruit, bitter melon, corn, beansprouts, spinach, the list is long and tasty.  It’s normally topped with something crispy, like fried rice crackers or deep fried shallots.  We’ve kept it super healthy and gone for some toasted pumpkin seeds instead.  Not traditional, but packed with nutrition and gorgeous flavour.

SULAWESI STYLE

I think our favourite Gado Gado was in a small town in the North of Sulawesi.  One man was making it with such care at a warung (street food stand) and we ate it on the street on a little table with a group of lovely people, all giving us their top Gado Gado tips.  It’s one of those dishes that is a real institution and everyone has their favourite quirk and twist with it.  I love the way it’s so flexible and easy to make.

Gado Gado is a great option for a vegan traveller around Indonesia, its filling nutritious and will sometimes come with two of my Indonesia favourites; tempeh and tahu (tofu).  They are everywhere, on each street corner, you’ll bump into a lump of tofu!  We even visited a remote village that was all about tofu, check it out – Visiting Tofu Village – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

It’s fair to say that Indonesia captured our hearts, we loved travelling around and the people were amazingly friendly and hospitable.  The food is also sensational and is one of those cuisines that hasn’t really taken off here in the UK, at least not like Thai or Vietnamese food.  I would say that it’s a fascinating cuisine to explore and Gado Gado is at the very tip of an intensely tasty tree, and if you’re vegan, Indonesia will teach you all you need to know about making tofu and tempeh taste amazing (little tip, great sauces and marinades).

Recipe Notes

Gado Gado normally comes with the thick sauce poured over the dish, a very generous quantity normally.  I like to see the lovely veggies and therefore drizzle the sauce on the base of the plate/ shallow bowl and then have some more around for people to drizzle on top.

We use cooked beans and roasted veggies here, you can serve them warm of cold.  The contrast of raw veg and warm is nice and the sauce comes alive even more with a little heat.

If you can’t track down tamarind, just add a little more citrus.

Aduki beans are also really nice with this salad.  We use beans to substitute tofu or tempeh when we don’t have any.  Nice bit of protein!

Gado Gado – Indonesian Seasonal Salad with Kickin’ Zesty Peanut Sauce

The Bits – For 4

Salad 

450g new potatoes (cooked and chopped)

300g mung or other beans (cooked)

4 big handfuls roasted veggies (we used golden and purple beetroot, squash and onion)

1/2 green pepper (sliced)

1/2 yellow pepper (sliced)

2 big handfuls red cabbage (finely sliced)

2 ripe tomatoes (diced)

1/2 cucumber (diced)

4 Brussels Sprouts (finely sliced)

 

Topping

½ bunch fresh coriander (leaves picked off) or mint leaves (sliced)

1 hot red chilli (finely sliced)

4 tbs toasted pumpkin seeds

 

Extra something crispy – fried wonton wrappers, cassava crisps. Traditionally prawn crackers (krukuk) are used.

 

Peanut Sauce

130g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth is fine)

3 tbs coconut cream (that’s the cream from a tin of coconut milk)

30-40g palm sugar or brown sugar

1 large clove garlic (crushed)

1 tbsp / 1 inch ginger or galangal (peeled and chopped)

1-2 red chillies

2 limes (juice)

2 tbs tamari or good soya sauce

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

Salt (to taste)

2 tbsp water (more if needed to thin)

 

Do It

In a bowl or food processor (easier), mix/blitz the peanut sauce ingredients (except the lime) until a thick sauce forms, adding water if needed to thin it out.
Place sauce in a small saucepan and warm gently. Taste and season with salt if needed then stir the lime juice in. The sauce should be nice and smooth creamy and with a real lime zing.

Spoon the sauce around the outside of the base of a shallow bowl. Arrange all the other vegetables over the sauce however you like it, then sprinkle with all the other toppings, coriander, chillies and seeds and serve.

Foodie Fact 

You may know that peanuts are really high in protein, but did you know they are very high in copper?!  We need copper in our diet to to help us absorb iron and it also helps with red blood cells, nerves, bones and the immune system.  Aren’t we amazing!!  They are also a great source of healthy fats and even anti-oxidants.

Sulawesi is one of the most beautiful places we’ve been in the world.

Want to learn how to cook vegan?  Looking for more plant-based inspiration? 

Check out our events page for workshops and retreats or our recipe page for…..recipes🙂

If you’d like to read more about our Indonesian travels here’s a couple of posts:

Street Eats and Delicious Days – Our Indonesian holiday snaps

Jungle Kopi Culture – Sampling Indonesia’s coffee revolution

Categories: Autumn, Dressings, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Vibrant Vegan! Healthy Global Cooking Workshops, 3rd & 4th February ’18 Hackney, London

We’re VERY excited to announce our latest BHK vegan cooking event down in London!

Are you looking for new plant-based cooking inspiration for the new year?  Lee invites you to get healthy and happy in the kitchen, and celebrate the diversity of vegan food whilst learning new skills and techniques.  

These comprehensive, hands-on, workshops are all about cooking in vibrant and creative ways and preparing delicious food that does us good, is easy to make, and that everyone will enjoy.  Big bold flavours, great textures and colours, proper tasty vegan food!

The dishes are all gluten-free and mainly using organic ingredients, some that Lee will bring from his local farm in Wales. 

The daily themes for the Vibrant Vegan! weekend will be: 

Saturday – HEALTHY VEGAN JUNK FOOD

All the textures, treats and flavours of fast food, but good for you!  We’ll start with a Cacao & Kale Mudslide Smoothie, then for lunch, Miso & Shiitake Ramen Bowl, Mac & Jack – BBQ Pulled Jackfruit with Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese, plus a quick Rainbow Sauerkraut. Dessert will be Mexican Chocolate Brownies with Dulce de Leche and Mango N’Ice Cream.  We’ll also learn a simple and inexpensive technique to make your own Chickpea Tofu.

Sunday – INDIAN FEAST DAY

Lee has travelled to India many times and is passionate about all things Indian food.  We’ll be cooking some of his favourite recipes picked up on his travels.  The day will start with a Rooibos & Almond Masala Chai, then for lunch we’ll make Squash & Cashew Butter Masala Curry, Thoran – Keralan Coconut Stir-Fry, Masoor Daal Tadka, a quick pickle and raita, plus a decadent raw dessert with Almond & Cardamom Biscotti and Smoky Cashew Cheese.  You’ll also learn a technique to make the perfect spiced rice.  Every time!

Some techniques and skills you’ll learn over the weekend:

  • Making vegan cheese – an easy, rich and creamy set cheese
  • Gluten-free baking techniques – all the flavour and texture, just without the gluten
  • Making chickpea tofu – inexpensive and delicious
  • Decadent raw dessert – healthy but you’d never guess!
  • Simple, healthy and quick masala curry and creamy pasta sauces
  • 2 minute n’ice cream
  • Macrobiotic salad
  • Super food smoothie – the best way to greet the morning
  • Cooking with jackfruit – Genius ingredient, unique texture
  • Nourishing 5 minute Japanese style soup
  • Homemade & healthy BBQ sauce
  • Spicy, warming chai
  • Perfect rice cooking
  • Quick South Indian stir fry
  • Simple & soulful daal making    

 

Each day, Lee will cover the basics; vegan 101, nutrition, food presentation and some chopping techniques. 

These workshops will be high energy, fun and informative.  Lee will share his experience and passion for vegan cooking at all times plus you will receive a bespoke recipe booklet to take home and give the recipes a try for yourself.     

We’ll have lunch together, trying all the dishes and getting to know each other. 

These recipes will give your mind, body and tastebuds a boost, getting you vibrant, inspired and healthy for 2018!  


 

Timing – 11am-5pm  

Venue – Made In Hackney, London, N16 6PA

 

We’ve purposely kept the groups small, so book early!

 

~BOOKINGS~

Healthy Vegan Junk Food 3rd Feb ’18 **Sold Out** Please email – hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com to be added to the wait list

Indian Vegan Feast 4th Feb ’18 – £95 (A couple of spaces left;)   

Special Weekend Offer 3rd & 4th Feb ’18 **Sold Out**

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, gluten-free, healthy, plant-based, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry

 

 

We had this for breakfast! Might not be everyones bowl of morning happiness but Jane and I love curry for brekkie, a pleasant habit we picked up at train stations and little bus stops in India. We wanted the all-time classic ‘Chana Masala’, but we didn’t have chickpeas!? What’s going on there?!! I feel like I have failed our household. Still, it lead to this creation which I was so pleased with, I felt the urge to share and write and celebrate the beauty of a simple curry.

SPICY WAKE UP CALL

We were getting tired of the smoothies and bowls of nuts and fruits and things routine, we wanted some SPICE in our early, sleepy eyed life!  When the grey tickles us, as it can at this time of year, we need to put some rainbow flavours and magic into our food.  Spices are magic dust right?!  Does any food have as much pizazz and down right tastiness as a deep and potent curry?  It can enliven the senses.  The sheer complexity of flavours mingling and merging, having a massive party all over your taste buds?  This curry doesn’t have to be eaten for brekkie, but do let us know if you try.  Ditch the fry up this Sunday AM and get spicy!!

I’ve been to India many times, it has become my second home.  I love living a life of contrasts, living on a hill in middle of nowhere, slightly mossy, Wales, straight to the honking depths of down town Delhi, thats my kind of contrast.  Mix things up.  Keep things vibrant and interesting.   For me, India is the country with everything going on within its borders, travel there is rich.  I know I go on about the food all the time, but, it is incredible.  Consistently.  Mind boggling in variety.  Like I’ve died and gone to a Dhaba.

Intensely orange – Pumpkin this time of year they be.

HIDDEN TREASURES (AND PICKLES)

If you’re looking for the best spices and Indian/ Pakistani/ Bangladeshi/ Nepalese etc ingredients, I recommend a regular visit to your local Asian shop/ supermarket.  It’s where all the best ingredients will be hiding and normally for very reasonable prices.  I find them a perfect location for spice worship.  Eastern cooking treasure troves, designed for real food lovers to disappear into for days, reappearing with carfull’s of fantastic ingredients, pickles and inspiration.

I say, take the afternoon off and have a good luck around, ask for help and guidance.  For me they’re like a flavour library for a cook, sifting through the ingredients and always finding something new and interesting to take home and play with in the kitchen.

The curry powder we used here was recommended to us by an Indian man in one of my favourite Asian supermarkets in Newcastle.  He wasn’t wrong, its brilliant, fiery and fragrant.  Curry powder has a bit of a bad name, but its just the same as any spice mix like bharat, ras el hanout etc.  If you buy a decent one, it works well.  Of course, making your own is the holy grail of any spice enthusiast.  But having the time and means to do that can be a challenge.  This is a quick dish, so lets keep it simple.

This is no traditional curry, but its not far off.  I’ve made this curry super easy for you, I’d love you to cook and enjoy it!  With only two spice mixes, garam masala and curry powder, which most of you will have knocking about in your cupboards and a quick cooking time.

If you don’t have the spice mixes, just try making your own up using things like turmeric, cumin and coriander for the curry mix, adding a little cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom for the garam masala.  Could be a very nice experiment!  I add red lentils to thicken the sauce up and make things hearty and substantial.  I used pumpkin, because its their ultra orange time of year, but use any vegetables you like here and a nice idea is stirring some greens in just before serving, a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves is cool.

In Nirvana, this is breakfast!

India, we miss you!x

Recipe Notes

I like the curry quite thin, more a thick daal than a chunky curry. Better for dipping warm chappatis into!  The lentils will just keep sucking up the water, so just keep some warm water handy when cooking, preferably a recently boiled kettle (easier) and top up the water as you fancy.

Mash it up!! Your garlic and ginger and chilli as best you can, blending them or whacking them in a pestle and mortar is best.  Releasing all their vibrant potential.

Leaving the curry to cool slighty, let it sit for 10 minutes with a lid on, will help the flavours to mix and mingle, get deep and meaningful.

I’ve gone easy on the chillies because Jane is anti-chilli, but you go wild if you like!

The lemon and coriander to finish are extras, but the lemon especially, will add a lovely citrus twist to the generally sweet curry, it also seems to re-vitalise the spices a little, bring the flavours to some kind of glorious crescendo!!!!  Swadishtx

The chickpea chapatis in the photos are made by whisking some gram flour, water and salt together, until a double cream texture forms, and frying in a little oil.  Simple, gluten-free, healthy, tasty…….

—————–

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry  Serving suggestion – eat outside, in a garden.

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry
The Bits – For 2

1 small onion (sliced)
1/2 tbs cooking oil

3 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
1 inch ginger – roughly 1 heaped tbs (finely grated)
1/2-1 green chilli (finely diced)

250g black beans
75g red lentil – 1 big handful (washed)

200g squash/ pumpkin – 2 handfuls (diced)
300ml hot water
2 tomatoes (chopped and mashed)
1 heaped tbs tomato puree
1 teas salt
1 1/2 tbs curry powder

1 heaped tbs garam masala

Roughly 2 teas lemon juice

Handful chopped coriander (optional one for the coriander lovers out there)

 

Do It

In a large sauce pan, fry the onions until they are texture like sun (golden brown), then stir in your garlic, ginger and chilli, stir and fry for a minute and then add the lentils, beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, curry powder, squash, water and stir together.  Bring to a boil.

Cook on a fast simmer for 10 minutes with a lid on, stirring occasionally to stop the lentils sticking to the bottom. Add your garam masala and cook for 5 minutes more.  Stir in a little more water if its getting too thick.

Once the squash is nice and soft, stir in the lemon juice, check seasoning and serve. If you like coriander, sprinkle some chopped coriander over the dish. I like it with warm chapatis or chickpea chapatis, dip them in and enjoy!  I also served it with some green mango pickle.  One of my favs.

 

Foodie Fact

Pumpkin is full, full of good things.  Especially this time of year when they’re bang on seasonal and hopefully quite local.  Very orange, means goodness.  Lots of vitamin A, one cup contains 200% of your daily need.  You’ll be seeing in the dark in no time.  It’s got loads of fibre and pumpkin is also said to keep our skin shining.  Bananas are famous potassium sources, but pumpkin actually has considerably higher levels of potassium than bananas.  Vitamin C, also in the mix somewhere, they’re just one of the best things we can eat at this time of year and throughout winter.   Superstars!!

PS – Please don’t throw away the seeds, clean them off and roast them for a while in an oven.  You will not regret the slightly time consuming picking orange gloop off them.

 

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Categories: Autumn, Curries, Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Drunken Cherries – Autumnal Livener!

Drunken Cherries

Surely one of the most delicious ways to warm up!  A fruity little livener!!  This is a simple method to preserve berries and produce some wonderful flavoured spirits to make winter cocktails.

It’s Halloween and we’re having a big fire and welcoming in the darker, wintery times with some luxury hot chocolate spiked with cherry brandy and some rich chocolate mousse (see recipe here) and drunken cherries.  There’s a theme there!!  Cherries and chocolate are a match made somewhere very, very nice.

I love an open fire at Halloween, staring into the flames I feel inspired and a real connection to the festival; from light to dark.  It’s also just great to be outside at night in the winter, especially with a clear sky overhead and maybe a glass of cherry brandy warming your cockles!!  Lighting fires at Halloween (or Samhain in Celtic Traditions) especially on higher ground is said to aid a souls way to heaven.

Samhain was a day set aside for fasting and reflection, but things have changed a little.  Halloween is now a big party of course, all about feasting and treats.  We’re well stocked for trick or treaters and I’m enjoying Rye flour at the minute, so loaves and cakes are on the way for tonight as well as plenty of squash/ pumpkin in a variety of forms.   I might go for a good old school Soul Cake (like a spiced scone really)?  We’ll see….

Beautiful Snowdonia – October is a spectacular month over here

North Wales has been sparkling of late in Autumn sunshine and crystal clear skies.  I love this time of year up here, probably my favourite time in these hills.  We’ve been out walking, exploring new corners of Snowdonia, there seems to be endless trails and paths that lead to new vistas, lakes and terrain.  Soon it will be a bog-fest, many paths transformed into marshes.  The walking is still incredible, but you need to get a little more semi-aquatic, and definitely, a whole lot muddier and chilled.

I’m not a huge fan of the dark, long nights, so tonight is a chance for me to celebrate the brighter times of year.  October has been so beautiful and November is the turning point where the wet and grey rise up and take control.  I’m always reminded of the villages I’ve visited in the high Himalayas, where they are snowed in for many months a year and spend the days with friends and family, drinking local chang (like a watered down moonshine), singing, dancing and telling stories.  That’s their approach to living through a really arduous winter.  I think we all need more singing, dancing and story telling in winter and lets face it, homemade cherry brandy is way better than chang (trust me)!!

You can use this method (technically it’s called ‘macerating’) to preserve and transform any berries really into something warming and delicious in the winter months.  We love to make things like Sloe Gin, Blackberry Whiskey and whatever soft fruits we can get our hands on.  I managed to get some tasty cherries a couple of months ago and now we are reaping the rewards!  I love preserving the bounty of summer/ autumn and enjoying it in the depths of winter, it seems like such a gift to pop open a jar of jam or pickle and share in the joys of the brighter months.  It makes winter slip by a little easier, some summertime sweetness.

Macerating cherries brings out some surprising flavours

Recipe Notes

Berries/ fruits like blackberries, strawberries, loganberries, sloe, plums, damsons, mulberries, blueberries will all be very nice in this recipe.

The longer you leave the fruit to macerate, the more the flavours will develop and change.  Taste it regularly and drink it when you like it!  It’s a fascinating process!!

———————————

Drunken Cherries

 

The Bits – Makes enough for one medium kilner jar

700g cherries (pitted and cut in half)

½ bottle brandy

2 handfuls sugar (to taste)

 

Do It

Place the cherries in medium sized kilner jar, if you’re keeping for awhile, or any large sealable container if otherwise.  Pour over the brandy and sprinkle the sugar over.  Place a lid on and gently shake to combine the sugar.  Now taste.  If you like it sweeter, add more sugar.  Seal and store in a cupboard.

These can be enjoyed after a few days but are better when left for a few weeks or longer.  If there are any cherries sticking above the brandy, either add more brandy or a splash of water.  

Use the cherries in desserts and drink the brandy as you like it.  It’s nice when served warm, especially in hot chocolate.  

Hiking in Snowdonia near Moel Siabod

  Come join us in North Wales for a retreat or cooking workshop soon

Check out our events page here or join our Facebook vegan cooking page

 

Categories: Autumn, Desserts, gluten-free, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Healthy New Year: A day of yoga, inspiration and plant-based cookery

January 20th 2018 10am – 5pm
Feed My Lambs, Ffordd yr Ysgol, Caernarfon LL55 2RY
With Lee Watson and Claire Mace

Start your 2018 in a good way with this day-long mini-retreat in Caernarfon, hosted by chef extraordinaire Lee Watson, author of the vegan cookery book ‘Peace and Parsnips’, along with yoga teacher Claire Mace, who teaches classes on Ynys Môn that help people honour the wisdom of their bodies, reduce stress and feel better in themselves.

This day will get you feeling muscles you didn’t know you had, learning some top cookery techniques and relaxing deeply. We want to inspire you with vibrant, nourishing food and easeful movement to recharge your enthusiasm for self-care and healthy living.

Begin the day with a fresh smoothie, followed by a two-hour yoga session with Claire, with options both for those new to yoga and those wishing to improve their practice. Expect to stretch deeply, let go of stress and feel more centred.

Then sit down to a delicious vegan and gluten-free lunch. Lee’s food is always super-tasty, varied and inspiring. Expect dishes influenced by his global research into vegan diets, made with locally-sourced produce grown at Tyddyn Teg in Bethel.

Afterwards Lee will share some easy and effective vegan cooking techniques through live demonstrations. You will learn about making healthy tasty snacks and salads, plus dessert and comfort food that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty or lethargic.

We’ll finish with some time for Q&A and a group meditation. You will leave with a recipe booklet and lots of inspiration for creating your healthy, happy and peaceful 2018.

Book your space now

Price is £79 – or **£69 if you book and pay before 1st December**

Some concessionary places may be available, please ask.

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, plant-based, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cups

This deep and rich chocolate mousse recipe is simple and decadent, always a good mix!  This is a go to recipe for a quick and stunning dessert that no one can resist.  Top with your favourite, colourful things and serve in cups/ glasses and you have a lovely looking dessert with minimum fuss.

We made a dessert, very much like this, in London at the weekend at our Global Vegan event and cooking demo at Vegfest.  We had a blast and one thing I’ve noticed with this dessert is very clean glasses.  There is rarely any leftovers and you know its good when people are carefully scraping their glasses out with their spoons.  Good food can really transport us to a happy place, we switch off from the outside world and all we really care about is dessert!   We become consumed by chocolate, we are lost in mousse!!

A food processor is fine here, but a blender is probably better to get the mousse really smooth and shiny.  I’ve been playing for a while with my vegan/ gluten-free biscotti recipe and it is getting there.  I may well share it soon, I need another few more tasting sessions first!  A bit of crunch is perfect with the mousse, scooping up the mousse with a biscotti is something outrageous!

Recipe Notes

You can also use silken tofu (drained) to make this mousse.  Replace a similar quantity for the avocadoes or use a mixture of the two.  Both will give a lovely plant-based creaminess.

I don’t like my mousse too sweet, you may need a little more sweetness, give it a taste before serving and add more maple syrup as needed.  Use any sweetener you like, but I love the combo of maple syrup and dark chocolate.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

To make sure you don’t waste a drop of your mousse, use a rubber spatula to scrape out your food processor/ blender.

Adding a large pinch of chilli powder is a nice idea here, takes it in a slightly Mexican direction which I love.

For your topping, think about contrasting colours and textures.  Pistachios are perfect because they’re delicious, bright and GREEN.  They always look great.

Don’t forget the little twist of salt, it really deepens the chocolate flavour.

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Rich Chocolate Mousse

The Bits – For 4-6

4 ripe avocados
1/2 cup cacao/ cocoa
3/4 cup almond/ other plant milk (unsweetened)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
Large pinch sea salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs coconut oil (melted, but cooled to room temperature)

Topping
Scattering of berries and toasted flaked almonds, sliced strawberry, amaretti biscuit, almond biscotti, pomegranate and pistachio…..whatever your favourite toppings are or what is to hand.

Do It

Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth.  This may take a few attempts of stopping the blender and scraping down the sides with a blender.

Refrigerate for a few hours to thicken or can be enjoyed straight away.

The dark chocolate mousse goes perfectly with something crispy and sweet, like a biscotti, wafer or amaretti biscuit.

Foodie Fact 

Cacao is unrefined chocolate.  Simple and stunningly healthy.  It comes normally in powder form, but can also be found in cacao ‘nibs’.  Cacao is full of anti-oxidants and as you may know, eating chocolate releases endorphins, makings us more happy, shiny people:)

If you like this recipe and want to see more BHK cooking and tips, join our Facebook cooking group here

Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Global Vegan & Vegfest – Our big weekend in London

I’m just preparing for what is going to be a big weekend for the Beach House Kitchen. We’re heading to the big smoke for some fun and cooking!

We’re getting a car load of tasty ingredients ready for our events, we’re transporting the Beach House Kicthen to London this weekend!

Starting with the Global Vegan Cooking demonstration and lunch on Saturday. We’ve a few tickets left, but we’ve nearly got an arch full (the event will be in Sunshine Arts Centre, their main room is a railway arch!) We love it!! We’ll be cooking lots of global vegan recipes and having a mezze lunch.

Then on Sunday we’re off to Vegfest, a huge vegan festival in London. We were there two years ago and had a great time. We’ll be doing a cooking demonstration at 2pm, can’t wait to see all the new vegan foodie products and ideas and hopefully see some of Will Tuttle’s talk.  Not to mention meet lots of amazing new people. 

If we don’t see you there, I’m sure there will be a few pictures to share next week;)

Categories: Cooking demos, Events, healthy, Healthy Eating, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charred Fig & Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

 

untitled (30)

Photo by Al Richardson

This is a salad for all those who can’t say goodbye to summer just yet!  Figs seem all of a sudden plentiful in the UK.  I’m seeing them in most shops I go to.  I love cooking figs, so sweet and fragrant, and I can think of a few nice things to do with them, but charring them slightly and serving them with a crispy and lively salad is one of my favourites.

This is an original recipe from Peace & Parsnips, I rarely cook recipes from the past, I’m too busy creating new ones normally, but this is a winner and I really like the tofu feta and flavour combos.  I normally make tofu feta by simply crushing the drained firm tofu with herbs and other flavourings, but cooking it briefly in a pan here intensifies the flavours even more.

I’m very happy when eating figs, but must admit, most of the year only eat them dried.  I love the way they can be incorporated into traditionally savoury dishes like salads and they are perfect when mixed with a little spice and wholegrains.

I remember in Morocco living off figs for a few days in the mountains (which was not a great idea, they are full of oxalates), as a veggie back then, there was not a great deal to eat and I was really rural, up in the Atlas mountains hiking with some Berber musicians.  I bought figs on long ropes, big fig snakes, that I kept hanging from my backpack.  Whenever I needed a nibble, I just plucked one off the rope.  It was a great snack.

Experiences like that make me a little sentimental about some foods and figs do bring back loads of good memories.  Still, this is quite a long way from this dish which was influenced by my times picking grapes and travelling through France.  One of  the stand out dishes of that time was a meal prepared in the Loire region, a salad with charred figs that I’ll always remember.  I felt so grateful that the chef prepared a special dish just for me.

Most of you know that Jane and I can normally be found tucked away somewhere in Snowdonia, or travelling the less beaten path somewhere in the world, but this recipe found its way over to the food section of the Washington Post!   It’s incredible to see the food that we are passionate about in the Beach House in newspapers and blogs around the world.

Joe Yonan’s version of our ‘Charred Fig & Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta’ from The Washington Post

So this is a very healthy twist on a traditional feta salad that can be bulked out by adding more toasted nuts (cobnuts would be perfect!) and maybe some white beans would be nice, even mix in something like orzo or oven baked polenta…..ok, I’m getting carried away now!  It’s ideal for an autumn lunch, as we’re just hanging onto the sunshine and warmth in the UK and getting ready for the big, sustaining stews and soups of winter.  I say, get in the fresh figs while you can!

Recipe Notes

As we all know, figs are precious!  They are delicate and should always be handled and stored with care.  Give them a gentle squeeze when you buy them to check that they’re not too soft.

Figs are best washed just before you use them, because they can be so delicate, it’s best to cut them with a sharp knife.  Eat them within a few days of purchasing.

If you don’t have a griddle pan for the figs, a nice frying pan will do the trick.

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Charred Fig & Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

The Bits – Serves 4

3 handfuls of rocket leaves
handful of fresh basil leaves
6 ripe figs, quartered
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Lemon tofu feta
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
juice of ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
400g firm tofu, well drained, crumbled
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
large pinch of sea salt
pinch of cracked black pepper

Lemon dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

 

Do It

To make the tofu feta, put the nutritional yeast flakes into a bowl with the lemon juice and zest and leave to dissolve.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan on a medium heat and add the tofu and garlic. Pan-fry until slightly golden, then add the lemon mix, salt and pepper, bring to the boil and cook until the lemon juice has evaporated. Spoon into a bowl and allow to cool. Check that it’s just a little too salty, like feta.

To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, syrup, vinegar, salt and extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl.
Mix the rocket and basil leaves together in a bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the dressing over the leaves and toss together. Keep the rest of the dressing for further dipping and drizzling.

Warm a griddle pan on a high heat and brush with a little oil. Just as the oil begins to smoke, place your figs widthways in the pan. Allow to cook for 2 minutes, basting them with balsamic vinegar as you go.Turn them when well caramelized, then remove the now sticky figs from the heat.

Scatter the leaves beautifully on plates, and top with the warm figs, a couple of spoons of the tofu feta and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts.

 

Foodie Fact 

Apparently figs are one of the worlds oldest trees.  They are high in minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron and are a great source of anti-oxidants like vitamin A, E and K.  They also have a lot of fibre.

 

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Lunch, Nutrition, Peace and Parsnips, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Top 10 tips for new vegans

Travelling around, meeting and cooking for new vegans and the vegan-curious, reminds me how tough it can be at first.  Many people ask me for some tips to get started, so here’s my top ten.

Changing the way we live and have eaten is not something that happens overnight for most of us.  There are may ways of approaching this transition, but here are a few tips from my experience that can make things easier and result in a new healthy and positive lifestyle.

What vegans eat!  Huge burgers packed with flavour – recipe here.

VEGAN FOR ALL

Eating a vegan diet has never been so accessible and popular. Many of us now realise that it can be such a healthy and vibrant way to feed ourselves and our loved ones. Eating vegan minimises the suffering of animals, drastically cuts pollution and can open up a lifestyle that is based on compassion and greater awareness.  Yes, we do have to read the ingredients on packets and meal planning will take a little more thought at first, but these things seem minor when we take into account how much benefit we can do for animals, the planet and, with a balanced vegan diet, ourselves.  Vegans generally have lower cholesterol, body fat, risks of type-2 diabetes, cancer and blood pressure.  It’s a no lose situation and it doesn’t have to be difficult.

MY STORY

I was a vegetarian for years before becoming vegan and the transition was an instant thing.  I watched a documentary and that was it.  I was down to only occasionally eating cheese, but when I realised that there is no major difference between the meat and dairy industry as far as the cruelty to animals, I dropped the Christmas day Stilton for good.  It just didn’t seem worth it.  As things go, looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I hope these tips help in your transition to a more peaceful and totally delicious way of living.

Going vegan seems to be infectious, I look around me, years later, and see many people I know and family members giving the lifestyle a go or at least cutting back on meat and dairy.  I didn’t have to say anything, I just cooked!

So here’s my Top 10 tips:

1 – Easy does it… – I think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we all go vegan overnight.  For most people, a transition period is needed.  Start to incorporate vegan staples into your life and try out your new batch of vegan staple recipes, things that are quick, healthy, easy and filling that can replace all your favourites; things like lentil spag bol, shepherd-less pie, macaroni cheeze, bakes/ casseroles, stews, salads, soups, curries, omelettes, pizza, cakes and cookies.  These are the old school favourites that are easy to prepare and we know, most people love.  They are also awesome when made vegan, everyone loves them!

Also, try out some vegan staple ingredients like nutritional yeast flakes, tofu, tempeh, nut butters, sweet potato, hummus, seitan, jackfruit; these are all interesting new additions to anyones diet and with the correct cooking, are delicious and nutritious.  Of course, who doesn’t love a bit of avocado on toast.  Avocado is an ingredient I find most vegans love to use.

You’ll find over 200 of our vegan recipes here.  

If you are struggling at first, maybe start with one day at a time and expand on that.  Say, Tuesday I’m all vegan, see how it goes and if you run into issues, see how you could avoid them.  Most people find it easy at home, but at work or when travelling/ eating out, slip up.  Slipping up is cool, don’t beat yourself up about anything, but there are lessons to be learned there and it normally involves planning a little better.  Calling restaurants in advance to check about vegan options, travelling with vegan snacks, taking out packed lunches/ dinners.  It’s also sometimes a case of just being happy with whats on offer, if its only chips and a salad, no problems.  By mentioning that you are vegan, the staff/ management will become aware of their growing need to adapt.  Sometimes I may write an email if there are no vegan options and it’s a restaurant that I like.

2- Try a plan – I’m no great planner, but I know they can help and will certainly assist with your weekly shopping, as you begin to seek out and buy new ingredients.  A vegan diet is in no way more expensive than any other, but you may need to gradually re-stock your cupboards with some new and exciting ingredients, keeping a good stock of fresh fruit and veg, dried fruit, nuts/ seeds, wholegrains and beans.  Plan a little extra time for cooking vegan dishes, it will take time to learn new techniques and there can be a few more ingredients to play with in the kitchen.

You could think about trying out Veganuary, I know many people who have used it as a base to go vegan long term.  There is loads of support and inspiration there.  Also, the Vegan Society have a 30 day vegan pledge that is well thought out and has all the nutritional information you could need.  For the record, a balanced vegan diet, based around fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts, dried fruits and whole grains is going to give your body and mind amazing nutrition, but I’d recommend your read more about vegan nutrition on the Vegan Society website.   The information there is easy to follow and practical.

I don’t know about you, but I love to learn more about the foods that I eat, the fuel for my body, and how it affects my health.   Nutritional deficiencies are an issue across the board, not just solely for vegans, there is a lot of misleading studies and articles out there; calcium, iron, omega fats and protein can all be readily found in a vegan diet.  Read up on Vitamin D, Iodine and B12 would be my advice.

All the nutrients without the animals

3- Fill up – When you’re getting used to a vegan diet, many people say that they feel hungry.  This is where I’d say fill up on high protein and carb foods.  Things like pulse/ legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa etc are all high in protein.  I guess the idea is to not just drop the meat or dairy from meals, but replace it with something nutritious and plant-based.

If you feel fatigued and weak at first, this will pass, remember that many athletes are now vegan and praise the diet for enhancing their recovery times and overall performance.

If you eat a lot of dairy, meat, drink alcohol and coffee etc, then just drop it all, your body will go through a detox period that can lead to fatigue, nausea and generally feeling rough.   Again this will pass, but unless you’re on a planned and even supervised detox, I wouldn’t recommend just dropping everything at once.  Meat and dairy also contain lots of fat, your body may crave it, maybe up the plant fats in your diet for a while.

You will most probably get cravings, stay strong and satisfy them in plant based ways.  After all, things like vegan chocolate, pizza, burgers and crisps are just as amazing as the other stuff.  The cravings go, hang in there!!

Key facts about a veganism

4- Find alternatives – This is becoming ever easier.  Cheeze, sausages, burgers, pizzas, yoghurt, milks, mayo, single cream, even creme fraiche are all available in most supermarkets.  You can also make your own if you have time, that is of course, our way, but the vegan diet is now convenience friendly for sure.  We all need a little convenience sometimes and this can help make things more sustainable in the long run.  Once you’ve found where everything is in your local shops, there will be vegan options in most places now, you can get into a new routine and whizz around in no time.

You’ll find that substituting the vegan options into your favourite recipes works.  There is cheese now that melts, cream that is creamy and mayo that hardly anyone can tell the difference between.  With the increased vegan market, there has been a general increase in vegan food quality.

Check out cereals and milks fortified with vitamins and minerals, these can be a great source of what we need.  Most new vegans I speak to mention how much more they think about their diet and the choices they make revolving around food, for me, this is one of the added bonuses of going vegan.  Educating ourselves and eating in new ways, it’s all fresh and creative.

It doesn’t all have to be pizzas, falafels and burgers, vegan cooking can be more refined. Pappardelle with Artichoke & Almond Sauce.

5 – If at first…. – You think tempeh and seitan are uurgh and tofu is not your thing, all is well.  These things need to be cooked right, and when they are, I find that most people love em!  However, a vegan cooks options are huge and they don’t need to be based around the classic vegan staples.  There are so many ways of making plant-based ingredients shine and you will get the hang of it.  Tastes change with time and who knows, maybe soon you’ll be digging seitan?!

6- Hit the umami – The big, savoury flavours, that we are used to in a meat/ dairy diet may not always be there for you when you are learning your new vegan recipe repertoire.  I say, go umami!  Giving  up our favourite foods is not easy, we’ve enjoyed them all our lives.  Things like mushrooms, yeast extract, olives, balsamic vinegar, fermented foods (kimchi!), sun dried tomatoes, tamari/ soya sauce, miso are high in umami and vegan cheeses are packed with it, like cheddar/ blue-style and Parmesan.

We can’t just rely on one big piece of roasted meat for flavour, we need to be creative, layer our flavours, tantalise our palate in new ways and be more conscious of pairing textures and colours.  Roast things, fry them up, get out a griddling pan or even better, a barbecue, use big and bold sauces and dressings.  The options for amazing vegan food are endless.  All of this is can be a challenge, but a great one, we’ll become better cooks and no doubt, more connected with the food we eat.

I travel a lot and know that it can be easy to be vegan on the road.

7- Vegan on the road, no probs! –  Check out local vegan restaurants, Happy Cow is a great source of info, and keep your eyes out for Lebanese (see above). Indonesian and Indian restaurants especially, there will be many vegan options there.   I find that most countries I travel to have a wide range of traditional dishes that are already vegan.  Of course, some countries are easier than others.  Also, always keep plenty of snacks on you, just in case.

8- Be gentle and kind with yourself – If you slip up, that’s normal.  If you are persistent, you will get there.  If you miss your daily kale smoothie hit, no problems.  Our diets have to be flexible and fun.  Having positive intentions is the key thing and not being disheartened when you first start out.  Your body, and digestion especially, may take a little time to get used to the shift, but after a few weeks, you’ll be flying!!

I believe that anyone can be vegan and very healthy, regardless of body type.  Many of the difficulties that arise in the transition period are in the mind, stay positive, join friendly and supportive local or on-line vegan groups and remember that you are joining a family of people, millions strong, who live well all over the world.  You’re not alone, but some people around you may be critical, which is their stuff entirely.  Stay true to the ethical reasons you chose to go vegan and spread your new lifestyle by communicating positively, not being drawn into arguments (which can be tough) and living the vibrant potential that a vegan diet offers.

9- Supplements are fine – I was a little put off at first about taking supplements, but they can really help us get what we need.  Many vegans take iron, omega fat, iodine and B12 supplements.  Also, maybe some vitamin D unless you live in a sunny place.  These are all good ideas and something that many people need a boost in, not just vegans.  There are fortified foods out there which will help with keeping us shining and well.

10- Stay positive and open – If you want to do it, you will.  If you stay positive, the whole process will be much more enjoyable.  This is not a punishment in anyway.  Going vegan should be a enjoyable thing, where you can learn and grow, meet new liked-minded people and gain new insight.  There will be times when people question your choices, you don’t have to go into detail or in at the deep end all the time, you can say you like the food or just change the subject.  Sometimes we don’t have the energy or resolve for a full-on debate and that is fine, many people hold strong views about a vegan lifestyle, but in my experience, most people are curious and open minded about it all, asking questions in good faith.

Just simple answers can work; good for animals, good for the planet, good for us.  Keeping our positive energy topped up is so important, conflict is draining, we need to take good care of ourselves physically and emotionally if we’re going to be at our best.  If we want to be shining lights for a brighter future for us all, we need to charge up!  If we are empathetic, and let’s face it most of us were not born vegan, we will have a much better platform for talking about veganism and a better chance that our message will be understood and considered.

How your diet can change the world

We should never feel bad or shy about speaking about veganism, but should be sensitive and constructive at the same time.  Again, these sometimes challenging conversations are an aspect of being a vegan that we can get used to with a little experience and support.  Ask fellow vegans for advice and don’t judge others.  If I communicate clearly and with sincerity, I find most people are open and receptive.  My approach is, preach from the plate, cook amazing food and enjoy it!  Good vegan food is a powerful message in itself.

If after, say a few months, you are no closer to being fully vegan, maybe revisit your original reasons for choosing this path.  Remind yourself of the motivation, ethical or otherwise, that stirred you into wishing to make a change.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about your vegan adventures and any challenges you faced.  What were the best bits?  I think one thing is clear, there is no one way, but there is always your way!  I feel that going vegan is not giving up anything, we’re actually gaining so much.  Peace and Good luck!

Here’s our vegan cooking group on facebook if you’re looking for inspiration and support.

I also like the group Vegan Food UK, lots of like minded, friendly vegans over there.

My favourite book relating to veganism is The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle.  Here’s one of my favourite vegan interviews with Will.

Carnage by Simon Amstell is brilliant and the Okja movie on Netflix I enjoyed.

Some popular vegan documentaries are What the HealthForks Over Knives (Health), Cowspiracy (Environment), Earthlings (Animal Agriculture/ Meat and Dairy Industry), Vegucated (New Vegans)

 

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Nutrition, plant-based, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Cashew & Kale Black Bean Mole with Smoky Bacon (Vegan)

 

Smoky Cashew & Black Bean Mole with Tofu Bacon (Vegan)

Mole sauce is such a Mexican classic!  A full-on fiesta of flavours; spices, chilli, smoky chipotle, creamy black beans, chocolate and here I’ve added some cashew butter instead of the traditional peanuts.

These beans are quite a mouthful!  Spicy, chilli, creamy with a tickle of lime at the end and when served with smoky tofu bacon and all your favourite Mexican condiments; salsa, avocado/ guac etc you’ve got a Mexican feast.  There is a black bean & cacao recipe in Peace & Parsnips, this is a new twist on that really.

I was lucky to travel from the North to the South of Mexico by car a good few years ago.  Zig zagging down Mexico I did munch the odd taco and was blown away by Mole!  I’d never heard of it before and was mesmerised by the complexity of it, the stories of how it takes days to make (something to do with grinding and roasting all the ingredients).  It seemed like such a legend!  It is.  Normally served as a treat during a massive, joyful party, which are common in Mexico, so much so that ‘Ir a un mole’ (Go to a mole) is used to say ‘Go to a wedding’.

Mole comes in all shades in Mexico, of which Mole Poblano is probably the most famous, the flavours of which, if not the techniques of cooking, my mole beans take after.

How many savoury dishes are enhanced and inspired by chocolate so effortlessly and deliciously?  I have used Willie’s 100% Chulucanas Peruvian Cacao, bought by the block, you will find it in supermarkets and of course, on line.  This is the best cacao I’ve ever tasted in the UK.  Grated into this dish, it will be sublime!  Adding richness and depth to the dish.  However, other cacao and cocoas will be more than fine also.  I’m thinking about experimenting with a cacao gravy for Christmas dinner.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

I’ve streamlined the traditional recipe here big time, it’s normally quite involved and uses a whole cupboard of ingredients, spices and a whole gaggle of Mexican style chillies, which are totally awesome, but not always that easy to get hold of.  Chipotle paste is a decent go to, I made my own Chipotle en Adobo recently, which is well worth it if you’re a Mexican food fan or just mad about things chilli and smoky.

The best black beans yet! Straight from Mexico City.

The real inspiration for this dish was Helga, a good friend of my sis’s, Laura.  Helga is Mexican and sent these beans from Mexico City to be used especially for just such a dish.  I’d also like to thank the cooks of the B.H.K Vegan Cooking Group on Facebook, who voted for a savoury dish this week.  The delicious thing about this type of dark mole is that it skirts between sweet and savoury, with the addition of raisins here and a good amount of cocoa/ cacao.  I must admit, I was a bit surprised when the savoury vote came in, I was sure it would be sweet all the way!  I’d even got a recipe lined up and everything!!

Mole!!  Vegan!!!  Por favor

Recipe Notes

I’ve added grated golden beetroot, red cabbage and red pepper to the plate, for crunch and colour.  These kind of ingredients, along with carrots, cauliflower, savoy cabbage etc can all add the same crunch and colour to any dish.  Brightens things up no end!

I’ve added some simple tomato salsa to the dish and sliced avocado.  Lime, essential on, or in, most things Mexican and of course a god tickle of chilli!  I also like serving this dish with some warm tacos/ tortillas.

These beans and bacon make the most perfect leftovers, especially when wrapped up in a warm tortilla (I like the corn ones).  When I say tortilla, I mean the soft ones, not the big nacho style ones that look like napkin holders.

The black kale/ cavolo nero, adds great texture to the beans.  Savoy Cabbage or Spring Greens will also be delicious.

Chipotle paste?!  No probs.  Head down a supermarket and ask someone.  It’s there.

I used the crumble method of cooking the tofu bacon in the pics.  Both methods are really nice.

If you plan on keeping the mole, don’t stir in the lime juice until you are about to serve it.  Tastes amazing that way.

Lets MOLE!!!

(By the way, for those who are not too familiar with Mole, the e has a little dash over it, making it Mole as in Olé!  Not the same as the small, lovely creature that terrorises lawns.)

So…..lets MOLE!!!!

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Cashew & Kale Black Bean Mole with Smoky Bacon (Vegan)

The Bits – For 4

550g black beans (cooked)

2 big handfuls black kale/ cavolo nero (chopped into strips)

1 large onion (sliced)

4 cloves garlic (crushed)

3 medium tomatoes (chopped)

2 tbs tomato puree

1 stick cinnamon

2 teas all spice

2 teas ground coriander

4 tbs raisins

2 tbs chipotles en adobo/ chipotle paste (how hot do you like it?!)

 

250ml water/ or bean cooking broth

2 tbs cocoa/ cacao

3-4 tbs cashew butter/ peanut butter

1-2 teas sea salt

1 lime (juice)

2 tbs cooking oil

Salt and pepper (for seasoning)

 

Garnish

2 handfuls coriander

1-2 chilli (finely sliced)

Vegan yoghurt/ sour cream/ creme fraiche

Lime wedges

 

Do It

In a large saucepan, warm the oil on medium heat, fry the onion for 12 minutes until caramelised and golden, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the cinnamon stick, all spice, chipotle sauce, coriander, raisins, tomatoes and tomato puree and stir. Cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are soft, add the beans and water. Put a lid on it and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Stir in the cashew butter, kale and cacao, cook for a further 10 minutes. The beans should be breaking down and going a little creamy. Now stir in the lime juice, season with salt and a good amount of pepper and serve straight away.

Serving ideas – Ideal with a crumble of tofu bacon, sour cream/ yoghurt and coriander.  It makes a nice dip too. Take the cinnamon sticks out and pulse it s few times in a blender. Serve with nachos and guacamole.

 

Smoky Tofu Bacon

The Bits – Serves 6-8 as nibbles
450g firm tofu (cut into bite size pieces, cut thinly for sandwiches)

Marinade
3-4 teas smoked paprika (more if you like it really smokey!)
1/2 teas turmeric
1 1/2 teas maple syrup
1 teas nutritional yeast flakes
2 teas tamari/ soya sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs veg oil

 

Do It

Mix marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Marinate in a fridge for a couple of hours or overnight is good.

Preheat a fan oven to 200oC and place tofu onto a lightly oiled baking tray. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Until nice and crisp.

Serve straight away but is also very nice served cold.

Use the leftover marinade to dip the tofu in or as a base for a dressing or even add to a stew/ soup to add a little flavour kick.

For the tofu bacon crumble – I mashed up the tofu, then marinated. Drained excess marinade and fried in a large frying pan on medium/ high heat with 2 tbs cooking oil until caramelised and crispy, roughly 8-10 minutes.

Vegan Black Bean Mole with all the gorgeous flavours of chocolate, chilli, spices and even cashew butter for extra richness.

Foodie Fact 

Black beans are one of the best sources of protein out there.  They are also one of the best sources of things called phytonutrients (basically, compounds in plants that do us loads of good).  They’re a good source of iron, copper and plenty of fibre.  They will help us to take care of our bones and heart, they even contain selenium, which is not found in many places in a plant-based diet.  Overall, they are a very healthy and super tasty star!

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I couldn’t write about Mexico without sending my love and best wishes to all effected by the recent earthquake in and around Mexico City.  If you’d like to help, here are details of an amazing charity, A Hand for Mexico, based in Mexico City and helping the people affected, as well as helping to re-build the city, focusing on shelters, schools and hospitals.

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Stew, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Vegan Thai Yellow Curry with Squash & Fava Beans

2017-09-28 18.17.44

Thai Yellow Curry with Squash & Fava Beans

This is an ideal, quick and easy, curry at this time of year, using seasonal squash (one of my favs) plus British grown fava beans from Hodmedods and all the beautiful flavours of Thailand in a creamy and rich coconut sauce.  It’s one of those dishes that most vegetables will love and mingle into, add whatever combos you love, I kept it simple here.

SQUASH SEASON

There are so many squashes around at this time of year, the one I used here was a Hokkaido Squash which is a great all-rounder for roasting, stew/ curries and grating or slicing into a salad.  Hokkaido is lovely and sweet with a brilliant orange colour and is normally quite small, making it ideal stuffing size.  You’ll also find loads of Acorns, Kabocha, Crown Prince (I love that one) and if you’re lucky, a Spaghetti Squash, which is well worth seeking out.  When roasted and fluffed with a fork, it forms a spaghetti like texture.

A lot of people I meet don’t like squash, strange as that may sound to some of you.  It’s normally down to the fact that pumpkin is so popular, the variety we carve strange faces into at Halloween (although we always used a giant swede – the vegetable that is).  That type of pumpkin is a little watery and lacking in flavour, not great eatin’, I’d recommend any of the winter squashes way ahead of old scary pumpkin head.

RECIPE INSPIRATION VIA BANGKOK SUBURB

This recipe is based on one of our favourite places to eat in Bangkok, Lemon Farm Organic Restaurant near, well, it’s kind of popped in the middle of a mass of sprawling Bangkok-ness (Chatuchak).  It’s an out of the way place if you’re a tourist, a mainly residential area where we had the pleasure of staying with the awesome Kessi for a few weeks.  There was really very little to do, so Jane and I did a lot of cooking (using only a rice cooker and kettle) and made a little home on the 13th floor of a tower overlooking the sprawling, buzzing city of Bangkok.

Down the market – Bangkok ’16

This dish is modelled on something cooked for us by the amazing Buppha, head chef/ manager at Lemon Farm, which was a sweet, rich and coconut-y lentil dish from her hometown of Phuket in the South.  I had never tried Thai lentils before and it really inspired me.  She made it with red lentils and always shared her recipes generously, but I was normally trying to write them down in a little notebook whilst holding a plate of food and being jostled by crowd of hungry Lemon Tree punters.  It got packed at office lunch time you see.  So I free styled this recipe and used the best of what was to hand, but the taste is similar, reminders of good times for sure.

THAI-STYLE (EAT!)

Phuket is a foodie centre, which can be said for all parts of Thailand I’ve found, and the dishes there are distinctly chilli-fied!  Pow!!    Buppha used to wake up at 4am with her team of chefs to prepare the days array of dishes and was very passionate about all things cooking, many of the recipes had been handed down to her by her mother/ grandmother.  The food was served buffet style, with a little noodle soup spot in the corner of an organic food shop.  It was cheap, very varied, plentiful and many dishes were vegan friendly, using some tofu and lots of interesting veggies.  Buppha just loved cooking with vegetables and they even had their own little vegetarian festival.  A week of vegetarian cooking that falls between September and October most years, most Thai’s go veggie at that time.  This years festival ended yesterday!

This one’s full of the flavours of Thailand!

VEGAN THAI TRAVEL

Thailand is of course a Buddhist country, but meat is very common in dishes, to the point that eating without planning in Bangkok and all over Thailand can be a challenge.  This is just one of those things, the veg markets in Thailand are some of my favourite in the world.  In fact the veg market in a little fishing town called Prachuap Kiri Khan is probably my favourite in the world (not to mention they have a vegan restaurant and a couple of vegetarian restaurants, plus an outdoor food market every night).   These veggies just don’t seem to surface on restaurant menus though, but this is a gripe of mine all over the world (one you’ve probably heard before).  It seems that most veggies are used in the home and meat is a ‘treat’ when people go out to eat.  Having said that, Thai’s seem to eat out all the time, everyday, such is the abundance of street eats to be found.  No country is like it, most streets have carts, wagons and tables vending all kinds of local delicacies.  It’s almost impossible to keep up with what is going on and taste bud overload can occur.

Prachuap Kiri Khan is a small town, on the coast south of Bangkok, but we managed to stumble upon a vegan festival there!

Thailand is not the easiest country to travel around as a vegan, especially when you get off the tourist trail.  English is not spoken generally and like I said, vegan options need to be sniffed out and the outrageous abundance of Thai street food is pretty much off the menu.  Still, when you do find vegan hot spots, like the tourist friendly Chang Mai or one of the main tourist islands like Koh Samui, you’ve hit Thai food heaven.  Thai food is very diverse, much more interesting than I imagined on my first visit.  I was ignorant to the geographical differences in ingredients and flavours, styles and approaches.  I should have known better really, as this is nothing new in the world of food, most countries have a similarly rich tapestry of dishes and produce as you wander around.  Nowadays, when I return, that first Green Curry or Pad Thai Noodles is always a very special moment.

There is such a buzz to eating in Bangkok, eating out really means that, outside, huddled over a table near a main road, or near one of the hundreds of canals (think watery thoroughfare).  Theres a bustle and energy to it all, loads of skill and panache in preparing and serving food and you can spend all night walking around, eating tiny delicious portions of things and just keep going until the early hours.  It’s one of the highest forms of grazing, snacking at its best, Thai style!

Big Thanks to Hodmedods!

Just for being awesome really!!  They have such an amazing array of British grown pulses and seeds, so many interesting things (to me), like Blue Peas, Carelina Seeds, Black Badger Peas, Fava Umami Paste, loads of ingredients that get me excited about cooking, trying new things.   If you’re interested, they even do a Big Vegan Box!

Hodmedods were kind enough to send us some of their pulses and bits to cook with at our recent retreats and I think their fava beans are a cut above.  Filled with amazing flavour, I love making Fave E Cicoria, a really simple Puglian bean dip.  Making it with Hodmedods beans makes a huge difference to the flavour.  The dish is simply made with cooked fava beans, garlic and a little olive oil.  Doesn’t sound like much admittedly, but with those beans, it’s dynamite!!  PS – Well done on winning the 2017 Best Food Producer at the BBC Food Awards.  To celebrate they’re offering 15% discount on orders.

Recipe Notes
You can use any lentils you like, red lentils will take considerably less time to cook. Green/ brown lentils, dark green/ puy lentils will all work nicely.  Mung beans are also very ace.

Not all coconut milk is equal.  Check the cans, we’re looking for plenty of coconut content, if it’s around 50%, its going to be quite weak.  Still nice, but not as creamy.  We’ve been talking about the differences between Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream over on Facebook in the BHK Vegan Cooking Group.  I like this dish really rich and really creamy.

Check that your Yellow Thai Curry Paste is vegan.  It normally is.  The Green and Red Thai Curry pastes in most UK shops are not vegan.

Shop bought Thai curry paste can be high in salt, this effects our seasoning.

I didn’t have any coriander or fresh chilli, but that would have been the perfect addition to the topping of this dish.

2017-09-28 18.16.47

Thai Yellow Curry with Squash & Fava Beans

Quick Thai Yellow Curry with Squash & Fava Beans

The Bits – For 4

250g fava beans

900ml water

 

5-6 kaffir lime leaves

1.5 inches ginger (finely chopped)

4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

1-2 teas chilli flakes

½ head small savoy cabbage (sliced)

1 small hokkaido squash – 300g (peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks)

1 big handful desiccated coconut/ coconut flakes (toasted is nice)

1 can coconut milk

2 tbs coconut oil

4-5 tbs yellow curry paste (vegan)

1 tbs coconut/ brown sugar (optional sweetness)

Sea salt

 

Toppings (optional)

A little more desiccated coconut/ coconut flakes

1 red chilli (finely sliced)

1 handful coriander (fresh)

1/2 lime (cut into wedges/ slices)

The Bits

Do It
Wash and drain the fava beans. Cover with cold water in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes, until soft. Add more hot water if needed.

While that’s going on, in a large frying pan, add the coconut oil, warm on medium high heat and add the onion and fry for 7 minutes until golden, then add the garlic and ginger, fry for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, chilli, desiccated coconut, lime leaves, squash and cabbage, bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the squash is soft. Stir in the yellow Thai paste, sugar and cooked fava beans (including cooking broth), warm through for a few minutes, adding a little hot water if needed.  Check seasoning.

Serve with warm rice, more toasted coconut, lime wedges and sliced red chillies if you like it hot.

*To add a Thai flavour to your rice, why not add a few lime leaves and a handful of coconut when you start cooking it.*

Foodie Fact

You all probably know that I love my beans!  But favas…..they’re almost a different league.  PACKED with flavour and so, so good for us.  Fava beans were dried and ground down to make bread traditionally in the UK, it was one of our major crops before we went wild for wheat and potatoes.  There is a rich history of fava/ broad bean growing in the UK, but growing up, they always seems a little exotic, something from the Middle East maybe, not the Midlands.

Fava/ Broad Beans are rich in shiny things like Vitamin K, Thaimin, zinc, potassium and loads of other minerals.  They are full of protein and have no saturated fat or cholesterol.  They also contain good amounts of iron and folate (one of the vitamin B bunch), plus loads of fibre.

Categories: Autumn, Curries, Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Banana & Peanut Butter Muffins with Date Caramel

Banana & Peanut Butter Muffins with Date Caramel

Most of the time, the simple things are the best.  Like these muffins.  They take a few minutes to make and I love the combination of banana, peanut and dates.  It’s like these flavours were created for a muffin!  This is a recipe that I keep going back to again and again, I’m really chuffed that I’ve finally got around to sharing it.

These muffins are loved by kids especially, I’ve seen some amazing reactions from kids when faced with these.  They disappear quickly and I think the caramel is a real favourite.   They are also pretty healthy, but kids are in no way put off by that, they just love them because they’re yum.  Kids are a good jury for food, they are perfectly honest and normally have an interesting point or two to make.

I have used a little white flour here, but you could go fully wholemeal if you’re feeling that.  Also, buckwheat flour is a lovely addition to these muffins, adds a real depth.  The key here it to not over bake them, they will go dry quickly.  Get them out when they are still soft in the middle, but a skewer comes out clean (a little stickiness is fine) and they will firm up when cooled.

The date caramel is so, so easy and can be used on all kinds of desserts and as a go to icing and filling, it’s just a superstar recipe with three ingredients only!!  These muffins also make for a great, super quick breakfast option.

We cooked these at the Home Cooked Happiness Vegan Cooking Retreat recently and I’ve noticed out of the big handbook of recipes we worked through, a couple of people have already made these muffins.  The sign of a winning recipe for me is if people feel like making it when they get home.  These muffins use such simple ingredients that almost anyone can jump in their kitchen right now and give them a go!

Recipe Notes

Get some nice big muffins cases here.  Little cup cake cases won’t do.  Preferably without frilly patterns on.  I’m against frilly patterns in this case.  I like plain brown or white, however Jane has talked me into a pink muffin case in the past.  These muffins are fun enough without additional frilliness.

If you’re feeling chocolaty, add a few tbs of cocoa/ cacao to the mix, the results are amazing!!

I like coconut oil, but normal vegetable oil is also fine.

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Banana & Peanut Butter Muffins with Date Caramel

The Bits – 10 muffins
3 ripe bananas
70ml coconut oil (melted)
65g light brown sugar
100g self raising flour
120g wholemeal flour
1 teas bicarb
1 teas cinnamon
3 tbs peanut butter

Date Caramel

175g dates
3 tbs peanut butter
3-4 tbs water

Topping

1 handful toasted peanuts (roughly chopped)
10 pieces dried banana/ banana chips

Do It
Preheat oven to 180oC, place 10 muffin cases in your muffin tin.

Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl, mix in peanut butter, oil and sugar, then the flour, bicarb, cinnamon. Mix well until a lumpy batter form.

Spoon the mix into your muffin cases, so they’re ¾ full. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Leave the muffins to cool in the tin.

Caramel – Place all in a blender and blitz until smooth. This will take a few goes. Drizzle in more water to thin out to a spreadable consistency.

Spread your caramel over cooled muffins, sprinkle with peanuts and stick a banana chip on top for a final flourish!

Foodie Fact 

Peanuts are nutritional powerhouses, like most nuts.  A handle full a day is a great idea.  Packed with minerals, antioxidants and protein, they are the ideal snack, rich in good fats and fibre.  Peanut butter is a great way of adding peanut power to smoothies, dressings, curries/soups/stews.  The hype is that nuts are fattening, but it has been shown that adding nuts to our diets can actually help us loss weight.

Jane and I have been enjoying them boiled, something we’d not tried until we went to China.  Great added to a stir fry or tossed with a Chinese Style dressing in a salad.

 

We’re off to Spain in May ’18 to host ‘A Taste of Bliss’ with the wonderful Complete Unity Yoga.

Come and join us!  Click here for more information and bookings.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

The Ultimate Umami Vegan Burger

Ultimate Umami Vegan Burger with Basil Yoghurt & Roasted Vegetables

The ‘Ultimate Umami’ is a special occasion in a bun!  it’s the main event (with a side order of wedges.)  I think this burger will be enjoyed by absolutely everyone!  

I think most of us now know that veggie burgers can have way much more flavour and texture than a traditional meat burger, we just need to make them right and flavour them up with bold and delicious flavours.  This is where all that ‘umami’ comes into play.  We’ve all had a sub-standard, borderline nightmare, veggie burger experience.  This ain’t it!!  

These are perfect for a late autumn BBQ.  The sun is still hanging on up here in North Wales and there’s that lovely nip in the air.  September and October are two of my favourite months in Snowdonia, winter is well on the way, but we can still squeeze in some BBQ’s and picnics.  The sea is still warm-ish, the moutains take on amazing colours and shades and there is so much local produce to play with. 

Winter is coming in Snowdonia, but we still have a few BBQ’s left in us yet!

I’ve packed these patties with big flavours and the texture is solid (good ‘solid’, not brick like). It’s not going to flake or crumble out on you at the decisive BBQ moment or grill flip.  We enjoyed them down in Ludlow, the night before our cooking demonstration and talk, on a little BBQ sat outside the coolest caravan ever, a ’59 Vintage Airstream in mint condition with a bath outside under the stars.  Lucky, lucky us!! The burger was a highlight, but a bath at dawn, with the mist rising off the meadows probably just pipped it in the amazing-ness stakes.

Us – Outside the Streamline ’59 Caravan , before the Ludlow Food Festival

INTRODUCING UU!

The ‘Ultimate Umami’ (UU for short) will blow your taste buds away (to somewhere nice, like the coast of Southern Italy, or the Himalayas on a clear and sunny day.  Burgers have that power!) I don’t think I’m exaggerating here!  Name me one person who does not truly get a burger tickle on occasion? (Comments below).

There’s some kind of magic there, but the accompaniments need to be bang on too, it’s a team effort, so we’ve gone to the Med to pick our favourite flavours; basil yoghurt, sweet roasted peppers…..  This burger will also be ideal with any of your favourite sides and sauce; it’s got that deep, savoury, deliciousness that accompanies most things brilliantly.  It’s a launchpad for a burger feast to remember.  

UNIVERSAL VEGAN BURGER LAWS

You need a tasty burger if you want to be a vegan cooking wizard or wizard-ess. It’s one of the universal vegan cooking laws. Those timeless guidelines, set in a block of ancient fossilized tempeh, somewhere high in the hills of Eastern California, by a veg patch and smoothie bar. ‘Thou shall munch on tasty burgers! Then thou shall use a napkin afterwards (it can get a little messy)!’ Other vegans laws include ‘Open mindedness towards tofu’ and ‘When in doubt, blend it!’

Perfect autumn lunch out in the sunshine

UMAMI?

Umami overload! Not a bad thing. Mushrooms, red rice, balsamic vinegar, yeast extract, caramelised onions, toasted walnuts, miso, smoked paprika……it’s all there. Intense. It’s a bells and whistles burger for sure.

Umami is the fifth flavour and is present naturally in many foods, normally the very tasty ones. Of course, a Japanese scientist isolated it and turned it into MSG. Not good stuff. But umami itself is basically the thing that makes you go MMMMM in savoury dishes.

Perfect with all the trimmings, pick your favourites, I went a bit Mediterranean.

We hope you get the chance to sit in a garden soon with one of these whoppers and enjoy the late Autumn sun.

Recipe Notes

Don’t mess with veg burger too much. Handle them minimally and gently. Once in/on the pan/grill, just flip them once. Once they are cooked and left to rest, they will firm up some more.

You can make the burger mix beforehand. This works nicely, a night in the fridges and the flavours can really get to know each other better.

This mix will also freeze nicely. Keep for three months max.

We made these into little burger bites at our Home Cooked Happiness Vegan Cooking Retreat, think falafel sized bites.   They can be deep fried if you like, makes them very crispy.

Red rice is a super nutritious and tasty ingredient (see ‘Foodie Fact’ below), but you can substitute it for a wholesome brown rice instead.  In fact, at the cooking retreat, I tried the recipe with red quinoa, which was delicious.

—————-

The ‘Ultimate Umami’ Vegan Burger (Gluten-free)

The Bits – For 4 

Burger

100g red rice

50g green/ brown lentils 

240g red kidney beans (cooked)

 

400g mushrooms (diced)

1 large onion (diced)

3 garlic cloves (crushed)

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

 

80g toasted walnuts (ground to a rough crumb in blender)

3 teas brown miso 

2 tbs onion marmalade

1 tbs yeast extract 

60g bread crumbs (gluten-free is fine)

 

Roast Potato & Carrot Wedges

300g carrots (cut into thick batons)

500g potatoes (cut into wedges)

1 teas smoked paprika

1 teas thyme

1 teas cumin seeds

Salt

 

Basil Yoghurt

350ml unsweetened soya yoghurt

10g basil leaves (one big handful)

¼ lemon (juice)

1 garlic clove

Pinch salt

 

4 tbs white flour

 

Serve

Roasted Med Veg (your favourite selection, I used onions, peppers and aubergine)

Salad leaves/ Rocket

Onion Marmalade (see our recipe for Onion & Chilli Marmalade here.)

 

Do It

Burgers

In a small sauce pan, wash and drain the rice and lentils, then cover with 1.5 cm water, bring to boil, pop lid on, cook for 30 minutes on low heat.  Leave to cool. 

In a frying pan, add 1 tbs cooking oil and add the mushroom, fry for around 12 minutes, until they are caramelised and all their liquid is cooked off. Set aside. Add more oil and fry the onion until golden, add the garlic and balsamic, stir and cook until the balsamic vinegar has evaporated, five minute-ish.  Leave to cool. 

In a large bowl, mix and mash together all the other ingredients. Combine well.  You’re looking for most of the beans to be mashed but a few whole, for texture. Refrigerate. The mix is best used straight from the fridge, but it’s not essential.

The Burger Mix – Chunks are welcome! Gives the burger nice texture.

Form the mix into burger patties, roughly 10cm wide, 1.5cm deep. This is easiest done with slightly wet hands.  Scatter the flour onto a plate. Place the patties in the flour and give a light coating all over.

Warm 1 tbs oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat. When warm, fry off two burgers at a time. Cook for 4-5 minutes each side, until a little charred. Place them on a lined baking tray and repeat.

When ready to serve, place the burgers in an oven, 200oC for 10-12 minutes, making sure they are warmed through.  

 

Wedges

On a baking tray lined with parchment (stops the wedges sticking to the tray), toss the potatoes and carrots in the oil, paprika, thyme, salt and cumin seeds.

Preheat a fan oven to 200oc and bake the wedges for 30 minutes, turning them gently at least once to ensure even cooking.

 

Yoghurt

Place all in a blender and blitz until smooth. Check seasoning.

 

Serve

In your favourite buns/ rolls with a little side salad, relish and loads of Autumn sunshine.

The bounty of autumn. A cooks paradise:)

Foodie Fact

Red rice is normally unhulled and has a lovely nutty flavour as well as loads of healthy properties.  Red rice is normally a little more expensive than other white or brown rices, it is more scarce and also has a much lower yield.

Red rice has a stronger flavour and when cooked, will share its bright red colour with other ingredients.  In these burgers, the rice adds a full flavour, loads of fibre and is the perfect ‘binder’ to help keep the burger together when being cooked and nibbled.

There is a good amount of protein in red rice and plenty of minerals like zinc and especially iron and magnesium.  You’ll also find Vitamin B1, B6 and B2, calcium, plus plenty of anti-oxidants.

During our cooking demo at the Ludlow Food Festival (I’m holding an imaginary cauliflower, it’s a long story……;)

If you try the ‘Ultimate Umami’ Burgers, let us know below in the comments.  We love to hear from you!!

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Come and say hello in London soon!  We’ll be at Vegfest 2017 and cooking at our Global Vegan event in Brixton.  

Can’t wait!

 

 

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , , | 15 Comments

Home Cooked Happiness Vegan Cooking Retreat – Photos, Food and Thanks

Cooking demos in the studio

Here are a few photos of our recent Home Cooked Happiness retreat at the beautiful Trigonos in North Wales.  There were full days of vegan cooking demos, walks near Snowdon, yoga and lots and lots of good eating (and laughs)!

I cooked simple and creative dishes from all over the world; Mexico, Lebanon, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, Greece and China.  It was a pleasure to cook for such a wonderful group of people, I love these retreats, always leaving with a whole new gang of friends and inspiration to do more cooking retreats/ holidays.  I just have the best time!

First morning of HCH, I was up at dawn pressing tofu;)

Mexican Dark Chocolate & Pecan Blender Brownies (g/f) with Dulce de Leche – Dessert on Day 1

This time of year means an abundance of incredible organic, seasonal produce

I was so lucky to be able to cook with almost exclusively organic, local produce from the Trigonos farm and the brilliant Tyddyn Teg.  Thanks to Judy and Claire for providing produce that chef’s dream of;  Crown Prince Squash, Spaghetti Squash, beautiful greens, radiant tomatoes and even giant Welsh aubergines.

Mushrooms grown and foraged in Snowdonia, Wales

I even managed to get some local mushrooms, grown just the other side of Snowdon.  We had some foraged Chaterelles, loads of Shiitakes and even some Hedgehog mushrooms.  They made our paella extra special!  Thanks to The Mushroom Garden.

One of my favourite nights, Spanish feast with wild mushroom paella and a roast potato and thyme tortilla

Simple and delicious. Rose, Macadamia and Strawberry Cheesecake

View from the studio window. The weather was very un-Welsh throughout the retreat. The sun shone!

Just checking out the afternoon tea:)

Home Cooked Happiness starts in the kitchen, the heart of the home and ripples out into all aspects of our lives.  After all, eating a healthy and peaceful diet can only make our lives healthier and more peaceful!!  Cooking nourishing, fresh food at home is for me, one of the most important things we can do with our time.  It’s a gift for ourselves, body and mind, and those loved ones we share our lives with.  It doesn’t have to be fiddly or complicated, we learned loads of methods and techniques to make the most out of plants, the kind of dishes that anyone will enjoy, young or old, vegan or otherwise.

The buffet table is always packed with vegan treats

We went all Mexican on the first night.  Quesadillas, mole and all the bright and colourful trimmings.  I love it!

Every meal is accompanied by a varied cheese board, sometimes with homemade cheeses.

I’d like to thank Vegusto, V-Bites and Mozza Risella for providing some tasty cheeses for our cheese boards.

Willie’s Chocolate tasting on the last day. Everyone leaves buzzing on amazing chocolate!

Thanks to our lovely yoga teacher Claire for getting our mornings off to the best possible starts.

We start most mornings with yoga, meditation and a healthy breakfast, normally light, there is a lot of eating to do everyday!

We had three cooking demos every day, ranging from making plant milks and cheeses, to all kinds of global dishes, curries. soups, breads, cakes, desserts and lots of trying new ingredients from around the world.  Not to mention some pickling and fermenting.

I love cooking and preparing for these retreats, it pushes me to try out new things and develop new recipes.  Each attendee gets a big, fat recipe booklet to take home and play with in their kitchens.  The vast majority of the recipes are designed especially for the specific retreat.  Here’s one:

Rich chocolate mousse with drunken cherries and almond biscotti (g/f)

I’ll be sharing some of these new recipes on the blog soon.

The Italian Dinner rounded things off with seasonal feast of pasta, local vegetables and other Puglian delights!

Everyone say “Home Cooked Happiness!!!”

I can’t imagine a more beautiful location to host a retreat. I feel very lucky to have worked at Trigonos and be able to invite happy cooks into Snowdonia.

Thanks to all at Trigonos for the care, help and support in getting this retreat together and running it.  Most of all, thanks to all the Home Cooked Happiness group who made the retreat so special and memorable for me.  Your positive energy and passion made cooking for you a dream!  Now all you have to do is practice, practice, practice.  I can’t wait to see your kitchen inspiration over on our Facebook vegan cooking group.

So that’s it for our Trigonos retreats this year, both Home Cooked Happiness and One World Vegan have been an incredible experience for us both.  They have flown over and we’ll hopefully see some of you up here next year for more whole food, plant-based cooking and good times in North Wales.

Diolch yn Fawr!!

Our next event is soon in London – Global Vegan Cooking Demonstration and Lunch

Then we’re across to Vegfest London for a cooking demonstration. 

We also have our Taste of Bliss – Plant-based Yoga Holiday next May in Spain.  Just like Wales, but we substitute the mountains for beaches!

Categories: Cooking demos, Cooking Retreats, Events, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

One World Vegan Cooking Retreat – Photos, Memories and Thanks

I think pictures sometimes tell a better story than words.  We had an amazing time at our vegan cooking retreat last week at Trigonos.

Cooking Demo at One World Vegan, with the Snowdon Mountain Range in the background

Jane and I would like to thank all who attended and the Trigonos team for making it such a special and memorable time.

The lake at dawn behind Trigonos,

We were lucky with the weather as the sun shone for most of the retreat and we had a good walk around Snowdon.

Jane and the One Wold Vegan group, on a walk in Snowdonia.

We cooked food which we love and enjoyed on our travels around the Balkans, China, Indonesia, Italy, India, Mexico and more.

The buffet table was always packed with dishes;)  We brought the flavours  we savoured around the world back to North Wales.

I came up with a menu filled with original recipes, created especially for the retreat.  I love sharing the bounty and creativity of pure plant-based cooking.  With a few tricks and tips, it can be so easy to recreate wonderful, healthy, wholefood vegan food at home.

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Dulce de Leche 

Jane and I during one of the cooking demonstrations

Everyone who attended mentioned that it was a daily feast, but there is always room on the last day for the chocolate tasting.  Thanks to Willies Cacao, Essy & Bella and Vivani for supplying an interesting range of chocolates.  We traveled all around the world, just by sampling chocolates of differing origin.  A great way to travel!!  I think one of the most popular times is when we make hot chocolate with Willie’s 100% Single Estate Peruvian Black Cacao.  It tastes like no other hot chocolate!!  As we all know, chocolate is very, very important and should be taken seriously;)  Results of the chocolate tasting will be on a post soon.

The chocolate tasting on the final day is always a highlight.

We made a variety of vegan cheeses, from Smoky Cashew Cheese to Baked Almond Cheese, but I’d also like to thank Vegusto, V-Bites and Mozzarisella for contributing cheeses to our cheese boards at lunch and dinner.  I’d also like to mention the incredible Tomato Stall, based on the Isle of Wight, who produce some of the most delicious tomato based delights.  Their Oak Smoked Tomatoes are one of my favourite things.  I’m also loving their new Sun Dried Tomato Balsamic Vinegar.  Wow!!

Trigonos beautiful in the sunshine

We used a lot of Trigonos produce, grown to organic standards.  It’s such a privilege to cook with home grown produce.

Artichoke flower

Many of the group woke around dawn to pratice Tai Chi by the lake, even spotting otters most mornings.

Down by the lake

Judy and Owain picked fresh herbs and vegetables every morning from the Trigonos gardens and poly tunnels.

One World Vegan – Local produce given a global twist

Another table full vegan dishes, this was the Spanish dinner with paella

It’s a brilliant experience for me to meet so many people passionate about cooking and open to learning new techniques and recipes.

I’m just running through the menu for lunch here in the dining room

Great to see Janice from the ace blog Nourished by Nature again and thanks to Jan for taking some of these pictures.   I must mention Ninja Blenders for providing the BHK with a new, high quality blender and food processor, after ours finally gave up on a chocolate mousse one day.  It’s got so many features and we’re loving making ranges of smoothies, raw desserts and sauces with our new gadget.  It’s easy to clean and use, with loads of power to make things creamy and smooth.  We’ve never had a blender this good!

The group getting involved during one of the cooking demonstrations.

We’d also like to thank Laura from Yoga Wellbeing for coming up and teaching our yoga and meditation classes, plus John, Sarah and Gillian for the music and storytelling in the evenings.

Yoga classes in the mornings and meditation in the evenings help us all to relax and enjoy the beautiful location.  Classes taught by lovely Laura at Yoga Wellbeing (my sis;)

These cooking retreats go so quickly, sometimes I wish they could last for longer, we meet so many like-minded people and always make new friends.

Some of our group on the last day, hard to say goodbye.  We’ll have to do it again next year:)

We will be hosting other cooking retreats at Trigonos in the future.  Home Cooked Happiness – Creative Vegan Cooking Retreat starts this Saturday, 16th Septemeber.  We still have a few spaces available, more information on our Facebook page or call Trigonos directly 01286 882388.

Goodbye Trigonos and the Nantlle Valley, see you again soon:)

Categories: Cooking Retreats, Events, healthy, Healthy Eating, photography, plant-based, Vegan, veganism, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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