Spiced Chickpeas & Veggies with Brown Basmati Rice & Wilted Spinach

img_3213As often happens, this came about as my alternative to a meal my husband was having which had potatoes and tomato sauce in (his favourite items to cook with). I avoid nightshade foods* because they are reputed to increase inflammation in people who have auto-immune conditions like psoriasis or arthritis.

It was the day Storm Doris hit and Hb had been out in it all afternoon, delivering our local free mag, while clinging on to fences as he went along in order to stay upright! He was chilled to the bone when he returned home and so decided to have a hot bath and then some vegetable curry out of the freezer.

I devised this version for myself and we shared the rice and steamed green vegetables. It is quick and easy to make.

The spices were heated in a little coconut oil, the veggies were chopped up finely, added to the spices and sweated for a few minutes, then a little vegetable stock was added and it was all cooked for about 20 minutes before adding the chickpeas. Meanwhile, the soaked and rinsed brown basmati rice was cooking alongside and just before serving we put some sugar snap peas in the steamer, after a couple of minutes 2 handfuls of washed spinach followed for just long enough to wilt slightly. This shouldn’t be overdone as it will carry on wilting on the plate.

Spinach is one of those vegetables that is better lightly cooked than raw (as are broccoli, tomatoes and carrots) in terms of making the nutrients more bioavailable, in this case the iron content.

The chickpeas are also a good source of iron and calcium. 

Plenty of B vitamins in this meal, too, along with protein, potassium, antioxidants, dietary fibre and so much more!

Vegan, Gluten-free, Organic where possible.


Enough for 2 servings


1 Tsp Coconut Oil for cooking

A little Fresh Ginger, chopped finely

A little Fresh Turmeric, chopped finely

1 Tsp Cumin Seeds

Large Handful Chopped Carrot

Large Handful Chopped Broccoli

2 Chestnut Mushrooms, chopped

Leek, chopped

Small Chioggia Beetroot, chopped

A little Vegetable Stock, below the level of the veggies in the pan

Squeeze of Tomato Purée

Black Pepper

Twist of Pink Himalayan Salt

Lightly Toasted Pine Kernels for garnish

Add the ingredients to the hot but not smoking oil in the above order, stir about then reduce the heat, put on the lid and sweat for about 10 minutes. Stir once or twice.

Meanwhile, cook 1 Cup soaked and rinsed brown Basmati rice in 1 1/2 Cups Boiling Water on a low heat with the lid on until just done and the water absorbed, with the grains still separate, about 20 minutes.

img_3207Add the remainder of the ingredients (except the pine kernels) to the sauce, replace the lid and cook until just done but not mushy.

Blend the sauce a little with a stick blender to thicken it a bit but so that you can still see some shape and colour.

Stir in the chickpeas and replace the lid to warm through.


When ready to serve, add some sugar snap peas to a steamer for a couple of minutes, then the spinach for a minute.

Serve in a large, hot bowl, sprinkle with lightly toasted pine kernels.


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?


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And here:


here too:


I would also inlcude Watercress, Parsley, Swede, Rocket, Tiger Nuts, Plant Milks, and Hard Water.

It is a longheld myth that humans need cow’s milk in order to build strong bones. 

In fact, cow’s milk is made for the calves they produce which need to grow large bones and grow into large animals, they have the required digestive system to break it down and absorb the calcium content.

Calves grow to approximately eight times their birthweight by the time they are weaned and never drink milk again.

Humans make less and less of the enzyme needed to break down dairy milk as they get older – only young children have enough of the enzyme – which can lead to lactose intolerance and several health issues.

The type of calcium in dairy milk is barely absorbed by humans and is different from the type of calcium in plant foods.

Plant-based calcium is more bioavailable to humans.


  • Many people, including babies and children, are allergic to dairy milk, they develop normally on non-dairy sources of calcium.
  • Many populations around the world don’t drink dairy milk, yet display no overall deficiency in calcium.
  • American women are among the biggest consumers of dairy milk, yet they have one of the highest percentages of osteoporosis.
  • Chinese people don’t eat or drink dairy milk and consume half the amount of calcium of most Americans, yet there is hardly any osteoporosis.
  • Dairy milk washes the calcium we already have from our bones and this can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Dairy milk is allowed by law to contain a certain amount of chemicals, growth hormones, antibiotics and pus (yes, pus!)
  • Most dairy herds are fed on GMO feed, so even if you avoid these in weekly shopping and home cooking, if you drink milk or eat meat, you are almost certainly consuming GMOs.
  • Many large mammals have plantbased diets: Elephants, Rhinos, Zebras, Moose, most Gorillas, Hippos, Yak, Bison – no-one asks where they get their protein/calcium from (they wouldn’t dare!).
  • Consuming large amounts of dairy milk can cause iron deficient anaemia in young children because they drink so much milk they have no room for other better sources of iron.
  • One family member has a condition which requires him to have a very low-protein diet. He has never had dairy products or meat. He is a strapping, healthy, active young man who is an outdoor activities leader specialising in canoeing, climbing and snowboarding, and a keen cyclist.
  • Exercise, especially the weight-bearing kind, is a good way to increase your bone density.

Who would think even fruits are good sources of calcium?


My youngest toddler grandson is very strongwilled when it comes to food and unless it is fruit or pasta, forget it! Yet he is tall and strong and has so much energy he literally has to be fed on the go as he whizzes past on his next mission to create chaos and mayhem! His parents are very sneaky, though: he loves his dad’s freshly-made fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies which are full of all sorts of plants, nuts and seeds that he would vociferously object to if put on his plate!

Surprisingly, too, many herbs are high in calcium.

Mind Body Green have a great infographic explaining why calcium is essential, how much you need at various ages and according to gender, plus a list of plant-based sources.

Many Americans are deficient in calcium, especially teenage girls and women over 50, but it is easy to include enough of this mineral with a little self-education and thought. Some foods may be unfamiliar, but these days are easily accessible via online stores and there are many sites and books showing you how to use them. Three years ago, I had never heard used chia seeds, goji berries, lucuma fruit powder, goldenberries and so on, but now they are staples along with nut butters and tahini (sesame paste).

You can find recipes for homemade Nut, Seed and Tiger Nut Recipes in the Menu – Tiger Nuts are actually tubers and so are suitable for those with a nut allergy. They make lovely naturally sweet and creamy milk, full of vitamins, minerals and probiotics. It is very popular in Spain where it is known as Horchata.

It is important to note that Spinach contains oxalate which prevents the absorption of its calcium content.

Salt and Caffeine also inhibit calcium uptake.

It is also important to note that calcium supplementation can be dangerous: it can cause an imbalance in essential minerals in the body, overwork the kidneys, cause kidney stones to develop, create cardiovascular problems from calcium deposits and lead to many other health issues.

Sources: The Vegan Society and Vegan Community on Instagram

The Guardian

The Global Healing Centre

as well as courses and articles, too many to mention, and my own experience.

Hope this helps!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Purple Carrot Powerhouse Juice

Here’s the final juice recipe in my mini series on the health benefits of Purple Carrots.

Full of antioxidants, anthocyanins – the memory boosters that give blueberries their superfood status – soluble fibre, vitamins and minerals, this juice is a nutritional powerhouse.

The carrot greens contain protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium, the broccoli contains calcium and folate – a mood enhancer – while the sweet potato also has essential fatty acids, B vitamins and Vitamin A.

Purple carrot greens have 6 times more Vitamin C than orange ones!

See Ever Had Purple Carrots? (Juice Recipe Included) for a full nutritional breakdown and the health benefits of eating purple carrots and purple foods in general.

Perfect for an energy booster and pick-me-up!


4 Purple Carrots, scrubbed

1 Sweet Potato, scrubbed

1 Apple

1 Pear (the harder the better)

Small Handful Carrot Greens, washed thoroughly and chopped

1/2 Small Wax-free Lemon, scrubbed, peel left on

3″ Broccoli Stem

Begin with carrots and sweet potato, then the lemon and broccoli, lastly put the carrot greens through between pear and apple to get the most juice from them and help prevent the greens clogging the juicer.


PS If you like the Grip and Go Glass Bottle, here’s the link (can’t help you with the flowers, though!):


Copyright: Chris McGowan