FAJITAS!

#MeatfreeMonday, food, foodshare, free from

Fajitas

Preparation & cooking time: 30 Minutes
Makes: 2 large portions/4 medium portions

I hope everybody likes Mexican food because I am making Fajitas!

Sometimes all I want to do after a day at work or for a quick lunch on the weekend is throw a meal together that isn’t anything fancy, doesn’t take long to make but tastes so fresh and amazing! These fajitas do all of the above and you know that all of the ingredients are going to wonders for your health. I have to say that this is one of my favourite meals to eat as it has all of the flavours that I love; I just love the freshness of the avocado and salsa with the charred vegetables, it is the perfect combination.

Ingredients:

For the fajitas:

  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin strips
  • A handful of broccoli florets, cut into slices
  • 1 red onion, roughly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • ½ a lime
  • 3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
  • Black pepper
  • Tortilla wraps, to serve
  • Spinach, to serve

For the salsa:

  • About 15 ripe cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ¼ of a cucumber, chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • A small handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • ½ a lime
  • Salt and pepper

For the guacamole (click guacamole to see the recipe)

fajitas collage

Method:

1. Put all of the fajita vegetables into a large bowl along with the paprika, cumin, coriander, juice o f1/2 a lime, oil and black pepper. Stir all of the ingredients together to make sure that all of the vegetables are nicely coated by the spices and leave to the side to marinade for 5 minutes.

2. In another bowl add all of the ingredients for the salsa and mix together and leave to the side.

3. Place a griddle pan/wok/large frying pan over a medium to high heat. Once the pan is hot, put the marinated vegetables into the pan. Keep the vegetables moving in the pan to stop any sticking; don’t worry if there is a little bit of charring as it actually tastes great when you get bits of charred veg. Keep on moving and cooking the veg for around 10 minutes.

4. Whilst the veg is cooking you can make the guacamole. Follow this link for the recipe and method:

5. Now that all the elements of the meal have been prepared, warm the tortillas for a few seconds in the microwave and put all of the dishes and the spinach into the middle of a table and let everyone dig in.

Nutrition:

(see Know Your Food Page)

Bell Pepper: Bell peppers are a rich source of antioxidants and vitamin C. Red bell peppers have a higher vitamin C content in comparison to green bell peppers. They are also a moderate source of vitamin B6.

Carrots: Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin K and vitamin B6.

Broccoli: Broccoli is an amazing source of vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fibre.

Spinach: Spinach is an ingredient that is delicious and is also so good for you and will do a lot of good when it is incorporated into your diet. Spinach is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B9, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese and iron. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and dietary fibre.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are not significantly rich in any particular vitamin or mineral, but they are a moderate source of vitamin C.

Cucumber: Cucumbers are made up of around 90% water which means that it is really hydrating. They are also a moderate source of vitamin K.

Chilli: Chillies contain a large amount of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and iron. They are also a good source of most B vitamins, especially B6.

Coriander: Coriander is particularly rich in vitamin A, C and K as well as a good source of manganese, iron and potassium.

Avocado: Avocados are such an amazing ingredient; not only are they delicious, they are also really healthy for you. They are a good source of vitamin B5, B6, B9 and vitamin K. They are also an amazing source of essential fatty acids (fatty acids that your body can’t produce itself but can get them from foods).

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH, SPINACH & CHICKPEA CURRY WITH LEMON COUSCOUS

#MeatfreeMonday, curry, dairy free, exercise, fitness, food, free from, go vegan, health, Healthy, healthy food, lunch, meat free, meat free monday, nutrition, plant based, plant power, plant strong, plants, quick food, recipes, Vegan, vegan food, Vegetables, Vegetarian, what vegans eat, whole food, wholefoods

Butternut squash curry

Preparation & cooking time: 1 hour
Makes: 4 portions

I thought I would give you a curry recipe today seeing as the last curry recipe on my blog was posted ages ago! There is nothing really that beats a good curry and yesterday I had a major cravings for one, so I decided to make my girlfriend and myself this dish which is packed full of amazing ingredients and served with a really light and fragrant couscous. I would usually have rice with this dish but I fancied trying something new and it turned out really well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, deseeded and chopped into 1 inch chunks
  • 4 teaspoons of curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • A 2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • A bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 large green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 6 large ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 150g spinach
  • 3 large handfuls of couscous
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 a lemon, cut into 4
  • A handful of basil leaves

Cous cous

Method: 

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put all of the butternut squash chunks onto a large baking tray followed by two teaspoons of curry powder, the ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli flakes, a pinch of salt and pepper and the two tablespoons of oil. Using your hands, toss the squash and the spices together to make sure that all of the pieces are coated. Put the roasting tray into the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the squash is golden and caramelised.

2. Whilst the squash is in the oven, you can get the curry base on the go. Put a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a glug of oil to the pan to heat up. Put the onions, garlic, ginger, coriander stalks and green chilli into the saucepan and fry for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add in the remaining two teaspoons of curry powder, stir and fry for a further 5 minutes until all of the ingredients are nice and soft.

3. Put the tomatoes and chickpeas into the pan and bring the ingredients to the boil. Once it is boiling place a lid on the pan and leave to cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes all of the ingredients will have combined nicely and the tomatoes will have cooked down.

4. Once the squash has cooked, add it to the saucepan along with the coriander leaves and spinach. Stir all of the ingredients together and leave to cook for a further 5-10 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt down.

5. Whilst the curry is in it’s final stages, it is time to get the couscous ready. This is really simple and quick to do. Boil your kettle and place the couscous into a large bowl with the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper, the turmeric, a glug of oil and the lemon. Once the water has boiled, put enough water in the bowl to cover the couscous and then place cling film over the bowl to allow the couscous to absorb the water.

6. Now all of the elements of the meal are ready, it is just time to enjoy it! Sprinkle some chopped basil leaves over the curry and couscous and dig in!

Nutrition:

(see Know Your Food Page)

Butternut squash: Butternut squash is a great source of vitamin A, C and E. It is also a good source of dietary fibre, manganese, magnesium and potassium.

Red onion: Onions are made up of around 90% water and hold low amounts of essential nutrients e.g.vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese.

Ginger: Ginger contains a lot of manganese and iron with moderate amounts of vitamin B3 and B6.

Garlic: Garlic contains several nutrients, but due to the low quantity that is eaten it won’t play a huge factor in terms of getting all of your essential vitamins and minerals. In large quantities, garlic holds a lot of vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese and phosphorus.

Coriander: Coriander is particularly rich in vitamin A, C and K as well as a good source of manganese,iron and potassium.

Chilli: Chillies contain a large amount of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and iron. They are also a good source of most B vitamins, especially B6.

Tomato: Tomatoes are not significantly rich in any particular vitamin or mineral, but they are a moderate source of vitamin C.

Chickpea: Chickpeas are a nutrient dense food; they are a rich source of protein, dietary fibre, folate, iron and phosphorus. They also provide moderate levels of vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc.

Spinach: Spinach is another ingredient that is delicious but it is also so good for you and will do a lot of good when it is incorporated into your diet. Spinach is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B9, vitamin Cvitamin K, magnesium, manganese and iron. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin Ecalcium, potassium and dietary fibre.

What coffee are you buying?

#ViniDrinks, coffee, General, Information

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Buying coffee can be a somewhat stressful affair when you are bombarded with words such as robusta; single origin; Kenyan; blend etc.! I used to get so overwhelmed when I went into a supermarket and looked in the coffee isle; I saw endless options with descriptions that I just didn’t understand, so in the end I just went with any old coffee! I really do understand that the insurmountable descriptions associated with the word ‘coffee’ can be extremely off putting, however, the topic of coffee is very interesting and once you get to grips with with the basic principles, you will be able to buy the best coffee and have the most enjoyable coffee experiences that you can just through enhancing your knowledge a little. So without further a due, I am going to take you to the absolute bare bones of coffee to help you understand exactly what you are buying!

Is there more than one type of coffee bean?

Simply, yes there are. There are different species of coffee bean, however, there are only two that you will need to know about and these are the Arabica and Robusta beans.

Robusta Beans

Robusta beans have a much more aggressive flavour and contain twice as much caffeine than Arabica beans do. When you have a cup of coffee made from Robusta beans you will generally get earthy and nutty qualities. Robusta beans are much easier to grow than Arabica beans as they flourish at much lower altitudes and because of the high yield, Robusta beans are cheaper than Arabica beans. Robusta beans are considered inferior to Arabica beans, however, they are sometimes desired to make espressos due to the rich and intense flavour and for the velvety crema (the golden foam on top of the espresso) that it produces.

Arabica Beans

In comparison to Robusta beans earthy and nutty qualities, Arabica beans have a a much softer, sweeter, fruitier and floral flavour that is accompanied by a high level of acidity. Arabica beans are much more popular and widely consumed of the two species and accounts for the majority of the coffee production around the world. The main producers of Arabica beans are Ethiopia, Colombia and Brazil.

Due to the topography and climate, some coffee producing countries are able to grow both species, such as Brazil, whereas Colombia only produces Arabica beans.

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Where does your Coffee come from?

On a global scale there are three main continents from where your coffee is likely to come from, namely from countries within South America, Africa or Asia. Now you can narrow the coffee down to the specific origin, i.e. the farms that your coffee will come from. Again, I will try to make the terminology as easy to understand as I possibly can. Here I will explain what  Single Origin, Estate, Micro-Lot and Blend coffees actually are.

Single Origin

Single Origin coffee, as the name describes, is a coffee that comes from a single place. Single Origin coffee is often desired as it is a good way of achieving a consistent flavour, making Single Origin coffees a popular choice for independent coffee shops, roasters and cafes.

Estate

Estate coffees are beans that are grown on a single farm.

Micro-Lot

Even more specific than estate coffees, micro-lot coffees are from a single field within a farm, harvested on a specific day or even from a small range of altitude.

Blends

Blends are coffees that have been crafted by roasters to create a coffee that encaptures all of the qualities that they desire e.g. the perfect combination of sweetness, bitterness and acidity. Some single origin coffees may have some flavour imbalances so creating a blend is a great way to remedy these issues. Once you have tried a lot of different coffees from different countries, different farms, estates, micro-lots and different beans creating your own blend at home is great fun and is definitely worth giving a go. All you need to do is combine different measures of different single origin coffees until you get a coffee that has  your favourite flavours.

I really hope that you enjoy this post and that it has helped you to really understand the coffee that you buy in the future. I hope that it helps you enjoy coffee more and makes you feel more relaxed as you enter the coffee isle at the supermarket! Please let me know if you attempt (or if you have attempted already) to make your own blend as I would love to hear about what you create and come up with.

Thank you 🙂

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What makes a great coffee?

#ViniDrinks, coffee

It wasn’t until recently that I began to really understand what really affects the way that a cup of coffee tastes. Simply, I thought that you just got some instant coffee out of the jar, poured boiling water over the top and added sugar and milk to taste; how wrong I was! I can imagine that this is the way a lot of people think a cup of coffee should should be made, but don’t worry, that is why I am writing this post, in an attempt to help all of the coffee lovers (and potential coffee lovers!) out there to understand how to make the most amazing cup of coffee in the comfort of your own home.

As one of the most popular drinks across the globe, I feel that everyone deserves to know how to make the most of how amazing coffee can be. I remember the cup of coffee that really opened my eyes to what coffee should really taste like. I was in London with a friend and I remembered that my brother (who is also a coffee lover, find him on Instagram and twitter @Essexcoffeeboy) had told me about this great coffee shop called Taylor St Baristas and what a good recommendation it was! I was used to the usual coffee houses that you find everywhere (like Starbucks) which is practically identical in every country all of which serve the same terrible coffee in each of them, so it was such a pleasure to go to an establishment that takes real pride in every cup of coffee that they make. Taylor St Baristas use coffee beans that have been roasted by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee to make the most amazing cups of coffee (I have since used Union Roasted coffee beans at home and they have all been AWESOME!). On that day I ordered my first ever flat white (a double espresso topped up with steamed milk) and a large americano (a double espresso topped with boiling water) and it was this order that changed my view on coffee and how complex and flavourful it can be, it was that very day that has led me on this journey with the ambitions I have for my future! It is crazy what can happen over a cup of coffee!

Ever since my experience in Taylor St Baristas, I have been on a mission to try and create better coffee at home than I could buy in a regular coffee house. After a lot of research and experimentation I have comprised a list of 5 key elements that when followed can help you produce amazing coffee at home. I hope the following list helps better your understanding of coffee and how to treat it to get the best possible cup that you can:

Coffee Beans

Starting with the obvious, buying the best coffee beans that you can get your hands on will improve your coffee by leaps and bounds. There are a lot of amazing roasteries out there that produce wonderful coffee beans that have been sourced from all of the world, tried, tested and then roasted on their own sites. As mentioned earlier, Union Hand-Roasted Coffee are an amazing roastery based in London, that offer an array of coffee that they have sourced and roasted themselves. I recommend purchasing whole beans and grinding them yourself as the shorter the time between the coffee being ground and the coffee being used the better your coffee will taste, but if you do not have a burr grinder (see further down the page) then try to use up the ground coffee within a week. Good coffee roasters will usually state the date that your bag of coffee beans were roasted on (on the packet), this is really helpful as you should use your coffee within a week of it being roasted and to help keep it as fresh as possible store it in the freezer between uses. I tend to buy smaller bags of coffee more frequently (than large bags less frequently) just so that my coffee keeps as fresh as possible. Buying from high quality roasteries will more than often mean that the trade of this coffee has been done under Fairtrade conditions. This is of utmost importance to me and I urge you to always buy Fairtrade coffee and support the hard work the farmers do to produce the coffee and to make sure that they are not being exploited as coffee plays such an important role in the economy of some of the least developed countries in the world.

Filtered Water

I know that this is probably stating the obvious again, but using filtered/bottled water will really help the taste of the coffee to come through properly. Just think, water is the main ingredient in a cup of coffee so it is important to use water that will have as little impurities in it as possible.

Water Temperature

The temperature of the water used is vital to how your cup of coffee will taste. If the temperature of the water is too low then the water will not extract the coffee properly leaving a weak taste and a temperature too high will burn the coffee which results in a very bitter taste and a very unpleasant coffee experience. I have found that using a water temperature of between 90-95 C extracts the coffee fully without burning the grounds. You can use a thermometer to be very accurate but, alternatively you can boil the kettle and leave it to sit for 30 seconds to a minute to allow the water to cool down to the required temperature. These days you can get kettles that regulate the temperature of your water which makes things much easier!

Use a Burr Grinder

A burr grinder is a grinder that uses two abrasive surfaces to grind your coffee to the desired grind size. Burr grinders are the best way of grinding your coffee as it produces much less friction and heat whilst grinding in comparison to a blade grinder; this is extremely important in retaining all of the flavour from the fresh beans. Also, a burr grinder will give you the most uniform grind for all types of coffee extraction, again in comparison to a blade grinder which creates a very uneven grind. Consistently sized grounds will allow for even extraction whereas an uneven grind will produce bitter and sour notes in the coffee as each ground size will have been extracted differently. You can purchase electric burr grinders but also handheld grinders (for a small amount of money) which are perfect for making coffee at home. To get the best out of your coffee, I highly recommend purchasing a burr grinder.

Water – Coffee Ratio

The water to coffee ratio used is important in producing the most delicious tasting cup of coffee possible. I have found that using a ratio of 1:17 (1g coffee to 17ml water) is a great starting point for brewing coffee at home. For example, for a regular cup of coffee I will use 17g of coffee and 289ml of water (17×17=289). The easiest way of achieving this is by using a set of scales; I know it may seem over the top, but trust me, it will really make a difference to the taste of your coffee. Once you have gotten more experience with making coffee in this way and using different brewing methods, you can play around with this ratio to get different flavours from your coffee, but the 1:17 ratio is a great place to start.

 I hope this guide helps you make the best coffee that you can! Let me know what you think and how you love to make your coffee. 🙂