Easy-Peasy Pasta, Pesto & Peas (& Sweetcorn & Carrot & Homegrown Tomatoes!)

29667840_UnknownAfter several hours of watching La Vuelta (that’s the Professional Cycling Tour of Spain to the uninitiated), it was time to refuel, it had been a stressful but exciting ride and I needed something quick and easy. Pasta is always good in this respect, there was a ripe avocado begging to be used and lots of spinach as well as a glut of homegrown cherry tomatoes, so pasta and pesto it was. I had asked for peas, but husband had forgotten to add them to the shopping list so frozen mixed veg it was. This is great for a midweek meal.

This meal is rich in minerals, B vitamins, Vitamin E, iron, potassium, omega oils, lycopene – a carotenoid said to protect from cancer – Vitamin C, protein, fibre, and much much more.

(Yes, this recipe has avocado and olive oil and walnuts in, but they all contain healthy fats, the ones your body, brain, skin etc. need, so don’t be saying it has too many calories or too much fat! See below for links to other avocado and pasta recipes)


Vegan, Gluten-free, Organic where possible. All measurements approximate.

Gluten-free Pasta, cooked in boiling water for required time, until al dente

Halfway through, add some Frozen Mixed Veg

Drain when cooked and tip into a warm bowl when the pesto is ready.

29667808_UnknownWhile the pasta is cooking, make the Pesto and chop the tomatoes – makes enough for 2-3, I froze what was left over.

In a chopper or blender, add:

Half a ripe Avocado, chopped

A Large Handful of Spinach (washed)

A good splash of Raw Virgin Olive Oil

A squeeze of Lemon Juice

A handful of Walnut Pieces

Black Pepper & Pink Himalayan Salt

Approx. 2 Tbsps Nutritional Yeast, (estimated, I actually tipped the container and it fell in unmeasured!)

Blend until smooth, adjusting seasoning to taste.

Mix required amount into the pasta and veg, serve with chopped cherry tomatoes, black pepper and a green salad.

See also:

Avocado: The Little Miracle Worker

Guacamole with Avocado, Coriander, Moringa & Chilli

Lemon Tahini Pasta with Pine Kernels

Midweek Vegan Bean & Vegetable Pasta

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Guacamole with Avocado, Coriander, Moringa & Chilli

29666672_UnknownAs promised, here is the recipe I mentioned in my post Avocado: The Little Miracle Worker I eat guacamole often, with different herbs and spices but had never had it with moringa powder.

I use moringa powder regularly, mostly in smoothies, but recently received an order of Aduna Mango and Cashew Bars accompanied by a recipe for guacamole which included moringa powder. I gave it a go and loved it. It takes no time at all. This is slightly adapted, I used chilli powder instead of fresh chilli – bit of a wimp as far as chillies are concerned, I’m afraid! – and lemon juice instead of lime.

Moringa Powder is currently considered a ‘superfood’: it has more protein than hemp protein powder, is rich in calcium, iron and potassium and contains many more vitamins and minerals. It is also organic and gluten-free. I use the Aduna brand because they support small businesses in Africa, often run by women.

This guacamole tastes good and does you good: containing protein, healthy fats, vitamin C & E, minerals, B vitamins, lycopene, antioxidants and dietary fibre. It provides slow-releasing energy and is very filling.


(Organic where possible, all measurements approximate).

1 Ripe Avocado

1 Large Spring Onion, chopped

Chopped Tomato

Small handful of Coriander, chopped

Good squeeze of Lemon Juice (or Lime)

1/4 Tsp Moringa Powder

Chilli or Chilli Powder to taste

Black Pepper & Pink Himalayan Salt to taste


Mash the avocado roughly with a fork

Mix in all the other ingredients

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with salad, crudités, in a wrap, on bread or crackers.


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Quick, Easy & Nutritious Leftover Meals from Veggie Lentil Casserole & Vegetable Protein Bolognese Sauce

You know when you’ve made too much and there’s not quite enough left over for another full serving next day? We always keep the smallest amount of leftovers and make sure it’s reused somehow. It might be my upbringing that renders me unable to throw food away, but regardless, I can’t bring myself to do it when so many go hungry. Anyway, last week, I had leftovers three days running. Twice! (But the second time from a different starting point, if you see what I mean).

The first basic meal was a Veggie Lentil Casserole with Peanut Butter Gravy (see below): sweet potato, cauliflower + stalks, green lentils (pre-soaked to ease digestion), chestnut mushrooms, leek + leaves, peas, vegetable stock, mixed herbs, low salt yeast extract, peanut butter.


Next day, I had leftovers using just the ‘innards’ (as my dad used to call the solids in a stew) with quinoa and wilted spinach (sorry, forgot to take a photo), reserving most of the leftover gravy which was used on the third day when I had baked sweet potato, vegan sausages* and vegetables.

The Courgetti Bolognese below and Rice Bowl Leftovers (further down the page) resulted from an original meal combining a vegetable protein bolognese sauce with basmati rice and vegan parmesan cheaze** (see Courgetti Bolognese ft Hanna’s Vegetable Protein Sauce.)


We cooked far too much brown basmati rice, too much sauce and blended a jar full of vegan parmesan, so I ended up having it in different forms for two more meals. This is the first, using the extra sauce and cheaze with spiralised courgetti spaghetti.

Pictured below is the second, a rice bowl using up some avocado leftover from juicing in the morning. I knew that despite covering it in lemon juice it wouldn’t last until next day, and there were also some mung bean sprouts that needed using up.


They were all promptly turned into this rice bowl salad. The brown basmati rice is on the bottom, then we layered chopped cucumber, grated carrot, avocado, beansprouts and cherry tomato. A tamari and olive oil dressing was drizzled over it and the vegan parmesan sprinkled on top, as well as black pepper. And Bob’s your uncle! This recipe does what it says on the can: quick, easy and nutritious. If we hadn’t run out, I might have added pine kernels or pistachios too. Great for a satisfying lunch or light dinner.

And if you want a nutritional breakdown, you have protein, antioxidants (they help fight arterial plaque and disease), B vitamins, Vitamin C, minerals, Vitamin E, lycopene (helps prevent cancer), healthy fats, fibre and tons of slow-released energy.

*See Vegan Leek, Carrot & Ginger Sausages and Vegan ‘Cheesy’ Almond, Leek & Herb Sausages

*Vegan parmesan cheaze: blend blanched almonds which have been patted dry, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, black pepper and whatever spice you might like. It will keep for quite a while in an airtight jar in the fridge, I had the last of it a week later.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

This Green Juice Packs A Nutritional Punch! (Ft Jay Kordich Juicing Video)

(Please read to the end, there’s a special video feature for anyone interested in juicing).

As you know, I love juiced sweet potato, so forgive me for posting another one! Sweet potato on its own is so full of nutrients – vitamins including betacarotene, minerals, fibre, essential fatty acids – but combined with the carrot, broccoli, spinach and avocado, this blended juice packs quite a nutritional punch.

The apples add soluble fibre and all the fruit is high in vitamin C.

The broccoli and spinach are good sources of bio accessible calcium.

img_3635The avocado also provides protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, and contributes to a more satisfying, satiating juice.

These nutrient-packed, versatile fruit are very good for your skin, heart, eyes and regulating blood sugar levels. They fill you up so you don’t eat as much. I have some avocado at least once a day. It is one of those foods you could live off if you were stuck on a desert island (though when you were rescued you’d probably never want to see one again!).

This juice is high in antioxidants, helping to boost your immune system and ward off those winter viruses.

Metal straws protect your teeth when drinking juices, they are reuseable, can go in the dishwasher and don’t end up in landfill – and they’re not made of plastic, so no nasty chemicals. You can find them on Amazon, the ones I have came with their own tiny cleaning brush.


Sweet Potato, washed, chopped and peel left on if organic

Carrot, ditto

2 Sweet Apples, ditto

Slice of Lemon, ditto

1 Kiwi, peeled

3″ Broccoli Stem, washed

Handful of Spinach, washed

Juice all ingredients beginning with an apple and ending with an apple

 Blend with 1/4 Avocado


Jay Kordich is known as the Father of Juicing. As a very young and athletic man he was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer. He chose to work with doctors who specialised in juice therapy. He is still alive today at the age of 93. This is his first video lecture fom 30 years ago on how to juice. I learn something from him every time I see him.

Please note he is using organic produce and using the skins. Please be sure to wash your produce thoroughly and consult your doctor if you are taking medications.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Zoodles with Garlic Mushrooms, Beansprouts & Lemon Avocado & Pine Nut Dressing

The title pretty much describes the recipe. This is a light, quick meal conjured up when I wasn’t feeling very hungry but knew I needed to eat something or I would be hungry during the night. As usual, once I began eating I was glad I had made the effort to come up with something to stimulate my appetite.

First, we spiralised a small Courgette (zucchini) and arranged it on the plate. (see Spiralising: A Great Way to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Greens, Reds, Yellows …)

Next, the avocado dressing was prepared in a small chopper: we had no fresh avocado so we used some from the freezer – did you know you can freeze stoned and peeled avocado? We use it to blend with freshly extracted juices.

For one person, blend 1/4 – 1/2 Avocado, a good squeeze of Lemon Juice, a little Water, some Pine Kernels and Black Pepper. Season with a little Pink Himalayan Salt if liked.

I love Chestnut Mushrooms and we seemed to have rather a lot that needed using. So about 7 or 8 were washed, stalked and chopped in quarters before the whole lot was tossed in a teaspoon of Coconut Oil with some crushed Garlic and lightly stir-fried with Tamari.

The mushrooms were placed on the top of the zoodles. The avocado dressing in the middle, a reserved mushroom on top. We had some Mung Beans sprouting and we scattered some over the rest of the food. (See Sprouting for Health, Energy and the Environment!)

It was finished off with more black pepper.

It doesn’t look very exciting, but it tasted good and was surprisingly satisfying. Raw food is more filling than cooked, with plenty of fibre and nutrients to keep you healthy. Avocado is the ultimate in healthy convenience food with its protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre. (See Raw Energy).

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Lemony Avo Pine Nut Spread

This arose out of necessity: there was a mini avocado in the bowl with the bananas that had been there all week and I fancied avocado salad, surely it must be useable by now? The avocado had other ideas. It was so hard, we could have played cricket with it! So, not to be completely outwitted, it was peeled, stoned and chopped and placed in the Braun grinder/chopper with some chopped spring onion, a good squeeze of lemon, some pine nuts, a splash of virgin olive oil, some pink Himalayan salt and some ground black pepper. (All the ingredients were organic).

It was lush! It really worked. I had some with the salad and the rest on some Nairn’s Gluten-Free Oatcakes. Loved every bite.

Avocados are such a versatile fruit and it has been said that you could practically live off them (with water), they have so many essential nutrients for the human body. They are good for your skin, heart, and brain too, with Vitamin E, protein and essential fats. I have avocado in some form every day, often blended into a juice.

(If you want it a bit thinner just add a little more oil and lemon – or persuade your avocado to get a wriggle on with its ripening timetable!)


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Green on Green: A Blended Juice (not a smoothie!)

Has anyone tried to tell you that if you blend a juice with some avocado you are either ‘cheating’ or you’re really having a smoothie. I have read this so often. A blended juice is neither ‘cheating’ (cheating whom or what?) nor a smoothie. It is a means of adding some essential fats and protein to freshly extracted juice in order to create a more nutritionally balanced meal-in-a-glass, if doing a prolonged juicing programme, or to make a juice more satisfying and keep you fuller longer. Either way, it will help prevent drops in blood sugar levels and also help keep you from reaching for processed sugary or fatty snacks during those mid-morning or mid-afternoon slumps.

Ripe avocados are easily digested and so versatile. I love them blended into cold-pressed juices, made into guacamole or a salad dressing or with lemon and black pepper on toast or crackers.

They are so good for your skin and are said to help prevent loose skin if you are losing weight. They provide essential fats for opimum brain function. They are also hydrating, as are cucumber and celery. Fennel is a good digestive aid and adds a touch of aniseed flavour to the juice.

All ingredients are organic and therefore have their peel left on (except the avocado!)

Always wash thoroughly whether organic or not.


2 Small Gala Apples

3″ Cucumber

Thick Slice of Wax-free Lemon

1″ Marrow (large zucchini)

2″ Broccoli Stalk

1/2 Stick of Celery

Small Handful of Baby Spinach

1″ Fennel

1/4 Ripe Avocado


Start with an apple then juice all the ingredients except the avocado, finishing with the second apple.

Blend the juice with the avocado.

If you are new to juicing or this is just too green for you, add another apple or a slice of pineapple, but try it first.

If you sip slowly through a (preferably) metal straw it will protect your teeth, aid digestion and help the environment by using straws that are reusable, chemical-free and don’t end up in landfill or the water supply.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Quick, Plain & Simple, Savoury Vegan Snacks (Gluten-Free Too!)

When someone discovers I’m vegan, I can see their brain working overtime with all those questions people feel obliged to seek answers to when faced with this anomaly. Along with ‘Where Do You Get Your Protein?’ ‘Where Do You Get Your Calcium?’ best of all, ‘You Mean You Just Eat Fish??!’ and more recently What Do You Eat If You Can’t Have Anything Naughty? (includes links for dessert recipes), the next question is often plain, simple and to the point: ‘So What Do You Eat?’

It’s really not that complicated. I’ve posted several vegan dinner recipes in the Menu: curries, soups, salads, stir-fries, rice and quinoa salads for example. But I snack like everyone else, I just don’t eat cheese, or bacon sarnies, or anything processed to within an inch of its life!

For anyone wondering how aliens – I mean vegans! – keep going, I thought I would put together a post with a few of my favourite savoury, vegan and gluten-free snacks or light lunches: nothing too ‘weird’ like kale chips, or fancy or time-consuming if you already have the ingredients in the cupboard or fridge.

These are foods I often have for a late afternoon snack when I generally feel that energy dip and dinner is too far away to wait. Sometimes all I need is a juice, others I feel the need for something more solid. There are lots of recipes for healthy raw sweet treats in the Menu too, but the following suggestions are for when you want something savoury and quick and perhaps a little more substantial.

They all have protein and healthy fats to fill you up and provide energy.

imageFirst up is my favourite: Celery and Apple with peanut butter and a couple of Nairns gluten-free oatcakes, either plain or herb and seed, or with my version of Camilla’s Homemade CrispbreadI love the fruity savoury contrast of the flavours as well as the crisp crunchy texture. It satisfies on all levels. Any nut butter works, of course, and corn cakes or rice cakes are another option. Also, homemade gluten-free bread (click the link for my recipe, which includes two earlier versions as well). Apple and peanut butter or celery boats with nut butter are great snacks for children too, especially when they come home from school tired and hungry, providing more slow-releasing energy than a packet of crisps or sweets.

(There’s a recipe for Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter here).


Next is another frequent flyer in our household, lightly toasted imageseeds with Tamari. This is usually a combination of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, amd perhaps some buckwheat, which are lightly toasted under the grill – you have to keep your eye on them and keep stirring them about, nothing happens for quite a while but if you go away to do something else they will be black when you return! Don’t overbrown them, it damages the oils, keep them light. Then remove from the grill and splash Tamari over them. It will sizzle and you need to mix up the seeds quickly to coat them all before it dries up. Love the salty crunch! You can eat them on their own for a protein pick-me-up or sprinkle on stir-fries and salads.

imageHumous is an old standby and there is always some in our fridge. The whole family loves it, even the babies and teenagers! I love it with crudités and oatcakes. Or with a salad. Plain and simple.

There are so many recipes out there to make your own, it’s so easy and you can vary the flavours and textures by adding chilli, paprika or cayenne, lemon juice or lime. Most of the time though, I confess we have ready-made (always organic) because inevitably I get the urge too late and need something right here, right now! We don’t always have time or the forethought to prepare ahead of time, and to be honest I am one of those people who never knows what they’re going to want to eat several hours in advance. It drives my husband crazy as he is the opposite and likes to have a week’s menu set up, but I can’t do it. That’s why we favour simple, quick, thrown-together meals.

imageOpen sandwiches are always good for a more substantial snack or light lunch. These are made in my case with home-made gluten-free bread, topped with avocado and green salad, or peanut butter and banana, or even made with sliced and toasted sweet potato!

(Yes, you read that right, Sweet Potato Toast. But more on that in a minute).


My grandchildren would have added strawberry jam to this combination, but I’m not a fan of PB&J.

We recently made a loaf with organic cornflour, tiger nut flour* and imagechickpea flour (recipe here). We sliced it up and put some in the freezer for afternon snacks or light lunch for me, when it is lightly toasted and, in this photo, spread with tahini and topped with romaine, ridge cucumber, spring onions, green olives and black pepper. Very satisfying.


But my pièce de résistance is Sweet Potato Toast!

A young woman had a hankering for avocado on toast but discovered she had no bread. Not to be done out of having her beloved avocado, she sliced up a sweet potato and put them in the toaster! Ta-da! A new snack was born.

We experimented one weekend and discovered they need to be thinly sliced and need two full goes in a basic toaster, about 10 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the slices and whether you want them soft or with a little bite.

imageIn this photo, we have banana and peanut butter, tahini topped with lightly toasted sesame seeds sprinkled with Tamari, Natex low salt yeast extract – which didn’t work too well, the flavour was fine but it melted and ran off the sweet potato when it was picked up to eat – and most ingenious of all: whole-fruit, sugar-free strawberry jam! And it was so filling, I could only eat two of them. I saved the others for later, they were fine cold as well.

Speaking of sweet potatoes: There is no better comfort food than Sweet Potato Oven Chips! We scrub the sweet potatoes (organic), leave the skin on and slice very thinly. Melt some coconut oil, add any seasoning you like – salt, chilli powder, black pepper, cumin seeds etc – and toss the chips in it. Spread them on a tray and cook for about 20 minutes at about 180C in a fan oven. Turn them over occasionally. Good on their own, with humous or any other dip. This one is Cheesy Cashew Dip with Paprika and Onion (recipe here).

Of course, for convenience, nutrition and portability, you can’t really beat plain cashews, almonds and walnuts with raisins, dried apricots, some shredded coconut and mixed seeds to create your own trail mix.

Hope that’s enough to keep you going! You see, I’m really not just sitting here nibbling on a lettuce leaf with a carrot on the side 😉


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Mixed Leaf Avocado Salad with Walnut & Raisin Slaw & Lemon Tahini Dressing

image OK. So I reckon we’ve had enough smoothies and sweet treats for a while, time we had some more green stuff on our plates.

It was an unusually hot and sunny Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK – we’re used to it raining cats and dogs when you’ve got a family camping/bbq /diy weekend planned. My husband had been painting the garage all day and was all hot and bothered. At 6 pm he downed tools and announced he wanted takeaway pizza and salad for dinner! I forewent the pizza part, but here is this evening’s salad:

Mixed leaves – I had lollo rosso, rocket, lamb’s lettuce and cos – with cucumber and celery

Walnut and Raisin Slaw – Grated Cabbage and Carrot with chopped spring onions, walnuts and raisins in a Lemon Tahini Dressing, and black pepper

Sliced Avocado


Drizzled with more Lemon Tahini Dressing, Pink Himalayan Salt and Black Pepper.

All the colours of the rainbow. Simple as.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Green Lady Blended Juice


This blended juice was my husband’s improvised creation. Anyone who knows our family understands that this can be a tricky situation. He has always maintained a love-hate relationship with cooking: he loves to eat but doesn’t like the process of getting it to his plate!  He has generally lived by the mantra cook high, cook fast, done when smoke alarm sounds! He tries but must be supervised at all times especially if you are the one he’s cooking for: an ambulance once made an appearance when he added 2 heaped teaspoons of ground black pepper to pasta sauce instead of basil and I collapsed on the first mouthful.

He does, however, make our juices every morning, but strictly according to Jason Vale’s recipes, and, apart from the occasional beetroot explosion, these turn out well. Improvisation is not encouraged and I approached this morning’s juice with some trepidation.


We generally use cheaper organic Gala apples for juicing and save the larger, tarter apples for eating on their own or as desserts. Today we had run out of Galas and so HB used one of my favourite large Pink Lady apples. Sacrilege in my book, so he didn’t ask first. It did, however, make quite a difference to the flavour of the juice.

I loved it. He is very proud of himself.


All ingredients are organic, if the lemon is not organic, pare thinly to leave as much pith as possible. Pears are best used for juicing before they ripen.


1 Large Pink Lady Apple

1 Pear

A Thick Slice of Unwaxed Lemon

1 Celery Stalk, chopped

4″ Cucumber

1 Small Carrot

1 Kiwi Fruit, peeled

2″ Broccoli Stem

Handful of Spinach

Third of a Ripe Avocado


Juice all fruit and veg except avocado, then blend with chopped avocado for about 30-45 seconds in a high speed blender until creamy smooth.

Add ice if liked.

P.S. HB vetted this before it was published!


Copyright: Chris McGowan