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 🙂

Bhindi Bhaji

#MeatfreeMonday, Gluten Free, Healthy, Herbs, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

BHINDI BHAJI

Preparation & cooking time: 20 minutes
Makes: 2-4 portions

Bhindi bhaji is one of my favourite Indian dishes (along with saag aloo!) and it is always a feature of my meal when I eat out at an Indian restaurant. As the way with all food though (in my opinion), making it at home is the way to do it if you can get hold of the delicious okra (also known as ladies fingers, bhindi or gumbo depending where you are from) so when I saw them in the shop the other day I knew I had to take them home and share this recipe with you. Okra is absolutely delicious and very good for you indeed with its high level of fibre, vitamin C, high level of antioxidants, calcium and potassium. It is a very quick and easy dish to make and it goes really well served with rice or spicy potatoes.

Bhindi Bhaji Collage

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 200g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 450g okra, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1.   Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium – high heat. Add in the onions and the spices and fry until the onions have softened (5 minutes or so). Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook for a further two minutes. 

2.   Add the okra to the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until the okra is cooked through. You can add a splash of water if the mixture looks a little dry.

3.   Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!

PITTAS TO DIE FOR!

Baking, Bread, Healthy, Sandwich, Side Dishes, Snack, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vini's Sandwiches

pitta bread main

Preparation & cooking time: 1 hour 30 mins (includes proving time)
Makes: 4 large or 6 regular pitta breads

If, like me, you love a good old sandwich and you especially love having a stuffed pitta bread, then look no further! This recipe is so awesome! It is easy to make and it tastes so, so good. Making homemade bread is so enjoyable and it really will make your sandwiches and meals taste so much better (and it is also a good way to show off to friends and family a little!). Pitta breads may sound difficult to make, but it is quite the opposite; once you have the dough made and proved, cooking them only takes 5 minutes. You cook the breads on a really high heat which gives them the amazing hollow effect as they puff up! You can flavour the dough with anything you want; in the recipe below I have used chia seeds in them which gives a lovely crunch, but putting toasted spices into the dough is a great way of getting extra flavour into your pittas.

Ingredients:

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 160ml water
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g chia seeds (or any seed or spice of your choice)

Pitta CollageIn the picture above, I filled the pittas with stir fried vegetables, baba ganoush and a generous serving of coriander. It was AMAZING!

Method:

1.   In a large bowl put all of the dry ingredients. Put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other side of the bowl. You need to make sure the salt and yeast aren’t combined as the salt will kill the yeast. Add 120ml of the water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil to the bowl and mix together using your fingers. Whilst mixing, slowly add the rest of the water (you may not need it all) and the olive oil until you have a soft dough and all of the flour has come off of the side of the bowl.

2.   Pour a little oil onto a clean work surface and place your dough on top of the oil. Knead the bread for 5-10 minutes. The dough may seem a little wet to start with but keep working at it and you will get a lovely smooth dough. Once you have a smooth dough, place it in a clean, oiled bowl and cover it with cling film. Put the bowl in a nice warm place; this will help the help the dough to rise. Leave the dough to prove for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

3.   Preheat the oven to 250 C and place a clean baking tray on the middle shelf to get nice and hot.

4.   Once the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a flour dusted surface. Knock the dough back (all this means is to push all of the air out of the dough) by folding the dough in on itself and pushing the dough down over and over again until you have knocked all of the air out. This won’t take long to do, maybe a minute or so.

5.   Split the dough into 4 or 6 equal balls and roll out each ball, with a dusted rolling pin, until they are 5mm thick. Dust each pitta with a little flour just to make sure that they do not stick to the baking tray. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place as many pitta breads as you can on the tray (you may have to cook them in batches). Put the tray in the oven and cook the pittas for 5 – 8 minutes or until they start to get some colour. Don’t be tempted to leave them in the oven to go completely brown as you will end up with a brittle pitta bread that will break up as soon as you try to cut into it. Once the pitta breads are cooked, place them onto a chopping board and cover them with a clean cloth until they have cooled down. Once they have cooled the pitta breads should be soft and easy to open and ready to be filled with amazing ingredients!

I made these last weekend for my girlfriends family and they went down amazingly. I served them with a potato curry and a nice salad. The thing I love about these breads is that you can have them with so many different fillings!

I hope you like the recipe. Let me know if you try them out 🙂 

 

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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Tomatoes with Infused Basil Oil

Gluten Free, Healthy, Herbs, Holidays, Side Dishes, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

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Makes: 2 portions
Preparation & cooking time: 35 minutes (including the time to infuse the oil) 

This is probably the simplest recipe I will ever post, but it is one of my favourites and it represents the food that I really enjoy eating. The flavour of this dish really does depend on being able to use the best ingredients available, so if you can get your hands on some amazingly ripe tomatoes then this recipe is so enjoyable. Since I have been in Spain, I have realised how good the tomatoes are here! They are probably the best tomatoes that I have had anywhere and for this reason I have been eating so many of them this summer and this is why I am showing you probably my favourite way of eating them. On a hot day this really is a perfect light dish to enjoy at lunch or dinner and for me it really does show off the amazing flavours of summer. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 250ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • A pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Method:

1.   Put the oil, basil, garlic and chilli flakes into a saucepan and place it over a low heat. Infuse the oil for 35 minutes. The garlic should have a slight colour to it after the 35 minute infusion. After 35 minutes, strain the infused oil into a jar using a sieve. There will be more oil than you need for this recipe which is great as it goes so well with so many dishes. You can use it in pasta sauces, salad dressings, for roasting vegetables etc.

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2.   Slice the tomatoes and place the slices nicely on a plate. Season the tomatoes with a little sea salt and black pepper and then drizzle over some of the gorgeous infused oil. To make it look even nicer, roughly scatter some basil leaves over the tomatoes and enjoy!

I know this seems so, so simple but trust me, it really is something special when the best ingredients are used. I hope you like it!

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