Lemony Kale & Cannellini Bean Soup

Is it just me or does everybody seem to be ill right now? Colds, flus, sick bugs…everybody seems to have one! My brother’s got a particularly bad case of tonsillitis right now, so with him in mind, I came up with this flu-fighting soup packed full of all those brilliant vitamins and minerals to help you get back on the mend, or even to protect you from getting the viruses themselves! Even if you’re not ill, this is some great comfort food that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside — totally hygge! Oh, and did I mention this dish is 100% vegan and jam packed with protein?

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Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 400g tin of cannellini beans or 250g of your own pre-soaked cannellini beans
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or any other vegetable oil)
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • Salt & Pepper for seasoning

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Finely slice the onion and celery into half rings, and add them to the pan.
  2. Once the onions and celery have begun to soften up, mince the garlic, then add it to the pan. The garlic must be added later, otherwise it may burn, as it takes a shorter time to cook.
  3. Once the vegetables in the pan have completely softened, remove the thick stems from the kale and then tear the kale into roughly 2-inch pieces. Add the kale to the pan, and give the mixture a stir.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat back down to a simmer.
  5. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the pan, then give the soup a mix. Season with pepper, and add salt to taste. Be careful though as the stock will already be salty!
  6. Place the lid on the pan and simmer for 3 minutes. Then, add the drained cannellini beans to the mix, and simmer for around 4-5 minutes, or until the kale has softened and been fully cooked through.
  7. Serve into two bowls, and enjoy! Feel free to add your own herbs or vegetables to garnish. For example, you could add some diced avocado or chopped up parsley to make it your own!

 

Vegan Chinese Vegetable Soup

Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!

As it’s so cold here in Switzerland, I decided to celebrate the new Chinese Lunar Year by preparing a comforting bowl of warm soup using Chinese ingredients.

Where I live, it’s really hard to find international ingredients. So, for the mushrooms I had to use button mushrooms, but if you can find Shiitake, I would definitely recommend them as they would provide a more pungent, meatier taste. Likewise, I had to use green cabbage and a yellow onion, but if you can get a hold of some Chinese cabbage and spring onions, even better! It will really take your soup that much further. I also LOVE spicy food, so I made this soup pretty hot. If you don’t like yours as hot, or would prefer it even hotter, feel free to change the amount of chili used.

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Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 handful of mushrooms
  • 1/2 a head of cabbage
  • 1 handful of mung bean sprouts
  • 100g of bamboo shoots
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1/2 a bird’s eye chile (optional, or to taste)
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • A couple of chives for garnish (optional)

Method

  1. First, add the oil to a pan and put to a medium heat. As the pan begins to warm up, finely dice the garlic and chili, then thinly slice the onion. Add the chili and onion to the pan, and then once the onion begins to soften up, add the garlic.
  2. Slice the mushrooms, and then add them straight to the pan.
  3. As the mushrooms are cooking, slice up the cabbage. Once the mushrooms are beginning to brown, add the mung bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and cabbage to the pan. Stir the mixture before adding the soy sauce.
  4. After a couple of minutes, or when the vegetables begin to soften up slightly, add the vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan, and leave it to cook for around 10 minutes, or when the cabbage has been fully cooked through (you can test this by pricking a piece with a fork. If the fork goes smoothly through, the cabbage will be cooked).
  5. Ladle the soup into to bowls, then garnish with chives and enjoy! Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Leek & Sweetcorn Wild Rice

Have you ever had those days when you’ve forgotten to go to the supermarket, or you just want to use scraps in the fridge? I certainly have.

I came up with this recipe after a long day at work in which I felt too tired to go shopping but at the same time, also wanted to use up the week’s leftovers. As I didn’t have any meat, I decided to come up with a vegan recipe. Using wild rice as my base, I rummaged around in my fridge and soon found a leftover leek. However, I figured that just some rice and leeks wouldn’t make a particularly substantial meal, so I decided to use a tinned can of sweetcorn as well. In order to boost the flavour of the dish, I chopped up the remaining coriander from the guacamole I’d made the night before. I was so happy with the result, that I’d thought I’d share it with all of you.

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Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 75g (1/2 cup) of basmati with wild rice
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 375ml of vegetable stock
  • 1/2 of a leek
  • 80g (3 tbsp) of sweetcorn
  • 1 tsp of thyme (Optional)
  • 1 tbsp of chopped coriander (Optional)
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Chop the leek into slices and then sauté it in the pan. Once the leeks have softened, mince the garlic, then add it to the pan along with the thyme.
  2. Once the leeks have begun to brown slightly, add the rice and fry it with the leeks and garlic for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once it has reaching a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer. Cook for around 20 minutes (check the cooking times on your rice packet, as it may differ with each brand).
  4. Once the stock has reduced after around 20-25 minutes, stir in the sweetcorn. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Finish off by garnishing the dish with chopped coriander, and enjoy!

Banana & Mixed Seed Oatmeal

I came up with this new oatmeal recipe after speaking with my dad. As part of his new year’s resolution, he’s decided to eat healthier and start eating some vegan meals. So, I began to think of some healthy foods that my dad enjoys and thought about their delicious combinations. Bananas are one of his favourite fruits, so I paired it with mixed seeds for some protein. I also thought agave syrup would make a great addition as it is a healthy unrefined sweetener that I find really compliments the creamy taste of bananas, without being too overpowering. If you’re looking for a fantastic balanced breakfast that will provide you with all the nutrients you need to start the day well and feel full for longer, then this is for you!

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Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 50g of oats
  • 200ml of almond milk (or another dairy free milk of your choice)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp’s of mixed seeds (I used sunflower, pumpkin and poppy seeds)
  • 1 tbsp of agave syrup (or another sweetener of your choice, such as honey or maple syrup)

Method

  1. Place the oats and almond milk into a pan and simmer over a medium heat. The mix should be regularly stirred so that the oats don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture has thickened to your preferred consistency (which can take between 5 to 10 minutes depending on your preferences), take the mixture off the heat.
  2. Put your oatmeal into a serving bowl.
  3. Slice the banana into slices.
  4. Top your oatmeal with the banana slices, mixed seeds and then drizzle with agave syrup and enjoy!

Strawberry & Cashew Oatmeal

Honestly, you can’t get a better meal than a balanced one. That’s why I think that this strawberry and cashew oatmeal is the perfect start to the day. It’s got protein (the cashews), wholegrains (oats), 1 of your 5 a day (strawberries) and fibre! I think that the cashews and strawberries go so well together because the cashews provide both a creamy texture and taste. For me, it tastes like a healthy, vegan alternative to strawberries and cream, so why not give it a go and give yourself a guilt-free nutritious treat for breakfast?

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Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 50g of oats
  • 200ml of cashew milk (or another non-dairy milk of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (optional)
  • A pinch of salt
  • A few cashews (around 5-10)
  • A handful of strawberries (Around 5)
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup (optional)

Method

  1. Add the oats, milk, vanilla and salt to a pan and place over a medium heat. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes depending on your desired consistency.
  2. Once the oats have cooked, place them into a serving bowl.
  3. Roughly chop the cashews and then slice the strawberries in half. Top your oatmeal with the cashews and strawberries. Drizzle with maple syrup for sweetness.

 

Wholewheat Farfalle with Tomato Sauce & an Egg

Whenever I go to Spain, my grandmother always makes me a traditional Spanish meal called ‘Arroz con tomate’. Every child who has grown up in Spain will know about this and will undoubtedly have eaten it many times after a long day at school. ‘Arroz con tomate’ is simply white Spanish rice, covered in tomato sauce and topped with a fried egg. Using this dish as my inspiration, I decided to create a healthier alternative. I swapped the white rice for wholewheat pasta, in order to bring more fibre and protein to the dish. The use of wholewheat pasta also makes the dish more filling, so you won’t be hungry straight after the meal, and you won’t need to serve yourself huge portions! I kept the tradition of the tomato sauce, but instead of a fried egg, I decided that it would be nice to top the dish with a poached egg. I not only did this because it is a healthier alternative to frying an egg, but I also much prefer the taste and texture of poached eggs.

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Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 80g of dry wholewheat farfalle pasta (Other small pastas like penne or fusilli are a great alternative too)
  • 800ml (3 cups) of water & another 800ml (3 cups) of water
  • 3-4 tbsp’s of tomato sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

Method

  1. Pour 800ml (3 cups) of water into a pan and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt, then add the dried pasta. Cook until al dente, which should be around 8-10 minutes (this varies according to the type of pasta you have bought, so I would check the back of your packet).
  2. Once the pasta has cooked, drain the pasta but keep a few tablespoons of the pasta water, as the starchy water will help to bind the tomato sauce to the fusilli.
  3. Heat the tomato sauce in a pan with the remaining pasta water over a low heat. Once it has heated up (or if you can see small bubbles forming), gently fold in the cooked pasta. Once the mixture has combined, you can take it off the heat.
  4. Fill up another pan with the other 800ml (3 cups) of water and the vinegar. Bring to a simmer, then with a spoon, create a ‘vortex’ in the water by mixing the water clockwise. Crack your egg into the water. It should take around 3 minutes for the egg to poach, but you should check every minute by taking the egg out of the pan with a spoon and gently pressing your finger on the yolk to see if it is your desired consistency.
  5. Place your pasta in a serving bowl, then add the poached egg on top. Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy.

Banana & Yogurt Oatmeal

When I was younger, my mum would often make me and my siblings bowls of banana with yogurt and honey for dessert. This inspired me to combine this recipe with oatmeal, as I thought it would make an exciting breakfast option, but also give me an excuse to eat dessert first thing in the morning! The yogurt provides a refreshing contrast to the sweet banana and honey, whilst the banana also enhances the creaminess of the yogurt. Although I love my mum’s traditional recipe, I chose to use agave syrup instead of honey as it provided a more neutral flavour that didn’t overpower the taste of the oats and bananas.

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Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 50g of oats
  • 200ml of almond milk (or another dairy free milk of your choice)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsps of dairy-free yogurt (I used soy yogurt, but coconut yogurt works just as well)
  • 1 tbsp of agave syrup (or another sweetener of your choice, such as honey or maple syrup)

Method

  1. Place the oats and almond milk into a pan and simmer over a medium heat. The mix should be regularly stirred so that the oats don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture has thickened to your preferred consistency (which can take between 5 to 10 minutes depending on your preferences), take the mixture off the heat.
  2. Slice the banana into slices, and then put your oatmeal into a serving bowl.
  3. Top your oatmeal with the banana slices and yogurt, then drizzle with agave syrup. If you prefer your oatmeal cold, then you can place it in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Mediterranean style scrambled eggs

You say brunch, I say scrambled eggs! Nothing beats scrambled eggs on toast when you’re looking for convenience, nutrition and comfort.

Before I went lactose-free, I used to love the traditional British silky smooth scrambled eggs made with butter, or even sometimes crème fraîche or cream. So when I ditched the dairy, I had this conundrum – how could I make great scrambled eggs without using dairy? The obvious choice would be to use dairy substitutes such as vegetable butter, or soy cream, but I am not a fan of using substitutes as they very rarely taste like the real deal, and I much prefer finding new and improved methods of making my favourite dishes.

However, my problem was solved when I spent a summer in Spain. My grandmother offered me a plate of scrambled eggs. I apologised and said I couldn’t eat them because they would have dairy in them. She looked at me with surprise and told me that in Spain, they very rarely ever used dairy products in their scrambled eggs. Looking at the plate skeptically, I took a bite, and was surprised to find that the eggs tasted creamier and smoother than I was used to despite the absence of dairy products! I begged her to tell me how she made them, and I was shocked to discover that the only real differences were that the eggs were cooked in olive oil and that they were cooked over a low heat for less time, resulting in a silky texture. So now I’m going to show you how you too can make the ultimate batch of scrambled eggs.

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Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning
  • 1 slice of wholemeal seeded bread (Optional)

Method

  1. Whilst you wait for your frying pan to warm up to a low heat, whisk both the eggs together in a bowl. Then, if desired, toast your slice of bread.
  2. Add the olive oil to the pan and once it’s gained some heat, add the whisked eggs.
  3. With a spatula or wooden spoon, make circular motions throughout the pan, so that the eggs don’t stick to the bottom and overcook. Keep doing this without stopping so that you can get the smooth finish.
  4. Once the eggs no longer appear to be a liquid and you can see that some parts of the egg are beginning to solidify, take the eggs off the heat.
  5. Make sure not to keep the eggs inside the pan for too long as even if the pan is no longer over the heat the eggs will continue to cook because the pan will still be warm. Quickly scrape the scrambled eggs onto a plate or onto your piece of toast, then season with salt and pepper.

Strawberry & Walnut Bircher Muesli

When I moved to Switzerland this year, I discovered the traditional Swiss breakfast of bircher muesli and it changed my life! Bircher muesli is a sort of variation on overnight oats, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for something nutritious that you can eat on-the-go, or if you’re looking for something cool and refreshing to munch on in the morning.

Bircher muesli was invented by Maximilian Bircher-Benner in the 1900’s. He was a physician and nutritionist who believed in the ‘raw food diet’. He thought that raw fruits and vegetables held the most nutritional value, and to an extent he was right! By cooking fruits and vegetables, they can sometimes lose their nutrients, so this a perfect vitamin and minerals packed breakfast to help you start the day on the right foot.

A typical basic bircher muesli consists of oats, milk and grated apple, and they are then left overnight so that the liquids are absorbed. I wanted to put a personal twist on this by substituting regular milk with almond milk, and by adding other ingredients to the mix. One idea of mine was to add nuts, as I quite like to have a bit of a crunch in my oatmeal to contrast with its soft texture, but I also thought it would be a good idea to add a bit of protein to the meal. Another idea I had was to add some other fruits, because I found that the traditional recipe was quite bland. In the end, I chose strawberries as they were not only a vibrant and nutritious addition, but I also found them to be very refreshing. However, as strawberries don’t have a very strong flavour, I additionally added a splash of lime juice to give the bircher muesli a little zesty kick.

Although I think you’ll love my recipe, feel free to add or substitute your own ingredients and make it your own. Pretty much any fruits or nuts can go well with bircher muesli and that’s what makes it so special, so go crazy!

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Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 30g of oats
  • 1 tbsp of flaxseed (optional)
  • 1 apple
  • 2 tbsp of soy yogurt (or another dairy-free yogurt of your choice, coconut yogurt makes a great alternative)
  • 150ml of almond milk (or another dairy-free milk of your choice)
  • 1 tsp of lime juice (optional) (lemon juice works well too)
  • 5 strawberries
  • 5 walnuts

Method

  1. Place the oats in a serving bowl and mix in the flaxseed if you are using it.
  2. Grate the apple without removing the peel straight into the bowl.
  3. Add the 2 tbsp of soy yogurt (or another dairy-free yogurt) and pour in the almond milk. Add the lime juice, then combine the mixture together with a spoon.
  4. Place the bowl in the fridge and leave it overnight, so that the oats soften and the mixture absorbs the liquid.
  5. Prior to serving, take the bowl out of the fridge. Slice the strawberries in half and then roughly chop the walnuts. Top your bircher muesli with the strawberries and walnuts, then serve and enjoy!

Vegan buddha bowl

If you’re looking for a nutritious lunch packed with fibre, protein, wholegrains and healthy fats, then look no further! This vegan buddha bowl has 3 of your 5 a day, is an extremely light yet filling meal, and is perfect if you are looking for a vitamins boost.

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Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 2 small courgettes
  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • 1 handful of pea shoots (baby spinach and lettuce can also be substituted instead)
  • 1 handful of mixed nuts (I used walnuts, cashews and almonds, but any nuts will do)
  • 50g of tinned lentils
  • 50g of wheat berries
  • 1 sprig of mint
  • 2tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning

Method

  1. Rinse the wheat berries under cold water and then drain them. Place them in a sauce pan with 300ml of cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Leave the wheat berries to cook for 30 minutes, then check to see if they are soft. You may need to add a little more water if it has all evaporated. If they are not soft yet, continue to check on them every 5 minutes until they are. Once they are soft, take them off the heat and drain them. Leave them to the side while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on a griddle pan. Cut the courgettes into halves lengthways. If you have the blossoms attached, don’t discard them as they taste great and are a great source of vitamin C. Grill the courgettes on the pan until softened and slightly charred.
  3. Rinse the lentils under cold water for about 30 seconds to reduce the salt content, and then drain them. Leave them to the side while you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Roughly chop your sprig of mint and mixed nuts. If you would like the nuts to have a stronger flavour, you can toast them prior to chopping them by heating them in the oven at 180C/350F for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Slice the avocado into strips or chop them into chunks.
  6. Combine the lentils and the wheat berries in a serving bowl, then mix in the mint and nuts. Add the courgettes, avocado and pea shoots. Finish off with a drizzle of the remaining tbsp of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.