Thursday, 24 October 2013

PASTA ÀWÖ EWÉKO

I would be the first to admit that some of my creations do turn out looking particularly monstrous. Take this idea for a pasta dish that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie - loaded with green 'stuff' and suspicious specks of red (rest assured that it's just spinach and red pepper respectively...). 

Despite these dodgy attributes, it actually tastes pretty divine. It's homely, delicious and packed full of nutritious bits and pieces. I've even added an extra special ingredient to make the green 'stuff' creamy and luscious. I've named it "pasta àwö ewéko" just because. (Àwö ewéko means green in Yoruba, which seems fitting)

Give it a go...if you dare.

Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 1 cup brown pasta
- 1 medium potato (quartered)
- 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 2 handfuls fresh spinach
- 1/2 red onion (thinly sliced)
- 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper
- 2 tsp chinese five-spice
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- chopped nuts (optional)
- Sunflower oil
- Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the pasta and potato in some water until soft.

Place the fresh spinach, scotch bonnet pepper, cooked potatoes and a little water in a blender and whiz to form a thick, smooth paste.

Fry the red onion and red peppers in a little oil for a couple of minutes before adding the green blended mix.

Add the seasoning - five-spice, stock cube, soy sauce, salt and pepper - and cook on a high heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss until the pasta is evenly coated. 

Serve hot immediately with some chopped nuts sprinkled over the top.

SPICED CARROT PUDDING WITH DARK CHOCOLATE FROSTING

You know you're obsessed with all things food when you wake up in the middle of the night to sketch out new recipes. And I don't just mean writing out an ingredient list... I mean full-blown diagrams with labels indicating what goes where and how the finished dish is going to look. 

Such has been my lot over the past couple of nights. I'm not complaining though - there are just tons and tons of strange and exciting things that I'd love to try out. If my hands could keep up with the long list of recipes I plan to share, you'd be bombarded with a lot more than I've been dishing out lately. Thankfully, there's no real hurry, is there?

This particular recipe isn't all that strange (well, depending on what you're used to eating). It's a wonderfully gooey treat that's bound to satisfy any sweet tooth. It's bursting with freshly grated carrots, plump raisins and a heady mix of warm spices. As if that wasn't enough, the puddings are also topped with a silky dark chocolate frosting. 



Ingredients
(serves 4)
- 2 large carrots (grated)
- 1.5 cups plain flour
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp chopped pickled ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 8 dark chocolate squares
- 2 tbsp soy milk


To make the puddings, place the grated carrots, flour, sugar, ground almonds and raisins in a large mixing bowl.

In another small bowl, whisk the soy milk and oil with a fork and add to the first bowl containing the other ingredients. Mix to form a thick batter.

Add the rest of the ingredients - vanilla extract, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt - and mix until evenly distributed.

Oil four pudding tins and dust the inside with some ground almonds. Fill each tin (almost to the top) with the pudding batter and place in a baking tray. Fill the baking tray about a quarter of the way up with some warm water.
Bake the puddings in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 5 for about 40-45 mins. Use a toothpick to test if it is cooked all the way through (it should come out clean).

Take the puddings out of the oven and leave to cool upside down for a few minutes. They should slide out easily after a couple of minutes.

To make the chocolate frosting, place 6-8 large squares of dark chocolate with 2 tablespoons of soy milk in a small microwavable dish. Microwave for about 20 seconds and then stir continuously with a spoon until all the chocolate had completely melted to form a thick sauce. If it's too thick, add an extra dash of soy milk to loosen the mixture. 
Plate up the puddings on individual saucers and spoon the chocolate frosting over the top. Yum!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

CABBAGE WRAPS

This smashing lunch or snack idea is not only gluten-free and gentle on the waistline, it's also super quick and easy to assemble. You'll need a few pre-made essentials such as hummus and a cooked mixed veg filling (or you can stick to sliced raw vegetables - works and tastes just as good!) 

One or two of these is enough to make a filling lunch and a simple way to pack in more vegetables into your diet. I used the large outer leaves of the cabbage for this recipe but I'm sure big lettuce leaves will also give the same results.

Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 2-3 large cabbage leaves
- 2-4 tbsp hummus
- 1 cup cooked mixed vegetables (carrots, peppers, tomatoes etc...why not throw in some cooked beans or chickpeas for some extra protein)
- raw vegetables of your choice, cut into strips (I used yellow pepper and carrots)

To assemble your wrap, start by trimming down the tough vein that goes down the middle back of the leaf. This will make it easier to fold later.


Spread a tablespoon or two of hummus over one side of the leaf and stack on your cooked/raw vegetables. I used a combination of the two in order to create contrasting textures of soft and crunchy. I also used some cooked chickpeas to make it extra filling, but beans or rice would also work great in this. The more vegetables you can pack in there, the better!
Fold into a neat parcel and turn it over so the parcel holds its shape. Slice the wrap in half and enjoy!

                      


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

CHICKPEA AND VEGETABLE STEW

This has recently become one of my favourite things to make. It's really versatile and can be made in big batches which can then be stored in the fridge/freezer and eaten in different ways during the week - whether on its own, next to some rice/couscous or folded into a whole-wheat wrap.

Ingredients
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 large red onion (roughly sliced)
- 2 large tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 1 red bell pepper (roughly chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper (roughly chopped)
- 1 yellow bell pepper (roughly chopped)
- 1 courgette (roughly chopped)
- 2 green chillies (finely chopped, with or without the seeds)
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 tsp mixed herbs
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp crushed ginger
- salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions, ginger and green chillies for a minute or two.

Add the rest of the chopped vegetables to the saucepan, along with the herbs and seasoning. Pour in the vegetable stock. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cooked chickpeas and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes.

BREAKFAST #6 - GREEN SMOOTHIE

After being inspired by the remarkable documentary, 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead', I have since taken to blitzing my fruit and veg. 

The documentary follows an Australian businessman named Joe Cross as he travels across the United States drinking nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juice over a period of 60 days. The point of this?? To tap into the body's natural ability to heal itself when nourished with the right vitamins and nutrients. Not only does he tackle his debilitating autoimmune disease but he also drops an astonishing amount of weight, boosts his energy and inspires a few others along the way.

I am yet to invest in a good quality fruit and vegetable juicer, so for now I'll be starting most of my mornings with this delicious green smoothie. Takes hardly any time at all to make and gives me tons of energy until lunchtime. Feel free to stray from my recipe and add your favourite fruit and veg - be creative!

Ingredients
- 1 green apple
- 1/2 cucumber
- 2 celery stalks
- handful of spinach
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup water

Place all the ingredients in a blender and whiz until smooth.

Drink within an hour of making the smoothie to get the most nutrients out of it. If possible, go for organic produce.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

SPICY GREEN RICE SALAD

Happy 53rd Independence Day to all the Nigerian folk out there. To celebrate, why not rustle up this excessively patriotic looking salad to go with dinner tonight. You know you want to.


Ingredients
(serves 4)
- 1 cup cooked basmati rice
- 4 cups lettuce (roughly chopped)
- 1/2 cucumber (thinly sliced)
- 1/4 cup spring onions (chopped)
- 2 green chillies
- 1 clove garlic
- Fresh ginger (size of a coin)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp ground black pepper 

To make the dressing, place the green chillies, garlic and ginger in a small mortar and crush to a pulp with a pestle. Add the olive oil, salt and black pepper and mix with a spoon.

To build up the salad, place the lettuce leaves on a serving dish, sprinkle the rice evenly over the top, layer on the sliced cucumbers and garnish with the chopped spring onions.

Drizzle the dressing liberally over the top and serve immediately.

ALMOND MILK

Almond milk appears in many of the recipes on this blog and so it's only right that I put up a recipe showing how easy it is to make at home. What I love about this home-made version is that I am in complete control of what goes in there - no need for additives or preservatives to extend the shelf life. No unnecessary added sugar to sweeten it if I don't want to.  Just pure almond goodness.

You won't believe how creamy and tasty this versatile non-dairy milk is. Rich in calcium and protein, it's perfect for baking, cooking and pouring over your favourite breakfast cereal. 

Once made, it should be refrigerated and used within five days.

Ingredients
- 1.5 cups whole raw almonds (soaked overnight)
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 pitted dates (optional)
- Pinch of salt

First thing's first, soak the raw almonds in a bowl of water, cover and leave to stand overnight. Drain the water and rinse the almonds before proceeding to the next step.

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz at the highest speed for 2 minutes. Leave the dates out if you want it unsweetened. Alternatively, you can use your preferred sweetener (1 tbsp brown sugar, maple syrup..etc)

Grab a large bowl and place a strainer over it. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer, using the back of a spoon to push as much liquid out as possible. 
Discard the almond meal, give the strainer a quick rinse and repeat the straining process into another bowl. 

Strain one final time to ensure a smooth consistency.

Pour into a sealable glass jar or bottle and refrigerate. Use within five days.
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