Monday, 25 March 2013

BREAKFAST #2 - VEGAN PANCAKES

These pancakes are absolutely heavenly! You can eat a whole batch and still feel good about yourself afterwards. While most people prefer to make pancakes a weekend breakfast indulgence, you can go ahead and have these any day of the week. It's quick, delicious and entirely good for you!
























Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 1 cup whole grain flour
- 1/2 ripe banana (chopped)
- 1/4 cup dried raisins
- 1/4 cup oats
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp sunflower oil
- Pancake topping of your choice (organic maple syrup; freshly squeezed lemon juice and unrefined brown  sugar; agave nectar; more sliced bananas etc.)

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and add the raisins, oats and chopped bananas.

Pour in the almond milk and mix to form a pourable batter. Add a little water if the mixture seems too thick.

Add 1 teaspoon of the sunflower oil to the batter and heat the other teaspoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan.

For each pancake, spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the batter into the pan and spread with the back of the spoon to form an even round shape.

Cook until bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake, then flip it over to brown the other side for about a minute.

Serve hot with your favourite pancake topping. I'm a big fan of organic maple syrup...yum!

HEARTY SALAD

Great lunch idea if you want something light but don't want to feel deprived.

















Ingredients
- 1/2 head romain lettuce (roughly chopped)
- 1 diced carrot
- 1/2 green bell pepper (chopped)
- 2 tbsp sweetcorn
- 1 tbsp almonds
- 1 tbsp raisins
- 1 tbsp chopped olives
- 3 tbsp cooked lentils
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- pinch of salt

Sunday, 24 March 2013

EBA AND OKRA STEW

I haven't eaten okra in a looonngg time, so I was pretty excited to cook this meal. However, when I realised that the other times I'd eaten okra was when my mum had cooked it for us, I stopped short and genuinely scratched my head for a few seconds as I stared down at the bright green batons.

Isn't technology a wonderful thing? The answer to my problem was just a phone call away! With a pen in hand and a piece of paper in front of me, I jotted down my mum's fool-proof step-by-step instructions. At the end of the call, I was left chuckling at myself and thinking: 'Oh? Well, that's not so hard.'
So if you've never cooked this "mind-boggling" vegetable before, I can assure you that it is wonderfully easy to make and incredibly tasty. My version eliminates the gooey texture by overpowering the okra with blended peppers and tomatoes.

Eba is a dough made from garri (cassava flour) and a staple food eaten in the Southern parts of Nigeria. You can find it at any African food shop. Although it can be a little heavy (because of the stodgy consistency), paying attention to portion size goes a long way. Not only is it very high in dietary fibre, it also contains zero cholesterol and no saturated fat - win!




















Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 1 1/2 cups garri
- 1 cup boiling hot water
- 2 cups okra (finely chopped)
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 2 medium sized tomatoes
- 1 small onion
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic
- Salt to taste

To make the okra stew, place the chopped okra and vegetable stock in a saucepan and boil for 10 minutes. The consistency should turn gooey and bubbly.

Blend the pepper, tomatoes and onion in a food processor and add to the pan of okra. Add the crushed garlic and season with salt. Cook for another 15 minutes on a low heat.

To make the eba, place the garri in a large mixing bowl and add the boiling hot water slowly, mixing as you go along, until it forms a soft but firm dough - firm enough to hold its shape.

Use a wooden spoon to shape the eba into a round shape and serve with the okra stew.

Now, if you want to go all out and eat this the traditional way, you can use your hand to scoop the eba into little ball shapes and dip into the stew. Entirely up to you! :)

Saturday, 23 March 2013

GROCERY HAUL #2

I discovered a new organic fruit & veg shop this morning. I was a bit like a kid in a candy store - wide-eyed and wanting to pick this, that and everything. Thanks largely to the reasonable prices, I ended up buying a wide variety of food items, including a couple of vegetables I've never tried before. It should be fun figuring out what to do with them. Looks like it's going to be a salad-packed week. I even feel inspired to invent the ultimate Nigerian salad dressing, so keep an eye out for that.
All in all, quite pleased with today's purchase :)














- Bok choy a.k.a. chinese cabbage
- Broccoli
- Romaine lettuce
- Vine tomatoes
- Onions
- Carrots
- Green pepper
- Avocados
- Mandarines
- Napa cabbage
- Bananas
- Raw almonds
- Dried raisins

SWEET SPAGHETTI

This recipe is as quick and easy as it gets. But don't let the simplicity fool you. There's something about the nutty taste of the wholewheat pasta mingling with the mild tomato and sweetcorn that creates a satisfying taste experience.


















Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 150g wholewheat spaghetti
- 4 large tomatoes (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup sweetcorn
- 1 cup vegetable stock/water
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the chopped tomatoes. Add the vegetable stock/water and bring to a boil.

Next, add the spaghetti and season with thyme, curry powder and salt. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Add the sweetcorn at the last minute and serve hot.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

EATING OUT #2 - ARABESQUE

There's a special place in my heart reserved just for North African cuisine. Spices, fresh produce and generous helpings. What's not to like?
Arabesque is a charming little Tunisian 'salon de thé' located at the heart of Marseille city centre. I came across it on a warm Saturday afternoon after a morning of shopping and walking from one end of the centre to the other with a friend. You can imagine that we were in need of an energy boost at that point. And where better to find a wholesome plant-based meal than an authentic Tunisian restaurant? All I had to do was order the couscous 'sans viande' and within minutes, I had a steaming bowl of vegetable-topped couscous, accompanied by a flavourful tomato-based broth. I'm convinced that my serving was enough to feed a small family! But I certainly wasn't complaining at the time.
Be sure to check the place out if you're ever here on vacation. You'll love it!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

SWEET POTATOES

I finally got round to cooking some of the sweet potatoes I bought last week. I cut into it expecting the bright orange variety that seem to be everywhere these days. To my pleasant surprise, it turned out to be the pale yellow variety - the type I grew up with and love so much!

Here are a few great reasons to include this superfood in your regular diet:

- Rich in complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins A, B6 and C, manganese and potassium
- Low sodium
- Very low in saturated fat (0.02% per 100g)
- Easy to cook and versatile (boil, steam or bake)
- Good for your skin (produces collagen to help maintain the skin's youthful elasticity)


Saturday, 16 March 2013

BREAKFAST #1: PORRIDGE OATS

One of the questions I get asked often is: 'So, what DO you eat for breakfast?' With eggs, milk and sausages (to name a few vegan no-no's) out of the way, it might seem like there isn't much left. But that couldn't be further from the truth.

Throwback: If you grew up in Nigeria then I'm sure you're familiar with the yellow-topped tin of Quaker Oats. Along with Golden Morn and Milo, this was high up there on the list of food-mum-forces-me-to-eat-before-heading-off-to-school breakfast foods.

Now that I'm old enough to appreciate the nutritional value of porridge oats, however, it has become somewhat of a staple.

Here's how to make it extra delicious (and you don't even need sugar!) :
Get your hands on some organic oats and follow the cooking instructions on the pack. Use one part water, one part unsweetened almond milk in place of regular milk. Top your steaming hot porridge with raisins, sunflower seeds and chopped almonds. Fresh fruit like banana and sliced mango work great too.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

VEGGIE "BUKA" STEW

I can already see the shaking heads and wagging fingers of staunch Nigerian foodies, but bear with me a second guys. My veggie makeover of this classic dish is just as jaw-droppingly good as the original. I promise!

And if you haven't heard of buka stew (a.k.a. Ayamashe), it's a pepper-based sauce with an assortment of meats (usually beef, tripe, goat meat and cow leg) cut into small, bite-size pieces and fried in palm oil. Go to any local restaurant in Nigeria and you're sure to find it on the menu.

This veggie version replaces the meat with fresh seasonal vegetables, while retaining the signature 'buka' taste.


















Ingredients
3 large tomatoes or 1 large red bell pepper
2 carrots (cut into bite-size pieces)
1 medium onion (roughly chopped)
1 scotch bonnet pepper (or two if you're feeling brave)
1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
2 tbsp palm oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp crushed garlic
Pinch of salt

Blend the tomatoes/pepper and scotch bonnet pepper with a little water to form a smooth purée.

In a saucepan, bleach the palm oil by cooking it for 3-4 minutes on high heat (warning, your kitchen might get a bit smoky!) Reduce the heat and add the onions and carrots, stirring continuously until the onions soften.

Add the tomato/pepper mixture, along with the almonds, thyme and crushed garlic. Season with salt.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes on a very low heat. Serve on a bed of wild rice or brown basmati rice.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

BOILED PLANTAIN

Plantain is one of the top staple foods in Nigeria. As a kid, I would eat it for lunch almost every single afternoon after school. It was just what I needed to make the homework hour(s) go by painlessly.

I reckon the most popular way to eat them is sliced thinly and fried in vegetable oil to brown on both sides. And indeed, that's how I enjoyed them with my steaming plate of jollof rice this evening.

But if you're trying to live a healthier lifestyle then it's probably best to cut down on the fried version. Boil them instead for 20-25 min in unsalted water and serve with your favourite veg stew (why not try it with some efo riro?).

Saturday, 9 March 2013

GROCERY HAUL #1

Woohoo! Is it weird that I get all excited about a bit of shopping? To be fair though, this isn't just ANY bit of shopping. This is shopping for a few favourites that will contribute to a Nigerian-tastic week of yummy food.

So, what have we got here...(left-right approx.)

- Garri. Plantain chips. Yam. Plantain. Scotch bonnet peppers. Sweet potatoes. Okra.-

Thursday, 7 March 2013

ADZUKI AND GREEN LENTIL CURRY

Eating a plant-based diet has opened me up to so many new foods. The amount of variety out there is incredible. I recently raided the whole foods section of my local supermarket and picked up a bunch of random things I'd never cooked before.

Feeling pretty creative tonight, I put together this hearty curry.

Adzuki beans are punch-in-the-face tasty. The pint-sized, high-fibre legume is also packed full of nutrients such as iron, potassium and zinc. They also have one of the highest amounts of protein among the bean varieties.



















Ingredients
(serves 4)
-1/2 cup adzuki beans
- 1/2 cup green lentils
- 1 red bell pepper (roughly chopped)
- 1 medium sized onion (roughly chopped)
- 1/2 bag spinach
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp pure olive oil (good quality olive oil brings this dish to life!)
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves crushed fresh garlic
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- pinch of salt

Boil the beans and lentils in the vegetable stock on a low heat for 45-50 minutes or until soft. Make sure the liquid doesn't dry out, add extra water if needed.

Add the red pepper, onions and spinach, season with the curry, thyme, garlic and salt. Cook for a further 20 minutes, adding the olive oil towards the end of the cooking time. (You want the olive oil flavour to be quite strong in this dish and using 'pure' is sure to pack in a great punch).

Serve with brown rice or slices of wholegrain bread.

SWEET AND SAVOURY SALAD

Salad to me means a whole lot more than a bunch of lettuce leaves and a couple slices of tomotoes thrown on a plate.

If it doesn't look and/or taste appetizing then I'm not touching it. I can't emphasise enough how much I believe that healthy eating needn't equal boring eating.

Here's a quick salad I whipped up for lunch today.Whether or not you think the salad below qualifies as good-looking, it sure does taste great :)  Check it out...

















Ingredients
- Half a red bell pepper (roughly chopped)
- Handful of roughly chopped lettuce
- 1 tbsp chopped olives
- 1 tbsp chopped almonds
- 1 tbsp raisins or sultanas
- 2 tbsp sweetcorn
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Easy as that.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

AVOCADO AND CHICKPEA QUINOA SALAD

I was trawling through the internet the other day and came across this recipe. I happened to have ALL the ingredients listed so thought I'd give it a try.
It tasted incredible. Here's the link if you want a treat for your taste buds : recipe

Monday, 4 March 2013

BROWN PASTA LUNCH

Nothing is more satisfying than a bit bowl of pasta with bright vegetables mixed in. Heat it up with homemade red chili-tomato sauce and you've got a winner.
Have you made the switch to wholewheat pasta yet?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

PEPPERS

This is what I had for lunch today. As you can probably tell, I love my red peppers.
It is reasonable to say that red peppers form the foundation of most Nigerian dishes - mostly in the form of a stew or sauce.
Here, I simply sliced them up and fried with some spices, chopped onions and tomatoes. Then chucked them onto my plate of brown rice and added some lightly steamed broccolli to complete the dish. The perfect meal on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

EATING OUT #1 - SHAKA ZULU

Eating out as a vegan need not be a daunting task. At least that's what I discovered when I was treated to a surprise dinner at Shaka Zulu restaurant in Camden, London.
The South African restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. If you're looking for somewhere a little unusual and exotic, then this is the place for you.
Now, let's talk menu. One look at the card placed before me and I froze a little. Here, ladies and gentlemen, was 'candyland' for meat eaters.
A scan through later, however, and I was relieved to find a couple of veggie options. The staff were so lovely too and the chef actually prepared some delicious veggie samosas for my starter (sorry, forgot to take a pic as I pretty much wolfed them down). For mains, I went for the 'Vegetable Potjie' - a simple dish of maize meal rice (dotted with raisins) and chunky tomato and green bean sauce. Not bad at all!
If you've got any interesting 'eating out as a vegan' stories then I'd love to hear them!