Tag Archives: quick

Warming & Hearty Vegan Split Pea Soup

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Its fall. Yep, there is no denying it. Well, in London anyway. The leaves are on the ground, the air has a crispness to it and everyone has a cold. Yep, summer is over.

The good thing is: new season, new vegetables! Time for some hearty, warming, stick to your bones meals. One of my favorite dishes for fall is Split Pea soup. Growing up, like most people, it was made with a big ol’ham hock. I always thought that was what gave the soup its delicious flavor. Nope. It’s actually the split peas. Those little dried peas are absolutely bursting with flavor all by themselves. It’s quite shocking actually. They have this great smokey, deep, hearty flavor. So there is no need to add any meat to this dish. The split peas are certainly the star of this show.

IMG_3395INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of split peas, rinsed
  • 1 handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small leek (or 1 small onion)
  • 2 fresh sage leaves (or 1 bay leaf/remove before serving, or 1 tsp of dried sage)
  • 1 1/2 tsp of thyme
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • s&p
  • dash of balsamic vinegar

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Chop the leek, carrots and celery into 1/2 inch pieces.
  2. Chop the garlic and herbs.
  3. In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, add a dash of olive oil and once hot add in the veggies. Cook for 5 mins.
  4. Add in the garlic and herbs. Cook for 1 min.
  5. Add in the split peas and 2.5 cups of vegetable stock. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 mins.
  6. Check the soup after 20 mins, if it is too thick add some water, if it is too thin you can add in a diced potato. At this point add in the chopped spinach.
  7. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar and s&p.
  8. Options: If you want the soup hearty, then you can serve as is otherwise you can blend it to a creamy consistency.
  9. Ready to serve!

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Health Benefits of Split Peas

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Can we say “Fiber”!?  Just 1 cup of split peas equals more than half of your daily required intake of fiber. Wow. 

“Dried peas, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only can dried peas help lower cholesterol, they are also of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.

Fiber is far from all that dried peas have to offer. Dried peas also provide good to excellent amounts of four important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein–all with virtually no fat. As if this weren’t enough, dried peas also feature isoflavones (notably daidzein). Isoflavones are phytonutrients that can act like weak estrogens in the body and whose dietary consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of certain health conditions, including breast and prostate cancer.

Dried Peas are Packed with Fiber

Check a chart of the fiber content in foods and you’ll see legumes leading the pack. Dried peas, like other legumes, are rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that binds bile (which contains cholesterol) and carries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A single cup of cooked dried peas provides 65.1% of the daily value for fiber.

Dried Peas Provide Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar

In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, legumes like dried peas can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods. Researchers compared two groups of people with type 2 diabetes who were fed different amounts of high fiber foods. One group ate the standard American Diabetic diet, which contains 24 grams of fiber/day, while the other group ate a diet containing 50 grams of fiber/day. Those who ate the diet higher in fiber had lower levels of both plasma glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that helps blood sugar get into cells). The high fiber group also reduced their total cholesterol by nearly 7%, their triglyceride levels by 10.2% and their VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein–the most dangerous form of cholesterol) by 12.5%.

Take Dried Peas to Heart

In a study that examined food intake patterns and risk of death from coronary heart disease, researchers followed more than 16,000 middle-aged men in the U.S., Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Greece and Japan for 25 years. Typical food patterns were: higher consumption of dairy products in Northern Europe; higher consumption of meat in the U.S.; higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish, and wine in Southern Europe; and higher consumption of cereals, soy products, and fish in Japan. When researchers analyzed this data in relation to the risk of death from heart disease, they found that legumes were associated with an 82% reduction in risk!

In addition to their stellar fiber content, dried peas also feature other heart healthy nutrients. They are a good source of potassium, which may decrease the growth and development of blood vessel plaques and is also good for lowering high blood pressure. A cup of cooked peas will supply you with 20.3% of your daily need for potassium.

Sensitive to Sulfites? Dried Peas May Help

Dried peas are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars. Persons who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed. If you have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them. A cup of cooked dried peas provides 196.0% of the daily value for molybdenum.”

Source: Whfoods.com

 

Super Quick Curry- Yogurt Veggie Skewers with Coriander Rice and Cumin Spiced Dip

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Its 7 o’clock in the evening, just walked through the door and am starved! Don’t have the energy to make anything grand but not into ordering take-out either.  So I open the fridge to find a handful of veggies, greek yogurt and halloumi cheese.  Perfect.  Dinner will be ready in 10 mins!

I always keep a package of halloumi cheese in the fridge, it’s a great vegetarian substitute and it’s perfect on the grill.

If you don’t have a BBQ you can always bake these in the oven on about 220C/420F for about 10 mins.

INGREDIENTS:

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  • 4 wooden skewers, soaked in water so they don’t burn.
  • any grill-able veggies you have on hand: for example: 1 zucchini, 1 red pepper, 2 small eggplants, handful of mushrooms.
  • 125g halloumi cheese (there is low-fat available).
  • 1 cup of low-fat organic yogurt.
  • 1 tbsp curry powder.
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder.
  • 1 clove of minced garlic.
  • s&p.
  • 1 cup basmati rice (rinsed).
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander.
  • 1 tsp of freshly grated lemon zest.
  • 2 cups of water.
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, sliced thinly to make cole slaw-like strips.
  • drizzle of olive oil.
  • drizzle of apple cider vinegar.

INSTRUCTIONS:

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  1. In a pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then add in the basmati rice.  Turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 mins, until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked and fluffy.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, add curry powder, minced garlic, and S&p to 1/2 cup of the yogurt, mix well.
  3. Chop up your veggies and halloumi into 1 inch pieces.
  4. Add veggies and cheese to yogurt mixture and stir well.
  5. Take your wooden skewers and fit as many veggies and cheese as you can onto each skewer.
  6. Grill veggie skewers for about 5 mins (turning after 2-3 mins).
  7. Meanwhile add the cumin, s&p to the remaining yogurt.  This will be your dipping sauce.
  8. Slice the cabbage and drizzle olive oil and apple cider vinegar, add s&p, toss well.
  9. Once the rice is cooked, fluff with a fork and add in the chopped fresh coriander and grated lemon zest.

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Ready to plate up!

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Quick & Easy Thai Yellow Curry for One.

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Being home alone doesn’t mean having cereal or take out for dinner. This quick and easy Yellow Curry is ready in about 20 min and packed full of fresh veggies. I always keep a jar of Thai curry paste in the fridge and a can of low fat coconut milk in the cupboard. All you need are the veggies and some brown rice and your’e ready for a deliciously spicy, healthy and hearty meal.

I love cooking, mostly for a large group of people, that way I can make many dishes and flex my culinary skills 😉 So when I am home alone, cooking just for myself, I’m not as inspired to create something amazing. Having simple ingredients on hand makes coming up with dishes for one simple and less labor intensive (hey, cooking for one means there is no one else to share the clean up!).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp of Thai Curry Paste (yellow, red or green)
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 3 baby eggplants, about 3/4 cup chopped
  • 2 heads of baby bok choy (or 1/2 cup of chopped cabbage)
  • 3 shitaki mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 handful of sugar snap peas (or green beans)
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful of  fresh Thai basil or regular basil will do
  • 1/2 cup of low fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of water or coconut water
  • 1 tbsp of tamari sauce (thats Gluten Free soy sauce)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced fine
  • Plus a portion of cooked brown rice for one (about 1/2 cup of brown rice, I used basmati, 1 cup water, simmer for about 15 min, lid on)

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INSTRUCTIONS:

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  1. Wash and chop all of the veggies except the sugar snap peas, leave them whole.
  2. In a pan over medium heat, add the oil and curry paste. Cook for about 1 min.
  3. Add in all of the veggies except the peas and bok choy, plus the garlic and ginger. Stir and cook for about 3 min.
  4. Add in the coconut milk and water. Cook for about 5 min.
  5. Add in the peas and bok choy, cook for a further 2 min.

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At this point you can add a little corn starch to thicken it, as I water down my coconut milk to keep the fat content down, but you can thicken it back up if you prefer.

Heap some brown rice into a bowl and pour on the hearty veggie curry and you’re delicious dinner for one is ready! Much better than a bowl of Special K right?? 🙂

English Pea Bruschetta on Toasted Whole Grain Bread

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Beautifully bright green- they must be good for you! I love English peas (also known as Garden Peas, Green Peas) but my other half isn’t a fan. I think he might have the same attitude toward peas as many of us, weird little green things that are in a tasteless pile on our plates as a side dish. Usually bought frozen and then boiled to death. Sad.

Solution #1: Buy fresh peas (if you can). They are so fresh and tasty that you can actually eat them raw.

Solution #2: If you buy them frozen, boil them for about 1 minute and then dunk into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process and keep that intensely green color and crispness.

Solution #3: When dealing with ultra skeptical guests: garlic and parmesan on everything! That’ll usually do the trick 🙂

This now happens to be one of his (and mine of course) favorite snacks, and look at that, its made with peas! Changing peoples minds about foods is an amazing thing. Especially for them, as they have just added a new vegetable into their culinary world. Exciting!

This recipe literally takes about 2 minutes to make. You’ll need a mini food processor. Enough for 2 people, 2 toasts each.

IMG_3058Into the food processor:

1/4 cup of parmesan cheese (I cut a chunk off and let the processor do the grating for me)

1 tsp of fresh rosemary

1 cup of fresh English peas (raw or cooked for 1 minute and then placed in an ice cold water bath)

1 small clove of raw garlic

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of balsamic vinigar

S&P

4 slices of whole grain bread, toasted

IMG_3063In it all goes, blend together until relatively smooth. Spread on toast, drizzle with a little good quality olive oil (optional) and serve. Delicious 🙂

Just wait until you read about the Health AND Environmental benefits of Peas! Amazing…

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Peas are naturally low in fat, about 1/3 of a gram per cup and full of vitamins and nutrients as you can see from the chart above. Thirty percent of your daily fiber requirement in just one cup of peas! An anti-oxident and anti-inflamatory food, peas have been known to help reduce stomach cancers, type 2 diabetes and promote a healthy heart.

Check this out:

Green peas stand out as an environmentally friendly food. Agricultural research has shown that pea crops can provide the soil with important benefits. First, peas belong to a category of crops called “nitrogen fixing” crops. With the help of bacteria in the soil, peas and other pulse crops are able to take nitrogen gas from the air and convert it into more complex and usable forms. This process increases nitrogen available in the soil without the need for added fertilizer. Peas also have a relatively shallow root system which can help prevent erosion of the soil, and once the peas have been picked, the plant remainders tend to break down relatively easily for soil replenishment. Finally, rotation of peas with other crops has been shown to lower the risk of pest problems. These environmentally friendly aspects of pea production add to their desirability as a regular part of our diet.”  Source: WHFoods.com

 

 

Baked Maple Syrup & Cinnamon Apples (minus the Pie) for Dessert

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Hot apples baking away in the oven with cinnamon and maple syrup…mmmm… Why go for the full fat apple pie when you can get all of the flavor with these “skinny” baked apples? Oh and did I mention it takes about 5 min to make?

Ingredients:

2 apples, skin on, organic

pinch of cinnamon

drizzle of 100% pure Maple Syrup

handful of raisins

handful of sliced almonds

1/4 cup of water

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Instructions:

Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius/430 F

Cut the middle out of your apples with a sharp knife, and preserve a little “lid” for the bottom (so the juices stay inside).

Place in an oven proof dish.

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Top with raisins, a pinch of cinnamon, drizzle over the maple syrup (making sure to get some inside the apple) and sprinkle on the almonds.

Add the water to the bottom of the dish, so the apples don’t get stuck to the bottom (and you get more of a sweet syrupy sauce).

Bake for about 15 min, until apples are tender.

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Serve alone or with a little cream (5.5g of fat per 30ml serving) or you can do vanilla frozen yogurt. Homemade, simple and delicious.

Health Benefits of Apples:

“Apple polyphenols (anti-oxidents) are standout nutrients in this widely loved fruit. These polyphenols include flavonols (especially quercetin, but also kaempferol and myricetin), catechins (especially epicatechin), anthocyanins (if the apples are red-skinned), chlorogenic acid, phloridizin, and several dozen more health-supportive polyphenol nutrients. Apple is a good source of fiber, including the soluble fiber pectin, and it’s also a good source of vitamin C. Apple nutrients are disproportionately present in the skin, which is a particularly valuable part of the fruit with respect to its nutrient content.” http://www.whfoods.org

Creamy Banana Mango Breakfast Smoothie- Dairy & Soy Free!

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Smoothies are a great breakfast option for days when you don’t have time to cook, or want your breakfast to go or in a hurry.
I try to keep my blender in plain sight in my kitchen so I am reminded to use it in the morning to make nutrient packed smoothies (just a tip!).

I love creaminess in my smoothies, not a big fan of just pure fruit and ice. But I don’t want to use milk or soy, so instead I use coconut milk. It’s not the coconut milk from a can used in Thai cooking, but rather it comes in a milk carton and is low in fat and tastes refreshing. I personally like this brand, available in select grocery stores.

http://www.kokodairyfree.com/

This recipe is super simple, and I like the fact that there are no berries involved, unlike most smoothies.

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Ingredients:

1 banana
1/2 cup of frozen mangoes (now you don’t need any ice)
1 tbsp of honey
1 cup of coconut milk

Instructions:

Everything into a blender and blend until smooth(ie). That was easy! 🙂

From the KoKo Dairy Free website:

Unique, great tasting, dairy free alternatives to milk

+ Made from freshly pressed coconut milk.
+ Naturally free of lactose, cow’s milk protein, soya and gluten.
+ Ideal for anyone with lactose, cow’s milk protein, soya or gluten intolerance.
+ Suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and coeliacs.
+ Cholesterol free and with calcium and fat levels matched to semi-skimmed milk. A naturally healthy
option for all to enjoy.
+ Palatable and versatile to use as drinks and in cooking.

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Quick & Easy Lunchtime Hand Rolls with Sesame Tomato & Cucumber Salad

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I love hand rolls! What’s so great about them is they are actually a perfect snack or lunch time treat if you are bored with sandwiches but don’t want to splurge on Sushi. They are super easy to make at home with ingredients you already have in your pantry.

Key ingredient of course: Nori (seaweed). But what you put inside is totally up to you and your imagination. I had a can of tuna and mayonnaise in the fridge. You could also add veggies to it, like your standard avocado or cucumber, but I decided to save mine for a salad on the side.

This literally took about 20 min to make, but if you happen to have leftover rice in the fridge you could be eating in about 5 minutes.

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Ingredients:

1 cup Sushi Rice, Brown rice or I used a mixture that I like which has Wild Rice and Lentils, rinse well, until water runs clear

1 1/2 cup water

1 can tuna fish

4 Nori wraps (make sure to have more handy, it takes a few tries to get them rolled just right without the insides dropping onto the floor!)

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp spicy red pepper Dijon mustard (you could use any type of hot sauce for this)

2 tsp Amino Acids (one for the spicy tuna and one for the salad dressing)

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 small tomato, diced

1/3 cucumber, skin on, diced (about 1/2 cup)

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tbsp of tamari sauce

Instructions:

Boil the rice, with the lid on. About 15 min. If you have time to let it cool great, otherwise pop it in the freezer to cool down.

Drain the tuna, add the mayo, spicy Dijon mustard, 1 tsp rice vinegar, sesame seeds and 1 tsp of the amino acids in a bowl and mix together.

In a separate bowl add the sesame oil, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp amino acids, s&p,  mix together and add in the tomatoes and cucumber. Toss well.

The assembly!

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Now this part looks easier than it is. I went through a couple of these before I got it right. The key is you want to make a cone so when you pick it up, the rice doesn’t fall out if the bottom. So tear the square seaweed sheet in half and place a bit of the rice and tuna mixture on the left side, roll the left corner inwards, and as you roll bring it on an angle towards you to make a cone shape. No matter what shape you come up with- it’s still edible!

One thing to keep in mind is the seaweed will go soft the longer it sits, so try to prepare and eat right away. I also found that instead of dipping the hand-roll into the tamari sauce, you could also drizzle a little on before you roll it up. Lessening your chances of any more spillage! 🙂

Tamari vs Soy Sauce:

Both are made of fermented soy beans. However Soy Sauce actually contains wheat and gluten, where as Tamari is Gluten and wheat free. I find that taste very similar but to me, tamari tastes less salty yet richer. I only use Tamari now.

Nutrition for Nori Seaweed:

Nori has about a third protein and a third dietary fiber, and contains high proportions of iodine, vitamins AB, and K, and iron. (Wikipedia)