Saturday, 22 November 2014

BREAKFAST #8 - BEANS ON PLANTAIN TOAST

It's a simple concept. Beans and plantain reunited yet again on a plate. Except this time, the context is a little different. Breakfast. The most important meal of the day. Or so they say.

When I spied the can of baked beans in my Hodmedod Vegan Box (see here for previous review), the idea for this recipe came instantly. I would create a simple fusion dish using a classic, everyday pantry item in a new way; pairing it with an ingredient that deserves its own spot in a foodie hall of fame: plantain! The fava beans used in the unique baked beans recipe by Hodmedod add an extra richness to the dish.. a highly satiating and nutritious start to your day. 
I used plain flour in this recipe, but you can also achieve a gluten-free version using gluten-free flour. I've added a range of these to my store, if you're wondering where you can find some.

When it comes to vegan cooking, I'll try anything once. If it doesn't work out, then so be it, but I'd rather always try something first and fail miserably than not to try at all. It's a good rule of thumb in the world of creative cookery, and probably also a good rule of thumb in certain areas of life too. Fearlessness. 
Before this post turns into a full-on ramble, let's get on with how to make this simple but scrummy breakfast dish.


Ingredients
- 2 ripe plantains
- 4 heap tbsp plain flour or gluten-free flour
- salt to taste
- pinch of chilli flakes
- coconut oil (to grease baking dish/tray)

Peel and roughly chop the plantains. Place in a large mixing bowl with the flour, salt and chilli flakes, and mash to a sorta smooth consistency.


Grease a medium-sized rectangular baking dish or tray with some coconut oil and pour the mixture in and spread nice and flat. Place in the oven for 45 minutes, gas mark 5, or until the mixture is firm, springy to the touch, and nicely browned on top.


Take out of the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes. Cut out as many square 'toast' pieces as you can get. For extra crispiness, place the pieces under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes, turning over once to grill the other side too.

Serve with a generous helping of warm baked beans. Enjoy!






Thursday, 13 November 2014

SWEET POTATO AND FAVA BEAN SOUP (HODMEDOD REVIEW)

Hodmedod's Big Vegan Box is packed full of wonderful beans, peas and quinoa. As soon as I opened my box, I was blown away by the variety and vibrancy of the products in front of me. In it were canned fava beans, baked beans and vaal dhal, as well as four cartons of dried beans and peas, a pack of quinoa, and a selection of roasted beans and peas. A million and one things popped into my head in terms of how I could turn these ingredients into delicious meals. To me, this box is a winner during the cold season as the beans, peas and quinoa provide the perfect base for a range of hot soups, curries and veggie casseroles. I've never cooked with fava beans before and so I was super excited to expand my culinary repertoire. Such is the nature of following a vegan diet; I find that I am now more likely to try new plant-based ingredients that I never would have given a second glance before. 

I highly recommend this box to anyone who is keen to support local, sustainable food in the UK. Hodmedod was founded by Nick Saltmarsh, Josiah Meldrum and William Hudson in 2012 with the aim of promoting and supplying indigenous and less well-known grains and pulses in Britain. If your curiosity is even a little bit piqued, then you should definitely check them out and try a box!

Show Hodmedod some love by following them on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find out more about their product range on their official website.



In this recipe, I've gone ahead and made use of the tin of fava beans and the pack of lightly salted roasted fava beans. Forget regular croutons, the roasted fava beans give a deliciously crunchy element to the soup and complements the flavour of the fava beans infused in the soup. By blending half a can of the beans with the sweet potatoes, I was able to achieve a rich, creamy consistency. This soup is comfort food at its best, chock full of nutrients and vitamins from top quality whole foods - no hidden nasties here! It's also oil-free and gluten-free, nudging it high up there on the healthy, clean eating scale.

Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 2-3 medium sized sweet potatoes 
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- 1 tin of Hodmedod's British Fava Beans
- Handful of Hodmedod's British Roasted Fava Beans (lightly sea salted)
- Pinch crushed chilli flakes
- Pinch dried thyme
- Pinch curry powder
- Salt to taste
- Chopped fresh herbs

Wash and dice the sweet potatoes into small pieces. I chose to leave the skin on as it is packed full of nutrients, but you can peel the skin off if you prefer. Place in a large saucepan with the crushed garlic and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes completely. Boil for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Allow to cool slightly, then place the potatoes and garlic in a food processor, along with the liquid broth it was cooked in and half a can of fava beans. Blend on a low-medium setting for 1-2 minutes or until you are satisfied with the consistency.

Pour the soup back into the large saucepan and return to the heat. Season with a pinch of crushed chilli flakes, dried thyme, curry powder and salt to taste. Add the other half of the tin of fava beans.
Heat the soup for no longer than 5 minutes.

Serve hot and garnish with a handful of lightly salted roasted fava beans and a sprinkling of fresh herbs (I used parsley).






Wednesday, 12 November 2014

CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE (GUEST POST)

Here is a guest post from my lovely friend, Nemi. Who else is super excited to try out this mouthwatering recipe?!

You can follow Nemi on Facebook and check out her blog at www.anemistyle.com.

----


A few months ago, Tomi (VeganNigerian.com) and I created a vegan challenge where people had to create a sweet and savoury dish with the secret ingredient 'Beans'. We decided to do the challenges ourselves and for me it was a fun and exciting culinary journey. After lots of failed experiments, I tried this chocolate fudge cake and it was delicious! I seriously could not believe it was so tasty and there was no hint of beans whatsoever.

I decided to test this recipe on an unsuspecting member of the public (Le Husband). After work one evening, I told him I fancied dessert after dinner and asked if he would be interested. Of course he said yes, so I went into the kitchen and secretly performed the beanie magic and voila! Chocolate fudge cake - crispy on top and gooey inside.  After devouring the 'creation', I asked him if anything felt different and he couldn't find anything other than the cake tasting a bit gluten-free....ha!

I later revealed the secret ingredient, leaving him feeling hoodwinked lol!

This black bean chocolate fudge cake is a gluten-free and healthier alternative to the usual chocolate cake. It is especially great for women during PMS and pregnancy because it is chock full of so many good-for-you nutrients like:

Folate - Great for women's reproductive health
Fibre - Keeps you fuller for longer
Protein - Building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin
Copper - Balances cholesterol and an antioxidant
Manganese - Strong bones, smooth skin and controls blood sugar
Iron Supply oxygen to blood, brain health and sustained energy

Here is what you will need:

1.     1 can of 400g black beans- washed and drained
2.     1.5  teaspoon of baking powder
3.     3-5 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
4.    Half a cup of sugar (can be substituted with sweetener)
5.    1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
6.    3 tablespoons of coconut oil
7.    Pinch of sea salt
8. 1 flax egg (2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed and 6 tablespoons of water, leave to soak for 15 min)



Step 1


Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius and grease muffin tin or cake pan.

Step 2

Prepare the flax egg by mixing 2 tablespoons of grounded flaxseed and 6 tablespoons of water.

Step 3

Put all the ingredients (from the ingredient list) in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.



Step 4


Scoop mixture into a greased muffin tin or cake tin.


Step 5

Bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean or the top dries up.



Tuesday, 4 November 2014

VEGAN GUIDE TO NANOWRIMO SNACKING

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon us again and thousands of people across the world will be picking up their pens (or opening up their laptops) to try and reach a target of 50,000 words by 12 midnight November 30th. I took the plunge last year and will be attempting it again this year (gulp!)

If you're anything like me, then you probably know that smart snacking can go a long way to helping you get through any colossal task (how do you think I got through my essays at university??).

So, for those late nights you'll spend trying to get up to date with your word count; for the moments when you hit a brick-wall and your plot starts to unravel; for the times when you lose inspiration and come down with a severe case of writer's block, you know you can refresh and replenish yourself with a few of these useful suggestions:

1. Juices and Smoothies

It's quick, it's nutritious and your brain cells will thank you for it. Pack in your favourite fruits (and veg) and sip away as your novel comes to life. Some of my favourite combinations include mango & orange, banana & strawberries, apple & carrot. Check out my green smoothie recipe. Or for something a little unusual, check out this aloe vera and mango combo.













2. Popcorn

As you pause to allow imagined scenes and plot twists to play out your head, why not have a bowl of popcorn sitting near by. Your own personal movie (sort of!) - that will soon be transformed into glittering prose - requires popcorn too ;) Try my curry and thyme flavoured popcorn for something a lil' different.















3. Home-made bars

These take a bit more planning and prep time but once you have a stash of them, you can nibble to your heart's content. The best part? You get to decide what goes into it. Have a go at my oat bar recipe or modify it to include even more super brain-food ingredients such as flax seeds, chia seeds or brazil nuts. These banana/raisin/almond/chocolate slices are also pretty nifty.















4. Chin chin

This sweet, crunchy Nigerian snack is ideal for boosting your mood as you power through your main character's dilemma. My baked chin chin recipe also ensures that you are not packing in unnecessary calories as you would with the fried version.
















5. Crackers

What is a snack guide without crackers? These hot saltine crackers can be enjoyed on their own or with your favourite vegan spread lashed on.
















6. Hummus, carrot sticks, flat bread

You could run out to the shop to pick up a tub of hummus OR you could make some yourself and take out any writing frustrations by crushing little chickpeas to a pulp. (Hopefully you have very few frustrations and more joyful, inspired moments...but just in case). This chunky hummus recipe is delicious, filling and comforting. Perfect with vegetable batons or soft flat bread.















7. Ice Cream

Yes, comfort food will keep your brain cells happy and nothing says comfort like a massive serving of Nice Cream. Enjoy it guilt-free without compromising on taste with my original nice cream recipe. Or spice things up with this selection from my e-book: 'Nice Cream: 25 Delicious, Dairy-Free Recipes'.
















8. Fresh fruit 

Last but certainly not least, a good stash of fresh fruit is the way to go. High-carb fruits like bananas and mango will give you the energy to keep going, providing your brain with a healthy source of glucose that won't see you crashing with a sugar low just when you're getting to the juicy part of your chapter. Nature's fast food also requires little to no preparation so you won't be wasting valuable time procrastinating but actually getting that novel done!






If you're a fellow writer, I want to hear from you: which snacks keep YOU going when you're trying to get through a piece of writing? And if this post doesn't quite apply to you, share it with the aspiring Chinua Achebe's and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's in your close circle.