Sundried tomato pasta salad

You’ll need:
-500g pasta (I used fusilli, but any pasta is fine)
-Sundried tomato quarters
-500g brown lentils
-Vegetable stock
-Fry’s chunky strips (2 boxes)
-Stir fry mix of green beans, red cabbage, julienne carrots, red peppers and cut baby corn)

For the sundried tomato and black salt dressing:

-Vegan mayonnaise (I used B well canola mayonnaise)
-Half the liquid from the sun dried tomatoes
-Black natural sea salt

METHOD

In a big pot, pour about 750ml of water, add in about 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a fierce boil and then add in your pasta. Once your pasta is cooked, drain your pasta and keep half of the water. Put the pasta aside. In the remaining pasta fluid, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable stock and the 500g of brown lentils, you might have to add a little bit more water as it cooks, although I like my lentils on the al dente side. I haaaate mushy lentils!!! While that’s cooking (it takes roughly around 20 Minutes,) using kitchen scissors, cut your sun dried tomatoes into bite size chunks and add it to your pasta, don’t forget to keep half of the fluid that the sun dried tomatoes came in. Once the lentils are cooked, add it to your pasta, draining some of the cooking fluid to be used later.

Get a pan and add in sunflower oil. Once the pan is nice and hot, add the Fry’s chunky strips and get some browning on them. When that’s done, add the leftover fluid from the lentils and allow the strips to soften. Add in your stir fry veggie mix and cook for 10 minutes. Place all the ingredients into a massive mixing container…I have Congolese heritage, so we always seem to have these lying around. You’d swear we have a catering company…

To make the sundried tomato and black salt dressing:
Mix 4 tablespoons of vegan mayo with the reserve fluid from the sundried tomatoes and mix well with a fork. Then add a tablespoon of black natural sea salt and stir through. This dressing is the perfect amount to coat the pasta without making it too creamy. Pour the dressing over your salad and stir though.

This salad is perfect warm or cold. The addition of the brown lentils and the Fry’s strips answers the question of where vegans get their protein from. Pasta is ALWAYS a great idea! It also makes this salad very filling and perfect for taking to braais, or barbecues if you’re in a country other than South Africa.

Tomato Soup

So we’ve entered into the first month of autumn here in South Africa. There’s a chill in the atmosphere, mornings are a lot cooler than they were in the heat of summer which means I find myself enjoying the time that I spend in the kitchen a lot more than in summer. I am a huge lover of soups. I love to make mine from scratch because then I’m in charge of exactly what I put into my soup and I always make sure to keep the sodium intake at a minimum and pack it with tons of flavour. Tomato soup sounds pretty basic, I mean all you have to do is whizz up tomatoes and that’s it right? Wrong. In order for your tomato soup to not taste like pureed tomatoes, bland and acidic, you have to take some time and throw in some extra additions.

Here’s what you’ll need:

10 large tomatoes diced

1 and a half red onion diced

A can of coconut milk

A handful of fresh basil and oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

I call this easy tomato soup because it is super easy to make. All you have to do is place the tomatoes with the onions in a pan and add just a little bit of oil to get the pan sizzling. Once the tomatoes have been on the stove for roughly 2 minutes, put them in a blender with the fresh herbs. You won’t really need to add any water because the tomatoes release a lot of their own juices. Blend until you have a smooth consistency and pour the whole lot into a pan adding the coconut milk and let it simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to season and boom! Yummy tomato soup done.

How easy is that?

For a little bit more punch to your soup, add some habañero chilli paste, it’ll light your fire!

Overnight Oats

I used to be extremely militant about what I ate, when I ate and how much I ate. Cue the eating disorder that ravaged me for a good 3 years.

Even when I thought I had recovered, portion control was still a very difficult thing for me to master. I would eat small amounts of food, so it was no surprise that after training, I would be heavily fatigued with barely enough energy to do anything else afterwards.

When I became a vegan, I learnt how to use food to heal and fuel my body, as opposed to punishing it for being too big, not skinny enough or just not right. Now eating is my favourite activity.

One of my favourite things to have for breakfast is overnight oats. Whenever I am pressed for time, this is what I have. It’s quick and easy and so good for you. Oats get a bad rep for being boring but with a few simple additions, you can make oats exciting and the taste is far from bland. Oats are great because they keep you fuller for longer, I like to use traditional old fashioned oats with no added sugar or flavouring in them, as the base for this recipe. Oats contain beta glucan, which is a soluble fibre that aids in fighting and preventing cancer and obesity. It also helps in reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and maintaining a healthy heart.

Here’s my overnight oats recipe.

You’ll need:

  • A generous helping of oats (you choose how much you want, you can either make enough for the next day or the whole week.)
  • Non-GMO soy milk (or any other dairy free alternative.)
  • A seed mix of chia seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds and sesame seeds, this is a great way to pump in some omega 3,6 and 9 into your system.
  • 2 bananas sliced
  • coconut blossom sugar (optional

The rest is pretty straight forward. Cover the oats with enough milk to completely cover them, then add your seed mix and bananas. Stir well and place in the fridge. The next day, your oats will have a creamy texture and you can either choose to have them as they are or to heat them up a little bit in the microwave. How’s that for a quick breakfast?

Buttah baby…

Buttah not butter… it’s smoother, creamier, melts in your mouth and is most probably a word that was invented by some crazy scientist who found the formula to perfect buttah! I’ve been searching all over for coconut butter. I am obsessed with coconuts and wherever I went, all they had was coconut oil (I love that too but I said buttah!) A few weeks ago I read up on how to make coconut butter and even though I don’t own a food processor or a Vitamix, I decided to try it out with my blender.  Thirty minutes later I had smooth creamy coconut butter with a hint of vanilla (another favourite of mine,) and spurred on by this enthusiasm, I decided to make a second batch for my friend, my brother in law and sister. Surprisingly I haven’t been tempted to eat it off a spoon. On bread and in smoothies…well that’s another story. I’ve kept myself from polishing off a jar by thinking about the 5kg that I still have to drop 😦 it’s a lot harder when you’re trying to sculpt existing muscle. My butt and thighs are pretty stubborn!

 

Place all your ingredients in a blender and pulse for five minutes until the dessicated coconut has incorporated into the oils. It’ll look a bit lumpy but don’t panic, it will work out!

Run your blender and keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t overheat or come dangerously close to burning out!

Keep checking (and tasting) with a spoon until you have a smooth, warm liquid. This is the part that requires the most patience because you have to keep blending until the liquid is absolutely smooth. No one enjoys grainy buttah!

Once your butter is completely smooth, pour into glass jars and place in the freezer to set for 15 minutes, after that the coconut butter can be stored in the fridge or a cool dry place.

Enjoy this on toast, porridge, smoothies, on its own. It is pretty yummy! For a toasted coconut butter, lightly toast the coconut in a medium sized frying pan keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Then repeat the same method. The toasted coconut butter has a richer nuttier flavour. My guinea pigs (my bestie, my brother in law,) preferred it to the plain coconut butter. I love both, it was hard to part with these buttahs!

 

Vanilla Lovin’

I love ice cream…who doesn’t? Before I became vegan, my favourite ice cream was Häagen-Dazs Strawberry Cheesecake. The yummy taste of strawberries and the crunch from the bits of cheesecake was amazing. In the past I would joke with my friends that I could never become vegan because of my love for ice cream, but who says you have to give that up? Enter my vanilla lovin’ soft serve nana cream. This is the first of many attempts in me finding my perfect recipe for vegan ice cream, something that could very well rival Häagen-Dazs. I fell in love with this recipe and I know you will too. It’s smooth, packed with banana flavour with a subtle hint of vanilla and coconut and the best part… IT’S GUILT FREE!!!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

You’ll need:

3 bananas that have been sliced and frozen for 8 hours.

1 teaspoon of vanilla seeds

2 teaspoons of organic cold-pressed virgin coconut oil

A scant amount of rice milk (coconut milk is a great alternative)

Place all your bananas in a blender and add a little bit of milk to get the blender going. Don’t add too much milk unless you want a smoothie. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend then grab a spoon and enjoy! IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

Coco about you!

I’ve waxed lyrical about the benefits of bananas here, so this time I’ll be giving some love to coconut oil. I am obsessed with the smell of coconuts, the real smell not the artificial kind.  I think it’s one of the reasons why I love coconut oil so much, the smell transports me to a beautiful island where James Franco is rubbing oil on my back and we’re drinking green smoothies together. Fantasies aside, I started using coconut oil on my nails and noticed that they got stronger, grew quicker and maintained their length. I did some research and found out that  coconut oil is a great all-rounder. It’s great for your hair, skin and your body, all of which I can vouch for. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is then converted to monolaurin which has been touted to fight viral and bacterial infections caused by organisms such as Listeria monocytogenesStaphylococcus aureus and Heliobacter pylori (microbiologist that I am, I sense a study on the effects of coconut oil on these organisms hmm…) which cause food poisoning, stomach and duodenal ulcers. The composition of fatty acids in coconut oil (medium chain triglycerides) assimilate well in the body and also help body systems such as the liver in cases of detoxification. Lauric acid makes up 50% of the fats (good fats) found in coconut oil and is beneficial to the heart, it does not increase your LDL’s due to it being a healthier alternative to other cooking oils. It also reduces the risk of  atherosclerosis and damage to the arteries. On the skin I found coconut oil to be best applied as a mask (apply a generous amount to your face, take 5 minutes to massage your face and then use a warm face cloth to wipe it off. The excess can be left to leave you with a gorgeous tropical glow.) It’s also great for treating eczema and preventing premature aging!

 

Breakfast Smoothie

I love smoothies! I am not a huge fan of having solid food in the morning. It’s all about finding what works for you and for me,solid food in the morning usually has me feeling sluggish, maybe a tad grumpy and ready to go back to bed! This smoothie is a great way to refuel after a workout. I typically have it after my morning workout and sometimes during the day if I don’t feel like eating anything too heavy. It’s super yummy, dairy free and vegan. I am having such fun transitioning from vegetarian to vegan, I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1l apple juice

1 banana

1 avocado

2 tablespoons moringa leaf powder

a handful of oats (adjust according to desired consistency, not too much though, we’re not making porridge!)

Here’s why I love this smoothie:

Bananas have a high content of potassium, potassium is an important electrolyte that maintains good cardiovascular health. It lends to maintenance of blood pressure and heart function via the electrical impulses that travel through your body. The conduction of these impulses are what keep cardiac muscle contracting [i.e. your heart beat] at a normal rate and without potassium (lack of potassium is called hypokalaemia, I’m a qualified biomedical scientist, geeky side coming out…) your heart rate will display irregularity and let’s be honest the only time one’s heart should display irregularities is when watching James Franco :-p Bananas are also a great source of fibre, that’s why they’re a favourite of so many runners.

When I was a child I hated avocados, now I can’t get enough of them, I’m obsessed with avocado oil as well. I love avos in guacamole, face masks, on their own, on top of black beans but especially in smoothies.  Like bananas, they are also an excellent source of potassium but I love them for their meaty texture chockfull of monounsaturated fat which boosts your heart health and lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease. I also love that it’s packed with vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin E, a great one for beautiful skin that screams ‘I have a breakfast smoothie everyday!’

Moringa leaf powder is a new addition to my smoothies. My mum has been buying it for almost a year and I never paid attention to it until now.  If you’re anaemic, morning powder can provide you with that boost you need to get your body producing oxygen rich, iron loaded power red cells. It can help in boosting your energy and your stamina. Word of caution; I’ve read that it can also prevent pregnancy so if you’re like me and you’re not trying to fall pregnant or you’re single and not ready to mingle then by all means add this to your smoothie, otherwise steer clear!

Oats are added to add more fibre and bulk to the smoothie. This is a breakfast smoothie therefore it is important to make it as nutrient rich as you can. Oats are high in iron and lower your LDL (low density lipoproteins which are your bad fats that clog your arteries.) They also contain beta-glucans which strengthen your immune system against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. I typically have a big glass of this smoothie and find it very filling. Let me know if you try it, I’d love to know what you think!

*I have a soft spot for James Franco, if you look like him, I might have a soft spot for you too 😉

Green beans and radishes on a bed of spicy brown rice and Fry’s thick cut chunky strips

In this post I’ll be sharing a recipe of one of my favourite things to eat: green beans and radishes on spicy rice. This recipe is great if you do meal prepping as it yields a large quantity. It freezes well without losing flavour. Quick plug for Fry’s…they are my favourite brand of vegetarian/vegan frozen foods. I’ve been a vegetarian for 2 years and 1 month. I am currently transitioning to vegan and I love that Fry’s provides food that is free from genetic modification, MSG (it really does taste good, no trick chemicals needed,) artificial colourants or preservatives. It’s also been a great way for me to get my protein intake, something I had been struggling with. On to the recipe…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Green beans and radishes on a bed of spicy brown rice with Fry’s thick cut chunky strips

  • 1kg green beans
  • 500g radishes
  • 380g (1 box) of Fry’s Thick Cut Chunky Strips
  • 2 tablespoons of Mrs. Balls Chutney
  • 1 tablespoon of Ina Paarman’s vegetable seasoning
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Check your green beans for any that may be bruised and discard those. Top and tail the beans and blanch them in boiling water. Cut the radishes in slices. Coat the vegetables with sunflower seed oil and the vegetable seasoning. Heat a large frying pan and place all the ingredients in the pan, fry until the chunky strips have cooked through and serve on top of the rice.

Spicy brown rice

  • 1 teaspoon of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chilli paste*
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 cups  brown rice washed and drained
  • 2 cups of a tomato and onion mix*
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth

In a large frying pan, add about 2 tablespoons of sunflower seed oil. Once the pan gets hot, fry the rice until it has browned or you hear a faint popping noise. Once the rice has browned add the garlic, the chilli paste and cayenne pepper making sure to coat the rice evenly. Add the tomato and onion mix, the vegetable stock and the tomato paste and leave to simmer for five minutes on the hob. Remove from the hob and place in a preheated oven (180 C) for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes stir the rice and cook for an additional 15 minutes. If you find that your rice is not soft after the cooking period, add a little bit of liquid and cook for another 15 minutes. You’ll be left with soft, very spicy rice. *I make my chilli paste from  scratch using habañero chillies and a little bit of onion, if you want something milder use jalapeños. My tomato and onion mix is also made from scratch. I whizz up 2 tomatoes and 1 onion in the blender with water.