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 Iron on a Vegan Diet?



Plus Figs, Dried Peaches, Mangoes, Goji Berries, Golden Berries, Spirulina, Watercress, Moringa Powder, but best of all for chocolate lovers is that Dark Chocolate (over 75%) and Cacao contain lots more iron than beef!

Other sources of iron include wholegrains: Quinoa, Barley, Bulgar Wheat, Oats, Rice. Other Nuts: Macadamias, Walnuts, Pecans and Pistachios. Homemade Nut Milks (see the Menu for recipes). Other Seeds: Pumpkin, Squash, Chia, Hemp. 

Plant sources of iron are not as easily absorbed as animal sources but it is simple to obtain enough through eating a rainbow of foods every day.

In fact, vegans with a varied diet consume more bioavailable iron than meat-eaters and vegetarians.

Dairy milk interferes with the absorption of iron.

There are many more plant-based sources of iron, even in small amounts, so eating a wide variety of foods will do the job.

Vitamin C aids the absorption of plantbased Iron, and if you’re on a healthy vegan diet full of fruits and vegetables, this will not be a problem at all.

Sprouting enhances the bioavailability of iron as well as other essential nutrients, including Vitamin C to aid absorption. It is easy to sprout all kinds of beans and seeds – we sprout mung beans, alfalfa, broccoli, lentils, chickpeas.

My post Sprouting for Health, Energy and the Environment! will show you how, and provide more information on the benefits of sprouting.

Please Note: It can be dangerous to take iron supplements unless under the supervision of your doctor.

Vegetarian Times  have a great article on How Much Iron is Enough and how to get the required amounts.

One Green Planet have a good article on Ten Plant-based Foods Packed With Iron.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Make Beetroot Your New Veg Friend! (Juice Recipes Included)



The Red One – Recipe Below (along with details of where to buy the glass bottle)

When I was at school and had school dinners, they used to give us sliced boiled beetroot with shepherd’s pie once a week. It turned the mashed potato a blushing pink. In those days we ate what we were given, both at home and at school, there were no menu options. I loved school dinners and whilst I wasn’t a big fan of boiled beetroot, it was ok. I ate it. Then in my teens I started taking packed lunches and between then and 2 years ago, not another slice of beetroot passed my lips. We never had it at home and later when I had my own family, my husband didn’t like it so we just never bought it.

Juicing changed all that. When I came to have my first juice with beetroot in, I was somewhat apprehensive. To my surprise, I liked it and given all its nutritional benefits, beetroot became My New Veg Friend.

It is advisable when you first begin juicing to add some fruit, especially lemon and/or berries, even ginger, which I still do, I’m not that hardcore that I drink straight beetroot juice! It has a slightly earthy flavour which some people aren’t keen on, although some varieties are sweeter than others. This is reduced if you remove the skin, but of course you’ll also be removing vital nutrients.


A welcome donation from our neighbour’s allotment

To my surprise, my previously juice-sceptic husband started having a daily beetroot juice too. I convinced him that it would help his blood pressure and now it has become part of his daily routine. And he doesn’t even drink it with a peg on his nose! He certainly feels healthier for it.

He gets regular exercise cleaning up after he’s made it too – for some reason, he always manages to get beetroot juice everywhere! So be warned, it stains, you’re advised to wear an apron and rubber gloves!

Just one of the many beetroot explosions in our kitchen, it even reached the ceiling once!

Beetroots are rich in iron, potassium, magnesium and folate, are anti-imflammatory, rich in anti-oxidants and are good for heart and blood health. They increase blood flow to the brain and improve exercise performance. Regular drinking of beetroot juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Here’s one of the beetroot recipes we use – full of anti-oxidants, it is also anti-inflammatory, mineral-rich and has protein from the romaine leaves (see below for links to other beetroot juice recipes)*

The Red One


(Organic if possible)

1 Small or Half a Medium Beetroot – If organic and you’re used to beetroot, just chop the ends off, scrub well and leave the peel on

2-3 Medium Carrots, scrubbed

6 Romaine leaves, rinsed well

Thick Slice of Wax-Free Lemon – if organic, scrub and leave peel on, if not peel thinly leaving as much pith as possible.

Chunk of Ginger – size depending on whether or not you are used to the taste, it doesn’t want to be overpowering

2 Medium Apples

Half a Mango or Large Handful of Mixed Berries


Juice all ingredients except Mango or Berries. Blend them into the juice, add ice.

(Beetroot is also a great tomato substitute: if you’re nightshade-sensitive and miss pasta or pizza sauce see my post Amazing Tomatoless Sauce)

*Winter Beetroot Wonder-Juice: Refreshing, Nutritious, Simple

Election Day Special Fruity Beetroot Juice

Blended Breakfast Beetroot Juice

Hot, Hot, Hot Anti-Inflammatory Beetroot & Ginger Juice!

Here’s one for beetroot soup:

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot, Beetroot & Basil Soup

and a burger recipe:

Nutty Bean & Beetroot Veggie Burgers with Quinoa & Redcurrants

You can even have beetroot in your porridge!

Pink Oats, Anyone?

The glass bottle in the photo is by Grip and Go UK. They produce a variety of stylish glass bottles in quirky shapes, some with colourful silicone grips and easy grip lids, or you can choose stainless steel lids. The bottles are dishwasher-safe and you can even chalk on the one in the photo, great fun! Ditch the plastic!

Here’s a gentle, relaxing YouTube video of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (see what I did there? 😉) to listen to while you sip your juice.

 Copyright: Chris McGowan