Quinoa with Lentils, Butterbeans and Vegetables – Vegan dinner

quinoa-and-lentils

I can’t take credit for this one; my husband made it. He has really got into this way of life over the past year or so, especially since having Braxton. It used to be something he was happy for me to do and would eat what I cooked because, well, it was yummy so he couldn’t really complain! But now he’s actually into it himself and loves being in the kitchen coming up with new and interesting recipes. He doesn’t bake, but he loves to cook savoury food and cooks for us a lot these days.

My kitchen is closed on the weekends – I just don’t have the energy to cook much during the weekends except to make food for Brax, so Daniel often makes us a Sunday night dinner and this was this week’s creation. You can literally add anything you want but we just used what we had at home.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
Half cup lentils
2 sweet potatoes
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 tin organic butter beans
1 tin organic sweetcorn
1 cup frozen peas
1 red pepper
1 tsp bouillon
Coconut oil
Olive oil
Himalayan salt & black pepper

Method

Peel and dice the sweet potato, put it on an oven tray, drizzle some coconut oil, salt and paprika and put it in the oven for 20 mins.

Take another oven tray, cut the red pepper into smallish pieces, drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and put that in the oven alongside the sweet potato for 20 minutes.

While they’re in the oven, put the quinoa and lentils into a saucepan, cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the bouillon, turn down the heat and put the lid on. It will take around 20 minutes to make but keep checking and mixing, adding more water if needed.

Steam the broccoli for around 6-7 minutes

Boil the peas in some hot water – this should only take around 5 minutes then put them in a bowl with the sweetcorn, broccoli and butterbeans.

Once the sweet potatoes and peppers are ready add them to the bowl, then once the lentils and quinoa are ready, you can add this too.

Give it a good mix and add salt and pepper, and any other herbs you may like.

Love & health,
Lauren & Daniel

 

 

Moroccan Brown Rice

moroccan-brown-rice

The best thing about being half Moroccan is, by far, the food. Who doesn’t like Moroccan food? Moroccan grandmothers are renowned for their cooking skills and my grandmother was one of the best.

My mum grew up in the East End of London – you literally couldn’t find a bigger disparity between my dad’s upbringing in Casablanca and my mum’s in the East End! Pie and mash versus apricot chicken tagine, fish and chips versus almond couscous, bacon butties versus cinnamon and turmeric spiced rice, and so on.

But luckily for me, my mum is an amazing cook and learnt all the dishes from my grandmother when she met my dad and so I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up eating the most beautifully tasting food, not just thanks to my mum but also all my dad’s sisters.

I have learnt a lot of the dishes myself and although some of them are very intricate, there are also ways of incorporating the flavours and spices into everyday dishes like rice. Rice is a really hard thing to get right so I hope this post helps you perfect it.

I made this for our dinner alongside some other bits and Daniel and Braxton both love it. I hope you do too.

Ingredients

1 cup brown basmati rice
Enough purified water to cover the rice
1 tsp bouillon
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
Handful almond flakes
Handful sultanas
Himalayan salt and black pepper, to taste

Method

Put the rice in a saucepan and cover with water, but make sure the water comes up about an inch over the rice. I have a Brita kettle and usually boil the kettle first to pre-boil and purify the water, then pour it over once it’s boiled. Give it a mix and add the bouillon and wait until it starts bubbling. Once the bubbling starts, give it another mix, turn the heat down to low and put the lid on.

It will take about 20 minutes from here but you need to give it a stir every 5 minutes or so. If you see the water has gone down too much and the rice isn’t nearly ready, add some more water. The heat is down on low and the lid is on so the steam will cook it more than the water.

Once there is only a very tiny bit of water left at the bottom, after about 15 minutes, add the turmeric, cinnamon, salt and pepper and mix, then add the almond flakes and sultanas and give it another mix and leave the lid off until the water has disappeared but only just.

Serve straight away.

Love & health,
Lauren

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

stuffed-peppers

Look at my wrinkly peppers! 🙂  I recently came back from Spain and they seem to ‘stuff’ a lot of food there so it inspired me to do stuffed peppers. My mum always made them for us growing up so not sure why I don’t do them more often – probably because she made them with meat so I associate it with that but I’ve made these delicious veggie ones and they turned out so yummy.

You can of course leave out the goat’s cheese if you want them vegan. We don’t eat cow’s milk dairy here and rarely even goat’s milk but I don’t mind the odd bit of goat’s cheese and Braxton really loved it too. The lentils and beans mean this meal is filled with plant-based protein.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

2 large red peppers
1 cup brown basmati rice
Half a cup of lentils
1 tin organic black beans
1 zucchini
1 tbsp bouillon
¼ tsp cumin
Himalayan salt and black pepper
A bit of soft goat’s cheese, cut up in very small cubes

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Cook the rice first according to the instructions, along with the lentils in the same saucepan. They both take quite a while so allow ample time.

When it has been cooking about 10 minutes, add the bouillon.

Once the water from the rice and lentils is very nearly all evaporated but there is still a tiny bit at the bottom, drain the black beans or kidney beans and add them. Mix them through the rice and lentils and leave on a low heat for a minute.

Now grate the zucchini directly into the saucepan and mix that around. Add the cumin, salt & pepper and mix. Now add the goat’s cheese and mix. Save a few pieces of goat’s cheese for after. Turn off the heat.

Cut the tops off the peppers and take out the insides and wash thoroughly.

Place them on a baking tray upright and fill with the rice mixture.

Put them in the oven for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes add a few pieces of the goat’s cheese to the top and leave in for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve hot.

Love & health,
Lauren

Non-Boring Runner Beans!

A&C Green Beans

I just love when Abel & Cole send me a sweet little recipe idea in my weekly box. This week they sent over a bunch of runner beans (which I found really boring growing up!) with a bit of inspiration for them and they turned out beautifully and are no longer boring! A perfect accompaniment to any meal.

Ingredients

A bunch of runner beans
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch Himalayan pink salt
Pinch garlic salt
Chilli flakes (optional but gives it a kick!)

Method

Cut the ends off the beans and wash them.

Heat the olive oil in a griddle pan (you can use a normal frying pan but this charred them really nicely) then add the beans once hot.

While they are cooking away, mix all the other ingredients in a bowl.

Once the beans start to char, add the sauce and mix well and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Healthy & happiness,
Lauren

Coconut Curried Chicken & The Importance of Introducing Flavours From Early On

Coconut Curried Chicken & Veg

I met some friends for a walk in the park after we’d given the kids dinner a few days ago as it was such a lovely day and it’s always nice to have something to fill the time between dinner and bath time. One of them asked me what Braxton had for dinner. ‘Coconut curried chicken,’ I replied. ‘Curry?!’ one of the girls asked, almost dismayed. ‘At his age? Did he like it? Does he like the flavour?’ YES YES YES!!! And the reason he is OK with flavoursome food is because I give it to him!

I think it is so important to introduce different flavours into a baby’s diet from the early stages of weaning. Not only will this make life easier for us as it means our babies will be less fussy as they grow up, it also makes life better for them! We all have a friend whose staple diet is chicken nuggets, chips and pasta because they don’t like anything else. I’d hazard a guess that their parents probably didn’t give them much else as kids which is why. There are also so many nutrients in spices and herbs. Turmeric, for example, is a hugely important anti-inflammatory and I make sure Braxton has it at least 3 times a week. Dried herbs have heaps of calcium so at least I know that this dairy-free baby is getting more bioavailable calcium than most babies who have cow’s milk!

With this particular meal I had some chicken out that day as I hadn’t given him any meat all week and I stood in the kitchen wondering what I could do with it, then realised that the easiest thing to do with chicken breast is always a curry. I had mild curry powder and coconut milk and some vegetables so I got cooking!

Ingredients

1 organic, free-range chicken breast, chopped into smallish pieces
Half an onion, chopped
1 can full-fat organic coconut milk (I like Biona)
1/2 tsp milk curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 cube pre-frozen homemade bone broth/ veg stock or a low salt chicken stock cube in half cup water (optional for added taste)
Handful shiitake mushrooms
Handful chestnut mushrooms
A few broccoli florets
Some coconut oil

Method

Heat a tsp of coconut oil in a pan then add the onion and cook for a minute or so before adding the chicken.

Brown the chicken all over and once cooked, add all the veg. Give it a good stir to coat it in the oil and cook for about 2 minutes.

Now add the coconut milk but don’t add the whole can. Spoon out the delicious creamy stuff from the top and put that all in, followed by about half of the water but no more as it will make it too watery. (You can save this for another dish or add it to a smoothie.)

Mix it all around, then add the stock, curry powder and turmeric. Mix well and turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

When it’s finished simmering, put it in the blender and blend to the desired consistency.

It may look like mush but you have meat-based protein, plant-based protein, vegetables and spices in there all containing nutrients so this meal really needs nothing else although you could add some brown rice pasta if you want. I froze this in small containers and it made about 5-6 meals.

Health & happiness,
Lauren & Braxton

Tamari Roasted Almonds & Why Fats Are So Important

Tamari Roasted Almonds

The never-ending battle: trying to find healthy snacks to fill in those gaps between meals. I’ve always liked a snack, especially late afternoon, but since having a baby it’s almost a necessity! Not only does the constant running around and never sitting down mean that I need more energy, but breastfeeding also leaves me needing more calories. But I don’t want unhealthy calories, (I also want to lose the last of this dreaded baby weight!) I want to eat things that my body will appreciate, foods that give me the right sort of energy. If I am eating fatty foods, they should be the right sort of fats, which is where nuts, avocados and coconut oil come in.

This leads me to my next point: the importance of fats in our diet: the recent ‘fat-free’ craze may be causing more issues to our health than we realise. Please stay away from the diets and plans that tell you to stay away from fat, buy fat-free ‘foods’ and that fat is the devil. Of course, an excess of fat is dangerous and will make you put on weight, but anything in excess is not good. Just like animals and plants, we need fat for growth and our babies need it even more. What babies need mostly is fat, protein, vegetables (for other vitamins such as calcium), in that order, and anything else isn’t as essential.

Our bodies cannot make fat, it needs to come from our diet and we rely on it for energy and we can get this through essential fatty acids. Unlike carbohydrates, fat is stored as a ‘reserve’ type of energy. If you eat too much, it will appear as ‘fat’ but in the right amounts your body will thrive from it.

Fats give us myelin, a fatty material which wraps around our nerve cells so that they can send electrical messages. Our brains contain large amounts of essential fats and when we don’t get enough fats through our diets it can cause brain problems. We have seen a huge increase in early-onset dementia in the last ten years and in my humble opinion, part of this is down to our obsession with fat-free diets. People aren’t getting enough fat so their brains aren’t getting what they need and are therefore not developing properly; this lack of fat makes room for brain malfunctions such as dementia and other issues.

I used to think that certain illnesses could certainly be prevented but things like dementia were totally out of our control. WRONG. Diet and lifestyle can basically determine the rest of your life. Then we’ve got the need for omega-3 and omega-6 fats and these control insulin levels so again, even diabetes can be controlled and prevented.

So throw out the ‘fat-free’ and ‘low fat’ foods and, as I always advocate, buy only real, whole, natural foods that are not man-made. Of course it’s easier to buy a whole bunch of fat free, processed foods so that you can lose weight but how much will that benefit us in the long run?

Great foods you can eat to increase your healthy fat intake are avocados, coconut oil and nuts and great foods to increase your omega-3 intake are flaxseeds, walnuts, oily fish and tofu.

I hope this helps explain the need for fats… now onto the recipe…

Ingredients

1.5 cups raw organic almonds, soaked overnight
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tbsp tamari

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and place some baking paper on a baking tray.

Once the almonds have soaked, drain them and pat them dry with a bit of kitchen roll then pop them on the oven tray.

Dollop the coconut oil on top. It will be solid (unless it’s a particularly hot day) so just put it in the oven like this for a minute or 2 until it melts. Once it’s melted, take the tray out and mix it over the almonds then add the tamari and mix it all around.

Leave in the oven for 20 minutes. They should be hard but not burnt. Check on them after 10 minutes.

Keep in an airtight container or ziplock bag (once cooled) for up to 2 weeks.

Love & health,
Lauren

 

Double Decker Banana Cake

double-decker-banana-bread-2

It has taken a while, but I have definitely perfected my banana cake recipe (it’s slightly different to my banana bread) although I seriously underestimate my amazing new oven and every recipe seems to need 5 minutes less than in my old oven so the sides are very slightly overdone. I wanted to make this one a bit more exciting than plain banana cake as we were entertaining so I halved the mixture and added cacao to one half to create a double-decker effect. I hope you love it as much as we all did – it got eaten pretty quickly!

Ingredients

4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 heaped tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp chia or flax seeds
4 tbsp filtered water
1 cup buckwheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean syrup or vanilla extract
¼ cup almond milk
3 tbsp cacao powder
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180° and line a loaf tin with baking paper and grease with coconut oil.

Mix the chia or flax seeds in a small bowl with the water and set aside so it can set.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl and add the coconut oil and maple, then add the chia / flax mix and mix well.

Now add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Move just under half the batter into another bowl and add the almond milk, cacao powder and vanilla, and, if using, mix in the chocolate chips.

Pour the plain batter into the loaf tin then add the chocolate batter on top. I made it a double-decker but if you want a marbled effect you can cut through the batter with a knife so that the top layer sinks down to the bottom layer in places.

Slice a banana length ways and add to the top of the cake and put it in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Leave on a wire rack to cool then turn out of the loaf tin onto a plate.

Delicious served with peanut or almond butter!

Enjoy!

Love and health,
Lauren

 

 

WEANING! Mini Fish Pies For Your Mini People

  • Mini fish pies

The most stressful and time consuming aspect of parenthood for most new mums seems to be food! I mean these tiny people need to eat 3 meals a day, EVERY DAY! Oh, and snacks! And we have to organise and prepare these meals, make sure they’re healthy, have all the right ingredients and none of the wrong ones, and make sure there is something available at all times. It’s bloody hard work!

Please don’t think that just because I run this site that it is any less stressful for me. I find that the only way to make it even slightly less stressful is to be very very organised. I sit down with my laptop on a Saturday morning and plan my meals for the week, then order the online shop from Abel & Cole. I then sit and work out at which times of which days I will cook these things. After all, it’s not always possible to be in the kitchen when you have a baby. Once I’ve written all this down, it feels a lot less overwhelming and I can get on with my weekend!

So following on from that, I thought I’d help you all out a little bit and start adding baby meals to the website. It will have its own category in the drop-down list also, to make it easier to find things.

Here are some mini fish pies – dairy free of course – with just great ingredients and no nasties.

Ingredients

A pack of fish pie mix (I use Abel & Cole, otherwise a mix of salmon, cod and haddock or your own choice of fish)
About 8-10 white potatoes
1/2 tsp coconut oil
Almond milk (the quantity will depend on the size of your saucepan)
1 bay leaf
1 cube pre-prepared homemade vegetable or chicken stock, or 1 Kallo low salt organic vegetable stock cube
Half a cup of frozen peas
Vegan margarine spread
Freshly ground pepper and Himalayan salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Peel and chop the potatoes and put them in a saucepan, cover with water and boil.

At the same time, rub the fish with the coconut oil then put it in a saucepan and cover with almond milk. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and add the stock cube, bay leaf, some pepper. You can add some pink Himalayan salt if you do want to add salt. The fish should all look cooked after about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, holding back a very small amount of the liquid, just enough to keep it moist then put it back in the saucepan and set aside for a minute.

Put the peas in a saucepan, add water, bring to the boil and drain.

Go back to the fish, Remove the bay leaf and gently mash the bits of fish, breaking them up so they are not whole chunks but also not broken up too small. Add the peas then add this mix to the individual ramekin dishes or disposable mini silver dishes.

Once the potatoes are ready, drain the water and mash well. Add about a fifth of a cup of almond milk and a tbsp vegan margarine and mix until smooth. Add a small pinch of Himalayan salt and mix again.

Add this layer to the top of the fish layer, rub a little vegan margarine over the top of each one and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Once cool you can freeze them and defrost as and when you need them.

I hope your babies enjoy this as much as my baby did!

Love,
Lauren (& Braxton!)

Orange, Cardamom & Fig Cake

 

2.JPG

I have been making a gluten / dairy / refined sugar-free chocolate orange cake for years and it’s a favourite of my husband and his family. It’s the dessert they request from me most often. I’ve recently discovered my love for cardamom in cakes and I thought, what tastes go better together than orange and cardamom? So I amended my chocolate orange cake slightly to add cardamom and figs.

This cake is gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar-free but it is not vegan as it uses eggs.

It may seem like it would be a difficult cake to make but it’s actually really easy to throw together, the only bits that need a little bit more attention are the figs that will be on the top of the cake, and grinding the cardamom seeds but to honest, neither of these things are difficult, just a little more time consuming.

I made it this weekend for dessert for a BBQ we were hosting and it went down a treat.

Orange Cardamom Fig Cake 2

 

Ingredients

2 large oranges
6 free-range eggs
250g ground almonds
200g coconut palm sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of Himalayan salt
The seeds of 10 cardamom pods
5 or 6 fresh figs

To garnish:
A drizzle of honey or agave nectar
Flaked almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Put the oranges in a saucepan big enough to be able to cover them with water. Boil for about an hour or until very soft and you can see the skin opening.

Cut into quarters and leave to cool on the chopping board for about 10 minutes. Remove seeds.

Put them in the food processor / blender and blitz until they become a pulp. Add the eggs while the food processor is still working (on a low speed until you put the lid back on) as this will aerate the eggs. Blend well and leave it to the side for the moment.

In a large bowl mix the ground almonds, palm sugar, baking powder and salt. Then open up all the cardamom pods, put them in a pestle and mortar or coffee / spice grinder and grind until they are no longer whole. Once ground, add to the flour mix.

Now spoon the orange mixture into the dry mix and mix really well. Make sure to get all the flour from the bottom and sides of the bowl. Set aside for a moment.

Cut a sheet of baking paper to fit a 23cm springform cake tin and place it at the bottom of the tin then grease generously with coconut oil on the paper and the sides of the tin.

Cut the figs into fine slices and layer them over the bottom of the tin. Once totally covered, add the cake mixture and put it into the oven for 40-45 minutes. Your fork should come out clean but wet – this cake has to be moist.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour – this is important. Once cool, slowly release the buckle of the cake tin and remove, then put a large plate on top of the cake and slowly turn it upside down to release the cake onto the plate. Remove the baking paper.

Sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds on top and drizzle with honey or agave and serve.

Enjoy!

Love,
Lauren

Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ with Sesame, Sweet Potato & Asparagus

Cauliflower Couscous

Who would have thought you could take a vegetable and turn it into a carb substitute? Sometimes we just fancy a bit of stodge for dinner, right?? Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable and by blitzing it in the Vitamix, we can turn it into a couscous-like consistency. You can pretty much add anything you like to it and, as usual, I’ve added whatever I already had in my fridge. This entire meal is plant-based and super healthy.

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower
2 sweet potatoes
Tsp coconut oil
A bunch of asparagus
About 8 chestnut mushrooms, chopped (or any mushrooms will do)
5th of a cup of water
Handful coriander
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Some sesame oil
1/2 tsp paprika
Handful sundried tomatoes
Himalayan salt & ground black pepper

Optional:
1/4 cucumber, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
Gluten free tacos
Halloumi – if not vegan

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Peel and dice the sweet potato then put them on a baking tray with a tsp coconut oil and some Himalayan salt. Once the oven heats up the coconut oil will be melted and you can pull out the tray and mix it around to make sure it covers all the pieces of the potato. Cook for around 20 minutes, or until soft.

Cut the cauliflower into florets and put them in the blender and blitz until a couscous-like consistency is formed. Leave to the side.

Heat some sesame oil in a pan and add the asparagus and mushrooms. Mix around then add about a 5th of a cup of water and add this so the steam will cook the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add a tiny bit more sesame oil then once hot, add the cauliflower couscous to the pan and turn the heat to medium. Mix around for 1-2 minutes then add the sesame seeds and let it all heat through. Add the coriander, paprika some salt and pepper and mix for another minute, then re add the asparagus and mushrooms and mix.

Once heated through, put it on a plate or bowl, remove the sweet potato from the oven and add it to the top.

At this point you can add all the optional extras to the top or put it all inside a gluten free taco or wrap and devour!

Enjoy!

Love,
Lauren