Vegetarian

Everyone’s Lovin’ Jack! Ten interesting facts about jackfruit

A giant jackfruit, found dangling by a restaurant in Goa which cooked up an amazing jack and coco curry

Everyone is loving Jackfruit at the minute, all those pulled jack fruit sandwiches and have you tried jackfruit ice cream? It’s incredible! But how much do we know about this strange fruit? Don’t let the spikes put you off, this is a super fruit in every way!!  I’m lucky on my global wanders to have tried many varieties of jackfruit and different dishes. I’ve never met a jackfruit dish I didn’t like!

Here are 10 facts about this strange, spiky and wonderful fruit:

1) Jackfruit, the yellow bit we eat, is actually called an ‘aril’. It’s a flower and we eat the edible petals. One jackfruit contains hundreds of flowers and one tree can grow 250 fruits per year.

2) Jackfruit seeds are edible and healthy most people roast them. You can also boil them up and make a lovely attempt at hummus. Comes highly recommended.

3) It is said to smell and taste like a cross between very ripe bananas and pineapple, with a twist of apple and mango. It’s a confused fruit! I think that’s quite accurate but there is definitely a custardy, juicy fruit gum-ness there too.

4) There are many varities of jackfruit, some are pithy inside and some are very sweet and tender.

5) In Indonesia, they make chips out of jackfruit, called Kripik.  You can buy them and eat them like crisps.

6) Jackfruit seeds, when roasted, taste like brazil nut crossed with a chestnut. You can boil, bake and roast them.  They can also be ground into a flour.

7) Using jackfruit as a meat substitute is nothing new. In Thailand it’s sought after by vegetarians and historically called ‘gacch patha’ (tree mutton!)

8) In Indonesia, the wood of the jackfruit tree is used to maked the famous ‘gamelan’ drums.  Popular in Bali (see video below).  The leaves are also fed to cattle, but also make a nice alternative to other greens.

9) Every part of the jackfruit tree is medicinally beneficial, the bark, leaves, pulp, skin and roots.  It is also antibacterial and anitviral.

10) Jackfruit is the heavyweight of all fruits, growing to four feet long and weighing in at over 35kgs.  That’s a lot of burger right there!

Cooking wise, the main attraction to Jackfruit for me is the interesting texture, when unripe, nothing else gives that stringy, chewiness when cooked. It is meat-like and an ideal plant-based dish to serve meat eaters.  Also the flavour is totally unique, in fact, Jackfruit is a very strange fruit indeed, like nothing else.  As the world goes meat free (it’s happening!) we’ll be increasingly familiar with Jack.  It’s going mainstream!  Great news as the production of meat is THE number one cause of global warming.

Delicious Indonesian jackfruit dish ‘Gudeg’ – actually being served at breakfast

I’ve been in Goa for a while and jackfruit grows everywhere.  Jackfruit has been hailed as a ‘future food’, due to the fact that it grows so easy and is high in nutrition. It requires minimal fuss and pruning. One jackfruit can feed many and some say it will help to ease the issue of global hunger/ food security. Jackfruit is now being grown in parts Africa for example. But we all know really that there is more than enough food produced in the world, its more a question of distribution and ecomonics. I don’t think jackfruit alone is going to save the day.

For me, the country who does jackfruit the best is Indonesia. I’ve never been to a country where it is used so frequently. Almost every meal I had in a proper place had at least one dish using jackfruit. The dish ‘Gudeg’ is a stand out staple. Of course, it makes for a great dessert. It’s a very useful plant, although I have been warned that in places like Brazil, it can be invasive. This is probably not such a problem in rural Wales as it will only grow in warm places.

Fairly standard Indonesian lunch! You have jackfruit and it’s leaves here, plus tofu and tempeh.  Woah!

I also tried a ‘Pulled Jackfruit Burger’ in quite a cool little place in Yogayakarta, Indonesia. This is a contemporary twist on things and its great. You’ve probably tried one yourself?  I’ll be cooking it when I get back to the UK for sure. Unfortunately, up here in the Himalayas, it’s not a Jackfruit zone. Great organic veggies though.

You can eat Jackfruit raw, I love it like that, but they have to be ripe. It’s also interesting when it pops up in a salad. Jackfruit originated in India and in the South you can find people selling it as a street snack and, of course, in parts of India it’s made into a curry. I know they sometimes make candies/ sweets out of the juice.

Jackfruit is easily confused with the pungent freak that is Durian (see below). Popular in South East Asia and banned from public transport there (it reeks like something gone way rotten and wrong). Durian is an acquired taste and once (or if) you can get over the stink, has an incredible flavour.  When I did the TV show ‘Meat vs Veg’ I was tasked with wandering around the streets of London, trying to get people to try it.  Some did and liked it, but most just looked sickened!  Again, something totally unique. Go to Thailand, try it out. The Thai’s adore the stuff. Durian looks different, bigger spikes and doesn’t grow as large.

Pulled BBQ Jackfruit Burger, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Nutrition wise, for something quite starchy, its got lots to offer. It’s low in calories with good levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6 (which is quite rare). Its also a reasonable source of minerals and a good source of carbohydrates, fats, protein and has plenty of fibre.  The seeds have plenty of vitamin A.  Jackfruit has zero cholesterol.

Although it’s not exactly local (and you know we love our local produce) I guess there is little difference tucking into a pineapple or mango. Jackfruit is a treat and when you look at the prices, this makes it even more so. I think for a every now and again, taste of something different, you can’t beat Jack!

Cambodian Jack Vendour
https://goo.gl/echunh

You can buy jackfruit canned in most countries and if you buy a whole jackfruit, be warned, they can be a trick customer.  They ooze a white sticky liquid when cut into and it takes ages to pick out the little fruits, seperate the seeds etc.  It is well worth it, the texture of a fresh jackfruit is different from the tinned.

Have you tried Jackfruit? How did you cook it? It seems like a fresh and new ingredient in the UK and beyond that everyone is falling for.  We love it!

To avoid confusion, this is Durian. Bigger spikes. You normally smell it before you see it.

Evidence of its putrid odour. Banned on public transport in Thailand and other countries. Phew!

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Finally, some fascinating and hypnotic ‘Gamelan‘ music from Indonesia:

Categories: healthy, Music, Nutrition, photography, Superfoods, Travel, Vegan, veganism, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Street Eats and Delicious Days – Our Indonesian holiday snaps

I loved this woman and mama! Could she cook;) Tempeh and tofu that melted in the mouth and some excellent peanut relish. Sulawesi

I loved this woman and mama! Could she cook;) Tempeh and tofu that melted in the mouth and some excellent peanut relish. Sulawesi

I’d go as far as to say this.  Indonesia is the best country in Asia for a vegan traveller, probably the world.  There we go, I’ve said it.  In black and white.  Can’t take it back……Thailand is also pretty damn good too…….but Indonesia!!!!  See evidence below (quick before I change me mind!)  Its been a while since we were there, we left in September, but these are highly enjoyable edible memories and I just had to share them around.

We had a fairly stunning 2016, packed it full of things that sparkle and shine.  We’ve been so busy that the Beach House Kitchen has taken a bit of a back seat.  Battling with pants internet is a thankless task, but here we are.  Finally, a sound and reasonable wifi zone.   I have a long, long list of things that’d I’d love to post, so no more waffle……..first up, the wonders of Indonesia!

Typical Indonesian kitchen. Outside cities, everyone is cooking over wood and doing everything brilliantly old school, see pestle and mortar.

Typical Indonesian kitchen. Outside cities, everyone is cooking over wood and doing everything brilliantly old school, see pestle and mortar.

Travelling is a way of life that suits us very nicely.  Indonesia is a land (many peices of land in fact) that we’ve always wanted to visit.  We were highly undisappointed by the month we spent there.  Indonesia is vast archipelago filled with some of the friendliest people and tastiest food on this beautiful planet.  I was blown away by the sheer volume of vegan friendly fare.  I loved the constant stream of tempeh and tofu, the buzzing and diverse street food scenes that varied from town to town.  The scenery was breathtaking, we took up residence in a hut on an deserted island (with the perfect hammock), we swam with dolphins, we wandered up active volcanoes (smelling of off eggs, sulphur clouds), we threw ourselves into the mayhem of Jakarta, nearly got stuck in the jungle, stayed in traditional villages with fascinating ancient traditions, beliefs and rituals.  It was a feast in more ways than one.

So here we are, some Indonesia sunshine and vibrancy that can’t help brighten any January morning.  You’ve all probably heard of staples like Nasi Goreng (basically fried rice) or Mie Goreng (fried noodles) but there is so much more to Indonesian veg based (sayura) cuisine.  Of course, the best food, the food that represents a country, is always found on the streets and in little, potentially shabby looking places.  Fancy restaurants are all well and good, but we believe the food that matters is enjoyed by all, that’s where you’ll find us.

Salamat Maka! (Bon Appetit!)

Traditional village - Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

Traditional village – Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

The kind of sensational meal available from a village house doubling as a restaurant. Eaten on a bench beside the road, coconut tempeh, spicy chutney, all kinds of fascinating veggies that grow near or in rivers. Oh, and jackfruit (everyone loves it now!) Little village, somewhere in Sulawesi

Gudeg.  A kind of sensational meal available from a village house doubling as a restaurant. Eaten on a bench beside the road, coconut tempeh, tofu, mashed casava leaves, spicy chutney (the ever present sambal), all kinds of fascinating veggies that grow near or in rivers. Oh, and jackfruit (everyone loves it now!) Little village, somewhere in Sulawesi

Inspecting a local salad outfit. These guys used interesting irrigation and tables. Clever. Salad leaves are very fashionable in rural Sulawesi. Tomahon, Sulawesi

Inspecting a local salad outfit. These guys used interesting irrigation and tables. Clever. Salad leaves are very fashionable in rural Sulawesi. Tomahon, Sulawesi

View from our trusty hammock. Floating in the ocean on an island in the middle of the Togean Sea. Some of the best snorkelling. Togean Islands, Sulawesi

View from our trusty hammock. Floating in the ocean on an island in the middle of the Togean Sea. Some of the best snorkelling imageable. I swam with some friendly black porpoises. Togean Islands, Sulawesi

Fried tempeh, jack fruit stews and piles of moring glory, plus the most digusting sulphurous bean I've ever encountered. Rank! You even get serenaded here by local guitarists singing Indonesian folk or The Beatles. Street eats in Yogyakarta, Java

Fried tempeh, jack fruit stews and piles of moring glory, plus the most digusting sulphurous bean I’ve ever encountered. Rank! You even get serenaded here by local guitarists singing Indonesian folk or The Beatles. Street eats in Yogyakarta, Java

Gado gado. Just the best. These carts, hundreds of thousands of them, are doing amazing things with peanuts and veggies all over Indonesia. Cost, about 50p for dinner. This guy is one of the best if you bump into him. Sulawesi PS - Another popular dish is Ketropak, which is like Gado Gado without the amazing peanut sauce

Gado gado. Just the best. These carts, hundreds of thousands of them, are doing amazing things with peanuts and veggies all over Indonesia. Cost, about 50p for dinner. This guy is one of the best if you bump into him. Sulawesi PS – Another popular dish is Ketropak, which is like Gado Gado without the amazing peanut sauce

Now this is what I'm talking about! Gado Gado.

Now this is what I’m talking about! Gado Gado served with the classic Kerupuk (cassava crackers)

Visiting tofu village (see our post here) and learning to make tofu Indonesian style. Hot and hard work. Java

Visiting tofu village (see our post here) and learning to make tofu Indonesian style. Hot and hard work. Java

One of the finest things we ate. Sticky coconut rice, made into buns, and marinaded tempeh (in cane sugar and kecap manis) for the burger. A local street food speciality in a village above Yogyakarta, Java. PS - Thats a massive hunk of marinade tofu. Delicious.

One of the finest things we ate. Sticky coconut rice, made into buns, and marinaded tempeh (in cane sugar and kecap manis) for the burger. A local street food speciality in a village above Yogyakarta, Java. PS – Thats a massive hunk of marinaded smoky tofu. Delicious.

A feast at the Loving Hut in Yogyakarta. A purely vegan restaurant chain (see here) with a huge menu of fascinating items. Vegan egg yolk made of mung beans and loads of bizarre and generally a bit rubbery fake meats. Still, we went there everyday and samapled everything. Java

A feast at the Loving Hut in Yogyakarta. A purely vegan restaurant chain (see here) with a huge menu of fascinating items. Vegan egg yolk made of mung beans and loads of bizarre and generally a bit weird and rubbery fake meats like Seitan Satay. Still, they had lots of local delights like Kering Tempeh (dried and crunchy tempeh) and we went there everyday and sampled everything. The Thai style coconut iced tea was a highlight.  Java

Breakfast. Fruit salad with things like cactus fruit and a sauce made from cane sugar and chilli. Yogyakarta, Java

Breakfast. Fruit salad with things like cactus fruit and a sauce made from cane sugar and chilli. Yogyakarta, Java

So much history and culture spread over the vast islands of Indonesia. They spread over distances greater than the width of Europe. 250 million people! This is Prambanan, a massive Hindu temple complex. Indonesia is of course a Muslim country now, but has flirted with Hinduism and Buddhism in history, not to mention a myriad other more tribal belief systems (many still around). Java

So much history and culture shared over the vast islands of Indonesia. They spread over distances greater than the width of Europe. 250 million people! This is Prambanan, a massive Hindu temple complex. Indonesia is of course a Muslim country now, but has flirted with Hinduism and Buddhism in history, not to mention a myriad other more tribal belief systems (many still around). Java

Jane at the 'cat food' stand. Like a cafe on wheels selling hot drinks and piles of delicious deep fried nibbles and bags of sticky rice plus sambal (spicy relish). Street corner, Yogyakarta

Jane at a ‘cat food’ stand. Like a cafe on wheels selling hot drinks and piles of delicious deep fried nibbles and bags of sticky rice plus sambal (spicy relish). Street corner, Yogyakarta PS – No one could fully explain the ‘cat food’ thing.

Indonesians are amazing artists, musicians and pretty handy with a spray can

Indonesians are amazing artists, musicians and pretty handy with a spray can

This was an amazing dish eaten on a Sunday morning. Mounds of greens with jackfruit, pepper, flowers, bean sprouts and delciious sauce and something like tempeh tempura. Known as Naspecel. Java

This was an amazing dish eaten on a Sunday morning. Mounds of greens with jackfruit, pepper, flowers, bean sprouts and delciious sauce and something like tempeh tempura. Known as Naspecel. Java

Another feast at the Loving Hut, Yogyakarta (a very cultural city with a great old town and loads of galleries and musicians. They also still have a Hindu sultan).

Another feast at the Loving Hut, coconut curry and some kind of heavenly ramen concoction.  Yogyakarta (a very cultural city with a great old town and loads of galleries and musicians. They also still have a Hindu sultan).

The coffee in Indonesia will blow you away in more ways than one. Stunning brews. More of that to come...

The coffee in Indonesia will blow you away in more ways than one. Stunning brews. More of that to come…

Downtown Jakarta eatery. Huge range on the buffet and some very friendly taxi drivers.....

Downtown Jakarta eatery (warung). You find places like this all over Indonesia.  Huge range on the buffet and some very friendly taxi drivers…..

....this is whay a Warung does best. Plates of cheap and delciious food. About 50ps worth here. Jakarta

….this is what a Warung does best. Plates of cheap, fresh and delciious food. About 50ps worth here. Served with Nasi Uduk, Jakarta’s favourite coconut rice.

Helping Maria (a Christian town) with her chillies in a porridge joint. No ordinary porridge though.....

Helping the radiant Maria (twas a Christian town) with her chillies in a porridge joint. No ordinary porridge though…..

One of the best things we ate. Called Manado Porridge, made with pumpkin, rice, spices and greens. Bubbled in a massive steel cauldron. Served with teas and fried bananas. Tentena, Sulawesi

One of the best things we ate. Called Manado Porridge, made with pumpkin, rice, spices and greens. Bubbled in a massive steel cauldron. Served with tea (teh manis) and fried bananas. Lezat! (Delicious!) Tentena, Sulawesi

Sometimes you get desperate! Late night, nowhere open, just the random Hello Kitty cafe serving packet noodle soup. Lost in Sulawesi.

Sometimes things go wrong! Late night, nowhere open, just the random hellish Hello Kitty cafe serving packet noodle soup. Lost in Sulawesi.

Markets are always bizzing and filled with vegan delights. We carry a chopping board and bowl so salads are always on the menu.

Markets are always a buzzing hub and filled with vegan delights. We carry a chopping board and bowl so salads are always on the menu.

Jane and I's preferred mode of transport. Back of rickety bus.

Jane and I’s preferred mode of transport. Back of rickety bus.

Thank you IndonesiaX

Thank you IndonesiaX

PS – We nearly forgot the Gorengan stalls at every corner.  Fried sweet potato, banana, tempeh, cassava, breadfruit and loads of chilli sauce.  Vegans will never go hungry in Indonesia!!  Also if you want to get Indonesian at home, you must seek out a bottle of Kecap Manis.  A sweet and sticky sauced used on everything.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dal Bhat Power! What’s cookin’ in Nepal

May I introduce Dal Bhat. If you've been to Nepal, you are already friends.

May I introduce Dal Bhat. If you’ve been to Nepal, you are already friends.

After enjoying the most amazing traditional Nepali lunch earlier I had the urge to share with you all the delights of Nepali cooking.  My tastebuds were dancing and I felt inspired.  We’ve been here for two months now, travelling around, walking in the Himalayas, meeting the most amazing open hearted and kind folk. As usual, we’ve done a fair amount of hanging out in kitchens and nibbling things. We’ve been very pleasantly surprised by what Nepal has to offer and this is all made even more amazing by the fact that so many dishes are plant-based wonders.  Compared to China, life’s a breeze for a vegan exploring these stunning landscapes.

Nepal has a fascinatingly diverse and ancient culture, very distinct from Northern India and surrounding countries.  Nepal is technically a Hindu state, but many people we speak to are Hindu/ Buddhist.  They respect and adhere to some of the beliefs, festivals and rituals of both.  There is a great open mindedness about spirituality and it shows in the culture.  Nepalis are very tolerant, peace loving people and they know how to cook!

Nepal is basically the Himalayas in the top half and some flat lands in the south, there are countless valleys and micro-climates which means a huge diversity of crops; mangoes thrive in the south, millet and potatoes in the north.  There are many ethnic groups, the main ones being the Thakali and Gurung (north) and the Newari (Kathmandu valley) and Terai, further south, Lohorung in the east.  It’s a melting pot of cultures which can only add to the brilliance of the cuisine.

Jane is a big fan

Jane is a big fan

DAL BHAT POWER!
Dal (lentils) Bhat (grains, normally rice) is what fuels this lovely country. Twice a day, every Nepali eats a big plate of Dal Bhat. I’ve never been to a country that adores a single dish so consistently.

Nepalis normally have a nice cup of strong tea for breakfast, maybe a baked good of some description, but the tastiness really kicks off around 11 am with an early lunch of dal bhat with some chutney or pickle (achar) and a tarkari (veg side dish). We love the fact that you normally get some fried greens, mustard leaves are very popular, and also the fact that in most restaurants seconds and thirds are politely enforced. If you turn your head for a second, your pile of rice magically grows.  It’s very rare that you leave a premise without being totally stuffed full of spicy veggies. You will sometimes also get a nice little salad going on and one single, solitary, tooth meltingly spicy chilli. To be eaten raw by the afeciandos and fool hardy. I love em!  Certainly wakes you up.

Dal Bhat is also served for dinner, again an early sitting, 6pm-ish. I like the simplicity of it all. All over Nepal, you hear the pressure cookers hissing in the early morning. The pungent aroma of frying onions and spices are to me something synonomous with the haze of Nepali mornings.  Everyone one knows where they stand food wise, no over complictions, and it must be so easy for the home cook. No one needs to ask whats for dinner! Of course, the veggies vary and the dal morphs from legume to legume, but the combo remains undiminished. Dal bhat rules.

The dal component can mean anything, but mung beans (halved) are very popular. You may also see some rajma (kidney beans – Jane’s recent favourite, see our recipe here) and chana (brown or normal chickpeas).  When I make dal, it’s thick and hearty, but you’ll find in Nepal and India, dal is more like a soup.  If you’re very luck indeed, the restaurant may have a tandoor oven which opens the door to all kinds of stunning breads. Warm and crisp naan being the royality of any tandoor behaviour.

Fortunately for the nomadic vegan in these parts the veggies are very, very tasty. Up in the mountains and in the countryside most people have their own veg gardens that really thrive. The produce is delicious; potatoes, carrots (quite expensive for some reason), spinach, chard, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, long white radishes (like daikon), mustard leaves, bitter gourd, green beans, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber.  We’ve even seen some pumpkin, but it’s a rare and very special event.  A beetroot curry has been savoured on one very special evening.  Even the stuff you buy from bigger Kathmandu markets is packed with flavour. We’ve enjoyed using this abundance in recipes in our little flat in Kathmandu, up in the north, a local neighborhood with dusty roads and a gently chaotic and superbly friendly nature.  We have a little kitchen and a sun trap terrace.

Monkey Temple Stupa - Kathmandu

Monkey Temple Stupa – Kathmandu

WHAT ELSE?

But dal bhat is not the end of the line.  There are also such delights as momos (technically they’re from Tibet, but they are loved all over Nepal and there are many Tibetans living here), things like Chow Mein and Thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) have also made the hop over the Himalayas/ border.  Barley, millet and buckwheat grow well in the cold areas and you’ll find these regularly made into  a range of noodles or tsampa, a flour which is made into a hearty porridge.  This is perfect early morning fuel for a day hiking.  You’ll also find these grains being made into Raksi or Chang, potent distilled moon shine or quite a mellow wine like booze that is mixed with fruit juice sometimes.  It’s perfect chilled with apple juice!  On average, 15p per cupful.

These cooks are superheroes. Nepali cooks are very talented and capable of creating complex menus/ meals with very basic equipment. Plus, this guy was cooking at about 4000m up a big snowy hill.

These cooks are superheroes. Nepali cooks are very talented and capable of creating complex menus/ meals with very basic equipment. Plus, this guy was cooking at about 4000m up a big snowy hill.

THE REAL DEAL

So what was so special about todays lunch?  Thamel is the main tourist area in Kathmandu.  A jumble of lanes loaded with tourist traps of all forms and agendas.  You can get food from all over the world, but pizza doesn’t interest me in the slightest in Asia.  I could eat rice 24/7 anyway, so I’m never in the market for a seeded loaf or crepe when I’m wandering in Eastern parts.

We stumbled across a little old doorway, we ducked in and it opened out into a courtyard with beautifully carved wooden window ledges and perfectly wonky old walls.  Our host was toothless and beaming wearing a traditional Nepali hat.  We knew it was a proper joint, the kitchen was a hive of good natured activity.  I was excited as my expectations soared.

Most Nepali’s eat squating or sat cross legged on the floor, but in more urban restaurants, you’ll get a chair and tourists are always supplied a trusty spoon, although sometimes I like eating with my hands.  Really getting to grips with your food!  Just always remember, right hand only.  Left hand is a no go area for reasons I won’t go into on a food blog.

Safely perched on our chairs, we both went for the Nepali Veg Set or Khana, which is something we love.  It’s like Dal Bhat with a few more trimmings.  I went for dhendho with mine instead of rice, like a thick buckwheat porridge.  An earthy, wholegrain polenta.  The smells escaping the kitchen, a tiny room with very low ceiling, were tantalising.  No less than four pressure cookers were violently hissing, like some kind of out of sync steam train.  The waiters all fussed around us because there was only another couple of people in there and they were big fans of Gareth Bale (he’s a Welsh football player for non-sporties and officially the most famous Welsh person ever).  It’s always very strange to visit some very remote mountain village, lost to the vastness of the mystical Himalayas, and find a picture of Wayne Rooney pinned up beside Krishna in your family hostel reception.  I wonder what Wayne thinks about this kind of hero worship?  I wonder if he even knows!?

Mountain of dhendo! With all the Thakali trimmings

I know what you’re thinking, ‘that’s a big pile of dhendo!’ With all the Thakali style trimmings flavoured with the mighty ‘jimbu’.

Anyway, lunch was ace.  Very traditional and a real taste of the Thakali style of cooking.  An ethnic group from mainly Mustang in northern Nepal (a fascinating region if you’re a culture/ history buff btw) which stretches down to Pokhara.  The Thakali’s love nothing more than flavouring their dishes with the brilliantly named ‘jimbu’.  It’s a member of the allium family, think potent onions crossed with chives, normally used to flavour dal but it was also evident today in the tarkari dishes. A delicious herby twist to the normally spice laden sauces.  The mustard leaves were radiantly green and fresh, there was even some gundruk, something you don’t always get.  Dried and fermented saag, which is a loose term for green leaves but something normally like spinach.  This was all finished off by some pickled white radish and a punchy chutney of tomato and coriander; plus crisp popadoms, some chopped up salad bits, a slice of lime and one of those highly explosive green firecrackers (chillies).  What a feast!  How many textures and flavours can you cram onto a large tin plate?!  All for the modest sum of £1.  You heard me right, £1!  And we still get people writing in asking why we choose to travel all the time.  £1 goes a long way in certain parts of the world and it can certainly buy you some delicious lunch options.

A random, yet delicious falafel wrap in Kathmandu. I may not seek out crepes when travelling, but falafels are always welcome.

A random, yet delicious falafel wrap in Kathmandu. I may not seek out crepes when travelling, but falafels are always welcome.

Other Nepali specialities we’ve encountered include bread made from grains like millet or buckwheat (gluten free options abound), fermented soya beans (kinema).  We stay with an amazing family in Kathmandu, papa is called Raju and he takes wonderful care of us.  He was the first face we saw off the plane from Beijing, escorting us through the tangled Kathmandu streets on his motorbike (a Honda ‘Enticer’).  We love visiting Rajus family home and checking out what his sisters (he has seven!) and Mum are up to in the kitchen.  We’ve had some of our favourite food there, especially the popped, squashed and dried rice (baji) staple.  A dish normally served with roasted peanuts and different tarkaris (curries).  Something very uniquely Nepali and, I must admit, a little strange at first.  More like a pile of crunchy breakfast cereal has invaded your plate.

One of the most interesting dishes that Raju has introduced us to is Yomari (or ‘tasty bread’ – see below).  It looked like a hand crafted parsnip.  It’s actually made out of rice flour dough and stuffed with cane sugar, giving a gooey sweet middle.  It looks really tough to prepare and is loved by Nepalis.  Traditionally made for the Yomaru Puri festival, these funny things are something to do with an offering to the God of Wealth (Kubera).  There are so many festivals and religious rituals going on in Nepal, it’s almost impossible to keep pace.  I’ve never had anything like it, but I always appreciate a parsnip and the exploding soft sweet centre was a treat.

Yomari - a very interesting and unique Nepali sweet

Yomari – a very interesting and unique Nepali sweet

Snack wise, our favourites are the peanuts sold off the back of carts.  Simple but effective.  They are roasted in sand and kept warm in big piles with traditional wood burning clay braziers.  Expertly moved around by the vendour.  A great smell on a brisk January morning.  A big bag is around 50p or less.  We’ve had some tasty samosas and also doughnuts, which the Nepalis call ‘sel roti’.  You’ll also get some dried fruit and roasted soya beans.  There are of course the massive corporations here dishing out crisps and poor quality chocolate.  In bus stations you’ll find men wandering around with big baskets on their heads filled with a selection of warm breads and pastries, all wrapped up snugly in colourful cloths.

Dessert wise, Nepal is probably not going to blow you away.  There are not the volume of sweet shops that you find in India.  Kheer is a constant, sweet rice pudding with dried fruits and coconut, but as a vegan, you’re really looking at fruits.  The papaya is sensational.  I have no complaints.  After three plates of dal bhat, I’m nowhere near the market for dessert anyway!  Randomly, some of the best sweet things can be found half way up mountains.  Little homestays do a roaring trade in fresh apple pie for weary hikers.

Of course, we’re only writing about the vegan highlights here.  There are vastly more dishes that contain meat and dairy.  A vegan must always be aware that many dishes are fried in ghee (clarified butter).  Many Nepalis speak very good English so explaining your needs is reasonably straight forward.  Even though Nepal is Buddhist (Gautama was born in Lumbini in the south) and Hindu, most people are meat eaters, especially in the mountains.  Veggies are harder to grow up there where arable flat land is scarce.  There are some signs in more touristy areas offering vegan options.  I feel that Nepalis are open minded, there has even been discussions about making Nepal an organic only country!  Big ambitions.  But what a great idea.  With an ethical, peaceful Buddhist and Hindu approach to things, I can also see veganism really connecting here.  After all, the veggies are amazing!

We made it up some mountains. Dal Bhat Power 24 hours!! (as they say here)

We made it up some mountains. Dal Bhat Power 24 hours!! (as they say here)

We’re off for dinner in one of our favourite local Newari restaurants where the chef is a genius (he actually wears one of those proper chef white jackets with proud and shiny buttons) with all things spice and they have a tandoor oven that looks like an antiquated space rocket.  When it’s cranked up it actually sounds a bit like one.  The naans melt in the mouth, especially when dipped into a feisty bowl of beans or used to mop up the last drops of tarkari.  I’m getting hungry now……..

See here for more of our Indian/ Nepali inspired recipes.

You can also peep up with our antics on Facebook and Twitter.

Dinner way up in the Himalayas (we slept in a draughty cupboard that night, but dinner was fine.)

Dinner way up in the Himalayas (we slept in a cupboard that night, but dinner was fine.)

 

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, photography, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vegan Myth Busted! – Top Plant-Based Sources of Iron

vegan

Plant power!

There is still a popular food myth doing the rounds that vegans are generally short of iron in their diets or it’s difficult to find natural sources of iron without taking supplements and the like.  This is way off the mark.

“How do you get enough iron eating only plants?” A question I get asked quite a lot.  The answer is simple; loads of very accessible, inexpensive, plant-based places. Eating a balanced vegan diet, the question is more, “Where do we not get our iron, protein, vitamins, other minerals……..?” A vegan diet allows us all to thrive!

The WHO consider iron deficiency to be the number one nutritional disorder in the world. 80% of the world population may be iron deficient, so it is always a good idea to keep topped up and learn a little about plant-based nutrition (Vitamin B12 for example).

Iron is essential to health and basically helps our blood carry oxegen to our bodies tissues. Our body stores iron but we still need to eat a reasonable amount per day, roughly 18mg for adults  is advised. Women who are menstruating will need more, this can lead to cravings for iron rich foods.

The iron found in plants is different than that in meat. When we eat meat we are basically directly ingesting the iron in the blood, organs and muscles of the animal. It is easier for the body to access. We need to be aware that iron in plants will not be as easily absorbed.  But no worries, this is easily sorted.

Plant-based iron is best absorbed when combined with Vitamin C and it is also best to avoid tea and coffee if you’re looking at helping your body absorb plant based iron.  They both contain tannins and calcium which hinder absorption.  So leave a good half an hour before or after eating until you put the kettle on or eat high foods high in calcium.

THE IRON RICH ‘HIT-LIST’

Many beans like pinto, kidney, black eyed and black.  Lentils. Soya is best fermented like miso, tempeh. Tomato paste or sauce. Potatoes, spring greens (collards), spirulina, tahini, whole wheat, bulghur wheat, oats, nuts, kale, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, quinoa, raisins, peas, sunflower seeds, apricots, watermelon, millet, almonds……I’m getting hungry here!

Popeye did well on it, but spinach is actually not the best choice for iron.  It contains acids that inhibit absorption but Vitamin C again can help.

You can see that many of the staples that most vegans eat are good sources of iron.  1 cup of lentils for example contains almost your RDA for iron and black strap molasses is worth a mention, 2 tbs contains 7.2g iron.

TIPS TO GET IRON INTO YOUR DIET

Seasonal fruits can also be a great source of iron so grab a bowl of oats topped seasonal fruits for a nutritious and iron rich way to start the day.  Some vegetables, like Broccoli and Bo Choi, are rich in both iron and Vitamin C.  Which, as mentioned, is a great combo!  Snacking on dried fruit like raisins and apricots or seeds, eating beans with greens, adding tahini or molasses to dishes or dressings, are all good ways of introducing iron rich foods into our everyday meals.

CALORIE COUNTING

If you are counting calories, it is worth mentioning that sources of plant based iron are obviously the better choice. Cooked spring greens (collards) for example contain 4.5mg of iron/100 calories, whereas Sirloin Steak weighs in with a mere 0.9mg of iron/100 calories.

It has also been said that cooking in iron pots can help.  Cooking a tomato sauce in a cast iron pot can increase the iron levels ten fold!

In a balanced vegan diet there are so many sources of iron and vitamin C that a lack of iron is no major concern.  There is also no evidence to suggest that vegan and vegetarians have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than meat eaters.

As you can see, vegans are sorted for iron!  Another vegan myth busted!!

If you know of any other sources of plant-based iron, please let us know.

Vegan sources of iron

Vegan sources of iron – Image by Vegans of Instagram 

Some of the information and figures for this article came from this link.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Inspiration, Nutrition, Vegan, veganism, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Come join us for a cooking retreat in beautiful Snowdonia!

 

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

COME JOIN US!

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

Discovering Vegan Cooking – Workshop and Retreat

with Lee Watson, Trigonos Chef

11th – 14th December 2015

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

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

For further details and a booking form see here.

To reserve your place phone Trigonos 01286 882388 or email info@trigonos.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

....to tasty burgers.....

….tasty burgers…..

....to desserts for all!

….to desserts for all and everything in between!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Nantlle Valley awaits!

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEACE & PARSNIPS – Published TODAY! Plus my top 11 recipes from the book

It’s a bit like Christmas morning in the Beach House today……..Peace & Parsnips goes on sale across the world.  There are people selling it in Germany, France, Spain, Czech Republic (we think), Japan, Korea, Russia….all over…..Its very cool indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peace & Parsnips is finally out in the shops. It seems like an age since I first sat down to begin writing it and dream up the recipes and how best to showcase vegan food. “How can I make vegan recipes appeal to everyone?”  Make them outrageously tasty I think is the answer!

The process has been long and fascinating and I must thank all at Penguin Books UK for their amazing support and enthusiasm.  Peace & Parsnips was written in India, Spain, Turkey, Italy, Wales and various family and friends houses in England. It has been a wonderful experience getting this cookbook together and seeing it morph and change, finally creating a gorgeous vegan tome.  I still can’t believe it happened!!!!  The shoots in London and Wales especially were a real laugh and the photography in the book is just stunning.

Peace & Parsnips have been a labour of love for sure.  It really is ‘vegan cooking for everyone’ and I have packed as many tantalising recipes into the 350 pages as possible.  No filler, all foodie heaven.  There are many recipes I love, so many great memories of friends and family are linked to them.  Food is so important to Jane and I, we believe it links us all and goes a long way to representing who we are.

PEACE & PARSNIPS Sausage sandwich

Chestnut, Millet and Sage Sausage Sarnie with Homemade Ketchup

 

If I had to do a top 11 recipes that I’d make right now for lunch.  It would be (drum rollllllllllllllll  pllleeaassseee):

–  Portobello Pecan Burger with Roast Pumpkin Wedges

–  Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake

–  Shiiitake Tempura with Wasabi Mayo

–  Seitan and Sweet Potato Kebabs with Mango Barbecue Sauce

–  Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi with Spinach Pesto

–  Smoked Chocolate and Beetroot Beans with Baked Chilli Polenta

–  Pakistani Beetroot and Pumpkin Bhuna with Banana and Lime Raita

–  Puy Lentil and Walnut Burger with Parsnip Clotted Cream

–  Chargrilled Chorizo Pinchos with Pistachio and Coriander Pesto

–  Okra, Corn and Black Eyed Bean Succotash with Chilli Cornbread Crust

–  Spiced Apple and Date Pie

 

Peace and parsnips recipe slider, by Healthista.com

Portobello and Pecan Burger, Raw Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake – a few shots from Peace & Pasrnips

 

In the book, Jane and I share with the world what it is to live up here in the Beach House and cook in our lovely kitchen.  The book revolves around our little cottage and the beautiful landscape around.  There is, of course, some shots of us on the beach and me trying to catch some little waves on our surfboard.  Unsuccessfully!  We also take in local waterfalls, lakes, valleys, mountains and of course, our local glorious veg and fruit farms.  Wales sparkles and shines in the book.

Burgers, curries, many sweet treats, bakes, salads, sauces and dips, tapas style little plates, mammoth style big plates, hot drinks and smoothies, its all here in P & P.  All superbly healthy and naturally vibrant.  I hope you love it as much as I loved writing it!!!

I’m off for some Champagne on toast!

BUY PEACE & PARSNIPS (Available globally)

Thanks to PETA UK and Hodmedod’s for supporting the launch today.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , | 29 Comments

Lee’s Happy Foodie Interview – Robert Plant, First Time Vegans and Mum

rsz_bw_picture_of_lee

 

BY ELIZABETH YOUNG – 28 APR 03:28 PM

Meet Our New Author Lee Watson

With his debut cookbook Peace and Parsnips coming at the beginning of May, we decided to catch up with our new author Lee Watson. Dynamic about vegan food without being preachy, Lee Watson is the man set to revolutionize the way we think about veganism…

Can you tell us a bit more about your book Peace and Parsnips?

It’s a chunky slice of vegan vibrancy; packed with colourful plant based dishes that will appeal to absolutely everyone. There are recipes here for every occasion and every taste. Vegan food takes a fresh and creative approach to cooking anything from burgers and bangers, to luxurious curries, creamy soups, hearty bakes, zesty salads, funky nibbles and a whole host of gorgeous drinks. The dessert section is packed with richness and decadence and also loads of healthy sweet treats. I wrote the book with my friends and family in mind, who are mainly rampant carnivores; they regularly gobble up the recipes and loved ‘em! ‘Peace and Parsnips’ shows that veganism in primarily delicious and secondarily, brilliant for you and the plantet.

If you had to pick one recipe to show off what Peace and Parsnips is all about, which one would it be?

I think there are quite a few corkers in here, but the ‘Pecan and Portobello Mushroom Burger’ is a real hit. Carnivores and vegans alike rave about it. It even looks like a normal burger and has fooled many, it has an intense taste and is super rich and flavourful. Vegan food is always surprising; it feels so fresh and new, even though the term ‘Vegan’ has been around since the ‘40’s. Veggie burgers have a bad rap for good reason; they are generally not the best. In ‘Peace and Parsnips’ I’ve really focused on making the burgers something special and to top it all off, they are very, very healthy! It’s a win, win thing.

What advice would you give to someone looking to cook vegan food for the first time?

There is really no great difference in cooking vegan dishes, except that they are roughly a third of the price to shop for! I guarantee that if we went into your kitchen together, you’d have all we needed to make a vegan feast. There are generally a few more ingredients to play with as we can’t just rely on meat or cheese to give us flavour. We are drawn into creative corners and this leads to all kinds of wonderful new things. With just a few key ingredient switches and a focus on glorious vegetables, fruits and legumes, you’re well on your away to becoming vegan. The possibilities in a well-stocked veg basket and a handful of cashew nuts are endless. Having an open mind to trying something new is key.

Do you come from a long line of great cooks or are you the first passionate foodie in your family?

My family has always appreciated good, honest, home cooked food. We hardly ever ate out and all love to cook. The Watson’s are from a small mining village in Durham and my granddads would always be outside with a hoe and fork, getting busy in the veg patch. I learnt alot about beetroots and radishes from them. We had a lot of meat, but Mum was always health conscious and was the first person in the village to try making a homemade cheesecake. Even when my sister and I were ungrateful teenagers, Mum always prepared fresh dishes and put loads of effort into feeding us a balanced diets. I owe it all to Mum (you knew I was going to say that though!)

Here at The Happy Foodie, we’re somewhat obsessed with cookbooks. Can you tell us a bit about your favourite?

I’ve only recently been buying cook books; I used to just pick recipes up like a happy magpie, scribbling them into my notebook in libraries or book shops. I was given Oh She Glows recently, a brand new vegan cookbook from the US. Its one of those books that you want to cook every recipe right now! Its gorgeous. There are actually so many inspirational vegan cookbooks from the US; it really is a hot bed for very creative cooking (which happens to be plant based). The ‘Veganomicon’ by the brilliant Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a massive hit state side, but then again, all of her books are interesting. Hopefully ‘Peace and Parsnips’ can bring a British/ European take on all things vegan and veggie. It’s a style of cooking that is evolving very quickly, always looking to the future.

Who would be your dream dinner party guest and what would you cook for him/her?

I would say the Dalai Lama, but he likes early nights, so it would be Robert Plant who just lives a few valleys away up here in North Wales. I’d invite him around for the Kashmiri Turnip Curry with Beetroot Raita (in the book). Then we could have an after dinner sing song around the fire pit with some spicy chai’s.

Is there an ingredient you are really enjoying cooking with at the moment?

I was cooking loads of plantains recently in South India and I love their versatility. Mashed, fried, roasted, boiled…always delicious.

I also love turmeric, its tastes like a peppery orange, crossed with some ginger. It seems to sneak its way into far too many of my dishes and there is no mistaking it! It has some supreme health giving properties; it’s a very, very powerful anti-oxidant. Really things like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, coriander etc. are more like medicines than simply food. Potently wonderful foods. Try adding a teaspoon to a smoothie. Quite a transformation.

I also love flax seeds. I think many vegans do. They are miraculous little pockets of radiant nutrition. They are ridiculously high in fibre and omega 3 fats and are packed with anti-oxidants, even higher than things like blueberries. Ground up, they can be added to bread or cakes, or easily sprinkled onto cereal or to thicken stews. I love ’em!

What excites you about the British food world at the moment?

Its openness, diversity and creativity. We are well placed, having one foot in Europe, so we are grounded in many old and brilliant food cultures, but are now freely spreading our wings to the farthest reaches of the globe. British food is not dogmatic and we are open minded to new flavours and ideas. I think that’s why Britain produces so many brilliant chefs. With the internet and more options to travel around, Brits are becoming well versed in all sorts of magical and remote food cultures. The British food world is a vibrant kaleidoscope of global flavours and influence, the restaurant scenes in our cities and towns reflect this. There is never a dull moment and vegan food incorporates this enthusiasm with a positive ethical and environmental twist, as well as whole new dimensions of deliciousness.

Buy Peace & Parsnips

happyfoodie.co.uk

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Inspiration, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Press, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | 3 Comments

‘Peace and Parsnips’ on Youtube – Vegan Myth Buster

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

Mythbustin’…..

HERE is our little article about the book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cookin' up a stack!

Cookin’ up a stack! (Fleece essential)

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

Red Lentil Sauce

1 tbs olive oil

3 garlic cloves (peeled and finely sliced)

2 tomatoes (roughly chopped)

200g red lentils (well washed and rinsed)

1/2 teas dried thyme

750ml water

Leek Greens (finely sliced, see below)

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Stacks

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

4 large Portobello Mushrooms

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

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

A good drizzle of olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Garnish

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

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Do It

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

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

Preheat and oven to 180oC.

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

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

Serve

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

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

Stacked……..YUM!

Foodie Fact – Leeks

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

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

Read more excellent nutritional info here.

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

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

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

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

Energy Efficient Eating…..What a bright idea!

ONE OF THE BEST, AND SURELY THE MOST DELICIOUS, WAYS TO SAVE THE PLANET AND ANIMALS IS TO GO VEGAN!

Eat yourself green with a vegan diet, saving animals and the planet, whilst making yourself slim and healthy. One of the most effective ways of saving the planet is to become energy efficient eaters. Changing our diets can change the world!

LAND

Biodiversity is becoming a huge problem. Vast swathes of land across the world are being used by the meat industry, the amazon forest for example is being decimated to produce land where cattle can be reared and soya can be grown to feed them. Every year 7.5 million (!!!) hectares of rainforest is destroyed, this is the equivalent of an area of TWICE the size of PARIS being cut down everyday.

Regularly choosing to eat vegan means that you are directly reducing the amount of land cleared to rear cattle. You are saving millions of animals both wild and farmed. Nothing cuts your carbon footprint like going vegan! Nothing!!

OCEAN

Our oceans are at great risk. Many fish stocks are running low, many on the brink of extinction.  Fish farming is not the answer, for every tonne of farmed fish, four tonnes of wild fish need to be caught and fed to them.  Eating fish is still eating meat, no matter how you look at it, eating less or no fish is the way forward.

GREEN HOUSE GASES

The livestock industry is responsible for more green house gases than the entire transport industry!  All those billions of cars, planes and trains…..  It contributes 18% of the harmful gases, compared to 13.5% by transport.  This means that a vegan driving a gas guzzling 4×4 causes less harm to the environment that a push bike-riding meat eater.

Every year 2.4 billion tonnes of CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere because of the meat industries land use, including slash and burn techniques in deforestation.  Livestock produces 65% of nitrous oxide emissions (296 GWP).   86 million tonnes of methane (which has 20 times the global warming potential as CO2) is belched and farted out of ruminant animals, like cows every year, with their manure adding a further 18 million tonnes.  Massive figures, but we can do something.  By minimising our meat and dairy consumption, or even better, going vegan, we become environmental activists just by choosing what we put onto our plate.

LOCAL AND ORGANIC

Eating a local, vegan diet is one of the most environmentally friendly ways of living.  Meat eaters, even local meat eaters, produce on average 1.2 million tonnes more global warming gases a year than pure veggies.  Local means much less pollution in transportation and is the way forward.

Vegan organic means a plant only diet without any chemical pesticides, fertilisers etc.  This is much better for the earth and ourselves.  Millions of animals also die due to consuming pesticides, especially when they leech into rivers and seas.

WATER

Agriculture uses 70% of our fresh water supplies.  Meanwhile 2.3 billion people live in water-deprived areas and 1.7 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water.  The livestock industry is by far, one of the worlds worst water polluters via chemicals used in the rearing, feeding and processing of meat.  2/3 of the nitrous oxide and ammonia , which causes acid rain, is produced by manure alone.

FEED THE WORLD

Meat is a highly energy in-efficient food.  Cut out the middle man and go veggie.  The UN has warned that if we continue to consume the planets resources at the current rate, we will need TWO EXTRA PLANETS because our population will rise to nine billion by 2050.  A vegan/ vegetarian diet could feed the world many times over, without any great fuss, since it requires dramatically less land and resources.

A piece of land the size of a football field can feed only two people on meat.  But it can feed ten people on maize, 24 people on grains and 61 people on soya!!!!

EAT MORE TO FEED THE WORLD

Eating a hearty vegan diet is highly energy efficient and means that valuable resources can be utilised to feed the world.  Minimising your household food waste will also have a huge effect on this (see ‘Waste Not, Want Not‘) or even better, check out these guys in Brazil.

Go green. Go veggie.  Go vegan.  It is a huge step, a massive leap towards a brighter and better world.  Tell your friends, this is the future of eating and it is delicious!!!!

eatgreenorg

vivaorg

vivaactivists.org.uk

All of the above was taken from a recent Viva!  magazine – see links above

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Once more, just for kicks.....

Once more, just for kicks…..

rsz_p1170801

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Viva Vegan (peaceful, bright and bountiful food)xxxx 

 

 

Categories: Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

275g unbleached white flour

125g wholewheat flour

2 teas baking powder

50g rolled oats

1 ½ teas salt

250ml soya milk

225ml water (sparkling water is best)

4 tbs soya yoghurt (unsweetened)

2 tbs olive oil

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

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

Seed Mix

3 tbs rolled oats

1/2 teas caraway seeds

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

Loaf ready for the oven

Loaf topped and ready for the oven

Do It 

Preheat an oven to 220oC (425oF).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve

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

Foodie Fact

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

Sunset last night from the BHK window

Sunset last night from the BHK window

 

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

Mindful Eating – The Top 5 Good and Bad Mood Foods

Foods that make you go ZING!

Foods that make you go ZING!

MOODS

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

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

SCIENCE BIT

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

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

TOP 5 GOOD MOOD FOODS

1) mung beans

2) nuts

3) tofu

5) bananas

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

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

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

WHAT MAKES THEM FULL OF ‘HAPPY’?

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

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

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

STRESSED FOODS

– Sugar

–  Caffeine

– Alcohol

– Chocolate

– Wheat-containing foods

– Additives

– Dairy

– Saturated Fats

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

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

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

OVER INDULGING

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

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

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

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

MINDFUL EATING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bananas always make me smile!

Bananas always make me smile!

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

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

‘Meat vs Veg’ – Lee on T.V.

All images taken from ‘Meat vs Veg’ shoot, Summertime ’13

I made a TV program called ‘Meat vs Veg’, I have no idea why I haven’t popped it on the BHK yet, but here it is.  In all it’s glory!  It was nearly two years ago now and since then has been shown all around the world on a variety of food channels, but as yet, has not been shown in the UK.  Hopefully, it will be on soon.

It was a load of fun to make and the basic format was me against Mike Robinson, a top, and very meaty, chef; owner of the Pot Kiln Pub and an all around gentleman (unless you happen to be a deer that is).  We cooked for a varied group of people, two contestants per show, all with weird and wonderful tastes in food; some gourmet critics, others couldn’t tell a chicken wing from a sweet potato.  You will have to watch the program to see who won, Meat or Veg??!

Mike and I got up to all sorts of mischief around London, each show contained a ‘Street Challenge’ where we had to hit the streets and tempt people with our tasty morsels.  We cooked for women rowing teams, R and B models, animal volunteers, Battersea dogs home, aspiring theatre actors, music studio employees…….it was a wild time.

Mike and I were cooking everything live to camera and trying to be interesting at the same time.  Which is much more difficult than it may sound!  Making a TV program down in London was certainly a change from working up in North Wales.

Jane and I were in India recently and it was showing on a Nat Geo channel.  I even got recognized in a small village in the Himalayas, which was very strange and quite hilarious.  ‘Meat vs Veg’ is out there and it’s a light hearted food program, with stunning food and bags of laughs.  It highlights my ability to make a fool of myself in front of a camera (a talent I have honed since childhood).  Overall it was a great experience.

If you are in Serbia, Brazil, India, Hong Kong, Australia and probably a load more countries around the world, keep your eye out for ‘Meat vs Veg’ on your food channels and let us know if you manage to catch an episode.  I’m the tall hairy one, probably attacking Mike with a carrot or other root vegetable.  He deserves it!!!!!

Mike and I (trying to look tough)

Categories: Healthy Eating, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Buckwheat Breakfast Crepes with Tofu, Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

Feta, Chive and Olive Breakfast Wraps

Buckwheat Breakfast Crepes with Tofu, Olive and Cherry Tomatoes

Sometimes I do feel sorry for Jane with all my vegan behaviour of late.  Jane loves lumps of cheese and gorgeously fresh eggs (lain below our window ledge!!!!).  We have chickens waking us every morning with a bombardment of clucks!  Add to that many wonderful cheese folk who live in the surrounding valleys and nearby islands making some amazingly pungent creamy mould.  We’ve seen their goats and they seem brimming over with happiness and vitality (goats being a particular BHK fav).  Having said all of this, Jane is now really getting into the whole vegan vibe and I fear she may give up the mozzarella balls very soon!

This recipe is a little Sunday morning surprise that incorporates our favourite grain of the moment, Buckwheat, along with herbs from the garden and tomatoes from a wonderful friend.  What a way to get things started!

Buckwheat is an awesome alternative for gluten free folk and has a proper full flavour, some would say an acquired taste, I’d just say YUM!  It has a misleading name (like many foods) it is actually a berry!  Nothing to do with wheat or gluten in the slightest.  I love to use the flour, although a straight dark buckwheat flour recipe can result in a vivid pink looking loaf.  You have been warned, buckwheat can get a little psychedelic when used pure.

Buckwheat crepes are common in France and are called ‘Galletes’.  These crepes are veganized, so turn out less like a ‘Gallete’ and more like a thin, fluffy American ‘hotcake’ (a word which Jane and I appreciate).  You can find light and dark buckwheat flour in the shops, I’d opt for light, especially if you’re cooking for an uninitiated buckwheat crowd.  I have put white flour in here, but must admit to using wholewheat flour normally (= more nutrition, and I’d have to say taste, but less of the fluffiness associated with a crepe).

We’re still here in shimmeringly shiny Wales, glorious at this time of year.  The bounty of local produce is in full swing.  All of these ingredients are special to us and we cannot think of anything that we have eaten recently that is filled with such goodness and positive energy.

Dawn’s (our neighbour) chicken chorus is a nice way to be wakened, natural sounds certainly beat a car alarm or even worse, an alarm clock (aka the enemy of peace and sanity). You know you’re living the good life if you wake with the chickens and not with the bleeps. The other wonderful thing about Dawn’s chickens is that occasionally they overlay and we are offered a small basket of perfectly formed egg-ness.

One of Dawn's chickers (aka our natural alarm clock)

One of Dawn’s chickers (aka our natural alarm clock)

Dawn’s little chicks are so tame, Jane and I were picking them up and petting them like little puppies the other day. I can safely say that I have never found a chicken ‘cute’ in the past, and am not a huge fan of the word, however these little cluckers where pleasant company and actually liked to be stroked.

Back to the crepe at hand, its a beat. Simple combinations of flavours that are sure fire winners, great colours and the perfect treat breakfast for a lazy Sunday morning or a decent brunch (just add dressed leaves).

The tanginess of the citrus feta (tofu or otherwise), the fruitiness of the olives and the plain deliciousness of the tomatoes mean that each mouthful was quite a thing.

You probably don’t live in a veggie+vegan household, obviously omit the parts of the method that don’t apply.  Its really a very easy dish to get together.

If you’d like this gluten free, just go the whole hog and have it 100% buckwheat.  They’re brilliant!

The Bits

For 10-12 crepes:

Crepe – 2/3 cup buckwheat flour, 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, a good glug of olive oil, large pinch of sea salt, 100g silken tofu, 1 cup organic soya milk, 3/4 teas bicarb soda, water (continue adding water until a ‘double cream’ texture is achieved)

Filling –

Janes (non vegan) – 1/2 tbs olive oil, 3 organic/ very free range, happy chicken eggs (preferably lain somewhere close to your front door), 3/4 cup feta (crumbled using fingers)

Lees (vegan) – 1 tbs olive oil, 300g firm tofu, a little squeeze of lemon juice, 1 teas nutritional yeast flakes (1/2 handful of cashew nuts if you’re feeling decadent!)

Mixed with half of the following:

2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (halved if large), 2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed), 1 handful of chives (finely diced), 1 handful green olives (finely chopped), squeeze of lemon juice, plenty of cracked black pepper and a little salt

Pre-wrap

Pre-wrap

Do It

In a large bowl, sieve in the flour and other dry ingredients.  Add the rest of the wetter ingredients, pouring the water in gradually at the end, mixing until a ‘double cream’ consistency is formed.  Cover and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Mash up the tofu in a bowl with a fork, add the lemon juice and yeast flakes (this is best done in advance).  Whisk the eggs up in another.

Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl and add half to each bowl of tofu or egg.

Now warm a frying pan on the hob, medium heat, add the oil and fry off the tofu mixture for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.  Do the same for the egg mix, cook until the eggs are just how you like them.

Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.

Make sure the crepe batter is at room temperature (keep stirring it to ensure that the flour doesn’t clog or stick to the bottom).  In a small frying pan, heat on medium and cover the base with a very light film of oil.  Now pour in 3 tbs of your pancake mix and swirl around the pan.  The temperature of the pan is important (too hot is not cool, too cool is not hot!?)

Cook for 1 minutes on one side, run a spatula around the edges to loosen.  Flip over and cook for 30 seconds – 1 minute on the other side.  Keep this going until all the mix is used.  If there is too much mixture, it will keep in the fridge well and can be frozen for at least a month.

Serve

Lay out a pancake on a plate and spoon in a good amount of the filling (3 tbs is normally good).  Tuck one end over and roll away from you, like a fat buckwheat cigar (rolled on the thighs of a vegan).   Serve straight away, for lunch, toss together a green salad.  Two crepes are normally enough per person.

We had leftover crepes this morning and tried them with chopped oranges raisins, cinnamon and walnuts….lovely stuff.

Foodie Fact 

Buckwheat is a whole grain that is actually a relative of rhubarb and is best described as a fruit seed.  I love Buckwheat because its one of the few grains consumed in Northern Europe that is actually indigenous to the area.

Buckwheat lowers blood sugar and is packed with minerals like magnesium and copper.  It has also been shown to help fight gall stones and has very high levels of antioxidants and a packs a decent hit of fibre.

Last nights sunset

Last nights sunset

Categories: Breakfast, gluten-free, Local food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

We’re Back! and India Holiday Snaps

Under the Big Tree - Sivananda Ashram Madurai, 3/14

Under the Big Tree – Sivananda Ashram Madurai, 3/14

We’re back!  In two pieces;  older, wiser and hairier!

North Wales is shining; bee buzzing, flowers swaying, sheep baaaaaa-ing. This is definitetly the home of the B.H.K. Writing the blog from distant shores just seems a little strange, the creative culinary juices just aren’t flowing as deeply as when we’re hanging out up here with the heather.

This blog is such a big part of our life in Wales, so we’re back and ready to get stuck into good mountain living, with some gorgeous nibbles along the way……

There seems far too much water under the bridge to begin to catch up on the last 6 months. I decided to post a few travel pics to get us warmed up and reacquainted again.

I have been busy (even when travelling!) working on another food-related project which I am superbly excited about. More to follow on this soon. (Hopefully that is a decent enough excuse for not posting any news or recipes for a ridiculous length of time.)

Back in the lovely little Beach House, the fire is roaring (in June) and we are both full tilt and ready to get the garden blooming and the hob fully loaded with plenty of wonderful fruit and veggie action and no doubt some pictures of Buster the cat (who came back on our first morning back in the house, it seems we are linked with the little grey furball!).

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

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

Very brief catch up of our antics :
– We have been distant for the last 6 months, in Spain and India, spending time in the Himalayas and on a variety of beaches; cooked vegan food on farms, ate papaya straight from the tree, visited many huge desert forts and palaces, lived in huts and buses, hung out with warm tribal folk, learned to count to 10 in Hindi, practiced yoga by the Ganges, woke at 4am to sing songs, realised that there is more to life than chapatis (but not much!), ate our body weight several times over with the complete rainbow spectrum of all things curries, watched endangered rhinos play whilst sitting on a juvenile elephant, celebrated a Gods birthday……….too much. much, much to tell. Here are a few pics (most food related) that tell a better story:

It's Thali time!!!! (South Indian style), Madurai, 3/14

It’s Thali time!!!! (South Indian style), Madurai, 3/14

Tawang Lake, way up in the Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh, 4/14

Tawang Lake, way up in the Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh, 4/14

Cooking up a monsoon, Rishikesh, 1/14

Cooking up a monsoon, Rishikesh, 1/14

Survival Travel Breakfast (Papaya and Chia Seeds)

Survival Travel Breakfast (Papaya and Chia Seeds)

Jane, first day, first Bindi, Delhi. 1/14

Jane, first day, first Bindi, Delhi. 1/14

Vadas - some of South India's finest

Vadas – some of South India’s finest

A little taster, a canape of sorts, a wee bite into our last 6 months wandering the world.  We have a massive book full of new recipes to cook and hopefully post.  Its looking like a busy summer!

Love and Peace to all of you out there…..XXXXX

It’s great to be back, Lee and Janexxxxx

Categories: photography, Travel, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Veggie Lovin’ in the UK

David Cameron you punk!

The tides are shifting, even the British MP’s are getting on the good ship veggie.  We cannot keep eating these levels of mass produced meat (read here on the BBC website) and apparently vegan is the new black (whatever that means).  The British government are urging us to eat less meat in order to make the worlds food supply more sustainable.  Hoorah!

Liberal Democrat MP Sir Malcolm Bruce, said: “There is no room for complacency about food security over the coming decades if UK consumers are to enjoy stable supplies and reasonable food prices.” 

He added: “With the UK never more than a few days away from a significant food shortage, UK consumers should also be encouraged over time to reduce how often they eat meat.

“Meanwhile, as a nation we should place a stronger focus on more sustainable extensive systems of meat production such as pasture-fed cattle, rather than on highly intensive grain-fed livestock units.”

All this recent publicity in the press makes me feel that exciting changes lie ahead and we will all be eating more veggies soon.  Even the Daily Mail (a normally morally awry daily newspaper, uber conservative and generally downright offensive) had a story on the front page with similar sentiments.  The issues relating to mass produced meat are being addressed by parliament and information being shared about the negative impact of the meat industry in general.  This can only be a good thing.  I also think David Cameron suits a mohawk and this would greatly improve his public image.

London Vegfest is getting bigger each year and this October it is looking better than ever.  The perfect place to get some veggie and vegan inspiration.

Read more here, Why on Earth are we Eating Meat?

Categories: Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

HAPPY VEGETARIAN WEEK!

It’s my birthday today, I’m 35 years young and going strong.  It’s also the start of National Vegetarian Week  in Britain and in the Beach House Kitchen, we are doing some serious veg based celebrating.  Jane and I have thought about dressing up as life sized vegetables (Jane – a cauliflower, Me – a carrot) and wandering the streets of the village, chanting pro-veg slogans, but instead we had a cup of nettle tea and went for a stroll instead……..Anyway, great to see the ‘eat more veg’  message getting out there and a wonderful week to try those veggie dishes you’ve been putting off for an age.

I don’t have much time to post this week, but we have recipes coming out of our ears and are experimenting with many new ingredients and flavour combos.  Exciting times indeed.

The Observer Food Monthly was almost meat free this month.  The Observer being probably the best Sunday newspaper in Britain (if you’re into that kind of thing).  There are loads of great recipes and stories in this edition and even a devout French Chef creating menu’s where meat takes a back seat to veg.  Vegetables are the stars!  We always knew they’d get the limelight one day!  There’s even a section about pairing wines with vegetables, essential info there.

Its magic for us to see all this happening from half way up the hill, here in sunny Wales.  More veg is such a positive message and is really important to the way we eat, our general health and the well being of our wonderful planet.

VIVA VEGGIES!

Happy munching,

Lee and Janexxxxx

Categories: Special Occasion, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

PIE!

PIE!

A fine pie with influence from Jerusalem (via the Caernarfon Library) and our local hero’s; the mighty leek (a symbol of Wales-ness and great taste), our neighbour’s eggs and the humble spud.  My friend Mandy also makes a pie not to dissimilar to this one, so its a tasty mix of all these things and more!  Surely with all that input, this pie can only be amazing!

We have been getting a few leeks out of the garden, but these are proper Welsh farm leeks (the home of the mighty leek, spiritual at least).  Great leeks are a good place to start most dishes, but especially pies.  I like to put leeks centre stage, they deserve it and should not be wasted in a stock pot.

LEGENDARY LEEKS

Legend would have it that St David (the patron saint of Wales) had the Welsh army wear leeks on their helmets to differentiate themselves from some pesky Saxon invaders.  The impact of this fashion accessory stuck and it is still worn on March 1st, St Davids day.

“MR OTTOLENGHI I PRESUME”

Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking style also makes an appearance here.  He is a real food superstar, most things he touches come to life with flavour and texture. I popped down to Caernarfon Library and picked up a few books, one of them being Yotam’s ‘Jerusalem‘, a fascinating place and a fascinating book. Brilliantly written and photographed, the dishes seem intrinsic to the melting pot of Jerusalem, with its many cultures in one little place. I particularly liked the ‘Herb Pie‘ recipe and immediately went about corrupting it to suit my cupboards and fridge. This little pie popped up and we’re glad it did. It is full of YUM, gorgeous richness of cheese, herbs, sweet leeks and onion

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

I was half asleep at the shop yesterday and bought puff pastry instead of filo, I think filo would have been better, but the puff sufficed!  I would like to think one day I will make my own puff pastry and my own filo pastry, I would also like to think one day I’ll play guitar like Neil Young and write poetry like T.S. Elliot.  Stranger things have happened!!!!!

Mandy puts Goats Cheese in her ‘Leek and Walnut Pie’, but I prefer the tang of the feta here that stands up nicely to the other flavours and has the perfect crumbly texture for this filling.

Really get your leeks, onions, potatoes etc nice and golden and sweet, this will make a great contrast with the lemon, olive and feta.  Expect a multi-cultural party in your mouth here!

CRAZY CHEESE

You can really go crazy with the cheese here and Yotam put three cheeses into his pie (he seems to put three cheeses into alot of things).  Obviously we are working on a different level to Yotam and felt that one was more than enough, with a couple of blobs of good creamy Greek yoghurt to add a creamier feel.

LITTLE TIP – LEEK CLEANING

I find the easiest way is to cut off the very tops of the green leaves and check for any dodgy looking wilted leaves.  Then chop the leek, discarding the root end and loosing the hard outer leaves, you’ll be able to feel what I mean when you do it.  Then place in standing cold water and give them a good wash.  Sieve out and double check that no grit or dirt remains.

Cleaning and chopping a leek this way allows you to get the most out of the green bit, which is packed with flavour and all to often shown the bin.

MORE BEACH HOUSE FLAVOUR HERE:

Radio Tarifa Tagine

Murcian Sweet Potato and Manchengo Burger

Kumato, Piquillo, Butter Bean and Coriander Salad

This is the tastiest pie I’ve ever made, try it!

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Makes one large pie, a dish approx. 8″ by 10″ or there abouts.  Enough for four.

The Bits

8 new potatoes (cut into small cubes), 2 large leeks, 1 red onion, 5 mushrooms (most varieties will be fine), 2 sticks celery, 2 handfuls spinach leaves, 10 pitted green olives, 3 large cloves garlic. All finely chopped.

Pie filling, looking good

Pie filling, looking good already

75g fresh dill (1 1/2 teas dried dill), 75g fresh mint (1 1/2 teas dried mint), 2 free range eggs, 150g good Greek feta, 2 tbs thick creamy yoghurt, 1 lemon zest, 1 teas honey, sea salt and plenty of cracked black pepper

1 pack of puff pastry (one roll or however you buy it).   1 tbs oil (for brushing)

Leeks, softening

Welsh Leeks, softening

Do It

Get some colour on your potatoes, in a large frying pan, add 1 tbs of your cooking oil (your choice here!) and fry off your potatoes for 10 minutes, getting some nice golden brown tints. Set aside.

The filling getting together

The filling getting together

In the same pan, add 2 teas more oil and get your onions softened, 3 minutes cooking, then add your leeks, celery, mushrooms, garlic, cook for a further 3 minutes until all is getting soft.

Then add your olives, spinach and cooked potatoes and then all your filling bits.  Stir in and warm through for 10 minutes on a low heat.  Cover and cool, now sort the pastry.

Pre-heat fan oven to 180oC

Roll out your pastry sheet to fit your pie dish, we just used a pastry lid, but you may like to add a base.  We are not huge fans of loads of pastry in a pie, the more filling the better!

Place your warm filling in the dish and spread evenly, then throw on your pie lid (delicately!) and brush the pie dish edges with oil.  Now press down around the edges with gentle force, sealing the pie.  I used my thumb, you may like to use a fork.  Trim off any excess pastry and make three slices in the centre of the pastry to release cooking steam.  Now give the pie a loving brush with some olive oil and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

The pastry should be nicely golden and the pie filling steaming hot.

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Serve

With a steamed green vegetables or a nice green leaf salad with a light, sweet dressing.  The pie has a lovely lemon-ness that will go nicely with a honey/ sweet dressing.  Its a heavy pie, flavour and texture, so keep the accompaniments light.

We Love It!

We  really do you know.  Love It!  Especially this pie, which had us both ‘Mmmmming’ in unison at its sheer deliciousness and flavour combinations.   Not your average pie and all the better for it.

Foodie Fact

Leeks are alliums, basically tall thin onions with a green head of leaves, they are used all over the world and don’t just feature in Welsh pies!  Leeks contain many vital vitamins and allicin that actually reduces cholesterol, they also contain high levels of vitamin A.

 

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegetarian, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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