Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary and Garlic Crostini

Ingredients for the soup:

2 white onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1tbsp coconut oil

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced

5 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1.5 litres hot vegetable stock

Crème fraiche or sour cream

Paprika

Fresh or dry thyme

Extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the crostini:

12 diagonal slices of Italian bread

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, roasted and pureed (can substitute with garlic powder if time is restricted)

Fresh rosemary

Serves 6

Method

In a large pan, fry the onions in coconut oil until translucent and soft. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the squash and carrots and stir, whilst adding the salt, pepper, cumin and nutmeg. Cooking for a further 5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to boil. Cover with a lid and  simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through.

Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Using a hand blender, blend the soup until a smooth consistency has formed.

For the crostini, brush the sliced bread on both sides with olive oil and garlic puree (or powder). Sprinkle a couple rosemary leaves on each slice and grill until golden brown.

Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with crème fraiche or sour cream, paprika, fresh or dry thyme and extra virgin olive oil. Serve with warm rosemary and garlic crostini and enjoy.

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Thai Green Prawn Noodles

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 shallot, chopped

1 green chilli, chopped

4cm chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped

Small bunch of coriander, chopped and separated into stalks and leaves

150g spinach

200ml coconut milk

200g raw kind prawns

2 nests of vermicelli noodles

1/2 lime, juiced

1 tsp liquid aminos or soy sauce

1/2 tsp fish sauce

1 spring onion, chopped to garnish

Black sesame seeds to garnish

Serves 2

Method

Heat the coconut oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander stalks and sauté for a couple minutes until fragrant. Add the spinach and coriander leaves and stir until they’ve wilted.

Next add the coconut milk, lime, fish sauce, liquid aminos or soy sauce and stir. With a stick blender, blitz the contents of pan until a smooth green liquid has formed. Ensure the pan is on a medium-low heat and leave to simmer gently.

Soak the vermicelli noodles in a bowl of boiled water for 5 minutes until al dente.

Add the fresh prawns to the pan of green sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the vermicelli noodles and season to taste. Serve with spring onion and black sesame seeds.

Loaded Egg White Omelette

It turns out that as part of my current low iodine diet I am allowed to eat egg whites but not the egg yolk. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to create an easy egg white omelette recipe with a tasty veggie filling, perfect for a beautiful breakfast on a budget. Removing the egg yolk reduces calories, fat and cholesterol but the omelette maintains the same consistency and flavour as usual; it’s a win-win situation and you won’t even know what you’re missing!

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

4 plum tomatoes, finely chopped

4 chestnut mushrooms

2 cups spinach, washed

3 egg whites, whisked until frothy

2 pinches salt

2 pinches freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp chilli flakes

1/2 avocado, diced

Fresh parsley to garnish

Serves 1

Method

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the red onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Next, add the mushrooms, tomatoes, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, paprika and chilli flakes to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and lightly fried. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the spinach.

In a separate pan, heat the remaining tbsp of olive oil. Add the whisked egg whites to the pan, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes on a low-medium heat until the eggs are set. Remove from the heat and slide onto a plate. Carefully spoon the vegetable mixture onto one side of the omelette and fold. Garnish with cool avocado and fresh parsley and enjoy.

Banana Oat Protein Pancakes with Lemon Syrup

I’m not a big fan of sweet breakfast food but on my quest to create diverse recipes for a gluten free, vegan diet, I came across the banana pancake craze. It seems like most food bloggers have tried their hand at various versions of this dish, so I felt that I should be no exception. I was sceptical at first due to my current inability to cook with any form of dairy or dairy substitute, but I soon found a way around this. My 13 year old brother who is used to American-style, sugar filled pancakes tried my finished product and I received a generous, “they’re not too bad”, so I feel like this recipe is a success. Let me know what you think!

Serves 2

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

2 cups gluten free oats

1 tbsp almond flour

1 ripe banana

1 cup water

2 tbsp agave nectar

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lemon extract or 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp coconut oil

For the syrup:

Half cup of water

Half cup sugar

1 tsp lemon extract or the juice of 4 lemons

1/2 tsp grated lemon rind (optional)

Method

In a saucepan, add the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Simmer over a low heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Pour the syrup into a bowl and leave to cool. Stir in the lemon extract or lemon juice and your syrup is complete.

Add all the ingredients for the pancakes except the coconut oil into a blender and mix until a thick liquid has formed. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat with half a tsp of coconut oil. Add a couple tablespoons of the pancake mix, smooth into a circle and cook for a couple minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Repeat this with the rest of the mixture, adding more coconut oil to the pan if necessary.

Drizzle the syrup over the pancakes and garnish with fresh banana, blackberries and powdered sugar.

Gluten Free Fusilli Bolognese

Sticking to my current vegan, gluten free, low iodine diet has been tough and as a result i’ve been craving a wholesome meal for a couple days now. I decided to end the madness by creating a dish that fulfils my dietary requirements and satisfies my carbohydrate cravings. As an Italian, I am obliged to tell you that this version of ragù al bolognese is nowhere near the traditional meat-based sauce, but sometimes a girl has to compromise. Originating from Bologna, ragù is used in Italian cuisine to compliment flat pastas such as tagliatelle, pappardelle or fettuccine. The sauce is cooked over a long period of time, allowing the flavours to intensify and blend with one another. The commercial spaghetti bolognese you see today bears little resemblance to the authentic ragù and is usually served in Western restaurants outside Italy. I am now guilty of making a version of this modernised dish but I never forget the origins of the true ragù al bolognese.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

300g Vegan Quorn Mince or Dried Soy Protein

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

200g mushrooms, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

400g tin chopped tomatoes or passata

1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 100ml boiling water

1 tsp tomato puree

2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

500g gluten free, vegan fusilli

2 fresh bay leaves

Bunch of fresh basil leaves, torn

(This recipe is in line with a low iodine diet and therefore does not contain salt. Feel free to add a pinch of salt if desired)

Method

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onion on a low heat until translucent. Add the crushed garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the mushrooms, 1 tsp of oregano, bay leaves, a few leaves of fresh basil, black pepper and the chilli flakes. Stir the ingredients for a couple minutes until the mushrooms have softened.

Next add the chopped tomatoes or passata and the rest of the dried oregano. Place a lid over the saucepan and leave to simmer for 5 minutes on a low heat. Add the tomato puree and vegetable stock, replace the lid and simmer again for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mince or soy protein, extra virgin olive oil and a couple more leaves of basil and replace the lid again whilst the sauce simmers for a final 10 minutes.

Cook the fusilli as per pack instructions. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, season to taste, and serve with some basil leaves.

Pink Rice Noodles with Teriyaki Tofu and Miso Aubergine

This attractive dish is a quick and easy vegan fix for lunch on a budget. Containing mostly rice flour and water, vermicelli rice noodles are a great gluten free alternative to the thicker wheat based noodles in Asian cuisine. The pretty pink colour adds a bit of fun to the dish but it isn’t purely for aesthetic purposes. The appearance is created from fresh beetroot juice which is a natural antioxidant and a strong source of iron. The tofu contributes protein and essential amino acids, while the aubergine provides dietary fibre and potassium. For only 3 main ingredients this dish packs in a whole lot of goodness and is perfect for anyone trying to eat clean for cheap!

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 nests of vermicelli rice noodles

1 aubergine, cubed

Half a block of firm tofu, drained and cubed

1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 shallot, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

1 spring onion, sliced

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded, thinly sliced

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup of miso stock

1 tbsp beetroot juice

2 tbsp liquid aminos or tamari

2 tbsp teriyaki sauce

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1 tbsp mirin

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp black sesame seeds

Method

Heat half a tbsp of coconut oil and half a tbsp sesame oil in a pan. Add the drained tofu to the pan with the ground ginger, black pepper and turmeric and stir until the tofu is coated with seasoning. Fry the tofu for 3 minutes on each side on a high heat until crispy. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a larger pan, heat half a tbsp of coconut oil and half a tbsp sesame oil on a medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, red chilli and fresh ginger and sauté for a minute. Add the aubergine and sauté for another minute. Pour in the miso stock, mirin and 1 tbsp of teriyaki sauce and leave to simmer on a low heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring often.

Meanwhile, soak the noodles in a bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes. Once the noodles are cooked, drain through a sieve and rinse with cold water before returning them to the bowl. Drizzle the beetroot juice over the noodles and add the black sesame seeds and 1 tbsp of liquid aminos. Stir well until the noodles are pretty and pink.

Next, add the crispy tofu to the aubergine pan and stir. Add the sweet chilli sauce and the rest of the liquid aminos and teriyaki sauce. Sauté the aubergine and tofu for a couple minutes until the sauce becomes sticky. Sprinkle some spring onion on top with a final stir and serve with the noodles.

Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean Rice Bowl

IMG_7736

My appreciation for Mexican food and flavours has grown over the past few years due to the diversity of vegetarian dishes formed from this distinct cuisine. Beans are a staple ingredient in Mexican cooking and a substantial source of protein and fibre for non-meat-eaters. The fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, avocados and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals whilst contributing a healthy balance of carbohydrates and fats.

I will be undergoing my radio-iodine therapy in 2 weeks which means I am on a low-iodine diet until the treatment is over. For half a month I have been instructed to cut out fish, dairy (and dairy substitutes), eggs, salt and some breads. As I already don’t eat meat, I am taking this time to explore the vegan diet and thus become more creative with my recipes. My Mexican Sweet Potato and Black Bean Rice Bowl is the perfect dish to transition into the plant based regime. Let me know what you think!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 large sweet potatoes, washed and sliced into circles 1 inch thick

2 tins black beans

2 cups brown rice, washed

4 cups water

1 large roasted red pepper (from a jar)

1 large clove of garlic, sliced

Bunch of fresh coriander

Bunch of lettuce of your choosing, I used little gems

1 tsp tomato paste

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp garlic granules

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 avocados, diced or sliced

4 vine tomatoes, diced small

1/4 red onion, diced small

1/4 lime

6 tbsp olive oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius or 330 degrees fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the sliced sweet potatoes. After 5 minutes, drain the sweet potatoes and evenly place onto a baking tray. Drizzle 3 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle 1 tsp of paprika, ground coriander, garlic granules, ground black pepper and half a tsp of cayenne pepper on top. Flip the potatoes over a couple times to ensure they are coated in seasoning and place in the oven for 45 minutes.

Next, add the brown rice to a pan with 4 cups of water and 1 tbsp olive oil. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to a simmer. The rice should take roughly 25 minutes to cook but check often and add more water if necessary.

Drain and wash 1 tin of black beans and place into a pan. Add the second tin of black beans with the liquid into the same pan and stir. Add the garlic, roasted pepper, tomato paste and 1 tsp of paprika, black pepper and half a tsp of cayenne pepper. Sprinkle some fresh coriander onto the bean mixture, give it a good stir, and then cover with a lid and leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Once the rice is cooked, add a generous handful of coriander and the remaining olive oil and stir through. Add the rice to a large bowl to create the base of your dish. Carefully scoop the black beans onto a section of the rice. Next, add the lettuce, tomatoes, red onion and avocado to their own section of rice and drizzle with lime. Finally add the sweet potato, garnish with more coriander and serve.