Cauliflower rice – amazing

Yes using chopped cauliflower in place of rice really does work. It is simple, tasty and a great way to reduce calories and starch whilst increasing nutrition. We ate it last night with 10 bean chilli. It smells a bit like socks when you chop it, but it was easy, healthy and delicious, hence this post.

You can buy ready chopped cauliflower rice in supermarkets, but it is so easy as well as cheaper and fresher to make your own. Start with a whole head of cauliflower, ideally organic, the fresher the better. Rinse it off, remove the green leaves, then choose one of three methods, we prefer the chunky version. Either process the whole head and freeze the left overs or use what you need and keep the rest whole:

  • Fine – use a cheese grater, chop whole cauliflower in half, hold the stalk and get grating, ideally contained in a large bowl to avoid it going everywhere.
  • Fine – chop into florets, add to a food processor, pulse until finely chopped.
  • Chunky – take whole head, with large carving knife start cutting thin slices of the flower, it will fall into pieces as you cut, keep trimming until you have what you want. I use the stalk and centre piece in other dishes.

Cook by lightly sautéing in a splash of water, add lid and cook until it is to you liking or add to a roasting tin with a splash of water and cook for 8-12 mins at 180c. Toss and check it as you go. You can eat cauliflower raw as you can most veg and the less cooking the more nutrients are retained, so cook it as little as you want, even serve it raw if you want!

Cauliflower is often considered one of the healthiest foods there is, part of cruciferous vegetable family, also known as the ‘Brassica oleracea’ family, along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts and some other less common varieties. It is packed full of health-promoting phytochemicals and high level of anti-inflammatory compounds.

Top 8 health benefits:

  1. Reduce cancer risk
  2. Reduce risk for heart disease and brain disorders
  3. Good source of vitamins and minerals (high in C and K)
  4. Improves digestion and detoxification
  5. Aids in weight loss
  6. Fights inflammation
  7. Helps balance hormones
  8. Preserves eye health

100g of raw cauliflower contains:

  • 25 calories,
  • 5.3% carbohydrates,
  • 2% protein
  • 0.1% fat
  • 2.5% fiber
  • 46.4 milligrams vitamin C (77 percent DV)
  • 16 micrograms vitamin K (20 percent DV)
  • 57 micrograms folate (14 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (11 percent DV)
  • plus potassium, manganese, pantothenic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus

Parting thoughts – The more veg you can pack into you diet the better, cauliflower is so versatile, it is well worth putting on the shopping list and having a play, roast it, eat it raw with dip, add to curry, make rice, soup, chowder, flavour as you wish, it isn’t fussy 🙂

Cauliflower is really easy to grow too!

The Ethical omnivore

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Valentines day – have some heart

Mr Ethivore and I are having pan fried organic beef heart for our Valentines dinner.

Sadly people don’t general eat heart anymore. It was my Dad that put me introduced me to it. We buy organic beef heart, liver and kidneys to make our dogs food (yes they are ethical omnivores too). Dad spotted it defrosting and said ‘I haven’t had beef heart for years, it is delicious but I can’t buy it anymore’. With that we fried some up and have never looked back. Being an ethical omnivore is about eating and enjoying all cuts of meat, sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten cuts’. Heart used to be a treat, the meat is very lean and packed full of flavour. Think fillet steak crossed with liver.

When we think about trying to be ethical in our choices and moving to organic, grass fed meat we think about the cost. The secret to getting it right it to think creatively, heart is cheap, really cheap. We buy organic, slow grown long horn beef heart for £4KG, we trim the fat, valves and arteries off for the dogs and we eat the meat.

Anyone that is squeamish about eating cuts like heart, think about it think way, it is a muscle, it is exactly the same as eating a steak, just cheaper and in a lot of cases better. It we eat meat we should make use of the whole animal, we have become accustomed to standard cuts, but that is all it is, what we have become used to. Eating only steaks, chicken breast, fillet of fish etc. is unsustainable and not really where the flavour and goodness is.

You might find beef heart in your butcher, otherwise try online, there are a lot of traditional butchers and farm shops that sell it. All meat freezes well so buying a box of meat directly rather than from the supermarket is always a better option. As with all meat aim to buy the best version you can find, buy direct, grass fe or organic ideally.

It might look odd when you unwrap it, but get a sharp knife out and you’ll soon turn it into something that resembles a meat product you recognise:

  • wash the heart, pat dry,
  • trim off everything other than the lean meat, fat, valves, arteries etc,
  • cut that into large chunks to fit into the pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning to taste,
  • heat a pan, ideally a skillet with butter or oil,
  • when nice and hot, add the meat and cook for 4-6 mins each side without disturbing. You are aiming to cook it medium-rare, but you can go rare if you wish. Because it isn’t fatty it doesn’t like being over done, it get too livery and tough.
  • remove from the heat then rest for 10-15 mins.
  • leave it in the pan and lightly cover it with foil.
  • then thinly slice and serve as you would steak, sauces, mushrooms and onions, salad, fries.
  • it is also great the next day thinly sliced with horseradish and salad in sandwiches.
  • or go wild, slice really finely, make mini yorkies, gravy, horseradish cream and serve as canapés, oh fancy!

Alternatively you can marinade the heart overnight before cooking for example in balsamic vinegar, there are lots of recipes on line. I wouldn’t recommend stewing it, there are lots of cuts that are better suited to slow cooking or stewing. If anyone does try other methods that work well I’d love to hear about them.

Lots of love and heart,

The ethical omnivores, including the dogs!

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Ramen – Japan we salute you

Warning Ramen is addictive! Fortunately it is easy to make and healthy.

The majority of the recipes I post are veg dishes. We all know how to cook with meat and fish but most people don’t know how to cook without them. The idea is easy dishes to make, that serve as a good way to cut down on meat intake, to try dishes without feeling any compromise of flavour or texture. Ramen is perfect for this 🙂 Ramen has a deep rooted history in Japanese cuisine, with each region having it’s own take on the dish. The beauty of it is, start the basic broth, then add whatever you want. You can make this veg version or add meat or fish if you want, there are no set rules.

Basic ingredients list, serves 2:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (or alternative)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons ginger, grated
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 litre vegetable stock (I use Marigold vegan Swiss boullion)
  • 100g fresh shiitake mushrooms (I use dried mushrooms, soaked to rehydrate)
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 100g green veg finely chopped (baby spinach, swiss chard, kale, sprouting broccoli etc)
  • 100g packs dried ramen noodles (rice or soba noodles)
  • Handful chopped spring green onions (optional)
  • 1 large carrot, finely sliced with potato peeler, then chopped.

Method, approx 15 mins to make:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and onion and cook for a couple minutes until soft and fragrant. Stir in the soy sauce and mirin and cook for another minute. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the eggs and cook for 8 minutes for a soft yolk. Remove eggs from the pot and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. After a few minutes, peel the shells off carefully and slice the eggs in half, lengthwise. Set aside.
  4. In another pot heat a splash of apple juice or water, add the green veg, cover and cook for several minutes, until just wilted. Remove from the heat.
  5. Add ramen noodles to stock mixture and cook 2-3 minutes or according to package instructions.
  6. Divide the soup into 2 large bowls.
  7. Decorate the top with egg, veg, carrots and green onions, don’t stir the fun is picking it as you eat, serve and enjoy.

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10 bean and lentil chilli

Super easy, healthy and delicious. I love a bowl of spicy, rich, smokey chilli, it is high on my list of comfort foods. Mexican dishes are very well suited to reduced or zero meat dinners. Chilli was my first attempt at cutting down our meat intake. I started by adding extra kidney beans, chickpeas and veg to make the beef mince go further. I soon realised that I didn’t need the meat for the taste or the texture. Fast forward through my experiments, I now make a knock out chilli using a ten bean mix and lentils. It is full of fibre and nutrients and very low in fat.

As I have mentioned before I am a ‘throw it all in’ cook. I love lots of flavour but not too much work! Hopefully I can translate this into a recipe that works for you.

Any beans will work. I use dried beans but cans will work too. I use a 10 bean mix from Waitrose (£1.19 – 500g). I make a big batch and freeze extra portions. The quantities would make around 8-10 portions.

  • 500g dried mixed beans, soak in cold water over night. Rinse well.
  • Cover in fresh water and bring to the boil for 10 mins, simmer for approx a further 1.5 hrs. The instructions state 45 mins but I prefer the beans to be soft so cook as long as you wish.
  • Once cooked, drain the cooking water.
  • Separately cook 250g of lentils. Green, red or 50/50. Follow instructions on the packet. Drain cooking water.
  • Add cooked beans and lentils to a large pan. Add enough water to cover 1/2 of the mix. (about 1 pint).
  • Add the following:
    • two teaspoons of stock powder (I use Marigold vegan Swiss bouillon).
    • one teaspoon of cocoa powder (trust me).
    • one teaspoon of ground cumin powder.
    • half teaspoon of hot chilli powder or 2 whole red chilli roughly chopped (add chilli to taste, more or less depending on the heat). I make it quite mild so it suits everyone, then we add chopped jalapeño peppers to taste when serving.
    • one teaspoon of chipotle pepper powder (chipotle is smoked jalapeño pepper, you can buy whole or in a mix).
    • two teaspoons of smoked paprika powder.
    • Large pinch of dark muscovado sugar (sugar is also to taste and can be left out. I use it to equal the acidity in the tomatoes.
    • 3-4 large fresh tomatoes chopped or a can of chopped tomatoes.
    • 1/2 litre of tomato passata. You can add more tomato rather than water if you prefer it tomatoey.
    • All of the spices are to taste, so let it cook down, then taste it and add more if you need to. Remember you can add but you can’t take away.
  • In a separate pan brown 1-2 finely chopped medium onions. Use apple juice instead of oil for healthy option.
  • Add 4 crushed and chopped garlic cloves, fry for further 30 secs.
  • Add garlic and onion to the chill, stir well. The mixture should be wet but not swimming.
  • Cover, bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer for around 1hr. You can cook for less but I like to leave it, the longer the better as all the flavour mature. Check consistency, if too thick add more water, if too runny simmer with the lid off to reduce the liquid.

It is a long cooking time, but very little actual prep time. Hence I make a big batch and freeze it.

The beauty of the dish is that it isn’t an exact science, start with the receipt above but chuck things in and experiment, sweet potato, peppers, mushroom, courgette etc. I serve with brown rice, chopped jalapeño peppers, diced fresh avocado and cashew cream (in place of sour cream) see https://wp.me/p7RDjy-8Y. It is also good on a jacket potato, taco or wrap for lunch.

This recipe is for a non-meat version. If you do want to add meat I would opt for a high quality diced beef, brown it off, add to chilli and slow cook it until tender.

If you aren’t used to eating a lot of fibre and have a fear of beans, read the post below. Beans only cause gas and bloating if they are not prepared correctly or/and if you are not used to eating them. Introduce them gradually and you’ll still be able bend forward.

Beans beans good for your heart…

Enjoy 🙂

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Oats – super simple, super food

I love oats, an everyday superfood. A long list of health benefits, easy to cook, yummy and cheap as chips. Best of all they can aid in weight loss!

Oats are among the healthiest grains and most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, they are a complete food, per 100g – 59g of carbs, 13g of protein, 7g of fat (1g saturated) and 8g of fiber, but only 363 calories.

  • Oats can help you lose weight by making you feel fuller for longer. It does this by slowing down the emptying of the stomach and increasing production of the satiety hormone PYY
  • Oats as full of vitamins and minerals, a serving (78g dry) has,
    • Manganese: 191% of the RDI,
    • Phosphorus: 41% of the RDI,
    • Magnesium: 34% of the RDI,
    • Copper: 24% of the RDI,
    • Iron: 20% of the RDI,
    • Zinc: 20% of the RDI,
    • Folate: 11% of the RDI,
    • Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 39% of the RDI,
    • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 10% of the RDI,
    • Calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Oats contain more than 20 unique polyphenols, avenanthramides which are almost solely found in oats. Providing additional protection against coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and skin irritation.
  • Oats contain large amounts of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber. Beta-glucan partially dissolves in water and forms a thick, gel-like solution in the gut. The health benefits of beta-glucan fiber include:
    • reduced LDL and total cholesterol levels,
    • reduced blood sugar and insulin response
    • increased feeling of fullness
    • increased growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract

Oats are really flexible, we typically eat them in the form of oatmeal, AKA porridge oats. Try these three easy oat ideas. Remember you can eat oats raw so don’t fret over how long you cook them:

Porridge – Add handful of oats of a saucepan, cover with 50/50 water and apple juice, bring to the boil and cook for a couple of minutes. I add extras like mixed nuts, mixed seeds, milled linseed, banana, raspberries, cinnamon, cacoa powder. You can cook with milk, but try the apple juice version, it is delicious.

Granola – Shop bought cereals (even the healthy ones) contain a lot of sugar. I make me own. It is soooo easy. Put 500g or 1kg jumbo oats in a large mixing bowl, add one tablespoons at a time of olive or rapeseed oil (any oil works) and mix really well. Add enough oil until they are all lightly covered. If you want to be super healthy you don’t have to use oil at all! Add golden syrup or Demerara sugar, you can add as little as you want. I use about two tablespoon. 20g which means that in 1kg it is 2% sugar (Dorset cereal is 14%). Mix really well. I add 250g chopped mixed nuts, 150g pumpkin and same sesame seeds. The spread out of a flat baking tray. The thinner the better so split across two trays if it helps. Put in an oven set at 180c and leave 10 mins, check and mix around. Idea is to toast the oats, so watch for them turning brown. Make sure they don’t burn. So keep checking and mixing until done.  Store in a an airtight jar or tub, it keeps as long as it lasts. Eat it with fruit compote, yogurt, milk, or just nibble as a snack.

Oat smoothie – A perfect super quick breakfast or snack. In a blender, add a large handful of raw oats,  a banana, then any fruit you want ( mango, apple, berries etc), add any extras, milled flaxseed, cinnamon, ginger etc. Add enough oat milk or 50/50 water and apple juice, to cover plus about 1 inch. It depends how thick you like it. Blend until smooth. Drink and feel smug all day!

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