Powergreen Plum & Banana Smoothie

We are getting a lot of plums in our Abel & Cole organic veg box delivery at the moment, so some are going into smoothies. The one used was a little under ripe, so a date was added for a little sweetness.

29133056_UnknownPlums are a good source of minerals and Vitamins A, C and K, which is needed for good bone health and blood clotting. (See also Vegan, Gluten-Free Plum Crumble – Nice, But Not Too Naughty!)

Our neighbour’s plum tree is so heavily laden with fruit at the moment, the branches look like they are going to collapse under the weight of them all. Must be all the rain followed by such hot sun.

Chia seeds are little powerhouses, full of useful nutrients:

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(See also Three Cheers for Chias! What Are Chia Seeds & How Do I Use Them? Recipes included)

Tahini is sesame seed paste, a vegan source of calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.

Ingredients

1 Small Banana

1 Plum

3 Tbsp Oats

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

1 Tbsp Tahini

1 Tbsp Juicemaster Powergreens

1 Medjool Date, pitted and chopped

Small to Medium Glass Coconut Water – more or less, depending how thick or thin you like your smoothie

Allow the oats and chia seeds to soak in the coconut water for 15 minutes to aid digestion, then blend with all the other ingredients.

Mine’s a thickie, so I ate it with a spoon!

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Mixed Beans with Avocado, Pomegranate & Wilted Spinach

img_2566We had a pomegranate and some spinach in our organic veg box that needed using, as well as some homegrown mung bean sprouts,* and this is what I came up with.

This is such a colourful, nutritious and satisfying salad, full of antioxidants, protein, fibre, B viamins, minerals and healthy fats.

Vegan, Gluten-free, Organic where possible.

Ingredients

Romaine lettuce leaves

Thinly Sliced Cucumber

Grated Carrot

Sliced ripe Avocado

Spinach

Tinned Mixed Beans, drained and rinsed

Mung bean sprouts (or any other sprouted beans or seeds, but not the commercially packed long beansprouts)

(See * Sprouting for Health, Energy and the Environment!  For how to make homegrown sprouts and their benefits)

Pomegranate seeds*

Tamari and Virgin Olive Oil Dressing

Black Pepper

Method

Arrange the torn Romaine leaves around the plate, leaving a space in the centre

Place the thin cucumber slices, then the grated carrot and avocado slices on top around the circle

Lightly warm the beans, stirring gently to prevent them sticking or over-heating, and gently wilt the spinach – this releases the iron in the spinach and makes it more bio-available.

Arrange them in the centre

A few twists of black pepper over the salad

Pour over some Tamari & Olive Oil Dressing

Scatter the Pomegranate Seeds around the beans**

Top with beansprouts

**To remove the seeds, gently roll the whole fruit between your hands, cut in half, invert over a bowl and whack the end with a wooden spoon. If it’s ripe, the seeds should fall out. Otherwise, scoop them out with a metal spoon. See The Healing Powers of Pomegranate + Recipes for the health benefits of this bejewelled fruit.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Fill Your Easter Basket with Home Made Vegan Raw Chocolate Eggs

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Soon, it will be that other chocolate-filled holiday and the kids are off school getting revved up in anticipation of the upcoming egg hunts, so here is my alternative to the usually over-sweet, over-processed and over-priced commercial eggs. The kids will love to ‘help’ – or you could do it all in secret under the pretext of surprising them, but really so you get to clean out the bowl and lick the spoon! 😉

These home-made raw chocolate eggs are dairy- and gluten-free, as well as free from refined sugar. Some of them contain nuts but you can replace nut butter with tahini and ground-up nuts with seeds or you could choose the second nut-free version. All ingredients are organic where possible.

The Nutty Ones

1/2 Cup Raw Coconut Oil, melted

1/2 Cup Raw Chocolate Company Cacao Powder*

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Nut Butter (no palm oil)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup either Raw Chocolate Company Goldenberries or Goji Berries (chopped) or other preferred berries

                           2 Tbsp chopped Almonds or Cashews (or seeds)

METHOD
Whisk together raw cacao powder, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract and nut butter. Stir in the berries and nuts.

Pour chocolate mixture into freezer-safe egg moulds or other shapes placed on greaseproof paper.

Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until set.
Remove from freezer and arrange in a pretty basket.

(You could also pour onto greaseproof paper on a tray, let it spread, freeze and break into bite-size pieces).

These are the moulds we used, they’re available from Ocado and Amazon. They’re silicone and are freezerproof, ovenproof to 260C and dishwasher safe.

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Nut-Free Eggs

For this version, we used the basic Raw Chocolate Company recipe on the back of their Cacao Powder and Raw Coconut Palm Sugar packs, with the addition of vanilla and goji berries.* It is a more intensely dark flavour and not as sweet as the first recipe. In fact, for a few of the eggs, we added a teaspoon of maple syrup as well to cater for those who have a slightly sweeter tooth.

The coconut palm sugar needs refining in a small chopper to make it dissolve and blend more easily.

You can of course leave out the berries if you just want plain chocolate or add whatever you prefer.

Ingredients

90g Cacao Butter, melted

60g Cacao Powder

60g Coconut Palm Sugar (+ 1 Tsp Maple Syrup if required) 

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup Goji Berries or lightly chopped Dried Mulberries

Method

Mix the melted cacao butter and coconut palm sugar in a bowl over hot but not boiling water to dissolve the sugar. Whisk in the cacao powder and vanilla extract, then stir in the goji berries.

Pour into moulds and set in the freezer as before.

‘Mylk’ Chocolate Nests

28330256_UnknownIf you want to make chocolate nests, you can mix this basic chocolate recipe (minus the Goji Berries) with Weetabix- or shredded wheat-type cereal or gluten-free equivalents, or puffed rice cereal, and place in moulds or bun cases. Refirgerate as before.

With these ones, we added a little vanilla, a tablespoon of lucuma powder, and a couple of tablespoons of homemade tiger nut milk.

You could also make ‘eggs’ from marzipan with the option of dipping in raw chocolate! You can also use natural food colourings. Here, though, we used ground almonds mixed with a little maple syrup.

See also my page of Raw Treats – Recipes for more Raw Chocolate Recipes (at the bottom of the page) and here is a new recipe for Raw Vegan Fruit & Nut (or seed) Chocolate – not just for Easter!.

Have a fun Easter weekend with the people you love!

The Raw Chocolate Company

* (They sell a special chocolate-making kit containing all the ingredients for home-made raw chocolate on their website).

Copyright: Chris McGowan”

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.

Ingredients

Enough for 2 servings

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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.

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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.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Midweek Vegan Bean & Vegetable Pasta

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A quick and easy midweek staple, I can’t really give accurate measurements, or even precise ingredients, as it depends who’s having it and what we have in, but these are the basic steps:

Veggies (organic where possible, washed and unpeeled): This time we used celery, carrot, chestnut mushrooms, peas, broccoli, courgette, all chopped up small (I used to start off with onion and garlic, but have omitted them from my diet this past few months to see if it helps with digestive issues, it does), we also use green beans when in season and leeks.

Add black pepper

Sweat them in some coconut oil for a few minutes

Add a little vegetable stock, some herbs, tamari, tomato purée if not avoiding nightshades (I push the boat out occasionally with a little tomato now and then but I can’t tolerate tinned tomatoes made into a sauce).

Cook on a low heat, with a lid on

Add half a can of organic mixed beans at the end to warm through (we alternate between beans and lentils)

Check seasoning

If you want to thicken it a little, use a stick blender or mix in some nutritional yeast

Cook pasta of your choice, we used Doves Farm Gluten-free Fusilli.

Arrange pasta in a pasta bowl, pour over sauce, mix in some nutritional yeast for B vitamins, protein and a cheesy flavour, top with fresh basil leaves and baby tomatoes.

Makes enough for 2, with a green salad.

(See also Lemon Tahini Pasta with Pine Kernels)

Chris McGowan

Vegan Curried Lemon Rice

c8e6b5a8-06de-4166-8ef1-83cec7da0edeThis recipe was inspired by Masala Vegan’s Lemon Rice. She has such wonderful spicy vegan Indian recipes, I have a long list that I want to try but I can’t keep up!

In our version, we added stir-fried veggies and left out the green chillies, mustard seeds and apple cider vinegar because my stomach won’t take the vinegar or chillies, and my husband says he doesn’t like them although he’s never had them!  We didn’t have any curry leaves or mustard seeds, but we’re going to make sure we have them for next time.

I like a fruity curry rather than a hot one, so we added some raisins as we didn’t have sultanas, my preferred option.

This is such an easy, tasty recipe and so quick to make. As always, measurements are very approximate, in fact it’s taken me so long to write this down that I have to rely on the photos, so you may just get a ‘few of these and a bit of that!’

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Ingredients

for 2-3 generous servings (organic where possible):

1 Cup Organic Basmati Rice, soaked and rinsed to remove any arsenic (yes, most rice absorbs arsenic from the ground)

Cook the rice in twice as much boiling water, keeping the lid in place for about 20-25 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice cooked al dente, not split open or mushy. If it is cooked and there is water left, either remove the lid and leave on a low heat to allow it to evaporate, or if there is quite a bit, drain it off and put into a hot dish, fluff it up gently with a fork to allow the moisture to evaporate.

(If you’re cooking more than one Cup, you’ll need under twice as much liquid).

As many chopped veggies as you need, in any combination, providing they will stirfry easily.

We used:

Chestnut mushrooms, washed and unpeeled

Courgette (Zucchini), ditto

Broccoli (including stem, where most of the nutrients are), washed

Green Beans, topped and tailed, washed

A good squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice and a little Lemon Zest

Raisins/Sultanas or Chopped Dried Apricots

Chilli Powder

Turmeric Powder

Ginger Powder

Black Pepper

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds or Peanuts or Sunflower Seeds

Desiccated Coconut

1 Tsp Raw Virgin Coconut Oil

Method

When the rice is cooked, melt the coconut oil in a large frying pan or wok.

When it’s hot but not smoking, add the combined spices according to taste, then the chopped veggies. Mix thoroughly.

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Stirfry for a couple of minutes then cover and allow to cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

img_2388When they are ready  (they should still have a little bite to them to retain the nutrients and give texture to the meal), add the cooked rice and mix throughly but gently.

Add the lemon juice,  toasted seeds and raisins, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Transfer to a hot dish to serve, or on hot plates, top with desiccated coconut and serve with yogurt and a green salad.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Quick, Easy & Tasty Vegan Mushroom Soup (& Not a Drop of Milk in Sight!)

I love organic mushrooms. They are one of my must-haves on every weekly shopping list. I like different types but especially chestnut mushrooms. I like the firm, ‘meaty’ texture.  This week we had a glut, 2 weeks’ worth, as I’d been doing a juice cleanse and we forgot to cancel them. Most of them were little button mushrooms.

I really fancied some soup yesterday and thought I would try using some of them. I swithered about whether or not to use coconut milk and make a creamed soup, but really I just wanted it plain and simple, the milk felt too rich for my stomach. So here’s what I came up with. It’s not for the purists – the real chefs – I’m sure, but I loved it.

It’s quick and easy with only 2 ingredients apart from the oil and the seasoning. The only thing that may need adjusting is the salt levels: there is salt in the celery, tamari, stock cube and miso. We used 1 Tbsp of Miso but I’ve reduced it to a teaspoon in the recipe. I’m not even sure it needs it at all, I added it for the nutrients as much as for the flavour.

Miso paste is made from fermented soya beans and is a good source of probiotics (to keep the gut healthy), Vitamin K for bone health, copper, manganese and zinc as well as dietary fibre.

Chestnut Mushrooms are high in copper and vitamin B5 and are a source of B2, B3 and folate as well as potassium and selenium.

Celery is also an excellent source of vitamin K, and is a very good source of folate, potassium, dietary fibre, manganese and B5. It’s also a good source of vitamin B2, B6, copper, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin A.

So all in all, this soup is very good for you (adjust the sodium if you need to keep it low).

Serves 2.

All ingredients organic, vegan and gluten-free.

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Ingredients

1 Tsp Coconut Oil

Approx. 350g/13oz Chestnut Mushrooms, washed and skin left on

Celery Stalk, scrubbed

Tamari

Mushroom Stock Cube + approx. 450-500mls Hot Water

2 Tsps Cornflour + a drop of Cold Water to mix

1 Tsp Miso Paste + a drop of the soup to mix

 Black Pepper

Method

Chop the celery finely and most of the mushrooms roughly, reserving a few small whole ones for garnish.

Dissolve the stock cube in the water.

Melt the oil till hot but not smoking.

Place all the celery and mushrooms in the oil, a little at a time, stirring to keep them moving.

Add a couple of splashes of tamari and a few twists of black pepper.

Stir again.

Place the lid on and leave to cook on a low heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the whole button mushrooms and leave them aside.

Add the stock, stir, replace the lid and cook for about 35-40 minutes, making sure the celery is cooked. Stir a couple of times. Don’t boil it, just let it cook gently.

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Add a little cold water to the cornflour and stir until smooth, add a spoon of soup to the mix then add it into the pan and stir on the heat until the soup is slightly thickened.

Add the miso paste then blend with a stick blender.

Add more black pepper if required.

Serve with a few button mushrooms on top.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Taste-Testing The New Tiger Nut Company Raw Chocolate Bar: Does It Roaarrr! or Does It Whimper?

As many of you will know from previous posts, I love homemade horchata or tiger nut milk. It is a sweet and creamy plantbased alternative to dairy milk and so very good for you. Tiger nuts are also a good nutfree alternative for all those allergic to nuts as they are in fact small tubers. (You can also buy tiger nut flour).

As you will also know, we are big fans of raw chocolate in our family: we use cacao in our smoothies, in our porridge, in our raw baking and of course we eat raw chocolate bars.

So, how happy am I that The Tiger Nut Company* has just brought out their first raw chocolate bar made with tiger nuts and cacao?! When I placed my order for tiger nuts the other day – calamities, I didn’t know we’d run out so no horchata this week! – the lovely Ani sent me a bar to try and as I write she is anxiously awaiting my review, knowing how much we love raw chocolate!

 I won’t keep her waiting any longer, I hope this will put her out of her misery and I’ll post as quickly as I can.

img_6316When I received the bar, our daughter’s family were visiting and there was no way I could have shared it between us all so I had to be disciplined and refrain from trying it until today. I had almost forgotten about it and then when I was nigh on knee-deep in Christmas (yes, it’s for overseas) and birthday wrapping paper, I felt I needed a break and the lightbulb went on! HB was doing a bike repair, so the coast was clear! (He’s a chocolate fiend).

The first thing you notice is the presentation: the crushed tiger nuts are pressed into the top of the chocolate rather than mixed in which is usually the case with nutty chocolate. It sets the bar apart, makes it visually arresting. The second is how dark the chocolate is and how lovely and chunky. It’s a good size, 55g, and sectioned into 5 pieces which makes it easy to break up (and share if you’re so inclined).

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This bar has a lovely crisp snap when you break it and a satisfying bite to it that doesn’t threaten to break your teeth but makes you feel it is substantial.

There are all sorts of tastes and textures going on in this bar! Ani tells me the bars are sweetened with dates and lucuma (a South American fruit powder that has a malted taste). So no refined sugar.

The chocolate is very dark, it is 80% raw cacao, a little bitter like good quality dark chocolate (no milk, dairy or otherwise) and this is offset by the lightly malted taste of the lucuma powder. I used to love Maltesers many moons ago and the use of lucuma reminded me of them, though it is more subtle here. The chewy texture of crushed tiger nuts also contrasts with the smooth creaminess of the chocolate.

My husband came in while I was on my second piece and I offered him a piece to try. To my surprise, he hesitated, saying he was just about to make his lunch! Then he quickly changed his mind. His first reaction was that the tiger nuts tasted a little like sesame seeds but he’s not known for his sensitive palate and I don’t think I would agree with him. They don’t have such a distinctive taste and have a mild sweetness. Then he said the chocolate was very dark, which I do agree with. He decided he liked it.

After the second piece, I felt satisfied, I didn’t want to gobble up the whole 55g bar as so often with commercial chocolate where you tend to eat mindlessly. I enjoyed what I had and wanted to save the remainder.

Overall, we liked this new take on raw cacao chocolate bars. We also like that it is a healthy raw snack.

Foods that are described as ‘raw’ have not been heated over 42C and this means they retain their nutrients. Cacao is full of vitamins, minerals, omega fats, micronutrients and is regarded as a mood enhancer and good for the memory. Dates are naturally sweet and contain minerals and fibre. Lucuma is labelled a superfood by the health industry, while tiger nuts are prebiotic (good for gut health), and contain vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy omega fats.

These bars are organic, which is something I wasn’t aware of until I asked, it isn’t mentioned in the main part of the packaging or in the title on the Shop page of the website (you have to read the full description), so I would suggest the company advertise this a little better as I for one positively seek out organic treats and reject those that aren’t.

Would I recommend them? Yes, they are a little different, healthy, satiating, smooth and tasty. They are handmade, vegan, glutenfree, paleo, nutfree, organic and contain no refined sugar. And the customer service is always excellent! Well done!

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Ps Theobromine in good quality dark chocolate is an effective treatment for dry coughs! If that isn’t a good enough reason to eat chocolate, I don’t know what is! 50-100g of dark chocolate is the recommended dose.

*https://www.thetigernutcompany.co.uk/

Copyrght: Chris McGowan

Eat Your Greens! Light Summer Lunch

imageI usually have a juice or smoothie for lunch, but the shopping order had just been delivered and all this fresh salad was calling to me from the confines of the fridge: ‘Let me out, let me out!’ Well, it was a fine day for once even though the sun was still being a bit lazy, and I decided to let them out to play. It’s simple, light and tasty and may look like rabbit food, but it’s full of nutrients, including protein (even in the romaine lettuce!). I’ll be having this today having finished my 7 day juice challenge.

Ingredients

(All organic except the Tamari which is wheatfree)

1 large Romaine Leaf

on which lay

A Large Handful or 2 of Babyleaf & Rocket Salad Leaves

Sliced Ridge Cucumber

1 Thin Stalk of Celery + Leaves (chopped)

3 or 4 Sugar Snap Peas, sliced lengthways

4 Green Olives, pitted & sliced

Lightly Toasted Sunflower, Pumpkin & Sesame seeds splashed with Tamari

Clive’s Organic Humous with lemon*

Black Pepper

*

Arrange to suit your artistic bent – digestion begins with the eyes – and eat at leisure, sitting down at the table. The more relaxed you are, the longer you sit, the more you chew, the more you will digest and absorb. Oh, and switch off the tablet and phone! (Yes, mum!)

*http://www.clivespies.com/

Copyright: Chris McGowan