Chillin’ on a Chilly Afternoon with Chilli

The other day a momentous event happened:

I went to a local café.

To put this in perspective, let me sketch in some background details. Bear with me, it’s worth it.

I haven’t been to a café for 29 years. That’s no typo. The last time I went to a café or restaurant or anywhere that sells food to eat on the premises, was the evening of the day we moved across country to our present house.

It was an horrendous two days of travelling, I was in a monumental amount of pain having just injured an already seriously injured back a few minutes before getting into the car. We were all tense. I was moaning in the front seat, Mum was worrying and feeling carsick in the back, the kids were confused and apprehensive and concerned about me. My husband was doing his best to concentrate on the driving and not get lost. (We do tend to get lost, a lot).

We had an equally horrendous first night at a hotel. We had requested a room with a firm mattress for me, it was anything but.  Our daughter was completely unsettled and spent the night wandering between their room and ours (on the next corridor),  with her exhausted older brother in tow. It was one of the longest and most uncomfortable nights of my life, spent part-time in her bed, part-time on the floor, part-time in ours, and no-one getting any sleep.

Next day, moving-in day, we had to sit in the drive of our new house for several hours waiting for the removal van to turn up and bring us some furniture to sit (and in my case lie) on. I wanted to scream and scream and scream with the pain. (Mum meanwhile was happily filling in the neighbours about our family history over the garden fence!)

When we were finally in, it was early evening. Mum kindly offered to buy us dinner, but wanted us to go to a local restaurant. I had assumed it would be fish and chips out of the paper.  However, she wanted to treat us in an effort to erase the horrible time we’d had. I couldn’t face it, but I didn’t want to disappoint her or the kids who rarely had such an opportunity to eat out. It was the only way I was going to get any food and I was feeling light-headed. Even takeaway was too much for us all to face as it meant trying to find plates and cutlery, washing them etc. So we agreed.

It was a small, homely restaurant with just a few tables and a tiny reception area. The seats were totally unsuitable for me in my state, even padded around with cushions for support. (I am feeling every painful moment of this story as I write, it’s not one I usually like to recall). 

We waited, and waited. The staff were very apologetic, fully aware that something was going on besides kids getting ravenous and all of us about to begin gnawing on a chair leg. They called us through, just as I was about to throw in the towel.

The plates and portions were enormous. There was no way I was going to sit through all that. I felt sick with pain and knew that if I let go of the chair and table that were providing support, in order to use the cutlery, I was done for. My husband tried cutting up the food for me.

I had one mouthful and had to give in. We asked Mum to stay with the kids and my husband took me home, put me to bed and dosed me up with painkillers before returning to the restaurant. To this day, I don’t know if they saved his meal or if the kids ate theirs. I passed out in bed and have never been in an eating establishment since.

So, you see why my visit to the local café was such an adventure.

My husband had often spoken about this café in a lake setting where he and his cycling friends stop off for tea and toast during their bike rides. He kept wanting to take me, just for some fresh air and a change in scenery. I was sceptical that the seats would be suitable (they never are), but this particular day, I felt adventurous, it was a fine if slightly chilly day and I decided to go just so my husband could show me what he’d been describing and the subject would be closed. We would have a cup of tea – herbal in my case, he had made sure they sold it – admire the view and come home.

When we arrived, there was only one other couple there and we had the choice of sitting inside or out. The inside chairs were no good for me, but the outside wicker ones looked more promising so we chose a table outside and once I was installed with my ever-present support cushions, I looked around and let out a breath that I didn’t even realise I’d been holding on to.

It was a stunning setting, with a huge lake, trees, fields, housemartins. The lady who served us was friendly and helpful. I had done a quick scan of the meals chalked on the board and soon confirmed there was nothing vegan and gluten-free available. This was where fishermen and cyclists came for toasted bacon sandwiches in the mornings, in the heart of farming country. There were the usual lasagne, jacket potatoes with tuna and cheese, fish and chips and so on.

We ordered tea, my husband had his usual strong brew and I had green with jasmine. I was surprised he didn’t order a scone or cake to go with it. I looked at the menu she had given me; no, there definitely weren’t any vegan snacks, I was beginning to feel hungry and realised I hadn’t had lunch, but I encouraged him to have a scone if he wanted one. He checked with the lady that there weren’t any vegan options and surprisingly, after asking if I ate eggs (!) she said they had chilli that was vegan.

I was more than a little surprised and very sceptical. We questioned her further. Something about the fact she kept switching between vegetarian and vegan made me a little wary. But she was so keen to find me something as, by this time, I was becoming a little light-headed and all those memories came flooding back.

She offered salad, rice, jacket potato and tortilla chips as options to accompany the chilli. She checked the ingredients on the tortilla chips and on the balsamic salad dressing. I was getting caught up in the thrill of it all and as my husband had agreed to the scone I decided to go for it. I was out, I was in a café after all this time, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, it was a lovely afternoon and I wanted to make the most of it. I chose the chilli, salad and tortilla chips.

As we drank our tea and waited for the food, some moorhens came out to play and entertained us chasing around on the grass.


 The food arrived and it looked good. I couldn’t believe this was all happening. I was really enjoying myself, and my husband couldn’t believe he’d got away with bringing me out to one of his many cycling stops and we were actually having an enjoyable afternoon out.


I tentatively tasted the chilli, my husband warned me it may be a bit too spicy for me, it was, but it was good. Then I noticed the textured bits and I was a bit flummoxed, but I was sure it must be some kind of textured vegetable protein. My husband checked with the waitress, she concurred and told us not to worry, she was vegetarian and she understood. She said it was quorn.

Now I had read recently that Quorn were introducing vegan products into their range after a lot of consumer pressure (they had already gone gluten-free). I trusted that this was one of them. A little voice in my head was trying to get my attention. But I trusted her, she had checked and I didn’t want to spoil this celebratory occasion or ruin my husband’s friendly relationship with her and make it awkward for him to go there again with his friends.

As the skies darkened and rain threatened, we called it a day and headed home. I couldn’t wait to tell my family what just happened. I put pictures on Instagram of my vegan chilli. My son commented ‘Fab!’ (He’s a man of few words). Then, ‘How was the chilli?’ ‘Fab,’ I replied, picking up his (relatively) youthful parlance (although I hesitate to describe his appropriation of a sixties expression as youthful, but we’ll let that pass).

Then I remembered and decided to Google quorn.

Guess what.

 Yes, 3 of their products are indeed now vegan. My quorn mince isn’t one of them.

There is a difference between vegetarian and vegan.

 My chilli was gluten-free. It was also vegetarian.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Food Matters’ ‘One Minute Slice’ Raw Chocolate Protein Bars

So excited about this recipe! I stumbled on it when looking at Organic Guinea Pig’s Facebook page* where he posted photos of himself trying out this Food Matters* recipe and it looked so good I had to try it.

These bars are full of energy and are such a healthy chocolatey treat that you can literally make in a minute. You just mix everything up in a bowl, spread it out in a baking tray and freeze. Done!

You can have them smooth or crunchy like these, depending on how fine or chunky you grind the cashews. Everyone who tried it loved it: kids, tweens, teens and oldies alike.

All ingredients are organic except the maple syrup which we substituted for the honey to make them vegan. The original recipe has Sultanas but we didn’t have any so used Raisins instead. A second batch had chopped almonds and goji berries in.

Vegan and gluten-free. All measurements are approximate.


 7 Tbsps Peanut Butter (but you could use any nut or seed butter, we used Meridian Organic & Palm Oil-free)
3 Tbsps Melted Coconut Oil
1-2 Tbsps Maple Syrup, depending how sweet you want it, 1 is enough for me
2 Tbsps The Raw Chocolate Company Cacao Powder *
Half Tsp Vanilla Extract

Combine all these in a bowl

then add

Half a Cup of Cashew Pieces (125g), chopped (or seeds)
Half a Cup of Sultanas or Raisins (125g) (Chopped Medjool Dates would probably work too).

Mix it all together well, you only need to give it a good stir, no need to get the mixer out.

Spread in a square baking tin and freeze for at least a couple of hours.


Slice and eat.

(They melt really quickly, especially in summer weather, so don’t get them out of the freezer until you actually need them).


*Food Matters Website – lots of healthy recipes


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

Crunchy & Spicy Roasted Chickpea Nibbles

imageChickpeas are so good for you on so many levels: protein, calcium, iron, fibre, so many vitamins and minerals. We are used to putting them in casseroles or stews or making hummus with them, either as they are or sprouted.

But have you ever had them roasted? They make a great savoury or sweet snack that is healthy and satisfying.

We tried both oil-roasted and dry-roasted. We also tried seasoning before cooking and after.

Here’s the result.


Set Fan Oven at 200C.

Take a can of chickpeas, strain and rinse well.

Dry between 2 clean tea towels, discard any skins that come off, don’t bother about the others.

Divide them between 2 baking tins or trays.

For the oil-roasted, melt a tablespoon of coconut oil and pour over half the chickpeas, which have been sprinkled with Pink Himalayan Salt. Turn them so they are all covered in oil.

For the dry-roasted (right), place them in a baking tin as they are.

Place trays in oven.

Now the timing is a bit weird.

All the recipes I looked at suggested 40-45 minutes.

The oiled ones were crisp and cooked in 20 minutes (turned halfway through) and about to get burned.

The dry-roasted ones were ready 5 minutes later!

My best advice is don’t go away and leave them. Turn or shake a couple of times and they’re ready when deep golden and crispy. Some people like them crisp on the outside with a little bite to the centre, others like them crunchy all the way through.

The oiled ones were left as they were, no extra seasoning.

 The dry-roasted ones were tipped into the dish I had melted the coconut oil in which was empty but still had a little smear on the surface. Salt and paprika were sprinkled into the dish and the dry-roasted chickpeas tipped in and mixed around.

Which did we prefer?


My husband couldn’t tell the difference and I thought the oil-cooked ones were a little oily but I liked the crunchiness.

Here they are side by side for comparison: can you tell which is which?


The ones on the left are oil-roasted.

They are really filling, I couldn’t eat even a quarter of them, and make a great afternoon snack or sprinkles for salads or stir-fries. You can add chilli powder if you want them a little more spicy.

Some people like them sweet, tossed in maple syrup and cinnamon for instance.  I prefer savoury.

Hopefully, they’ll give you enough energy to take to those ‘Wide Open Spaces’. (If reading this via email, click onto the blog to see the Dixie Chicks video and be inspired!)

Copyright: Chris McGowan

‘What Do You Eat If You Can’t Have Anything Naughty?’ – What Vegans Eat

imageMy husband does bike repairs and refurbishes second-hand bikes* which he sells on if in good condition or gives them away if they are past their sell-by date in terms of age and design.

This means that there is a lot of foot traffic through our back garden as people bring their injured steeds for some TLC or to ask about a bike we might have for sale. Some like to chat and put the world to rights, especially those who are retired.

Yesterday was one such day. A regular customer came to collect his bike. The sun was making a rare appearance and I was -unusually for me – sitting outside under the umbrella. We had met some time ago, when I answered the door to him, but had never really had a conversation. He is retired and likes to amble around on his bike enjoying the fresh air and countryside. He does t’ai chi and chi qong, but had injured his knee recently and inevitably the conversation turned to health, nutirition, exercise and ailments.

Having worked selling potatoes for many years, he is quite knowledgeable about how food is produced and marketed, eats little meat except for organic chicken and pork occasionally, some oily fish, and takes flax seed oil supplements for his joints. He knew that my husband is vegetarian but raised an eyebrow when I mentioned I am vegan.

He had just been regaling us with advice about washing fruit and veg because it is sprayed to within an inch of its life and how he had witnessed such cruelty in modern farming methods, yet he was puzzled by my dietary choices.

It seemed to come down to puddings!

His face twisted and he asked ‘So, what do you eat if you can’t have anything naughty?!’

I grinned and said, ‘We’ve just had a 13 year old boy visiting for a week and we’ve had puddings every day!’ ‘Really?’ he replied, surprised and sceptical. ‘What do you do then?’

I explained that we still made ice-cream, for instance (see below for recipe links)he asked how and was impressed, he didn’t realise you didn’t need cow’s milk and refined sugar, chemicals, artificial flavourings and preservatives. I added that if we want something sweet we use fresh or dried fruit or occasionally maple syrup in the recipes (he had assumed we used honey).

I added, all you need is a blender and a food processor. ‘Well,’he responded, ‘We’ve got those.’

Now, he knows I have a long-term back injury and as I started to expand on my dietary habits, he interrupted, looked me up and down, sitting there in my shorts and t-shirt and pronounced that I looked well despite being vegan – ‘You must have been a child bride!’ (cringe) – I was slim so there was no need for me to ‘diet.’

My husband spluttered and I smiled indulgently and shook my head. Here we go, I thought.

Before I could reply, he proceded to describe how he was reasonably fit and healthy, wasn’t fat and did alright without medications before adding that he had some pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories for a previous condition that he was now taking for his knee: ‘But they don’t do any good!’

Eventually, I corrected him.

‘I look well, slim and healthy because I am vegan and because I juice, not despite my food regimen. I don’t take any medications and before I changed my lifestyle I suffered with unbearably painful sinusitis, twice-yearly chest infections that would last 6-8 weeks and often resulted in a cracked rib or strained muscles from coughing, I had painful IBS and asthma.

Since I began juicing and more recently became vegan, I no longer suffer the symptoms of these conditions.

He was sceptical. My husband laughed and backed me up. ‘It’s true, and you won’t win the argument, she’s heard it all before!’

He persisted: ‘No pain medications?’

No. They make me ill, bring me out in a rash and don’t work. They damaged my stomach lining and gave me gastritis. (I juice ginger and turmeric daily for inflammation and use Devil’s Claw herbal drops when it flares up in times of stress).

But to get back to our cycling friend. Once he was reassured there could still be puddings and I didn’t need medication, he was smiling again and kept saying how well I looked.

But he was very disappointed that he couldn’t bring me some trout or salmon from his fishing expeditions!

Later, our neighbour shouted over the hedge for my husband to come and help himself to some plums from his tree. We made a plum crumble last night for our visitors today, with no animal products or refined sugar. (Recipe link below).


See also Raw TreatsRaw Chocolate RecipesTiger Nut Recipes

Nana Rhys Cream with Mango, Cacao & Peanut Butter

Açaí, Blackberry & Coconut Gelato

Vegan, Gluten-Free Plum Crumble – Nice, But Not Too Naughty!


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan Gluten-Free Almond & Apricot Scones – oh yes!

imageI haven’t had home-baked scones – or any scones for that matter – for soooo long! Many moons ago, before I became vegan, gluten-free, juicer and raw foodie, they were my favourite comfort food. They were so quick and easy to make.

I haven’t had anything resembling baked goods in years. I haven’t missed them at all. I love my raw treats. But you know how sometimes, you’re sitting or lying, minding your own business and suddenly, wham! it hits you: you just have to have that little something (as Winnie the Pooh called it). That very specific something. Nothing else will do. For me, in the early hours of this morning when I couldn’t sleep, it was scones! So I spent the next hours musing over how I could devise a recipe that ticked all my boxes.

So here it is, my first baking recipe! Don’t get too comfy, I’m not morphing into Delia! It’s a one-off.*

This was our first attempt, and I have to say, given all the guesswork involved, I am really pleased with them. I tried to make them as healthy as possible, so they have protein, B vitamins, Vitamin A, Iron and so on. Enjoy as an occasional treat.


1 Tbsp Chia Seeds soaked in 3 Tbsps Water for 10-15 mins. Stir vigorously every so often (known as a chia egg).

80z Organic Cornflour (it’s yellow, you know!)

1 oz freshly ground Almonds

1 Tsp Gluten-free Baking Powder

2 oz Solid Raw Virgin Coconut Oil 

1 oz Coconut Palm Sugar

4 Sulphur-free Organic Dried Apricots (pre-soaked if very dry)

Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt

1/2 Cup Almond Milk – preferably home-made, click this link for how to make your own


imageSift the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and coconut palm sugar into a large bowl.

Add the salt and coconut oil.

Using fingertips, blend into flour mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Add chia egg and using a round bladed knife mix it into the flour mix.

Stir in dried apricots and add almond milk.

Using fingers, gather it together and knead. It should be quite soft and moist and combine into a ball.

imageGently roll it to out to just over an inch in depth. They won’t rise much so bear that in mind.

Using whatever shaped cutter you like, cut out about 7 or 8 scones. We used a medium size.

Place on baking parchment on a baking try – we didn’t have any and the scones got a little overdone on the underneath. Brush the tops with a little milk.

Place in the oven at 190C for a fan oven.

Cook for about 10 mins. but keep your eye on them. Ours were in a little too long, but they still tasted lovely.


Cool on a rack.

Split and add whatever takes your fancy, mine had strawberry fruit spread and peanut butter (didn’t have any almond). I would have much preferred my Nannie’s home-made Almond and Apricot jam, which would have been perfect. She used to make huge batches of it, as well as damson and apple, and distribute it amongst her family, it would last us all year!

*Ok, I lied! Vegan, Gluten-Free Plum Crumble – Nice, But Not Too Naughty!

The Organic Chia Seeds and Organic Coconut Palm Sugar are from The Raw Chocolate Company

The Organic Cornflour and Organic Almonds are from  Buy Wholefoods Online UK

The Raw Virgin Coconut Oil is from Lucy Bee Coconut

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Warm Apricot & Ginger Rice Salad with Tamari-Splashed Garlic Mushrooms

imageThis was born on a very chilly, wet and windy July day a few days after I had finished a 7 day juice challenge. I had been having salads since, and this was my first fully cooked meal. I wanted something light but warming – it didn’t feel at all like summer – but we had a lot of summer vegetables and fruit so we decided to combine a little of both with some filling and nourishing basmati rice and served with large chestnut mushrooms lightly stir-fried with crushed garlic and tamari.


Once the rice has been soaked for an hour, the preparation and cooking only takes about half an hour from start to finish.

All ingredients are organic and measurements are as always approximate.

Have a warm dish and a warm plate ready to serve.


1 Cup Basmati Rice, soaked for an hour, rinsed and drained. Cook as normal.

While rice is cooking, prepare:

1-2 or 3 thin slices of Ginger – depending how spicy you want it -chopped finely

1-3 Spring Onions, depending how big or small they are, sliced

5-6 Sugar Snap Peas or Mangetout, sliced

2″ of Courgette/Zucchini, chopped

Floret of Broccoli, thinly sliced

3″ of Carrot, shaved

1/2 Cup Sweetcorn

A few Small Broad Beans

3 Large Chestnut Mushrooms with Stalks separated per person, whole

1 Large Garlic Clove

2 Tsps Coconut Oil


Black Pepper

Lightly toasted Pine Nuts

1 Fresh Apricot, sliced

A few Sprouted Mung Beans (optional)


Just before rice is cooked:

Heat 1 Tsp oil each in 2 frying pans

In one, lightly stir-fry all the ingredients on the list up to the mushrooms.

In the other, stir-fry the whole mushrooms and stalks with a crushed clove of garlic and a couple of splashes of Tamari.

Keep everything slightly undercooked with a bite to it.

Place cooked ice in a hot dish and fluff it up with a fork to release the steam. Add some black pepper.

Lightly mix in the stir-fried vegetables, top with, mung bean sprouts, sliced apricot and toasted pine nuts. Place the garlic mushrooms on a hot plate


The mushrooms have a salty, meaty texture giving you something satisfying to chew.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Cauliflower Oats (Don’t Laugh, It’s a Thing!)

imageNo really.

I know, you thought courgette (zucchini) oats and beetroot oats were pushing it, but Rachel at Healthy and Psyched raised the bar considerably: she challenged me to try cauliflower oats and I am pleased to say I not only rose to that challenge, I reached the bar and leapt over it!

I know it’s weird, but if you change your perspective a little and see oats in the same way as, say, rice which you have either savoury (risotto) or sweet (rice pudding), or even a mixture of both – we put raisins or dried apricots in some rice meals – then it’s not quite so odd.

Not convinced?

Look at the photo, it’s sweet and fruity and has peanut butter too – I love cauliflower with peanut butter (we put it in a casserole with cauliflower and cashews) – and peanut butter goes well with banana too.

You can use whatever berries you want, Rachel used blueberries, I thought raspberries would go well but there was half a pomegranate to use up, so in it went. You could add cacao, if liked.

Cauliflower is a good source of B Vitamins, Magnesium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C; peanut butter and oats also have B Vitamins and protein and more magnesium in the oats – necessary for healthy muscles, preventing cramps, keeping you calm – and the nut milks are equally nutritious as well as sweet and creamy. Pomegranate is a nutritional superfood, with plenty of phytochemicals that help reduce blood pressure. The whole bowl is filled with dietary fibre.

Here goes for the  first attempt: All ingredients are organic (except pomegranate), vegan and gluten-free.


1/2 Cup Oats

3/4 Cup Boiling Water

1/4 Small Cauliflower, grated

1/2 large Banana

1 Medjool Date, chopped

1/2 Cup Tiger Nut Milk or Almond Milk (click links to make your own)

1/4 Pomegranate or Berries

1 Tbsp Peanut Butter

A few Slices of Banana to Serve


Soak the oats in the boiling water in a saucepan for a few minutes while you prepare the cauli and get everything else ready.

Add the grated cauli, the banana, the chopped date and the milk

This bit is important:

Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, to ensure the cauli is cooked.


(If you’d like it extra smooth, you could blend it with a stick blender)

Pour into a bowl either on top of frozen berries of your choice, or just add fresh berries, peanut butter and slices of banana for the topping in whatever fashion your creative juices dictate.


It really works! Go on, who’s going to be first to give it a go? If it makes it easier, adding the cauliflower gives you 1 of your 5 a day veg and it is soooo filling – this bowl filled me up until mid-afternoon. It’s far more than I would normally eat that early in the day.

I said to my husband that there was enough for two, but he didn’t take me up on it, he suddenly remembered he had a bike to fix!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Leslie Kenton’s Sandstone Loaf


I first had this in the summer of 1986 when my friend and I discovered ‘Raw Energy’, the book and the philosophy. It was a beautifully sunny summer (remember them?) and we spent many days eating our raw creations in her garden – with the occasional glass of white! I think this may well have been the first thing I made with my faithful Braun Multipractic Food Processor, bought that summer and still going strong.



I altered the amounts and some of the ingredients each time I had it, but this one is relatively faithful to the recipe, although I prefer more seeds to give it a bit more of a bite and we used coriander instead of parsley. Leslie often used to use vegetable bouillon powder in her raw savoury recipes, we didn’t have any so we improvised and used some dried King Soba instant organic miso soup! You could also use nutritional yeast.

You can make it as smooth or as coarse as you like, depending whether you would prefer it as a pâté or spread, or more like nut roast to have with salad.

(You could use almond butter instead of tahini for a slightly different flavour, but it would need to be fairly runny).

As always, the measurements are very approximate, you can never stipulate the size of a carrot for instance! So, go with what looks right and taste as you go along.

All ingredients are organic.

The recipe is Raw, Vegan and Gluten-Free.

Makes enough for 4 or 5 for a light lunch. Will keep about 3 days in the fridge and can be kept in the freezer too.


2 Chunky Medium Carrots, roughly chopped

1 + a half Celery Stalks (with leaves if they have any), roughly chopped

1/4 Cup Almonds + a few extra for serving*

1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds*

1/4 Cup Sunflower seeds*

1/4 Cup Mixed Sunflower + Sesame seeds*

Large Tbsp Tahini

1 Small Onion, finely chopped or a few Spring Onions

Handful of fresh Parsley or Coriander or herb of your choice

1 level Tbsp Organic Miso Soup powder or Nutritional Yeast or 2 Tsp Vegetable Bouillon Powder or 1 Tsp Chilli Flakes

2 Tbsps Grated Beetroot


Process the carrots and celery until well homogenised. Set aside in a mixing bowl.

Finely grind the almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Add to carrot mixture.

Coarsely grind the mixed sesame and sunflower seeds and add to mix with tahini, onion, fresh herbs, powder and beetroot.

Stir well, add seasoning to taste.

Spread in a square dish, press and smooth it down if you want a pâté or loosely roughen the mix if you want some texture.

Garnish with fresh herbs and almonds or toasted seeds.

Refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

I had it on a bed of mixed rocket salad with thinly-sliced cucumber and tahini/lemon juice/water dressing.



Copyright: Chris McGowan

Warm Rice Salad with Ginger, Dulse & Sprouted Mung Beans

imageRice salad, whether warm or cold, has long been a favourite in our house. It is quick – essential here! – nutritious and versatile: you can vary the spices or herbs as well as the vegetables.  If you keep until next day, heat it through thoroughly.

We use organic basmati rice. Brown rice contains B vitamins, protein and fibre. We always soak it for an hour and then rinse, to remove any arsenic (yes, most rice, even organic, contains a small amount of arsenic from the groundwater it was grown in – more or less, depending on where it was grown). Cook it according to your usual method, but don’t overcook it. It wants to be whole and nutty, not splitting or wet and mushy. If you overcook rice, it acts like sugar in the body and you lose many of the benefits of using wholegrain rice.

Dulse is a sea vegetable. These contain all 56 minerals and trace elements required by the human body for optimal functioning, as well as B6, B12, Iron, Calcium and are an important source of Iodine for a healthy thyroid.

Sprouted Mung Beans add protein, fibre, B vitamins and several minerals, as well as Vitamins C and K.

Ginger is anti-inflammatory and spring onions are prebiotics – they provide the nourishment that probiotics feed on to maintain a healthy gut.


1 Cup Basmati Rice, soaked and rinsed, then cooked in 1 and 1/2 Cups Boiling Water, about 25 minutes. Have a hot dish ready to serve it in so that any moisture disappears and fluff it up lightly with a fork.

1 Tsp Coconut Organic, Raw Coconut Oil

A couple of thin slices of Ginger, finely chopped

A few Spring Onions, depending on their size

2 decent-sized Mushrooms, whatever type you favour, or a few if small, chopped

A few Sugar Snap Peas or Mangetout, trimmed and chopped

A stick of Celery, with leaves, chopped – reserve half for the green salad

About Half a Small Courgette (Zucchini), chopped

Ground Black Pepper

A few splashes of Tamari – not too much because the Dulce is salty

Some Dulse, snipped into small pieces and soaked for a couple of minutes

A couple of handfuls of Sprouted Mung Beans


  Very lightly stirfry all the ingredients adding them in the order listed, only adding the Dulse and Mung Beans when the rice is cooked and you’re ready to serve.

It takes only 5 – 10 minutes. Try not to overcook, you want some bite to the vegetables and you want to retain as many nutrients as possible.

Mix together lightly with the rice in a hot dish with a fork.


Serve wth a green salad and a dressing of your choice, with humous, spicy cashew cheese or guacamole.

Copyright: Chris McGowan