Healthy Herb & Avocado Salad

#MeatfreeMonday, exercise, fitness, Fruits, Gluten Free, Healthy, Herbs, plant based, raw, recipes, salad, Sauces, Side Dishes, Snack, summer, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Herb & Avcado Salad

Preparation & cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 large portions or 4 portions as a side dish

 This is my second raw recipe in a row! It is definitely a way of eating that I am really enjoying and increasingly using it within my everyday diet. The good thing about eating raw food is that there is so little preparation time to actually make the food. Eating more raw food in your diet is great because you will be getting all of the nutrients and goodness from the fruits and vegetables without losing or damaging them (which is a side effect from cooking food). If you are interested in learning more about this way of eating there are lots of books out there and current eating plans such as raw til 4 which embraces a raw diet until 4pm (also let me know and I will write some posts expanding on this). A lot of people have had great success in terms of health, energy and wellbeing following a raw plant based diet.

Salad was a meal that I didn’t really understand (or appreciate) growing up and I generally associated it with a big bowl of iceberg lettuce and not much else, which really doesn’t do a proper salad any justice! The first time that my mind was changed to understand that a salad could be the focal point of a meal instead of an afterthought side element was when my parents made a delicious Jamie Oliver recipe. The salad had everything! It was a salad filled with grilled peaches, nuts, rocket, herbs, crumbly cheese, parma ham and a honey dressing. This was a really big point in my food life and how I perceived salads! For obvious dietary reasons, I now would not eat the salad that I had back then but there are elements that I take and use in every salad that I make. I realised that adding fruit to salads could brighten up everything along with herbs and with the added crunch of seeds and vegetables you can create a dish that covers all flavours and textures! The next time you are going to make a salad, be as experimental and creative as you possibly can and I am sure that you will be so happy and also have a new way of thinking towards a bowl of salad!

Ingredients:

  • 4 large handfuls of spinach (roughly 250g), washed
  • 1/2 a cucumber, thinly sliced
  • A hanful of ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • A large bunch of basil
  • A large bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 large ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • A hanful of mixed seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc.)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1.   Firstly, make your dressing. There is a general rule of thumb that I follow when I make a salad dressing and that is to always keep the ratio of 3:1 of oil and an acid (e.g. for this recipe I used 3 tablespoons of oil to one tablespoon of lemon juice). This ratio generally gives you the perfect balance of subtlety and zinginess for the dressing. Once you have the base sorted you can add all of the herbs and spices that you would like to the dressing. Now add in the garlic, cumin seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning if necessary and leave to the side until the salad has been made.

2.   Now you can put together your salad. In a large bowl toss together  the spinach, herbs, cucumber and tomatoes. Once all of the ingredients are nicely combined, neatly place the avocado on top of the greens. Then scatter the seeds and spring onion over the top of the salad. Give your dressing a good stir and then take out the clove of garlic. The garlic will leave a really nice subtle flavour to the dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

I really hope you like this recipe and that you are excited to be creative with your salads.

The Best Guacamole!

#MeatfreeMonday, Healthy, Mexican, Sandwich, Sauces, Side Dishes, Snack, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Great Guac

Preparation & cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 big bowlful

I am very proud of this recipe; I have been making it for so long and I have adapted the recipe to the way I like it and, I know I am biased but, to this day I haven’t tried a better guacamole! I like there to be loads going on when you eat guacamole, it should give your taste buds a good wallop! There should be that initial zing and freshness from the lime, coriander, avocado and tomatoes which is then rounded off with a bit of a hit from the chilli and the garlic with the onion and cumin lingering in the background. This is definitely my type of cooking, it is very rustic, quick to make and can make so many different dishes that much better and more fresh! You can also adapt this recipe to the way that you like it, if you like it more chunky, whether you like more or less of the ingredients included, there is literally no set way to make this and it is purely down to personal preference. One thing I do know is that life would be so much worse without a good bowl of Guac!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large or 3 medium very ripe avocados 
  • A large handful of coriander, leaves picked and stalks chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 green chilli, roughly chopped 
  • 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • A handful of ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 limes (depending on their juiciness)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1.   The first part of this recipe is the real key to unleashing all of the delicious flavours of the guacamole. In a pestle and mortar throw in the chopped coriander stalks, garlic, chilli, the white part of the spring onions, the cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pound this mixture into a paste using the cumin, salt and pepper as an abrasive. This doesn’t take long but it is so worth it because the flavour you get from doing this is just amazing!

2.   Once you have a paste, squeeze in the juice of the lime and combine this into it. Pit the avocados and scoop the flesh into the paste and break this up to the texture that you like your guacamole. I like mine quite chunky so for me it doesn’t take long at all. Add in the coriander leaves, tomatoes and the green part of the spring onions and mix through. That is it, your guacamole is made!

I could eat guacamole with literally anything at any point of the day but generally I love it with fajitas, with tortilla chips, spread on toast, with patatas bravas etc. This is also my favourite food to have watching sport! I hope you like it 🙂

TEMPURA VEGETABLES WITH AN ASIAN DIPPING SAUCE!

Sauces, Side Dishes, Snack, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

TempuraVeg Main

Preparation & cooking time: 30 mins
Makes: As much as you want

This is awesome! Plain and simple! Well, it is simple but definitely not plain. This recipe makes you feel a bit naughty but the crunchy veggies make it an excellent alternative for chips! 🙂 It is the perfect movie snack, the perfect side dish……. it’s just perfect to be honest! The dipping sauce really makes this dish, it is tangy, sweet, spicy… mmm…. I also used it on a noodle salad and it worked amazingly! Give it a try and be creative with its use 🙂

Ingredients:

For the Batter:

  • 110g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 200ml ice cold sparkling water
  • A few ice cubes

For the asian dipping sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 80ml soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Plus:

  • An assortment of your favourite firm veggies (my favourites are broccoli and cauliflower)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

asian dip

Method:

1.   Sift the plain flour, cornflour and salt into a large bowl. Whisk in the sparkling water and add in the ice cubes. Don’t over beat the mixture though as you want to keep as much air in the batter as possible to make it amazingly crispy!

2.  Pour plenty of oil into a deep pot and put over a high heat. You are going to be deep frying the vegetables so be careful and make sure you have enough oil to cover the vegetables.

3.   Prepare your vegetables into nice big chunks and put them into the batter and make sure that they are all nice and coated.

4.   Once the oil is nice and hot, gently place the vegetables one at a time into the pot. Don’t over fill the pot as they will all stick together – cook them in batches. You want to cook them until they are golden and crisp.

5.   For the asian dipping sauce, simply throw the ingredients into a bowl and mix it together until the sugar has dissolved. 

That’s it! The vegetables are best eaten immediately, and trust me they are so scrumptious that they won’t last long around friends and family anyway!

Tweet me or post a picture on Instagram if you try it 🙂

In other news, what do you think of the new look?

Aubergine Burgers, Roast Potato Chips & Homemade Barbecue Sauce!

#MeatfreeMonday, Healthy, Herbs, Roasted, Sandwich, Sauces, Side Dishes, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Vini's Sandwiches

DSC_0004Preparation & cooking time: 1 hr 20 mins
Makes: 2 big burgers and a good portion of chips

Ingredients:

For the Burgers:

  • 1 large aubergine, slice two 1 inch thick rounds from this
  • 2 Nice burger buns
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • A handful of spinach 
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, sliced
  • A small handful of coriander leaves

For the chips:

  • 2 large potatoes (Maris Piper potatoes are great for roasting), peeled and cut into thick chip shapes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • A handful of thyme sprigs
  • A dash of cider vinegar
  • A  few good glugs of olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 40g olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons English mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 250ml tomato ketchup
  • 120ml red wine vinegar
  • 50ml of really good espresso

Method:

1.   Preheat your oven to 200 C. Put the potatoes into a large pan of cold water (add a good pinch of sea salt to the water) and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook the potatoes for a further 10 minutes and then drain in a colander and leave to steam dry for 10 minutes. Add a good couple of glugs of olive oil to a large roasting tray and place the tray into the oven to get the oil nice and hot. Give the potatoes a toss in the colander to give them a nice ‘frosted’ effect, this will help the chips become really nice and crispy when roasted. Take the tray out of the oven and carefully put the chips into the oil and put the tray back in the oven.

2.   Now you can prepare the barbecue sauce. In a large frying pan (over a medium to high heat) fry the onion and garlic in the oil until they are nice and soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a further 5 minutes or until the sauce has become nice and thick. Once the sauce has thickened you can blend it to make it nice and smooth or you can be old school & rustic and leave it with the slices of onion and garlic in it. Pour the sauce into a sterilized jar/container. This sauce will keep for up to a month in a fridge, but trust me it will never last that long as (if you like it like I do) you will want to put it on every meal you have!

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3.   Place the slices of aubergine in another roasting tray and spoon over a few generous tablespoons of the amazing barbecue sauce that you have just made and make sure you coat both side of the aubergine with the sauce.

4.   After the chips have had half an hour in the oven, take the tray out and add a good pinch of salt and pepper, a dash of of cider vinegar (it may seem strange to do this, but trust me it really makes a difference!), the garlic cloves and the thyme sprigs to the tray and gently stir to get the chips coated in all of the goodness. Place the tray of chips and the tray with the aubergine burgers into the oven for half an hour. After 15 minutes, using a pair of tongs, flip the aubergine slices so that both sides get cooked evenly.

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I hope you have enjoyed this recipe! It is a great way to get involved with #meatfreemonday and help you and your family have a healthier diet. Honestly, this recipe is so tasty (and tried and tested on meat eaters) that you will not miss eating meat if you try it. Let me know what you have cooked for #meatfreemonday as I would love to hear about all of your different recipes. 🙂 

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Avocado Pesto Pasta

Healthy, Pasta, Sauces, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

DSC_0303Makes: 4 large portions
Preparation & cooking time: 20 minutes

Before I became vegan, homemade pesto pasta was a meal that I was obsessed with (I would have a few times a week without fail). As there is parmesan in traditional pesto I have been unable to eat it. I made the pesto minus the parmesan and don’t get me wrong it was delicious, but it did lack that creaminess and seasoning that the parmesan gave to it. I have found it difficult to find a pesto recipe that would offer the same end product until I tried adding in avocado to the recipe, and voila! With the addition of avocado this pesto recipe is so silky and smooth with a very satisfying texture and taste. Not only is it perfect for vegans, it is perfect for anyone who is looking for an amazing pesto recipe that takes minutes to make and has all the natural goodness that comes from adding the avocado. I hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 400g spaghetti
  • A small courgette, sliced
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • A handful of button mushrooms, sliced
  • A large bunch of basil 
  • 2 ripe avocados (peeled and pitted)
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Method:

1.   Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the packet. Cook the pasta 1-2 minutes less than what is stated on the packet as it will be cooked further later on with the pesto and you want it to remain nice and al dente. One minute before the pasta is ready, add in the courgette and mushroom slices to quickly blanch them.

2.   Whilst the pasta is boiling you can make the avocado pesto. Place the basil leaves, avocados , pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic and extra virgin olive oil into a food processor and blend until it is really smooth. Once the pesto is creamy and smooth season it generously.

3.   Put 4 large spoonfuls of the avocado pesto into a large frying pan and put the pan on the hob over a medium heat. When the pasta is ready add the pasta and vegetables to the frying pan. Do this with a pair of tongs as this will allow some of the pasta cooking water to emulsify with the pesto and create a silky smooth sauce. Toss the pasta with the pesto until all of the pasta is nicely coated. If the sauce is a bit stodgy add a spoonful or two of the reserved pasta water to loosen it. That is the recipe done!

Eat this immediately or you can always eat it cold. It is perfect for the summer as you can have cold at a picnic. 

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