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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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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The secret to delicious veg

No more mushy veg! Whoever would have thought it, vegetables don’t like to be cooked in water or steamed for that matter. They lose flavour, colour and goodness. They prefer to be roasted or fried. Don’t panic I don’t mean deep fried or fried in loads of oil. I mean cooked in an oven or a frying pan.

We eat a lot of veg in our house, not because we feel we should but because it is genuinely tasty. I feel like a born again veg lover. You name it cabbage, brussels sprouts, peas, cauliflower, parsnip, beetroot, kale, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, tomato,onion, swiss chard, spinach, carrots, leeks, pepper, mushroom, bok choy, courgette, aubergine.

Slice it in to the size you want, mix it up with a bit of olive oil, apple juice or water and whack it in the oven. Avoid using too much apple juice, a splash is great, but after that use water. Sprinkle with seasoning like Chinese 5 spice or seasons all if you want a richer flavour.

If I am cooking more solid veg like beetroot or carrot with leafy veg I do it in stages, use as many stages as you need to. For example I’d cook brussels and leeks first for 5-6 mins then I’d add kale and swiss chard for another 5-6 mins. (The harder the veg the longer it takes to cook, e.g. beetroot and carrot). Cooking time depending on how fine you cut it up and how well you like it cooked, so it might take some experimenting. I always leave very soft leaf like spinach until the end and just stir it into the mix before serving. The heat from the veg start to wilt it enough for my taste. The great thing is you can eat veg raw so you won’t give anyone food poisoning from under cooked veg so feel free to experiment.

For a small amount of veg or if you prefer, you can achieve the same effect in a frying pan or wok. I get the pan hot, add the veg dry, quick whizz round until they start to turn, then I add apple juice or water, put the lid on and leave until done.

Serve just as it in or add a favourite dressing, balsamic, lemon juice, sweet chill, soy (depending on the flavour combo).

You will give a whole new flavour to your veg. Ordinary broccoli takes on a whole new personality, leeks are so sweet you won’t believe it, Bok Choy becomes the centre of attention and people start to like brussels sprouts.

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