Nourishing Green Vegetable Noodle Soup with Basil & Puy Lentils

0A5AA3AF-CA63-4E1E-A365-7FFDAF6282EFWe are in the middle of some arctic weather, with snow, hail, icy winds and below zero temperatures, so I thought I’d post a recipe for a nourishing soup to warm us up, rather than the frozen smoothie bowl I had planned!

This doesn’t look pretty, but it tastes great and is very filling, having plantbased noodles as well as lentils in it. It’s a good way to use up small amounts of green vegetables that you have left over. In my case, I also had some precooked puy lentils in the fridge from the previous 2 days’ meals as I had seriously over-bestimated how many lentils to cook!

Lentils are such a good source of complex carbohydrates which boost metabolism and can help to control weight. They contain a large amount of dietary fibre, which helps to control cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar. They provide protein, folate and magnesium, are heart healthy, and keep you fuller longer.

We all know we should eat our greens, and this is a good way to do just that. You can use any lentils, or mung beans.

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairyfree)

Amounts are very approximate.

Precooked Puy Lentils – reserve some of the cooking water

Coconut Oil

Half a head of Broccoli florets

Small amount of White Cabbage

 Handful of Celery Tops & Leaves

Fresh Basil

1 Leek

Stock cube + water, plus a cup of lentil cooking water

Some Organic Endamame Spaghetti* or other good quality plantbased thin noodles, broken up

Method

Chop and sweat veg and celery leaves in coconut oil with black pepper

Cover and simmer on low heat until just cooked

Add broken up Endamame spaghetti or any other thin noodles

When done, blend slightly with stick blender to thicken a little

Place a few spoonfuls of cooked lentils in the bottom of a warm soup bowl and cover with soup

1BE925F2-9489-46AF-9620-9262C9AFA287Serve with fresh basil leaves and warm bread or toast, or you might like to try Savoury Vegan Glutenfree ‘Cheese’ & Herb Scones

or Vegan Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Scone Recipes: 1 Sweet, 1 Savoury

*I got mine from Aldi UK

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

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Monday Meditation: Two Year Old Frank’s Berry Good Smoothie – Made With Love & Smiles

011DD6C8-E951-4474-BE0D-59A3DD11B990Two year old Frank watching his Berry Good Smoothie blending in the  Froothie Optimum, he has his own special ear defenders just for creating smoothies 😊 As soon a I mention making a smoothie he’s there like a shot, dragging the kitchen stool up to the counter, washing his hands and ready for action. Just like his dad at the same age, though he likes to make chilli-with-everything these days!

When cooking with Frank, I am always glad to have the opportunity of this time together, one on one: yes, it’s messy and yes, he can get a bit over-enthusiastic – I think we got about a third of a tub of baobab powder in there! – but I love watching him taking it all in, soaking up whatever I tell him and storing it away. I love his enthusiasm. I know that at some point in the future he will use it all and hopefully remember some of these times together.

He (and his older sister) have been cooking since they were literally babes in arms. They have always been willing to taste anything, and although they still go through the picky two-year-old stage, the fact that they have always been encouraged to be present in the kitchen and help with preparation means that they are familiar with cooking from scratch, using a wide variety of fresh foods.

They are already creating their own recipes: Frank’s four-year-old sister decided to try banana on her pizza and Frank likes the idea of dipping carrot sticks in strawberry spread! He loves homemade chips with balsamic vinegar and juices that contain ginger and turmeric. Olives and almonds are also favourites. The fact that actual vegetables are not allowed on his plate at the moment is irrelevant (except cucumber and raw carrot), he gets everything he needs in other forms* and is slowly acquiring the knowledge and skills to transform them into healthy meals when he does eventually give them house room. I have seen a photograph of Emily standing on a stool at the counter rolling pizza dough and chopping vegetables, and Frank sitting on the counter chopping cucumber! Children love to be involved in the kitchen and will be all the healthier – and self-sufficient – for it. Emily recently sliced a mushroom so thinly and precisely, with perfect control of the knife, just by copying her dad.

This is Frank’s smoothie recipe:

Large handful of frozen cherries, large handful frozen mixed berries, more than we wished for baobab powder, about 3 tablespoons oats plus what he spilled 😉 most of a medjool date minus a bite for tasting, a banana, a carefully tilted amount of cashews from the jar (with ‘help’ from Grandad), 2 tablespoons soya yogurt and a lot of coconut milk! It made enough for 3 of us and he had seconds and thirds, he said it was ‘berry good!’ Unfortunately, he doesn’t do washing up, our dishwasher is defunct (and so is my husband after a weekend without it!).

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*Frank doesn’t eat vegetables – apart from raw carrot and cucumber – but he will have juices and smoothies, even green ones, so seeing him have so much fun in the kitchen leads us to hope that one day he will be as much of a foodie as his dad and grandma.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Frozen Mango, Banana & Passionfruit Protein Smoothie

E1AC46C3-BBEF-4EBA-952B-FBEDCC1F62C7It’s January, it’s freezing cold and blowing a gale that is shaking the rafters and here I am writing out a recipe for a frozen smoothie! Well, the reason is, we did an inventory of our freezer because we just couldn’t squeeze any more into it, and I was astonished at how much frozen fruit there was in there. No wonder there was no room! I have a habit of saving some of the summer fruits and freezing them for the winter when they’re not available or very expensive, but inevitably they get covered with other foods and I forget about them.

I found lots of frozen mango and frozen banana, I had a passionfruit in the bottom of the fridge that was too small to use on its own and in danger of going off before long, so in the blender they went.

The colours are uplifting in these grey January days of endless rain and winds and this smoothie is full of antioxidants to help ward off winter viruses. I love the smell of passionfruit, so delicately subtle but cheering. It has plenty of protein too for a post-workout drink, it’s quite thick though, so you may want to add more coconut water.

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten-free, can be Nut-free if you substitute with seeds)

Half a Frozen Mango

Small Frozen Banana

Passionfruit

2 Tbsps Buckwheat Flakes

Approx. 200mls Coconut Water

1 Tbsp Pulsin and Beond Pea Protein Powder*

Small handful Cashew Nut Pieces

Heaped Tbsp Live Soya Yogurt

Blend all ingredients except for half the passionfruit which is served on top of the smoothie along with any reserved juice.

Enjoy, then go and sit by the fire to thaw out! (With apologies to my readers in the southern hemisphere).

*I have recently begun using pea protein as an alternative to hemp protein powder, I ring the changes also with moringa powder and Vivolife Thrive for Her in Wild Berry flavour. Here is a £5 discount code for Vivolife products:  

http://vivolife.refr.cc/chrismcgowan

Apparently, your body can get used to the same brand and the same type of protein powder, so it’s best to alternate for optimum absorption.

(The candle burner was inspired by a mushroom and made by my 14 year old grandson).

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*Aduna Moringa Powder

Pulsin Protein Powders

The Raw Chocolate Company Hemp Protein Powder

Vivolife Perform Protein Powder & Thrive Raw Green Superfood

Copyright: Chris McGowan

A Colourful Supersalad, A Supergreen Smoothie & A Discount Link

After all the cooked food and overindulgence of the Christmas/New Year period, it was time to get back on track. Despite continuing to have a daily juice, I felt bloated, heavy, overweight and lacking in energy. I am not used to having a big cooked meal midway through the day and I had been seduced by all the savoury snacks which had invaded our cupboards and are my one downfall.

By the time all our visitors had left, my body craved raw, healthy, crisp and colourful foods again, it was time for a supersalad!

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I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this! It was so good to have fresh, nutritious plant foods and to eat at a time of my body’s choosing rather than fitting into a family timetable. I tend to work up to my main meal of the day, I’m more of a grazer, and this one was amazing and covered all the nutritional bases.

The salad was made of: purple chicory, little gem lettuce, spinach, rocket, watercress; cucumber, celery, baby plum tomatoes, avocado, homegrown mung beans, cress, homemade coleslaw with cashew mayo and some Heck Foods Bollywood veggie bites I’d bought for New Year’s Eve snacks and forgotten to use.* They have Indian spices and are delicious, I like them cold the day after. Now, don’t make me say where I get my protein from;-)

By now you know that practically every plant food contains some protein and no protein is superior to others, not dairy, not meat, protein is protein. Eat a wide variety of wholefoods and you will get all the protein you need (which isn’t as much as people often think).

Coincidentally, when I was about to schedule this post, Josh from Vivolife** sent an email with this easy to read graphic on the subject of protein on a vegan diet.

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***

FDC31486-BFAE-4C72-83FA-07C32F91F82CNext up is the  Supergreen Smoothie I had next morning. I needed to boost my energy levels. I’ve just started trying a raw supergreen powder from Vivolife called Thrive for Her, in Wild Berry flavour. It contains powerful supergreens, minerals, vitamins, including B12, and Vitamin D (essential for mood boosting in the long grey January days) plus probiotics for a healthy gut. You take one scoop a day in water, juice or smoothie, it’s very pleasant and I already feel more alert and more energised. I like this company a lot. Their products are ethically and sustainably sourced, vegan, gluten-free and organic, and they donate 20p from each sale to the Streetgames Charity for disadvantage children. They also produce health information videos, and provide advice when needed. I bought the product, I wasn’t asked to review it, but when I asked permission to reproduce the graphic above, Josh kindly sent an exclusive £5 discount link for my friends and followers:

Get £5.00 off my favourite health and fitness brand Vivo Life with my referral code! You’ll love their PERFORM protein! Check it out: http://vivolife.refr.cc/chrismcgowan’

Ingredients for Supergreen Smoothie

Small Banana

Pear

Homemade Almond Milk***

Romaine leaves, chopped

Medjool Date

Heaped Tbsp Coyo Live Yogurt

1 Scoop Thrive Supergreen Powder

Blend and enjoy!

*Heck Foods

**Vivolife

***How To Make Almond Milk

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: Mango Chia Pudding or Sunshine in a Jar – no blender required (plus hidden smoothie recipe)

81E39081-4E5E-4799-9FDD-F06C804F0520(I apologise to those of you experiencing snow and freezing temperatures while reading this, I wrote this post only 3 weeks before and now there are 3″ of snow on the ground and more promised next day! I feel like I should be posting about a bowl of piping hot porridge!)

The previous day had been soul-sapping: it was one of those depressingly endless steel-grey November days with rain, biting chilly wind and a need for continuous artificial light; one of those days where you feel yourself slowly desiccating in the central heating. I find it hard to motivate myself on these days, no energy whatsoever, I just want to stay under the duvet or sit in front of the tv wrapped in a shawl with chocolate and licorice tea for company!

This particular day, however, was its polar opposite and I was up with the lark: endless blue skies and bright sunshine greeted me when I woke up. I had my early Morning Glory juice (see 7 Juice Recipes) and went for a walk. I love being out in the fresh air with the warmth of the sun on my face, I feel I am a completely different person and I can do anything I put my mind to. I am full of gratitude for my surroundings: for the proximity of parks, fields, woodland, the creatures that inhabit them, and I greet everyone I meet with a cheery smile.

45EE5A14-5195-457D-A60E-D9FDE8B83B40I passed a garden being landscaped and found some small smooth pebbles in the pile of earth that I could use for painting. I saw a couple of squirrels running rings around a tree and digging up hidden larders of acorns. I stood and admired a soaring buzzard before leaving a painted rock on a war grave in our nearby cemetery.

I came home invigorated and ready to be creative with my rocks. First, though, I made breakfast: Mango Chia Pudding, the bright orange fruit reflecting the weather and my mood.

Before I left for my walk, I had put some chia seeds to soak with some homemade Tiger Nut Milk in a jar, and removed some chopped mango from the freezer. It was just a matter of layering my chosen ingredients in the jar, quick and easy. It looks and tastes yum! A nutritious jar of autumn sunshine.

Recipe

(vegan, gluten-free, organic where possible)

In a jar, tall glass or glass dish, mix 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds in 4 Tbsps Tiger Nut Milk (or any other plant milk) and stir vigorously (I get my organic, peeled tiger nuts from The Tiger Nut Company)

Leave in the fridge until the seeds have swelled.

Layer cashew pieces, live coconut yogurt (or any other kind) and mango pieces, until the jar is full.

Add your favourite toppings. I used goji berries, raw dried mulberries, cacao nibs, raw chocolate covered mulberry chips* and more mango. You can use seeds, coconut, blueberries, grated raw chocolate.

Order up some sun and some birdsong, relax and enjoy.

30200944_UnknownI sat outside on this early November morning to eat my breakfast pudding and it could have been Spring. The hanging baskets were still showing off, if a little windswept, the nemesia was still in full delicate bloom and I had seen daisies growing in someone’s lawn on my walk. The robin was hopping about, busying himself collecting insects where my husband had edged the garden path. What a contrast to the day before. I felt so much better. (The picture here shows the nemesia and the smoothie I had the following morning: banana, mango, blueberries, romaine, walnuts, golden linseeds, chia seeds, coconut water, live soya yogurt. There, two recipes for the price of one!).

(PS We now have 6″ of snow, it’s magical, like a winter wonderland from the old black and white Christmas films).

*I buy mine from The Raw Chocolate Company

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

Painted Christmas Card Rocks & Taking A Break

Monday Meditation: Mindfulness and Rock Painting

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan Chilli with Aduki Beans & Buckwheat

29401376_UnknownI know I’ve already posted a recipe for chilli (see 3 Vegan Meals with Chilli, Quinoa, Tacos & Steamed Veg (but no Quorn!) but this is a little different: it includes buckwheat rather than rice, which is cooked in the chilli rather than served separately, so most of the sauce is absorbed. I also used aduki beans instead of kidney beans.

BBuckwheat is one of my favourite alternatives to rice. It’s gluten-free, easy and quick to cook, you can toast it or leave it au naturel and add to trail mix or granola. It is rich in B vitamins, iron, protein, antioxidants and minerals and is reputed to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure whilst also controlling blood sugar levels.

Aduki beans are a good source of potassium, magnesium, iron, B6, protein and dietary fibre. They also contain many other essential nutrients like folate, calcium, manganese, copper and zinc.

Overall, this is a healthy, tasty and satisfying meal.

Ingredients

(Organic where possible, vegan and gluten-free, measurements very approximate.)

1 tsp Coconut Oil, melted but not smoking

2 Spring Onions, including greens, washed and chopped

1 Tsp Chilli Flakes (or according to taste, or fresh chilli, I’m a bit of a chilli wimp)

3/4 of a Courgette/ Zucchini, washed and chopped

2 medium Carrots, scrubbed and chopped

2 large Chestnut Mushrooms, washed and chopped

1 Cup Sweetcorn

Approx. 300mls Vegetable Stock + a good squirt of tomato purée

1/2 to 1 Tsp Raw Cacao Powder, mixed to a paste with a little water (not essential but it enhances the flavour)

1/2 Tin Aduki/Adzuki Beans, rinsed

1/2 Cup Buckwheat, rinsed

 Black Pepper & Pink Himalayan Salt, to taste

*

Heat the oil, add the onions and stirfry for a minute or two. Add all the other vegetables, stirfry, add chilli flakes and black pepper, cover and sweat for a couple of minutes.

Add stock and tomato purée, beans. Cacao powder and buckwheat.

Cover and simmer on a low heat until the vegetables and buckwheat are cooked and most of the liquid absorbed but not mushy.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with a green salad and live plain yogurt of your choice.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: Indulgent No-Banana Cherry & Chocolate Smoothie

29935776_UnknownA different Monday Meditation this week. This is an indulge-yourself post. A spend-some-time-on-yourself post. A take-a-break-from-the-world post.

(Look out at the end of the post for a link to a FREE Moby download of relaxation music).

This is the smoothie I made on my  Much-Needed Day Off. I really needed some me time after a busy and stressful few weeks taking care of Mum’s affairs, so-to-speak (she isn’t really having affairs, I mean accounts, housing application, optician, etc.!)

Chocolatey and indulgent – bet that’s got your attention – a bit chilly for an autumn morning with Storm Brian currently battering at the windows, but if you warm up your insides first with some green or herbal tea, it’s worth it! Or save the recipe to celebrate the first day of Spring. Of course, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, you can just ignore that!

Full of nutritional goodies but still feels like a treat! Raw cacao is mood-enhancing and rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats. Go on, indulge yourself, you know you want to 😉

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten-free, Organic where possible, Can be Nutfree if you use a different plant milk)

1 heaped Cup Frozen Cherries

1 Cup Homemade Almond Milk*

1/3 Cup Raw Dried Mulberries**

1/4 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder**

2 Tbsps Live Plain Yogurt

Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips to serve**

Blend all on high (except the Mulberry Chips) for 40 seconds.

Serve with Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips or any other raw chocolate treat, eg grated chocolate, raw cacao nibs, raw chocolate covered raisins.

Play some relaxing music, sit back and enjoy.

*Nut & Seed Milks & Smoothie Recipes

**From The Raw Chocolate Company – they have some amazing healthy raw chocolate recipes on their website too.

Ps Here is the link to a FREE Moby download of ambient music on his website: it is 4 HOURS long, and can be used for relaxation, meditation, yoga or sleep. You can download it for free or pay to stream it. It is wonderfully relaxing and calming. Perfect start or end to the day.

Moby: Long Ambients1

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 Copyright: Chris McGowan

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)

Ingredients

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

Frozen Mango & Passionfruit Smoothie – yum!

29401088_UnknownI love mango, all smooth, exotic and tangy with a delicate aroma, and I adore passionfruit. It doesn’t look up to much, all wrinkly, dark and swarthy, and when you slice it open, what do you get? No juicy flesh, just a spoonful of less-than-appetising crunchy seeds covered in what looks like yellow frogspawn! But the smell and the flavour are gorgeous, and they are so good for you, so putting them together in a breakfast smoothie was a no-brainer, why hadn’t I thought of it before? This particular week we’d found a pack of four in the supermarket greatly reduced as they were close to their use-by date, so I used two of them in this smoothie.

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It was a sunny morning and looked like it was going to be a hot day, I wanted something fruity and refreshing for breakfast, but that would fill me up as well.

This smoothie ticks all the boxes (that one’s for my husband who hates buzzwords and phrases!), plus it’s lovely and creamy and smells wonderful too.  It has lots of nutrients: vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, protein, healthy fats (omega oils), vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin E, dietary fibre and lots lots more. The baobab powder has a lightly citrusy taste and adds more vitamins and minerals – it has 6x more Vitamin C than an orange. It promotes a strong immune system, healthy skin and a healthy gut. The Aduna brand supports small African businesses harvesting and exporting baobab, many of them run by women.

Ingredients

Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, can be nutfree if you use seed, rice or soya milk but it will taste a little different.

Organic where possible.

All amounts are very approximate.

2 Tbsps Oats

1 Small Mango, chopped and frozen

2 Passionfruit, scooped out, but save half of one for serving

1 Tbsp freshly-ground Golden Linseeds

Glass of chilled Homemade Almond Milk*, more or less depending on how thick you want it

1 Tbsp freshly Ground Almonds

1 Tsp Baobab Powder **

 Blend everything except one half of a passionfruit, pour into a glass and top with remaining passionfruit seeds.

Serve and enjoy 😊

*Nut & Seed Milks & Smoothie Recipes

**Aduna

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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