Vegan Chilli

This chilli is vegan deliciousness! Spicy and filling. It’s great as is, or with dumplings or tortillas. Or if you are so inclined, pour it over chips or french fries to make a healthy version of Frito Chilli Pie. Whatever strikes your fancy! I just eat it as is. It has a full balanced meal in it already.

Ingredients:
Vegan Chilli Veggies
  • 1 lb Eggplant (aubergine)
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 red or yellow pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic (about 6 pieces)
  • Chilli powder or Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Coconut Oil
  • Half a block of firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup jasmine rice
Instruction
  • Dice all the vegetables.
  • Brown the garlic and onions in coconut on medium/high heat in a large saucepan.
  • Add the mushrooms gently browning.
  • Add chilli spice, salt and pepper to taste. I like hot spices, so I put 2 tsp in my mix. About 1/2 tsp should do if you’re not keen on extra spicy food.
  • Add the rest of the raw vegetables, gently stirring for a couple of minutes.
  • Pour about 3 cups of water into the saucepan and stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low/medium. Cook for about 30-60 minutes. I usually turn mine down very low and leave it cooking for a couple of hours while I do something else. Keep it covered with an air vent to release the steam pressure. Check on it frequently, adding more water as it evaporates.
  • When all the vegetables are cooked through the mix should start looking like a chunky soup. You could indeed just eat it like this, as a chunky spicy soup. But to bulk it up and add some protein, add the tofu and rice. It should take about 10 mins for the rice to cook through, soaking up all  the flavors of the vegetables. I like to use broken rice as it cooks faster and makes the mix thicker.
  • Serve. This recipe is great to store and eat next day too. You have to add more water to the mix though. The rice continues to soak up the liquid overnight and it gets very thick and goopy.

Banana, Hemp, Raisin Oat Bran Pancakes

This is a current favorite breakfast or evening treat for me. I enjoy them without adding butter or syrup, as they’re sweet and moist as is….but you go ahead and eat them your way! These pancakes are free from flour, gluten, and milk products. They’re full of anti-oxidants, potassium, fiber and protein. They do however contain egg. If I concoct a vegan version, I’ll post it. I promise.

Ingredients:
  • 1 banana (ripe)
  • 1/2 cup of oat bran
  • 1/3 cup of hemp hearts
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 organic egg
  • 1 tspn organic raw honey
  • 1 tspn coconut oil (can use other oil if allergic to coconut oil)
Instructions:
  • Mash banana with a fork
  • Combine it with the egg, hemp hearts, oat bran and honey
  • Add raisins
  • Heat coconut oil in skillet on medium
  • Pour batter on skillet in small patties. This mix makes 3-4 small rounds. (Don’t make them too big, as they will fall apart when you try to flip them.)
  • Cook until brown. Flip once.
  • Serve hot.

 

Poached Eggplant Stir-fry with Vegan Pesto Hummus

Eggplant can be quite difficult to prepare without soaking it in oil or some kind of sauce, which I don’t always want. I’ve developed this technique of cooking it quickly, without all the oil, but all the flavor of a stir-fry.

This is a quick and easy vegan meal that I like to cook myself when my boyfriend feels like a ham and cheese sandwich! He hates eggplant, so I always cook it when he fancies some dead animal for lunch.

Ingredients For Stir-fry:
  • 1 lb of eggplant (aubergine)
  • A handful of bean sprouts
  • A handful of snow peas (mange tu)
  • Italian spice mix
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Half a small onion finely chopped
  • Dried chilli peppers (optional for a spicier flavor)
  • Ghee or avocado oil
Ingredients For Vegan Pesto Hummus:
  • 1 lb of garbanzo beans, preferably sprouted
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts
  • Large bunch of fresh basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Instructions:
  • To prepare the hummus in advance, you can either use raw sprouted garbanzo beans, cooked un-sprouted soaked beans, or sprouted cooked beans. To cook them, simply boil for 10-15 mins.
  • Put all the hummus ingredients in a blender and mix until it looks like hummus!
  • If you are not a vegan, add a couple of good spoonfuls of Parmesan cheese to make it a full on Pesto sauce.
  • To prepare the eggplant, chop into even slices.
  • Put a little avocado oil, onion and spices into a frying pan and brown the eggplant stirring frequently to avoid burning. Do this for about 5 mins.
  • When the oil has dried up, fill the pan with about 1cm of water, almost covering the eggplant. Allow to simmer uncovered until the water has evaporated, poaching the eggplant.
  • When all the water has dried up, add a little more avocado oil, along with the bean sprouts and snow peas. Stir-fry for about 3 mins, gently tossing the ingredients.
  • Serve with a fresh dollop of hummus on top!

How to Sprout Peas

Sprouting peas, beans or grains can improve the nutritional content of your food. Here are a few benefits in short:

  • Sprouting increases bio-available nutrients.
  • Sprouting decreases carbohydrate content from starches, therefore reduces calorie content.
  • Sprouting makes the legume/grain easier to digest and less likely in most cases to cause gas.
  • Sprouting grains can deactivate potent carcinogens.
  • Sprouting can reduce the amount of fat.

There are lots of articles highlighting how the biological processes that happen during sprouting lead to these facts. Rather than repeat the information, check out these articles from The Nourishing Gourmet and Kitchen Stewardship, where you can read about how phytase released in soaking and sprouting leads to the changes we can benefit from.

It is important to research which grains and legumes aren’t good for sprouting, and which should always be cooked thoroughly after sprouting to avoid stomach aches and gas. It’s also good to be aware of safety guidelines for sprouting, as it is very easy to create toxic mould in the damp, dark conditions of sprouting. Here’s more info. on Sprout Safety. Suffice to say, rinse often. Do not consume if your sprouts are slimy or smell weird, or have anything other than shoots growing out of them. Wash thoroughly and follow FDA safety guidelines.

Soaking PeasI prefer to sprout my peas quickly, as the benefits begin as soon as the shoots appear. A lot of articles recommend sprouting for a few days to maximise the benefits, but for me, the longer I wait, the more chance there is that I’ll ruin the batch with some kind of mould. So my sprouting process is about 1.5 days.

Here’s How I Sprout My Peas:
  • Rinse then soak a cup of dried peas in water for about 8 hrs.
  • Rinse the soaked peas and place in a clean linen/muslin bag. Hang the bag in a dry, dark cupboard for about 24 hrs.
  • During the 24 hrs, regularly check on the peas, rinsing the bag to avoid mould formation every few hours.
  • When shoots begin to form, you can remove the peas and wash thoroughly.
  • You can use the sprouts right away, allow them to sprout for longer, or put them in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Here’s a link to my Sprouted Pea Soup recipe. I hope you found this information concise and helpful. Enjoy!

Linen Sprouting Bag

Asian Sprouted Pea Soup

This recipe has a double dose of pea goodness, with sprouted peas and pea sprouts. Yes, they’re different things. I really enjoy this fresh and healthy twist on pea soup, mixed with an Asian porridge. It’s very filling, full of vitamins, antioxidants, protein and minerals.

If you’re not sure how to sprout your own peas, here’s a post I wrote about How To Sprout Peas. You can look up online how to do it from many online sources. But in short: Sprouted peas are dried peas that have been soaked and sprouted in darkness so that they have small roots sticking out of them. The process changes the nutritional value of the peas and makes them easier on your digestive system. Basically, if beans make you toot, you should be sprouting them.

Pea Sprouts are the larger shoots that start to produce leaves, opposed to the pea itself, like alfalfa sprouts or mustard cress.

Ingredients:
  • Half a cup of broken jasmine rice
  • A cup of dried organic peas (sprouted in advance)
  • Fresh pea sprouts (If you can’t get these, you can use mustard cress, water cress or even alfalfa sprouts.)
  • Half a chopped onion or dried onion flakes
  • Small piece of finally chopped ginger
  • Avocado Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cloves of finally chopped garlic or garlic powder
  • Sesame Oil
  • Soy Sauce
Instructions:
  • In a large saucepan, gently saute the garlic, onions and ginger in avocado oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. When browned, fill the saucepan with water.
  • Add the rice to the pan and bring to a boil. Then simmer for an hour, topping up the water as needed to keep the porridge from drying out. You can cover the saucepan if you leave about an inch or so open to vent the pan, to prevent it from boiling over.
  • After the rice has turned into porridge, add the sprouted peas and continue to simmer. I like to keep the sprouted peas crunchy, so about 5-10 mins cook time for the peas works for me. If you’d prefer softer peas, add them earlier and cook them through for about 30-45 mins. It will also make your soup greener.
  • Continue to add water as needed to keep the mixture at a soup consistency.
  • Once you’ve cooked the peas to your preference, you’re ready to serve.
  • But before taking the soup off heat, add a few large handfuls of pea sprouts and mix in. I like to serve immediately like this, so that the pea sprouts heat up but haven’t lost their raw, fresh crunchiness too much.
  • Garnish with more raw pea sprouts and drizzle sesame oil and soy sauce to taste.
  • A non-vegan addition for vegetarians is to add a couple of organic eggs a couple of minutes before you take the soup off the heat. Stir the eggs into the soup for a creamy, thick consistency.

 

Chocolate Oat Bites

I like to make my own naughty treats because at least I know that all the ingredients are real and I can adapt them to suit my needs. This recipe is diary and wheat free. You can eliminate the nuts and substitute almond milk for coconut milk to make it nut free. (see my Vegan Seed Bites recipe). This recipe makes about 24 pieces, at around 2×2″. Keep in the fridge.

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups of oats
  • 1 cup of sultanas or raisins
  • 1/2 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup of hazelnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 large bars of dark dairy free cooking chocolate (or regular dark cooking chocolate / or carob chocolate)
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to about 200c/400F.
  • Mash 2 bananas in a mixing bowl.
  • Add oats, all nuts, seeds and fruit to bowl.
  • Melt coconut oil and golden syrup in a pan slowly until both are runny.
  • Poor mixture in bowl along with almond milk and mix thoroughly.
  • Place mixture in a large tin, lined with grease proof paper, or parchment paper.
  • Bake for 25 mins. Oat Bites without the chocolate
  • Let stand to cool for 30 mins.bain-marie
  • Prepare a bain marie. A bain marie is best for melting chocolate as it is easy to accidentally burn chocolate. To do this, boil some water in a saucepan. Put a heat safe bowl, like Pyrex over the top of the boiling water and place the pieces of chocolate into the bowl. It should take just a few minutes for the chocolate to melt completely.
  • Poor the melted chocolate over the cooled oat bites. Allow to chill in fridge for 30 mins, then cut into chunks and serve!Chocolate Oat Bites
  • These bites are really rich. The dark chocolate is very powerful. If you prefer, substitute the dark chocolate with milk chocolate, if you’re okay with dairy. I’ve used Green & Black’s Organic 70% Dark Chocolate to make this treat before, which turned out rather well too.

Vegan, Nut Free Seed Bites

A healthy, filling treat packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber and yumminess!

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of Oats
  • 2 tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of sultanas
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup of flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup of hemp hearts
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
Instructions:
  • Mash one banana in a bowl. Add oats, all the seeds and sultanas.
  • Heat golden syrup and coconut oil on low until runny.
  • Poor coconut milk, coconut oil and syrup over oats and seeds.
  • Mix thoroughly.
  • If the mixture seems runny, add more oats.
  • Pack mixture tightly into a baking tin lined with grease proof paper, or parchment paper.
  • Bake at 180c for 30 mins. Let sit for 30 mins before cutting and serving.

Yellow Bean & Watercress Noodle Soup

This is a great, light meal that I often have for breakfast or lunch, sometimes dinner when I’m being lazy. It takes about 5 mins to make and is also pretty cheap to put together. You can easily make it vegan by removing the eggs from the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Organic Watercress
  • Yellow bean paste (available at most Asian markets)
  • Soy Sauce (for taste only)
  • Sesame Oil
  • Ground Pepper
  • 1-2 free range organic eggs
  • Rice noodles
  • Water

Instructions:

  • Boil at least 1 inch of water in a saucepan. Amount can vary based on how much soup you want, but you need at least enough to cover the noodles.
  • Add between a teaspoon and tablespoon of yellow bean paste, to taste. I like a lot of liquid, so I put about 2 inches of water in the saucepan and a heaping tablespoon of paste.
  • Let the paste dissolve, then add rice noodles. The noodles double in thickness, so don’t over estimate how many you need.
  • Simmer for 1 minute. Then turn down heat until the water is hardly bubbling. Crack eggs straight into the mix and let them poach for 1-2 minutes. If you like your eggs soft, only cook for 1 min and remove from heat before the eggs are fully cooked, as the heat from the soup will continue to cook them for a few minutes, while the soup is too hot to consume.
  • Break up the watercress loosely and place in the bottom of your serving bowl.
  • Carefully pour your noodle and soup mix over the watercress. The heat from the soup will cook the watercress perfectly in the bowl.
  • Add pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil to taste.

Leek & Potato Soup

This is a vegan recipe that you can adapt for vegetarians by adding dairy, and for meat eaters, by adding bacon off cuts. I’ll include notes in the description for these options, but the basic recipe is diary and meat free. This batch will serve about 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium onions
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 3 large leaks
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 2 tbsps Coconut Oil
  • Salt
  • Finely ground white pepper
  • Water
  • (A splash of milk or cream, and 1/4 lbs butter for added vegetarian option.)
  • (1/2 lb of bacon off cuts for meat eaters.)
  • Bread for croutons

Instructions:

Sweating Leeks and Onions
Sweating Leeks and Onions
  • Heat coconut oil in large pot. Chop garlic and onions finely and sweat in oil for a couple of minutes.
  • If you are adding meat, chop it finely and add it to the mix now. Brown gently before moving to the next step.
  • Chop leeks finely and add to onions and garlic. Sweat leeks until they start to go soft.
  • Add boiling water to the mixture, covering all the ingredients in the pot.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Bring to the boil, then add finely chopped potatoes to the mix.
  • Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat and partially cover with a lid. Allow to simmer for about an hour. Stir occasionally. Make sure to add more water if it seems like the liquid is evaporating. I may add up to 4 pints of water while I’m cooking. Add less for a thicker soup.
  • You can cook this for more time if want. I like to leave it on low and cook it for a couple of hours usually. I go away and do other things while it is cooking. You can cook it in a slow cooker if you like too.
  • Your soup is now ready. For non vegans, you can now add a dash of dairy to the soup to make it creamier. Just pop in the extra dairy to taste and stir on low heat.
  • I prefer a chunky soup, but if you prefer a smooth soup, simply blend the soup now before serving.
  • Chop bread in to tiny cubes and gently shallow fry in oil to make croutons.

To Soy or Not to Soy?

That is the question!

And the answer continues to remain controversial. There is a wealth of conflicting information online regarding this subject.

As a cancer survivor, British asian, fitness professional and someone who does not consume animal meat or poultry, the subject of soy in food continues to come up. So let me break it down into as short a piece as I can to give you a general sense of it all in plain English from my perspective.

The Good:

Some studies promote its health benefits with statements like:  Soy’s anti-estrogen properties prevent breast cancer, its fiber content can lower colorectal cancer, and in various stages of prostate cancer soy lowered PSA levels. Here’s one such study: MDAndersonorg

Other pluses for soy include its low fat content and high protein content, making it an efficient nutrient, especially in a vegetarian diet.

Many western articles point to asians having lower occurrences of certain types of cancer, reasoning that asians eat a high amount of soy. They use statistics to prove that the two facts are related. Here’s a WebMD article detailing an example of this theory.

Books like the China Study link an asian diet heavy in soy with health benefits.

The Bad:

Some studies show that soy consumption switches on cancer-forming genes, increasing the rate of cancer cell growth; like this one on breastcancer.org

Others provide studies linking soy to miscarriages, hormonal disruptions, infertility, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction; like this one from Dr. Mercola.

Some studies claim too much soy causes dementia and other brain issues, as well as hair loss.

The Middle Ground:

What’s clear is that the jury is out. This information sounds all too familiar: Wine is good for you, then it’s bad. Fat causes heart attacks, so we must eat nothing but carbs. Oh wait, oops, carbs are bad, now fat is back in fashion! Heard this before?

There are easy guidelines to follow here that can also be mirrored when deciding on your fat, sugar, carbs or alcohol consumption too. The rules are quite simple. In fact, there’s really only one:

DON’T EAT TOO MUCH OF IT!

I knew a middle aged woman in Oklahoma some years ago who was overweight and tried every fad diet possible to lose a few pounds. The only thing she didn’t try was sensible portions and moderation. She ended up doing crazy things like downing an entire bottle of olive oil because she read it was “good for your heart”. True story. Not long after this, she had a heart attack.

As with everything, too much of something is bad. But with soy, this statement rings even more profoundly. In an attempt to give us westerners a miracle low fat, non-meat protein substitute that’s easy to produce, the soy industry has given us a soy mutant monster. Soy protein isolate is a component of soy, literally isolated and multiplied to hulk like levels.

Enthusiastic believers in the asian diet ignore the fact that asians also eat a lot of meats, vegetables, fungi, legumes, fruits……. The point really is to look at the amounts and the ratios. They aren’t knocking back pints of soy milk like it’s going out of fashion.

Additionally, if that soy isn’t organic it may be genetically modified for hardiness to be sprayed with Round Up. This means it has probably also been sprayed with said toxic chemicals you’d never want to set foot near, much less consume.

Even if it’s organic, if it isn’t fermented, it contains high levels of phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that leaches vital nutrients from your body, and blocks the uptake of others. Dr. Mercola’s article details this well, but you can find this information in many forms if you google it. Here’s an article from foodforbreastcancer.com that suggests eliminating soy protein isolate from your diet if you are fighting breast cancer.

SoybeansWith all the back and forth, what is one supposed to believe? Conclusive findings don’t appear to be anywhere near in sight. So for myself, I choose to logic my way around the situation. Here is my deductive reasoning:

  • Soy clearly doesn’t actually cure cancer. If it did, we’d all be miraculously cured by now. So there’s no need to start consuming it heavily for its proclaimed health benefits, when I can get my protein from many sources, even if I’m a vegan.
  • Asians traditionally don’t eat unfermented soy products without also consuming some form of seafood or seaweed, which neutralized the phytic acid in the soy, making it safe to eat. So probably eating soy protein isolates and other unfermented soy products doesn’t mimic the Asian miracle diet anyway.
  • If numerous studies tell you something causes cancer, perhaps it is worth listening to that information and investigating it before jumping under the bus and regretting it later.

I choose to eat organic soy and fermented soy products in moderation.  I avoid any foods containing soy protein isolates like the plague; like soy milk and soy burgers. I don’t go near soy beans aka Edamame either. This crop was originally used in between usable crop seasons on fallow land to re-nourish the soil and wasn’t consumed in its bean form. Asians knew it to be poisonous to consume as is. Hence, they developed a way to ferment the bean and make it edible. Here’s an article that I quickly googled referencing this at authorityNutrition.com. Edemame is not fermented! It doesn’t make the cut!

Here is a list of soy based products I personally deem safe:

  • Organic Tofu – but I try to make sure I consume some form of seaweed or seafood along with it. It doesn’t have to be much. And I don’t eat it very often, perhaps once a month as my source of protein. I happen to LOVE tofu, so it’s hard not to eat too much of it to be honest!
  • Organic Miso – fermented soy paste soup, sometimes with seaweed and tofu.
  • Organic Tempeh – Health food stores have a lot of Tempeh burgers/patties to choose from, in various flavors.
  • Organic Soy Sauce – a fermented sauce.
  • Natto is also a fermented soy product that makes the cut, but I don’t personally like it.

Moderation, moderation, moderation!

Be sensible, read articles, make your own decisions based on more than one source.