Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Vegan Egusi Recipe | How to Make Nigerian Egusi Soup


Whether you're eating it with pounded yam (classic!) or with rice, there's no denying the sheer deliciousness of egusi. It's efo riro's blinged out cousin with more texture, more nutrition and arguably more flavour.

Egusi seeds are often sold whole or ground. I usually like to buy it whole and grind it myself, but if you want to save on time then go ahead and buy it ground. The seeds are derived from a gourd plant that is indigenous to West Africa. Other countries that grow and use egusi include Ghana (where it is called agushi), Benin, Ivory Coast, Mali, Togo, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. It is made up of about 70% fat and 30% protein, and is packed with tons of nutrients and vitamins such as A, B1, B2, C and E - making it excellent for skin, hair and bone health. 

Notably, egusi soup is the most popular dish amongst the Ijesha people of Osun state (where my family is from!), where it is eaten alongside pounded yam. Egusi is eaten all the way across Nigeria though, amongst not only the Yoruba but Igbo, Hausa, Edo, Itsekiri, Ibibio and Efik people.

The ground seeds are added to soups as a thickening agent. Egusi soup or stew in particular is composed of leafy greens, palm oil, ground egusi and seasonings. The traditional recipe calls for meat to be added, but as this is a vegan version I have of course left this out. For anyone interested in having that meaty texture though, I recommend adding roasted mushrooms or diced aubergine (garden egg/eggplant). 

Now let's get to the recipe! As always, if you do try it, please share your food pics and tag me on Instagram :)


Ingredients
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 red onion
- 2 tbsp palm oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup ground egusi
- 5-6 cups chopped spinach
- Chopped mixed vegetables or mushrooms (optional)


Start by blending the peppers, tomatoes and onion with a little water. Heat some palm oil in a large pot and add the blended mixture. Season with salt and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Stir in the vegetable stock and sprinkle the ground egusi over the top. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. The egusi should cake and form little air pockets.

Add the chopped spinach, give it a good mix and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes. At this point you can add in some extra chopped vegetables or meat alternatives (such as mushrooms, aubergine etc).

Serve hot with some pounded yam, boiled yam, rice, boiled plantain or fried plantain. All winning combinations!

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Know Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes



Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin or the insulin produced is resistant. The long-term health problems that can arise from diabetes include loss of vision, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, and a greater risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. It goes without saying that it is extremely important to get clued up on how to prevent it or reduce the risk of developing complications.

I was very young when I lost a family member to complications from Type 2 diabetes. It left a deep impression on me, but still I assumed that it was something you only had to worry about later in life. I figured that as long as you didn't overdo it on sweets and sugary drinks, you were mostly in the clear. 

While it is true that you are at greater risk of developing the condition as you get older, it has been found that black people are two to four times more likely to develop it even at a younger age. Other risk factors include your family history, your weight and your blood pressure. Of course, some of these risk factors (such as age and ethnicity) cannot be changed, but other factors are most certainly within our control. Taking active steps to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and eating healthy foods can all assist in reducing risk.

When I went vegan in 2013, my interest in health (particularly nutrition) grew exponentially and I began to see the clear links between lifestyle and well-being. In fact, one of the factors that kept me committed to the lifestyle was knowing that it could help me improve my eating habits and therefore help reduce my chances of developing certain health conditions. A healthy plant-based diet is naturally low in saturated fats and higher in antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetable and fibres. A healthy diet is one piece of the puzzle in diabetes prevention, but by no means the only one. If you do find that you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes then you may be eligible to join your free local Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Program.


So at this point you may be wondering where to even begin in finding out your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Thankfully, the NHS has developed a simple and accessible online tool to assess your risk. In a few simple steps, you'll be able to determine whether you are at a low, medium or high risk. All you need is a measuring tape and a few health stats such as your weight and height. To get started, click here to access the online Diabetes UK tool.

diabetes know your risk

You'll see from the screenshot below that the tool is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Once you've input all your information, you'll be shown your results instantly, along with a detailed explanation of your risk category. On the same page, there's an opportunity to explore further and access healthy tips, recipes and diabetes resources.


Once you've figured out your risk, you can also spread the word by email or on social media by sharing across your platforms and encouraging your friends and family to find out their own risk. Have loved ones who are not active on social media? Be sure to pass on this vital message to them by word-of-mouth. Knowing our risk can make all the difference in preventing or delaying Type 2 diabetes.

This campaign is also supported by the Medical Association of Nigerians Across Great Britain, Nigerian Nurses Charity Association UK, Somali Nursing & Midwifery Group, Ghana Nurses Association and the British Islamic Medical Association.






Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The Best Pizza Crust Recipe | Vegan Pizza


I've made my fair share of pizzas over the years, but it wasn't until this attempt that I felt really proud of my attempt. I wanted the crust to come as close to the crust I remember from Domino's Pizza, with that slightly gritty feel from coarse cornmeal and a thick base. Now I'm sure their recipe and method are probably a closely guarded secret, but I'm pretty confident when I say you won't be disappointed with the version I'm about to share with you.

Before we get to the main recipe, I have a few notes on each element.

The crust: you can leave the dough to rise for one hour and still get good results. But if time allows, leave your dough to rise slowly in the fridge for 24-36 hours as this allows the yeast flavour to intensify.

The garlic butter: this is a hack I encountered when researching the Domino's pizza crust. Brushing the warm crust with garlicky melted vegan butter is an indulgent extra step to up the overall taste of the pizza. 

The toppings: this is where you can go wild and create interesting combinations. You may have some veg at home that need using up. Don't hold back. In this pizza, I used some home-grown green peppers, red onions, vegan sausages and vegan cheese. 


Makes:
1 extra large or  2 medium pizzas

Ingredients
For the pizza crust
- 2 cups plain flour or bread flour
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup cornmeal

For the topping
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce (from a tin of tomatoes blended until smooth)
- mixed herbs
- salt to taste
- vegan cheese
- vegetables of your choice
- 2 vegan sausages (optional)

For the garlic butter 
- 2 tbsp vegan margarine
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- pinch of salt

Method
- To make the pizza crust, combine all the ingredients except the cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Use your hand to mix/knead in the bowl until you have a smooth, soft, slightly sticky dough. You may need to add a touch more flour or a touch more water until you achieve the right consistency (different flours absorb moisture differently, which is why quantities can vary slightly). Cover the bowl and leave to rise for at least one hour until the dough has doubled in size. If you can leave it to slow-rise in the fridge for 24-36 hours, even better, as a more intense flavour will develop.

- Preheat your oven to 200C.

- Punch down the risen dough to get rid of excess air bubbles. You may wish to divide the dough into two equal parts if you are making 2 medium pizzas, or you can make one large pizza if you have a large pizza pan or baking tray. Sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal on a clean surface, roll the dough in it and use your hands/fingers to stretch out the pizza dough into a circle. Transfer to a pizza pan or baking tray. 

- Spoon a small quantity of tomato sauce over the top and add your selection of toppings.

- Bake for 12-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

- Brush the crust with a blend of melted vegan butter, garlic powder and salt. Sprinkle a bit more cornflour over the crust.


Friday, 16 October 2020

Vegan Nigerian Fish Stew | Quorn Vegan Fishless Fingers Recipe

 


Making the impossible possible? Something like that!

You've seen me attempt vegan scrambled eggs with yam, and vegan efo riro. I've even successfully conquered vegan peppered 'snails' and egg fried rice. And now, with a little help from Quorn, I reckon I've created a worthy version of Nigerian fish stew. Cue squeals of excitement!

The reason I'm extra thrilled about this recipe is that since going vegan nearly eight years ago, I've wracked my brain as to how to tackle such a dish. Achieving that authentic seafood flavour with the right textured fish substitute to match seemed an unfeasible task.

The traditional recipe (also known as Obe Eja Dindin by the Yorubas) is often made by cooking raw, fried or grilled fish in a tasty blend of peppers and tomatoes. The stew is then served with either a side of boiled rice, yam, potatoes, plantain, and more. My mum has declared several times that it is her favourite type of stew. Let's hope she approves!

One thing I love about our Nigerian soups and stews is that they are often zero-waste. The one pot meals use fresh ingredients that we always have at home. If there are any red peppers or onions that need using up, you can bet that they're making their way into a stew. This recipe is no different, and that's why I'm excited that it gets to be included in Quorn's Zero Waste campaign.

So let's talk the vegan fish element of this dish. I will be using Quorn's Vegan Fishless Fingers. I know what the traditionalists are thinking. I can almost see the eye rolls and hear the mtchewing from a mile away. Please, aunties and uncles, stay with me for a second. Quorn, in my mind, has done the wonderful job of nailing that authentic fish flavour and texture - just vegan! For this recipe, I’ve prepared the fishless fingers differently to create the perfect ingredient for this plant-based fish stew. I’m pretty confident that it’s sure to wow your friends and family.

Let's get into the recipe!

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

- 8 Quorn Vegan Fishless Fingers, defrosted

- 8 tablespoons kombu seaweed flakes (or other seaweed variety)

- 1 400g tin plum tomatoes

- 1 scotch bonnet chilli 

- 1 red bell pepper

- 1 thumb fresh ginger

- 200ml water

- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil

- 1 red onion, thinly sliced

- 1 vegetable stock cube

- salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 200C.

2. Split each defrosted fishless finger partway through (don't cut all the way down) and gently fan out to make a flat fillet, breaded side facing down. Sprinkle the top of each fillet with kombu seaweed flakes and gently press down with your fingers. Place each fillet on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes until crispy.

3. Place the tomatoes, scotch bonnet chilli, red bell pepper and fresh ginger in a blender or food processor with 200ml of water and blend until very smooth.

4. Heat the sunflower oil in a large cooking pot and sauté 3/4 of the sliced red onions for 2 minutes or until they start to soften. 

5. Add the stew blend to the pot and season with a tablespoon of kombu seaweed, vegetable stock cube and salt to taste. Cover and cook on medium-high heat for 6 minutes.

6. Carefully submerge the crispy fishless fillets in the stew and switch off the heat. Garnish with the rest of the sliced red onions.

7. Serve hot with a side or two of your choice, such as boiled rice and peas.


Note: this is a sponsored post, in partnership with Quorn.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Sweet Potato Steamed Buns | Vegan Bao Buns


Chinese steamed buns. Bao buns. Let's discuss.

Baozi or Bao originates from China but is eaten across the different South Asian countries. It is best described as a yeast-leavened filled bun which is then steamed. The variations in fillings are endless.

The first time my Singaporean friend introduced me to bao, I was instantly entranced. Surely this pillow-soft, fluffy lump of goodness was actual manna from heaven. And then when I visited Singapore and Thailand for the first time, I consumed obscene amounts, each one filled with something different - from red bean paste to purple sweet potato to savoury shredded mushroom. Back at home, the desire to make it from scratch consumed me, but I found the idea of it rather intimidating. I imagined you needed years of practice, a blessing from the Chinese ancestors and the skills of a top pastry chef to pull it off.

I'm still no bun making expert by any means, even after a few attempts, and I have a heck of a long way to go before I can make them to the standard that I know they can be. So this is very much an introductory recipe for anyone who wants to dabble and try their hands at a no-fuss version that still satisfies. 

I had white sweet potatoes at home, but of course you can use orange or purple flesh sweet potatoes (imagine the pop of colour!) You can even use homemade or store-bought red bean paste. How about filling it with mashed plantain as I have actually done in the past? Let me tell you, it was the sort of divine fusion you can only dream of!

These buns are perfect for snacking, but also make for a light breakfast or dessert. This particular recipe is not super sweet - you get the natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes and a touch of sweetness in the buns, that's it - so you can adjust as desired.

For this recipe, you'll need a steamer (bonus points if it's a bamboo steamer). Here's a hack: you can also use a rice cooker to steam by filling with a little water and covering the base with a large sheet of baking paper that come up around the sides.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see your attempt. Take a pic and tag me on Instagram - @vegannigerian for a repost!

If you like this recipe, you'll also like:

Manna, is that you?

Ingredients
(makes 8)

- 2 heap tbsp vegan margarine, melted

- 2 tbsp caster sugar

- 3/4 cup warm dairy-free milk

- 2 tsp instant yeast

- 2 cups plain flour

- pinch of salt

- 2 white flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly diced

Method

Whisk the melted vegan margarine, caster sugar, warm milk and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the plain flour and salt. Mix to form a soft dough and knead until it is smooth and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. Cover with a damp dish cloth and leave to rise for an hour.


Meanwhile, boil the sweet potatoes in plain water until very soft. Drain and mash to a smooth consistency. Leave to cool. 

Prepare 8 small squares of parchment paper and arrange them on a flat surface such as a tray or your countertop. 

Once the dough has risen, knock the air bubbles out and knead for another couple of minutes. Divide into 8 equal parts.

Take the first piece of dough and flatten it slightly in the palm of your hand. Fill the centre with a tablespoon or two of the mashed sweet potato and pinch all the sides up to enclose the bun. Pinch lightly to seal and gently roll the bun in your hands to smoothen out the seams. Place on a square of parchment paper. Repeat this process for the rest of the buns. 

Place the buns in the steamer, leaving a little room between each one. Cover and allow to stand (without heat) for 15 minutes. The buns will grow a little bigger in this time.

Steam for about 15 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the buns to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Hack: place a tea towel over the steamer before covering with the lid. Do this to catch any evaporation and prevent water from dripping back down onto the buns.

Note: this post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Yam Porridge Recipe | Asaro | How to Make Yam Pottage

 

Today was wet, cold and everything that makes for duvet weather. When it gets like this, I'm all about stodgy comfort food and yam porridge does not disappoint.

Yam porridge is also known as yam pottage or asaro. It's a one-pot dish that consists of African yam and a pepper/tomato blend. Very few ingredients yet the flavour is simply amazing.

The yam used in this recipe is a variety called puna yam. If you live in Europe or the U.S. you can find it at most African or Caribbean food shops.

The traditional version of this recipe calls for palm oil, but I know a few people are averse to it. If you're unable to source sustainable palm oil or if you're following a low-oil diet, then you can leave it out completely. I shared a completely oil-free version of this dish many years ago - click here to check it out.

The non-vegan version of this recipe also includes crayfish, usually added to impart an aromatic seafood flavour to the dish. A wonderful vegan alternative is seaweed - try adding kombu or wakame seaweed flakes. Again, this is totally optional and yam porridge tastes just as good without this hint of the sea!

As with most one-pot dishes, yam porridge is great for meal prep. You can make a humongous batch, divide into food containers and keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.

If you do make this recipe, be sure to share it with me on Instagram or wherever you're social. Tag @vegannigerian :)

Ingredients

(serves 6)

- 1 large yam, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 scotch bonnet chilli
- 1 tin plum tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp palm oil or coconut oil (optional)
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 2 tbsp kombucha seaweed (optional)

Place the yam pieces in a large pot.

Blend the red bell peppers, onion, scotch bonnet chilli and plum tomatoes to make a smooth sauce. Pour over the yam, along with a cup of water, and mix well. Add the palm oil and season with salt, garlic powder, stock cube and seaweed. 

Simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes. Stir thoroughly and serve hot on its own or with a side salad.

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Friday, 2 October 2020

Thoughts on Nigeria's 60th Independence Day

So Nigeria turned 60 yesterday. Seeing all the celebratory Independence Day posts pop up on my social media feeds had me all reflective. Pondering that small word we call heritage. Feeling grateful to be so in touch with mine and realising that in my own imperfect way, I get to contribute to the ever-evolving fabric of our culture. At least where food is concerned. At least when it comes to encouraging my fellow Nigerians to choose healthier food options or think that bit deeper about the impact of their food choices on their personal health and the world as a whole. (As a reminder, you can download my free guide to going vegan which delves into these topics).


Locked in with our annual celebration of Nigeria's break away from colonial rule is the usual undercurrent of cynicism; of bemoaning everything that is wrong with our country. A lot of our systems could be better; something needs to be done about the mind-numbing traffic on our roads; colonialism sure did do a number on us; what's with all the corrupt politicians, anyway? So on and so forth...

Ever the idealist, I've always thought it more beneficial to focus on solutions. I seek answers to questions like: What is within our control? How can we work on ourselves first so that we can bring about the sort of cultural shift we so wish to see? The answers probably don't lie solely in the way we eat - if only! And yet, the very principles of eating with care (i.e. choosing a more cruelty-free diet, to be blunt!) - compassion, stewardship, thoughtfulness and regard for the other - are the very principles we need to inject into many other areas of our lives and society. 

I'd love to hear from my Nigerian readers - any pressing thoughts as we celebrate our 60th Independence?

Throwback to this Nigerian flag cake recipe!

Popcorn frosting? Yes, please!

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Vegan Custard Meringue Pie


What's better than a homemade dessert? When the craving kicked in for something sweet, I initially fancied making a lemon meringue pie. But upon discovering that we were all out of lemons, I had to rethink my plan. I opened up one of the kitchen cupboards - the one that holds the baking ingredients, dried goods, teas and whatnot - and spied a tub of custard powder in the corner. Bingo. I'd spent the day boiling the life out of a pack of chickpeas so all that aquafaba liquid was sitting there, waiting to be whisked into a light marshmallow fluff. There was a pack of ginger nut biscuits that hadn't been torn into yet. I had all the elements to make the pie of my dreams come together. 

It might look like hard work, but in reality this is one of the easiest desserts you could possibly make. There are three main elements to consider: the crust, the custard filling and the meringue topping. Each step is easy as pie, as you'll see below.

The crust: I've used store-bought ginger nut biscuits but other crunchy biscuits will work well. You may even want to make your own homemade ginger biscuits from scratch. If you're up for that additional step, go for it.

The custard filling: Store-bought custard powder is perfect in this - for the colour especially. I grew up on the Bird's brand (as I'm sure many Nigerian kids did) and have fond memories of topping cakes and puddings with it. If you choose to make custard using regular white corn flour, you may wish to add a dash of turmeric to get that bright yellow colour. 

The meringue topping: if you've never made vegan meringue using aquafaba then you are in for a treat because it is absolutely wonderful to see unassuming chickpea water transform into a creamy, thick bowl of fluff. As well as using the liquid from boiled chickpeas or tinned chickpeas, this also works with liquid from a tin of butter beans. I highly recommend refrigerating the liquid overnight as this improves the viscosity. When whisking, ensure that no oil comes into contact with the liquid as this can affect how well it whips up. The addition of cream of tartar also helps with the viscosity. You will notice that I did not bake the pie or use a blowtorch to add colour to the whipped meringue topping. If you are looking for that browned meringue look (you know the look I mean - the one you see on traditional lemon meringue pies), I recommend using a blow torch to gently blast around the peaks of the meringue until lightly browned. Otherwise, keep as it is and top with some fresh fruit.

Equipment-wise, you'll need a 25cm loose base tart tin for this recipe. Click here to see the type I used.
The meringue can be made using a whisk, but just a fair warning that it will take a much longer time to whip up and your arms will hurt like crazy. If you have a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, that would be ideal.

Where possible, I have included links below in the ingredient list to some of the brands that I used for this particular recipe. Feel free to click if you're curious.

As always, I hope you actually try this recipe. If you do, I'd love to see your creation. Take a snap and share on Instagram or Twitter. Tag @VeganNigerian and I'll be sure to repost it! :)

You might also like:


Ingredients
(serves 8-10)

For the crust
- 250g ginger nut biscuits
- 2 tbsp vegan margarine, melted

For the custard 
- 4 heap tbsp custard powder
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups dairy-free milk (e.g. soya or coconut milk)

For the meringue
- 150g chickpea water, or liquid from 1 tin of chickpeas (a.k.a. aquafaba)
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp caster sugar

- mixed berries and fresh mint, to garnish

Method

To make the crust, seal the biscuits in a freezer bag, lay it flat on your kitchen counter, cover with a thick napkin and use a rolling pin or bottle to bash the biscuits to form fine crumbs. Alternatively you can place the biscuits in a food processor and blend until you have crumbs. 

Place the biscuit crumbs in a mixing bowl and pour over the melted vegan margarine. Mix until well combined. Line your tart tin with some parchment paper, pour the biscuit mixture in and spread/flatten to create a pie crust. 

To make the custard, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard starts to thicken. 

Pour the custard into the pie crust and use a spoon or spatula to smooth out the top. It doesn't need to be too perfect as it will be covered by meringue anyway. Place the pie in the fridge until you are ready to serve the dessert.

[I recommend making the meringue topping just before you serve the dessert as it has a tendency to start drooping and sinking after a while.]

To make the meringue, place the aqauafaba in a mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer). Whisk on full speed for 2-3 minutes until it starts to get thick and foamy. Add the remaining ingredients (cream of tartar, lemon juice and sugar) and whisk on full speed for another 6-8 minutes until stiff peaks form.

When you are ready to serve the dessert, take the pie out of the fridge and scoop the meringue on top. Use a spoon to make swirls and peaks. If you have any fruit lying around, feel free to garnish. I used blueberries and raspberries on mine.

Soft peaks...

Creamy custard...

What a beaut...

Note: this post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Vegan Egg Fried Rice | Easy Vegan Recipe

Let's face it. Some days you just want something quick and stress-free. 

If your household is anything like mine, there's usually some leftover plain rice lurking somewhere. This recipe takes that plain rice and elevates it to a level your tastebuds will thank you for. I hope you give this egg-free fried rice a try. 

I used golden sella basmati rice but this works with any type of rice. I've left out quantities for most of the seasoning as you're free to season to taste. I recognise that some people follow a low-sodium diet or low-fat diet, so adjust as necessary.

Ingredients

(serves 4)

- dash of sunflower oil

- 1/2 block extra firm tofu

- 1/2 cup frozen peas

- 1/2 cup sweetcorn

- 1/2 tbsp curry powder

- 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds / thyme

- leftover plain rice (approx 3 cups)

- soy sauce

- sesame oil

Method

🍚 Start by scrambling/frying the tofu in a little oil. I do this until it gets a bit golden and crispy here and there.  

🍚 Add the peas and sweetcorn, along with the curry powder and fennel seeds. Cook for a minute or two on high heat.  

🍚 Stir in leftover rice. Season with soy sauce to taste. Add a dash of sesame oil (for aroma and a nice nutty taste).

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Lentil Bread | Vegan and Gluten-Free


I made 5-ingredient oil-free, gluten-free, grain-free lentil bread and what a revelation! 😍 First spotted this on Twitter, shared by @_annyma [IG handle] and I knew I had to try her genius recipe. Swipe to get a closer look at the texture. It’s moist, yet develops a crumb and a crust. Gives me plain baked Moin Moin vibes, but with a much more subtle flavour. And it toasts well. I can imagine making a seeded version or adding sun-dried tomatoes or olives (oooh 🤔).

I baked mine in a small, flat oven dish so you may want to use a bread tin to achieve a taller loaf. Make sure to double the ingredient quantities to fill the tin though, and you may need to adjust the cooking time.

So what’s in this thing of beauty?

🍞 1 cup red lentils.
🍞 1.5 cups water.
🍞 1 tsp baking soda.
🍞 1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar.
🍞 pinch of salt (optional).

Method 🥣
Soak the lentils for an hour then rinse/drain. Place lentils, 1.5 cups water, baking soda, apple cider vinegar and salt in a blender, blend until completely smooth. 

Pour into a lined or greased baking tin/loaf tin. Bake at 180 C for 1 hour. A toothpick should come out clean. Leave to cool before slicing and serving. 

Thanks again to @_annyma for the inspiration 😊💚





The Best Baked Jollof Rice Recipe

 Happy new month folks! Hope you're doing well, happy and thriving.

World Jollof Rice Day was a couple of weekends ago on the 22nd August. The day after I had the sudden  urge to make baked jollof rice. I've seen several versions of it shared online on Instagram, Facebook and a handful of West African food blogs. Without following a recipe, I was able to freestyle the one below and honestly I'm not mad at the results. I strayed from convention in terms of some of the oils and spices added. For instance, curiosity made me wonder what a generous dash of sesame oil would bring to the table. I imagined that adding cinnamon would add a warm, more complex note to the flavour profile. It was particularly satisfying to add my home-grown lemon-thyme straight from the garden. Shop-bought sprigs of time will provide the same effect.

As I was cooking for the whole family, I made a huge batch - 5 cups to be precise - and so it took absolutely ages to cook. Great if you have a lot of time on your hands, are cooking ahead of a later event or you're not particularly ravenous. Otherwise, grab a book, catch a couple episodes of your favourite show or go for a walk as you await your jollof rice masterpiece. If you're not feeding a small army, then the rice can be packed up and frozen as part of your meal prep for the week.

It's oven-baked so you should expect some of the rice (particularly at the top) to dry out a little bit. It will add a bite to every forkful but it is not at all unpleasant. The ratio of fluffy, soft rice to al-dente rice is pretty perfect. 

The red onions caramelise beautifully in this dish, adding some sweetness to balance the spice. I just had to mention this point because it was perhaps my favourite part of the whole thing!

I used golden sella basmati rice and would highly encourage you to use the same for this recipe. No regular long-grain or basmati, please, otherwise results may vary wildly. 

I created a short video reel of the process, which has so far garnered over 10,000 views (wow!). You can check it out here! Just be sure to come back and try this recipe :)


Ingredients
(serves 8-10)
- 1 tin plum tomatoes
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 3 red onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp palm oil (optional)
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds (plus extra)
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- salt
- 2.5 cups water
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- sesame oil


Method

1. Rinse and drain your rice and set aside.

2. Place the tinned tomatoes, red pepper, scotch bonnet pepper and 1 roughly chopped red onion in a blender and blend until smooth.

3. Finely chop one red onion and the garlic. Heat some coconut oil (as much or little as you care for) in a large saucepan. Add the palm oil for an extra depth of flavour, or skip it altogether. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the oil, sauté for a minute or two until it softens. Add the blended tomato mix, along with the curry powder, dried thyme, fennel seeds, cinnamon, vegetable stock cube and salt to taste.  Stir well. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Add the washed rice to a large baking dish (approx 11 inches). Pour over the cooked tomato stew, along with 2.5 cups of water. Mix well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning (you may need to add a tiny bit more salt for taste if necessary). Slice the final red onion into rings and arrange over the top. Sprinkle on a small handful of extra fennel seeds. Top with the sprigs of fresh thyme and drizzle a generous amount of sesame oil over the top.

5. Cover the oven dish tightly with some foil. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes at 180 degrees C until the rice is cooked all the way through. I recommend stirring the rice halfway through the cooking time and adding a bit of extra water if it's too dried out.




Saturday, 22 August 2020

My Top 5 Sources of Fish-Free Omega-3 | Omega-3 for Vegans

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for maintaining a healthy body and mind. From reducing inflammation to decreasing blood triglycerides to reducing blood pressure and improving brain, eye and skin health, the benefits are numerous and undeniable. 

When I first went vegan, finding good sources of omega-3 was a top priority for me. All my life, I’d been told that you can only get high quality omega-3 from fish oil supplements or consuming fatty seafood such as salmon and tuna. What I soon discovered is that most plant-based sources contain a form of omega-3 called alpha-limolenic acid (ALA) and that the body is able to convert this to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which enable us to reap the health benefits.


Making the effort to incorporate plant-based sources of omega-3 into my diet has opened my eyes to the variety of options available, and I’m excited to share my top five sources with you:



1. Vegums Omega-3 Supplements

Supplements are a highly effective way of ensuring that I’m meeting my recommended daily amount. The omega-3 fish-free supplements by Vegums not only taste incredible (orange flavour - yum!) but are made using marine algae and packed with 80mg of DHA per daily dose. I love the fact that they are vegan-friendly (designed specially for a plant-based diet!), contain only natural colours and flavours, and come in recyclable, plastic free packaging. Use my code tomi10 to get 10% off your first subscription.




2. Flaxseeds

Aside from the high levels of fibre, protein and magnesium that you get from flaxseeds, they are a brilliant source of omega-3, with a mere 28 grams exceeding the daily recommended amount. I enjoy sprinkling a tablespoon of it over my porridge or stewed fruit for breakfast or mixing it in with a hearty salad. They also make for an excellent egg replacer when baking!

 



3. Chia Seeds

Nutritious chia puddings, chia-banana pancakes and enriched fruit smoothies - these are just some of the ways that I incorporate chia seeds into my diet. This wonderful ingredient is a great source of ALA omega-3, and is also known for increasing good HDL cholesterol levels in the blood. 



4. Seaweed

Seaweed is a reliable source of omega-3 for vegans in the form of EPA and DHA. In addition, they contain a host of vitamins and minerals such as iodine, vitamin K, iron and zinc which make it a strong antioxidant. My favourite ways to incorporate seaweed into my diet include adding it to soups, eating vegan sushi or enjoying it as a healthy, crunchy snack. 




5. Walnuts

You’ve probably heard it said that walnuts help improve brain health and memory. Well, the primary reason for this is that they are loaded with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. This is why I try to include them in my diet as often as possible, from adding it to pesto to mixing it into my granola, or simply eating a handful as a quick snack. They even make it into my cakes and bakes


Monday, 10 August 2020

Influencer Challenge Prank on Nigerian Mum | "Are You Nuts?"

Some light-hearted entertainment to brighten your day! It certainly brightened mine! :)

I was inspired by the influencer challenge that has been making its rounds on TikTok and Instagram, so decided to have a little fun and prank my mum. 

Like a true Nigerian mum, she didn't hold back. Gotta love our African parents and their natural way of turning every scenario into comedy gold.

I think the question "Are you nuts?" will be ringing in my ears for a few days to come lol.


Thursday, 30 July 2020

4 Refreshing Summer Drinks

My favourite time of the year is here and tomorrow's set to be a scorcher! Stay hydrated with this round-up of fresh summer drinks:

1. Ginger Ale

2. Fresh Citrus Punch

3. Mint Iced Tea

4. Watermelon and Grapefruit Punch


Friday, 10 July 2020

Mango Thumbprint Cookies | Easy Vegan Recipe



I suddenly had a hankering for some shortbread cookies the other day. As you can imagine, finding vegan shortbread is next to impossible, butter being the primary ingredient: all butter this, all butter that. So I decided to make my own. I also had some leftover mango puree that needed using up and so decided to incorporate it into this recipe. Mango puree is stupidly easy to make. Blend fresh mango, pour into a pan and cook on medium heat, stirring consistently until it reduces down and thickens slightly. For a cheat version of this recipe, use store-bought mango jam instead.

I hate to state the obvious, but this is not the healthiest snack in the world. I suppose replacing the white flour with wholemeal or spelt flour would be a step in the right direction, but on this occasion I'm embracing the shortbread cookie in all it's nutritionally-void glory ;)

Thumbprint cookies, as the name suggests, involves using your thumb to press an indentation into each mound of cookie dough and adding a filling. Why not try strawberry jam, thickened pineapple puree or marmalade?

If you like this recipe, you'll also enjoy:
- Garri/Cassava Cookies
- Double Choc Cookies
- Baked Chin Chin

Ingredients
(makes about 20)
1 cup vegan butter/margarine (I use this brand)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups plain flour
- 3/4 cup mango puree*/jam

*For homemade mango puree
- 3 ripe mangoes (peeled, seeded and chopped)
- 1 tsp sugar (or leave out for reduced sugar version)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice

To make the cookies,

Cream the vegan butter and sugar until smooth. Add the salt, vanilla and plain flour. Mix with your fingers/hands to form a soft dough. Don't over-knead it.

Form into small, bite-size rounds and place on a lined baking tray. Flatten each cookie, forming a small well in the middle with your thumb. Fill each cookie with about 1 teaspoon of the mango puree/jam.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, 160°C, for 20-25 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes before devouring. The mango will set and meld into the cookie. Little slabs of sunshine.

To make your own homemade mango puree, blend the chopped mango (preferably using an immersion hand blender) until fairly smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir continuously on medium heat until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.