Lentil and Cauliflower Dahl

For over a year now I have been following the 5:2 diet and although I have the odd slack week here and there I’ve generally fully incorporated it into my life. It’s something I actually get enjoyment out of (maybe don’t ask me to confirm this at 4pm on a fasting day!!) and if the research is to be believed it’s something that my body benefits from in a number of ways.

On my 500 calorie days I have opted for the tactic of skipping both breakfast and dinner (the midday meal) and just having one 500 calorie meal towards the end of the day, once I have gotten in from work. I know this isn’t the best option for many people, but for me, whilst I am busy at work, I find it much easier to go out without food than when I am home in the evening.

One possible downside of the 5:2 diet that I have noticed is that, if you’re not organised, fasting days are not conducive to cooking and it is easy to fall into the trap of living on shop-bought pre-calorie- counted food. This can often be boring and potentially not very healthy but very rarely do I feel like taking the time to figure out how many calories are in 7g of curry powder! Thankfully I did make the effort a couple of weeks ago because now I have an easy, nutritious, cheap and tasty meal that comes in just under 500 calories for my fasting days.

Dahl has always been a favourite of mine, it’s the mac and cheese of Indian food; comforting and warming. This recipe is pretty simplistic, obviously I had to cut it back to the basics in order to keep the calories low but trust me it tastes great!

Lentil and Cauliflower Dahl

This makes enough for one portion

Total calorie count = 492 calories

Ingredients

5g coconut oil (39 calories)

100g white onion (40 calories)

3 cloves / 9g garlic (13 calories)

1 stock cube (24 calories)

100g cauliflower (25 calories) – you can swap the cauliflower for 100g of almost any veg just make sure it comes under or around 30 calories with a quick Google search

7g (about 2 tsp) curry powder (22 calories)

60g raw red lentils (162 calories)

To Serve

Wholemeal Pitta (167 calories) and Fresh Coriander if you’re feeling extravagant (negligible calories…no one got fat off a few coriander leaves!)

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Method

  1. Add the coconut oil to a medium sized pan and melt over a medium heat
  2. Chop your onion and finely slice your garlic and add to the pan to soften
  3. Cut the cauliflower into fairly small florets and make the stock up with boiling water according to the packet instructions
  4. Once the onions are soft and translucent add the spice mix and fry for 2 minutes
  5. Add the lentils and cauliflower and coat in the spices and fry for a further 1 minute
  6. Add all of your stock (it should be about 500mls) and return to a simmer
  7. Leave it to bubble away, stirring occasionally and topping it up with water if it looks too dry
  8. After about 15 or 20 minutes the lentils should have totally softened to the point where they are no longer distinguishable little circles and more of a smooth mush
  9. Serve in a bowl (it will be quite liquidy) with a toasted pitta and a sprinkling of coriander leaves.
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Vegan Pulled BBQ Jackfruit and Avocado Slaw Wraps

So I finally did it….. got hold of and cooked with Green Jackfruit! People who don’t spend their time scrolling through various vegetarian and vegan Facebook groups or Instagram pages may not be privy to this intriguing ingredient however it has long been used in sweet and savoury dishes all over the world from Bangladesh to Brazil. Recently, however, it has been making massive waves across the vegan world…..

The reason for the excitement is because, in its unripen state, the jackfruit provides a perfect vehicle for flavours and it’s texture is surprisingly similar to slow cooked meat….and in the current culinary hipster world, where Pulled Pork is on every other menu, it’s great to have a vegan alternative – especially as it’s a natural product which can be used in a variety of ways.

I first got to taste the virtues of Jackfruit from @thehungrygecko at Manchester International festival when it was used in a Sloppy Joe Rendang, the texture was like nothing I had had before (growing up a veggie) but it definitely looked meaty and the Asian flavours had been totally absorbed.

I decided to risk it and try it out for a Bring n Share lunch at work – tentatively I wrote my dish on the list of who’s bringing what…. ‘Vegan Pulled BBQ Jackfruit and Avocado Slaw Wraps’ – thankfully they went down great so here’s the recipe – adapted from http://minimalistbaker.com/bbq-jackfruit-sandwiches-with-avocado-slaw/ which apparently is loosely adapted from Blissful Basil – we’re spreading the jackfruit love!

Vegan Pulled BBQ Jackfruit and Avocado Slaw Wraps

Makes about 6 mini wraps

BBQ Jackfruit

3 big tins – young green jackfruit (This can be tricky to find, best bet are Asian Supermarkets or the internet)

3 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp chilli powder

1 bottle BBQ sauce (Great British Sauce @GBsauce do a tasty vegan one)

Avocado Slaw

½ white cabbage – finely shredded

2 or 3 carrots – grated

1 red onion – finely sliced

1 bunch of coriander

2 ripe avocados

1 lime, juiced

Salt + Pepper to taste

For Serving

Wraps – I used little ones because it was for a buffet but you could use any you wanted

Method

Rinse and drain the jackfruit and shake off as much water as you can. With each piece of jackfruit pull off the outside stringy bits of fruit into little bits and add to a12030743_10156121945660094_1801747640_n (2)large bowl. Keep the solid bits of core to one side and then chop into small pieces and add to the bowl with the rest.

Sprinkle on the sugar and spices (everything but the BBQ Sauce). I think you can let your culinary juices flow a bit here, if you like it spicy add more chilli etc. Stir to fully and evenly coat the jackfruit.20150825_121941

 

 

Heat a large pan over a medium heat and add a splash of oil.

Add the jackfruit to the pan and fry until any remaining water has evaporated and it is starting to catch on the bottom of the pan.

Add the BBQ sauce and add water to thin-down the sauce. Stir and re
duce heat to low- medium, cover and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes until has reduced to a sticky consistency, stirring occasionally.

To make the coleslaw; mash the avocado with the lime juice and some salt and pepper to taste and thin with a little water. Mix the 20150825_121936veg and coriander in a large bowl and coat with the avocado dressing.

To serve I just put some of the warm jackfruit in a wrap with a dollop of coleslaw and well….. wrapped!!

Veggie Burger Triumph! – at last..

After various busy weekends of moving house and seeing friends I got the chance on Monday to spend a bit of quality time in the kitchen again.

A colleague recently recommended The Really Hungry Burger recipe by Anna Jones.

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My experience of making veggie burgers is limited to a particularly frustrating lesson in school where instead of being given the chance to follow a veggie burger recipe I was forced to follow the same beef burger recipe as everyone else, just replacing minced beef for Quorn mince; needless to say this did not work and I imagine there were many ‘told you so’ glares at my teacher from my 14yearoldself.

In addition to this pointless food technology lesson I have never found veggie burgers very inspiring. I often prefer the meat substitute, ready-made Quorn or Soya burgers to the bean or vegetable based burgers in many recipes.

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Partly this is down to texture, I think it is important that a veggie burger doesn’t squish out of the side of your bun when you bite into it, and vegetable and bean burgers are often too mushy for my taste. I also find many veggie burgers too heavily spiced; the classic spicy bean burger is not what I want in between my white sesame seed bun, plastic cheese, mayo and iceberg lettuce. Obviously this is down to personal preference, and maybe I’m a bit of a heathen in this respect, but I want something ‘meaty’ – savoury and with some texture.

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As well as having a cool name The Really Hungry Burger appealed to me because ingredients-wise it seemed promising. Mushrooms, thyme, parsley, tahini and soy sauce – all earthy flavours and whilst some mushy beans are required to hold the mix together, the majority of the ‘filler’ is brown rice – great for texture.

I halved the recipe but otherwise followed it pretty much to the letter (I used breadcrumbs not oats).

I wasn’t disappointed, the burgers browned up really well in the oven and held together much better than other veggie burgers, the outside of them were toasty and had a nice chew. The flavour was great, however next time I would probably slightly reduce the lemon zest or possibly leave it out all together. It wasn’t an unpleasant flavour but again I would have preferred more of a deep earthly taste than the zestyness that the lemon provides.
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I served them on classic burger buns with vegan (violife) cheese, avocado, red onion and tomato with sweet potato chips on the side. It’s a recipe I would definitely recommend you try and I’m excited to get out the ones I have in the freezer for a quick tea one evening. Thanks Anna!

Find the recipe here and give it a go! http://annajones.co.uk/recipe/really-hungry-burger

Duane’s Aubergine Saag

Last night I was lucky enough to have a friend cook me tea, he made a trio of vegetarian curries and rice (despite not being a veggie himself) and they were all delicious! So I thought why not pinch one of his recipes and include it on here.

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This spinach and aubergine curry was particularly tasty and the way the aubergine soaks up all the flavours makes it a really creamy and smooth curry with just hint of spice.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of ghee (to make this vegan use a flavourless oil)

1 teaspoon of garam masala

1 teaspoon of turmeric

1 red chilli

3 cloves of garlic

A pinch each of cumin and ginger

1 large white onion

2 aubergines – diced into about 2cm cubes

1 large tin of spinach (check the World Food section in the supermarket)

½ a tin of coconut milk

Method

Melt down a couple of tablespoons of ghee in a large pan (preferably one that has a lid/something you can use as a lid). Or if you are using oil instead heat the oil.

Add the garam masala, turmeric, red chilli and garlic (finely chopped ) and a pinch of cumin and ginger.

Finely 20150325_204804chop the onion and fry together with the spices on a low heat until softened.

Add the two diced aubergines and fry off for a couple of minutes, before adding the spinach, the coconut milk and a splash of water.

Season with salt and pepper and turn up the heat up for a few minutes

Once everything is starting to bubble; ‘whack the lid on’, turn the heat right down and leave it to simmer for an hour or so

 

Thanks to Duane for this recipe; all credit/criticism to him please 🙂

Bean and Cheese Quesadillas

So I’ve noticed a lot of what I cook is Mexican inspired but I think the flavours are so delicious and there is such a variety of accessible dishes to choose from all with relatively few ingredients so why not!

This quesadilla recipe is particularly easy and very adaptable depending on what veg you have, the basic ingredients are refried beans, cheese and tortillas (actually cheese can be left out if you are feeling healthy).

Had to rush this entry a bit as heading out for a curry at a friend’s so sorry if there are any obvious mistakes…. maybe I will include his dish tomorrow if I get the recipe! Watch this space 🙂

Serves at least 2.

Ingredients

Oil

Half an onion

1 pepper – I actually used half green and half red

3 tablespoons of sweetcorn – I guess?!

Half a tin of refried beans (spicy or non-spicy)

Fresh coriander

Cheese – I used vegan cheese but any good melty cheese works

Tortillas – I use the mini ones as they are easier to flip

To Serve – salsa, guacamole, sour cream (or vegan alternative), salad leaves, nachos, piñatas, sombreros   – the usual Mexican accompaniments

Method

  • Fry the chopped onion and peppers in a splash of oil in a reasonable sized saucepan on a medium high heat until soft and slightly brown. You could also add a chilli at this point if you like it hot!
  • Add the sweetcorn and fry for a couple more minutes.
  • Next add the refried beans and stir together with the veg, leave to heat through. This should only take a minute or 3.
  • When the mix is hot, add the chopped coriander if you have it.
  • Meanwhile heat a frying pan and grate some cheese.
  • Next assemble your quesadilla. Put one tortilla on a flat surface (chopping board is fine) spread a layer of the refried bean / veg mix across the whole tortilla. Sprinkle a sensible amount of cheese to cover the beans and sandwich the mix with another tortilla.
  • Transfer the tortilla sandwich (quesadilla) to the hot frying pan and leave to toast for a minute or 2, every so often peering under the edge – you want it to turn a light golden. Once achieved, you need to flip. As earlier mentioned, small tortillas are much easier to flip just using a fish slice/ spatula. If you are doing big ones I would suggest you place a plate over the top of the quesadilla whilst still in the pan, and then whilst holding tightly down on the plate turn the pan upside down so that the quesadilla ends up on your plate. Then you can slide it back into the pan to toast the other side.
  • Once toasted on both sides put aside to rest and a make some more. Then cut into quarters to serve

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PS you could make a bigger batch of the bean veg filling by using a whole tin and doubling veg etc and any leftover you can put it in the fridge for a couple of days and keep going back to it when you need more 😀

 

 

Avocado Chocolate Pots

Given that it’s Meat Free Week and this is Meat Free Manchester I have decided to up my game and do a recipe a day to help out anyone who’s giving vegetarianism or veganism a go for the first time. Granted, this particular recipe might not help you out in terms of Tuesday night tea but there is a lot of hype surrounding these (if you’ve been watching Masterchef you’ll know what I’m talking about) and I had to give it a go. Regardless they are a bit of fun and crazyily straightforward and surprisingly tasty – my meat-eating friend even enjoyed them!

I present to you the Avocado Chocolate Pot! This made two espresso pot sized desserts (2 servings)

Ingredients

2 small avocados or 1 big one – make sure they’re ripe but not too ripe.

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

About 1 tablespoon of cocoa

A slash of non-dairy milk (I used soya)

A squeeze of agave nectar

Method

Basically use some common sense for this recipe. I scooped out the avocado first and then by eye added the rest of the ingredients. To start just add a little cocoa / agave nectar / milk and blitz until smooth. You can then add more of whichever you need depending on how chocolatey / sweet / solid it is respectively.

Once you are happy with the proportions and taste put in little serving pots – espresso pots work really well. Then chill in the fridge.

To serve I grated some dark chocolate on the top for a bit of fancy J

 

Sorry for the lack of photos; me and my friend ate them before I had chance to get my phone out, they basically looked like chocolate pots though!

 

 

 

Roasted Veg and Butter Bean Pâté

After a couple of distinctly non-vegan weeks (which included a cake sale, baking cookery course and a cheese & wine evening) I made a concerted effort get back into my mainly vegan ways last week – for my waistline if nothing else! One evening after my tea I decided I would roast a load of veg (peppers, onion, garlic and cherry tomatoes) along with some oregano and paprika (no oil) for my tea the following evening – I was planning on going to the gym so the more prepared I was the better. Now, traditionally I would have my roasted veg in a pitta with loads of hummus but this wouldn’t exactly work for my low fat meal plan. I peered my cupboard and spotted a small tin of butter beans – I would make my own creamy low fat accompaniment.

This is the meal that followed; Roasted Veg with Pitta bread and Butter Bean Pâté

Roasted Veg

I’m not going to insult you, you know how to roast veg…..get some veg (whatever you have), add heat!

Butter Bean Pâté

210g Butter Beans (a small tin) – other beans would probably work too. Whizz up the butter beans, I used a hand blender, crush a smallish clove of garlic and mix in, add lemon juice and mix, season with salt and pepper. Adjust the levels of lemon juice, seasoning and garlic to your taste. You could also add some chilli or herbs if you fancy it.

Toast a Pitta

Eat – your super low fat, tasty, creamy, zingy, vegan, garlicky, fresh, yummy tea!!

I haven’t tried this but if you wanted to I guess you could warm up your pâté and it would be more like a mash, give it a go and let me know if it works.

20150317_202202My veg look a little burnt in the photo but I promise they weren’t, oh and I added olives! Sorry for the omission! 🙂