courgetti yumamaze…

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Happy Wednesday everyone! Sorry for the radio silence on Monday, but I was feeling unusually uninspired for the beginning of the week. But how can I fail to be inspired when I look at ^that plate^ of deliciousness above?

As I have probably mentioned before, only about a gazillion times, I was never that big a meat eater. When I went veggie I will admit I missed fish, and as a vegan I still ocassionally do, but never really meat. Or not meat on it’s own should I say. What I do find myself craving every now and then is a big plate of something, warm and comforting. Something that fills your kitchen with that smell and makes your mouth water. And weirdly, even though I wouldn’t have even listed it as one of my top ten pre-vegan meals, I found myself craving a spaghetti bolognase. So I had to find something to fill that gap, something that would hopefully be a million times healthier, but still have that warm filling goodness to it, and so I came up with this, Courgetti Yumamze, so much more than just an incredible pun, and as always incredibly simple.

The best thing about this dish is that you can pretty much throw any veg into the mix on top of the basics I give you below, so if you do try this, and find any winning combination that I must try, please do let me know. Anyway enough rambling…

Ingreedients – makes roughly enough for 3 – 4 people…

1 x courgette per person
1 x tin of red kidney beans
1 x tin of butter beans
1 x onion
2 x cloves of garlic
Handful of fresh parsley and same of basil
1-2 x tins of tomatoes (use your judgement when cooking)
Lemon juice
1 x veggie stock cube
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

How I throw it all together…

1. In a frying pan, slowly heat up some olive oil, dice up your onion, and chop your mushrooms, throw in and cook for about 5 minutes (until the onion is soft and the mushrooms are slightly brown).

2.  Drain off your red kidney and butter beans and stir them into the pan, along with the garlic cloves crushed, and any other veg you want to add in, keep mixing it all around for about 2 minutes. Stir, and add in your basil and half the parsley (chopped up nice and small).

3. Turn the heat down, and add in the first tin of tomatoes and crush in your stock cube. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, if it starts to look a bit dry you can always add in the second tin of tomatoes.

4. For the courgetti… Take your corugettes and put them through a fancy spiraliser if you have one, or just peel with a julienne peeler, or thinly slice them up if all you have is a knife, so that you are left with spaghetti like strips. You can leave this raw, or I like to dunk them into a bowl of hot water for a minute or two just to soften them up, drain them off and dress with lemon juice and a touch of olive oil. If you want your courgetti warm wait until the bolognase has been on for about 20 minutes!

5. Once your bolognase has simmered away for 30 minutes you’re good to go! And just serve it up like a normal bolognase, with a touch of salt and pepper, and the other half of the parsley for seasoning, and of course a generous helping of garlic bread, which I make by crushing some garlic into some olive oil, and then spreading onto sliced fresh bread. Whack it under the grill for a couple of minutes and voilla!

As you can see I’m not the type of cook that measures everything out, I tend to rely on tasting as I go for adding in extra flavours!  I use this as a base and tend to add in red peppers, grated carrots, broccoli, olives, or instead of basil and parsley, add in chilli and paprika.

Let me know if you try this, writing up recipes is still pretty new to me, so I love hearing from you about them and if you have any questions about being new to cooking vegan please ask!

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far from rocket science…

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Hi everyone, how are you? I have a super early start today and I am already looking forward to lunch, dinner and ll the snacks, that quite rightfully live in between. Please tell me I’m not alone? I LOVE my food, and that hasn’t changed since going vegan, in fact if anything I love my food even more now, because now I spend more time with it, thinking about it, planning it out, devouring it (in a totally none sexual way, unless any particularly sexy vegan man wants to amuse my bouche?). Of course, that is all because being vegan, means my food on the go options, are a little more limited. However, I don’t think this is a relationship only vegans can enjoy.

As I mentioned in my last vegan based post, when it comes to what I’m eating I like to keep it simple, and I think this is something that can be applied to all diets, meat eater, cheese lover, gluten free, whichever way you swing, why shouldn’t we strip it back every now and then? It’s the quickest and easiest way to get healthy! When I published that last post, a few of you (I wanted to write ‘many of you’ but lets not get big headed) said I should share some recipes. Well, I’m not sure about recipes because a)most of the stuff I make is waaaay to easy for that grand title and b) my food photography is shocking.

So instead I thought I might share the odd simple meal idea every now and then (a bit like I did with these) that you can add to, take away from, adapt, and refrigerate as you wish. Today, I thought I would share what an average meal looks like for me, something which my work colleague would laugh at and say was far from ‘average’ but as you’ll see, it doesn’t take fancy ingreedients or even much time to make a big old plate of veg delicious. So without further ado, I give you a courgetti salad, served with lemon and garlic potatoes, asparagus and a tahini dressing…

Shopping Basket (serves 2 as a main meal)…

8 New or Salad Potatoes
1 large clove of Garlic
8 stalks of Asparagus
1 courgette
Half a pack of mange tout
1 can of chickpeas
As many sun dried tomatoes as you please
1 Lemon (for it’s juicy juice)
Salt, pepper, dried or fresh parsley, chilli flakes
Olive oil

Method, or how I throw everything together and hope for the best…

1. In a large bowl, crush the garlic clove, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil, and add half the lemon juice all together and mix up. Slice up the new potatoes, into halves or thirds (keep em chunky) and throw them into the bowl, making sure to cover them in the dressing. Season with salt, pepper and parsley, and roast them in the over for about 30-40 minutes on a fairly high temperature. I like to roast them relatively slowly, so that all the flavours roast together. otherwise I find the dressing burns

2. While the potatoes are cooking, strip your courgette in courgetti. You can do this with a fancy pants spiralizer, or just use a jullienne peeler, or keep your strips a bit thicker by just using a normal vegetable peeler. Throw your courgetti into a salad bowl, drain your chick peas (rinse) and add them in too along with your, mange tout and sundried tomatoes. If your using sun dried tomatoes from a jar, then I put these on some kitchen roll before adding them to my salad, as I find the chepaer jars tend to have a lot of oil on and when this goes into your salad it can make it all a bit soggy! I then dressed this with a little olive oil, lemon, and some chilli flakes.

3. When your potatoes are about 5 minutes away from being done, grill or steam your asparagus. I like my asparagus to have a little crunch to it, but generally if it starts to turn a lush bright green it’s done!

4. To make a yummy and simple tahinin dressing, just mix a table spoon of tahini, juice of quarter of a lemon, and water (depending on what consistency you want, as a rule, I use twice as much water as tahini, but it does tend to thicken up if you leave it in the fridge over night so you might want to make it a bit weaker)

4. Take your potatoes out, pile your corgetti salad high on your plate, top with the asparagus, and drizzle with your tahini and enjoy OR put it all in a lunch box, and leave it for tomorrow.

I told you I couldn’t call it a recipe! What do you think? Let me know if you try this, or if you adapt it in anyway. I made this for the first time, after the overly indulgent Easter weekend, as it was made up just from what I had left in the fridge, but isn’t that how all the best meals come about?

Live life & have the best lunch in the office x

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going vegan: keep it simple…

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Happy Wednesday folks, how are you this week?

It’s been a while since I rambled on about going vegan, you might remember that in January I took on veganuary, and loved it, so much so that nearly every post that month referred to it in some way! I felt like I had maybe overloaded you all a bit with it all, and I didn’t want to put none vegans off coming to my little part of the internet so I laid off talking about it for the past couple of months. However, I have stuck with being vegan, loved every moment of it, and a few of you wonderful readers have asked for advice and updates so I thought I would share a little bit more about this change in my diet.

Without a doubt the most common reaction I get when I tell people I’ve gone vegan is ‘isn’t it really hard?’ or some variation of that, including ‘I couldn’t do it’ and ‘what about cheese though?’ I understand these reactions, these are all thoughts that crossed through my own mind when I was considering taking on the vegan challenge. I expected it to be difficult, I expected to go into a shop and after spending an hour in despair, not knowing what to eat, find myself sobbing in the cheese aisle. But that didn’t happen. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is, being vegan, is actually really simple.

I read the research, bought the cookery books, and was overwhelmed with confusion about millet, and quinoa and protein, and supplements. What’s a grain and what’s a pulse? Do I need a new smoothie maker? And why is Quinoa pronounced Keen-wah? In all honesty, I’m still not sure what the answer is to most of the questions. And I will never for the life of me understand that last one, but then I realised, I was oly looking at being vegan for a month, so why over complicate things for myself?

When it comes down to it, there is one rule to being vegan, don’t eat anything that came from an animal.

So you walk into a shop, looking for lunch on the go and you can pretty much rule out the entire sandwich section. And the dairy section. So what does that leave you with? Crisps, snacks, sweets? Ok. These things are a bit more complicated, you pick up any of these items, look at the ingreedients list, and chances are it will be in tiny print, trying to fit all on to the packet. EEEEP. What are these things? Do they come from animals? Hang on, should I really eat something when the ingredients list gives me the same sweats as my gcse chemistry exam did*?

Probably not.

Healthy food, vegan or not, is simple. You should look at it and know exactly what it is you’re about to consume.

So whether you’re currently trying to slim down, on a health kick, or looking at going vegan, there is one very simple rule. Keep it simple. Walk into the shop, pick up a banana, a box of salad, or if you want to a sandwich. I’m not saying never eat a snack again, heck, I still snack, all I’m saying is don’t over complicate things for yourself in the beginning.

You can worry about all those supplements and fancy ingreedients a little further down the line, for now, just go back to basics. A salad with sweet potatoes, a mango for dessert (yup I eat whole mangoes) it’s actually not hard, it’s actually delicious.

Live life & keep it simple x

*I was actually inexplicably good at chemistry when I was at school, in another life I’m probably a scientist making much more money than I do in the arts.