Serves 4 Large saucepan / paella dish
60 g walnuts – toasted for 5 minutes under a medium hot grill
1 red onion – finely chopped
1 clove of garlic – finely chopped or 1 tsp garlic salt
80 g green beans – trimmed and chopped into 2 cm lengths
65 g asparagus – trimmed and chopped into 3 cm lengths
60 g kale – remove rough stems and coarsely chop
70 g frozen peas
900 ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
225 g Arborio rice
1 tsp Marmite
140 ml white wine
salt and black pepper to season
Heat the olive oil and saute the red onions until soft. Add the garlic / garlic salt and stir for a minute. Then add the rice and heat for a minute. Turn up the heat a little and add the wine. Stir frequently and simmer until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the beans, asparagus and half of the stock. Stir occasionally. As the rice absorbs the stock, add more 50 ml at a time (you might not use all the stock). As the rice starts to soften , add the kale and peas and cook until the rice is just cooked and the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from the heat and serve immediately – top each bowlful with some toasted walnuts.
This dish is a complete meal in itself.
Preheat oven 180 C Gas mark 5
4 medium / large potatoes
1 onion slices
Packet of vege mince 454 g
500 g carton passata
2 aubergines sliced
1 tsp mixed spice
50 g vegan butter
3 tbsps flour (gf)
Approx 400 ml non dairy milk
Boil the potatoes until just tender. When cooled – slice thickly.
Brush the aubergine slices with a little olive oil and pan fry for 2-3 mins on each side.
Fry the onions until soft and add the vege mince, mixed spice, black pepper and passata.
Make the white sauce – thick pouring consistency
Grease the bottom of a large oven proof dish.
Create a layer of aubergine, potato and then mince mix. Continue to create layers until all ingredients used. Top with the sauce. Sprinkle chilli flakes over the surface.
Put in the oven for 20-30 mins until piping hot.
This is a really quick, easy and delicious dish served up with rice or quinoa, poppadoms and mango chutney. It involves very little preparation – a winner in my opinion!!
Serves 3-4 Cooking time 40-50 minutes
300 g white mushrooms – quartered 2 tsp ground cumin
Medium cauliflower cut into small florets 1 tsp chilli powder
Large tin 400 g chopped tomatoes + 1/2 tin of water 1 tsp turmeric
Large tin 400 g chick peas 1 tsp garlic powder
Large cup of cashew nuts 1 tsp cayenne pepper
Put all the ingredients in to a large pan, cover and simmer (stirring occasionally) until the cauliflower is tender.
This recipe is a more simple and quicker dish to prepare than my other vegetarian / vegan pie using fewer ingredients but just as tasty. It has a ‘stodgier’ base, which my husband prefers. He says it taste ‘meatier’.
Preheat oven to Gas mark 5 190 C
4 medium/ large white potatoes
5 medium/ large sweet potatoes
1 large onion – finely chopped
Punnet of chestnut mushrooms – 200 g – coarsely chopped
100 g sun-dried tomatoes (I use a packet of Merchant Gourmet) – unsoaked
Red lentils – large mugful
1 large tin of chick peas 400 g – drained
Vegetable stock cube
Peel, chop, boil and mash the potatoes.
Fry the chopped onions in a some olive oil until soft. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chick peas, lentils, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, stock cube and enough boiling water to just cover the ingredients. Stir and leave to simmer – stirring occasionally adding more water if required. Once the lentils are soft, remove from the heat and put into an oven proof dish.
Cover the mixture with the mashed potatoes creating a thick layer.
Place in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes. Once piping hot, serve and enjoy.
A time-saving method of making this sauce – an alternative to 2 hours to soak and then pulverize the cashew nuts to form the base of the sauce and using Marmite (for all the Marmite haters out there – I don’t think you can taste it) instead of nutritional yeast
2 heaped tbsps cashew nut butter
2 tbsps plain flour (I use gf flour)
2 tsps of Marmite
750 ml Cashew milk – approx quantity – dependent on desired thickness of sauce
Put cashew butter and flour in to pan and on to a medium heat – stir into a thick paste. Stir in the cashew milk – a little at a time. Add the Marmite. Continue to stir and add milk until desired thickness is achieved. Allow the sauce to simmer but not boil.
So … last Monday at midnight I said goodbye to sugar. I also decided to switch back to a solely vegetarian diet (during the festive period I seemed to eat more meat than I had done in the whole year) and reduce my dairy food intake.
I would like to say this week has been plain sailing for me. It hasn’t. Not eating meat / fish has not been an issue at all. However, the sugar withdrawal has been a different story. The first day was easy and lulled me in to a false sense of security. Days 2 and 3 delivered a constant headache – initially eased by increasing my water intake but this relief was only short lived. I awoke on day 4 headache free, ‘Yay!’ As the day progressed, I presumed all toxins were flushed out and sugar impact gone. Wrong. With the evening came a migraine that sent me to my bed. Day 5 – the cravings really hit. Sugar laden goodies were calling , no, shouting to me. Two choices – give in and then be cross with myself – or, distract myself and keep going. I chose the second option. Day 6 – no headaches and no cravings. Day 7 – all good.
Was the week worth it?
- I am sleeping better
- I am not waking up with heartburn
- I’m eating nutrition dense not calorie dense food
- no more sugar lows and sugar highs
- I’m enjoying creating different flavours and cooking again – feel I have my mojo back
- I feel full after I have eaten
- I don’t want any of the chocolates, biscuits and cake that are in the house – not being smug- just not interested in them
- perfected a speedy cashew Bechamel sauce! One step closer to a vegan diet.
- (… I’ve lost 2 kg)
2018 was an eventful year! The stresses of selling our house, living in a caravan with 2 dogs, 2 cats and my husband during one of the hottest UK summers on record (many thanks to our wonderful friends for helping us) whilst we awaited the completion on the house we were buying seemed to stretch out endlessly.
This life turbulence completely tipped me upside down. As my kitchen disappeared so to my healthy food choices, love of cooking and exploration of flavours and blends disappeared. Instead, I trotted – no … galloped – in the direction of sugar laden comfort foods. Fast forward to the end of 2018 and I was a few pounds heavier, feeling very sluggish and lacking any momentum to change. I have spent the last few months mentally beating myself up for my lack of will power and weakness which has only lead to a downward spiral of self loathing followed quickly by a ‘what is the point?’ attitude as I devoured some more calorie dense / nutrient lacking morsel.
Thankfully, my inner voice has finally been heard. I am only human and to err is not a weakness. Self -care is paramount. Over the last few days, I have planned and prepared for overhauling my diet. So, as 2019 commences, the cookbooks cover my table once more, scraps of paper have ideas scribbled on them and sugar is off the menu.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year.
Heat oven to 180 C / Gas 4
Grease a lasagne dish
125 g butter
100 g plain flour (gf or non gf)
1 l semi skimmed milk (a bit more may be needed if sauce too thick)
1 leek cut in to thin strips
500 g baby spinach
4 fillet portions of salmon – baked in foil for 15 minutes and flaked
400 g cheddar cheese – grated
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
4 sprigs of dill – chopped
Salt and pepper
10-12 sheets of lasagne – gf / non gf
Using 125 g of butter, flour and the milk make a bechamel / white sauce.
Melt the remaining butter in a pan and cook the leeks for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach leaves (a handful at a time) and the garlic and cook until the spinach has wilted. Drain off any excess liquid.
Assemble the lasagne – spread 1/4 of sauce over the bottom of the dish. Place lasagne sheets on top. Top with half of the leek / spinach mix and half of the flaked salmon.
Sprinkle with a third of the cheese. Repeat – 1/4 of sauce, lasagne, greens, salmon and cheese.
Top with 1/4 of sauce , lasagne, remainder of sauce and grated cheese.
Cook for 45 minutes or until golden.
Sprinkle the dill over the top and serve with garlic flatbreads and a green salad.
Last year, on Apr 9th I wrote my ‘Mrs Impatient’ blog post. 10 months ago I thought I was feeling better after all my treatment. But…it is only now that I really feel like my body has recovered from the battering it had. When I mentioned this to a friend recently, they reminded me that the cancer nurses had told me it would take 18 months to 2 years for my body to recover. Clearly, they knew best!
Over the last few months I have got cross with my self regularly when I have strayed from good diet choices and not exercised on a regular basis. I now realise, I really wasn’t ready. I see the signs that my body’s health and returning strength has turned a corner: my nails and hair are now strong and healthy and if I cut myself (or fall – as I did very ungracefully last week. I do not recommend ‘splatting’ / tarmac surfing on the road!) then the scrapes and bruises heal much more quickly once again.
So, and this is where ‘I am a digestive biscuit’ comes in, I do now feel strong enough to take back the control. I lost a bit of my chemo weight but have been eating biscuits and cake over the last year so cannot question why I have not lost more! Since the New Year, I have made positive choices about the food I put in my body and I have sufficient energy to go for walk everyday. So I know, my body will recalibrate.
It’s that time of year… when a bowl of soup is always welcome. This recipe is a firm favourite in our household. It is one of the easiest soups to make.
1 medium cauliflower – separated into florets 2 cups of stock – vegetable / chicken
1 large onion – coarsely chopped 2 cups of milk
1 large handful of walnut pieces 2 tsps paprika
Put the cauliflower florets, chopped onion and stock into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until soft. Add the milk, paprika, black pepper and walnuts and
simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, blend and serve.
I serve with a sprinkling of black pepper and a dash of tabasco.