Wednesday, 31 July 2013

BOLI

Here's an idea - the next time you're invited to a barbecue, why not turn up with an armful of plantain. Yes, you'll probably look a bit strange, but at least you'll be guaranteed a tasty, filling alternative while everyone chows down on hot-dogs and drumsticks.

Boli (a.k.a. roasted plantain) is a popular Nigerian street food. Nothing fancy or complicated. Just a whole plantain thrown on a grill and turned around a few times to get it all brown and crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. It is then wrapped up in old newspaper and handed over with some roasted peanuts.
What's so great is that it can be recreated at home, whether in a conventional oven-grill or out on the barbecue.


Monday, 22 July 2013

BREAKFAST #5 - OAT BARS

It's not every morning that you're in the mood to make porridge from scratch - even with the wonderful invention that is the microwave. These days, I grab a breakfast bar with a piece of fruit or two and I'm good to go. But not just any old shop-bought breakfast bar where half the ingredients are chemicals you've never heard of. These are homemade and packed full of all the good stuff. Sugar-free and sweetened with 100% natural apple sauce and raisins, these will give you the energy you need to start the day off, without the mid-morning sugar-induced crash.


Ingredients
(makes 10-12)
- 2 cups organic oats
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp cinammon
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 3-4 tbsp wholegrain flour
- 4 apples (cored and chopped)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Water

Start by making the apple sauce. Add the chopped apples to a saucepan and cover with a little water and the lemon juice. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25-30 mins.
Give it a good mix and leave to cool.

Place the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add the cooled apple sauce. Mix well and spread evenly onto a lined baking dish (flat and rectangular)
Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 5, for 40-45 mins or until set and golden brown on top.

Leave to cool for an hour or so then cut into bars. 

Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

MINI PIZZAS

These thin-crust beauties are topped with home-made chilli-infused tomato sauce and  a scattering of veg I had lying around the house (green and red peppers, onions, sun-dried tomatoes and avocado). To replace the cheese, I sprinkled on some wheat germ (sounds nasty if you've never tried it, but look it up. It's packed full of crazy incredible vitamins and hardly tastes of anything so really just adds to the aesthetics of the pizzas while also providing a nutritional boost).

I managed to freeze these for lunch this week, usually heating one up and serving with a fresh salad. If you do choose to freeze them, make sure you wrap each one individually (in cling film / foil etc) to stop them from sticking together.

Before I shoot off, here's a cool post from 'This Afropolitan Life'. She discusses whether Africans are natural vegans. Check it out!






























Ingredients
- 1.5 cups wholegrain flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Salt
- 4 large tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1-2 tsp chilli powder
- chopped vegetables of your choice
- 4 tbsp wheat germ / breadcrumbs (optional)

To make the base, mix the flour, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of oil and a bit of water in a large bowl to form a firm dough. Add a bit more flour if you find that the dough is too sticky. Likewise, add a bit of water if the dough is too dry.
Divide the dough into 6-8 equal parts and roll each piece on a lightly floured surface to form your mini pizza bases.

To make the sauce, add the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, chilli powder, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt to taste and 3-4 tablespoons of water to a saucepan and bring the whole thing to a boil. After 10 minutes, turn the heat down (medium-low) and let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 more minutes or until it has reduced nicely to form a thick sauce.

Put it all together. Place your pizza bases on a lined baking sheet, spread the sauce over the top and sprinkle on your chopped vegetables (and optional wheat germ/breadcrumbs).

Serve it up with a fresh green salad!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

SUMMER DRINK #2 - LIME AND ORANGE

Keep things simple with this sweet-tangy citrus drink. Unashamedly chilled to within an inch of its life with all the ice cubes in my ice tray! 

This is also a great non-alcoholic alternative to serve at dinners or BBQs.

You'll need: freshly squeezed lime juice and orange juice. Top off with ice and an optional dusting of ground ginger for an extra kick.

Monday, 8 July 2013

SOAKED GARRI

The ever-versatile garri is back, arguably in its best form. If you've never had this then I can only shake my head sadly and plead with you to make it as soon as possible. 

This is one of the quintessential Nigerian snacks/meals/drinks (yes, all in one). I never went through the boarding school experience in Nigeria but apparently, having a stash of garri was essential to surviving those long weeks away from home. As a day student, that didn't stop me from overloading on soaked garri after school.

Grab yourself a large cup or cereal bowl. Fill it about 1/3 way up with garri. Add ice cold water (the colder the better). Add some sugar (to taste). Throw in a handful of roasted groundnut.
Thank me later...

Saturday, 6 July 2013

PINEAPPLE AND GROUNDNUT STIR-FRY

Does this qualify as a weird flavour combination? I'm not entirely sure, but it made sense as I was making it. The results were satisfying - refreshing pineapple, crunchy peppers and earthy groundnut coated in a sticky-sweet sauce. Serve it up with some brown rice or other grain to complete the meal.

Ingredients
(serves 1-2)
- 1 small pineapple
- 1/2 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 small onion (sliced)
- 1 large tomato (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup groundnut (peanuts)
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- Fresh herbs (chopped, to garnish)

Take out the pineapple flesh and cut into chunks. Retain any natural juices in a cup and set aside.

Add the pineapple, chopped tomatoes, peppers and onions to a frying pan and sauté for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add the pineapple juice and stock cube, reduce the heat and simmer for a further five minutes.

Finally, add the groundnut and garnish with some freshly chopped herbs. I used basil here to give it an extra kick.

Friday, 5 July 2013

EATING OUT - SALADS

I am often wary of ordering salads whenever I eat out. You just never know what you're going to get. As much as I love my greens, I also want to know that the money I'm spending on a meal is worth it and that I won't leave feeling more deprived than when I walked in.
Unfortunately, some restaurants tend to make salads an afterthought of oversized leaves spotted with limp, watery extras.

It's always a nice surprise when you find a restaurant keen to put in some effort and my general tip would be: don't be afraid to talk it out with your waiter/waitress. Ask for extra stuff to bulk out the meal (like beans) and see where it gets you.

This is the last salad I had when I ate out - the best and tastiest I've come across so far. The fruit salad wasn't too bad either:

Monday, 1 July 2013

SUMMER DRINK #1 - WATERMELON AND GRAPEFRUIT

Make drinking water that bit more interesting with this refreshing drink idea.

You'll need:
- Cold water
- Watermelon (cut into 10-15 cubes)
- 1 large grapefruit
- Fresh herbs (mint, basil, parsely etc)

Freeze the watermelon to form "watermelon ice cubes".
Fill a jug 3/4 of the way up with cold water.
Peel the grapefruit in ribbons.
Add the grapefruit peel, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, frozen watermelon cubes and fresh herbs to the water.
Mix and drink!

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