How to make kale taste nice

hmmm kale… not something you hear often right?

I’ve been trying to make vegetables just as nice to me as carbs and sugar are. I’ve had varying levels of success, but I’m determined to make it all work for me. Not one to back down from a challenge, I decided to try and make kale a thing and I think it might have worked! (this time)

You don’t have to use the exact same seasoning ingredients, but what was key in helping to cut the bitterness of the kale in this dish was the addition of lemon juice, so I’d keep that in as a staple.

Be warned – I sometimes cook with a lot of pepper, and my version of this dish has three kinds in it so if you want something milder please adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. Happy cooking!

What you need:

a bag of kale from the supermarket

two red onions, sliced

one shallot, sliced

a small handful seasoning peppers (a sort of mild chilli), chopped

three cloves of garlic, crushed/minced

a handful of fresh coriander, chopped

two teaspoons of turmeric powder

a strong pinch of cayenne pepper powder

a strong pinch of ground black pepper

a small teaspoon of scotch bonnet pepper sauce (or a hot chilli sauce) or alternatively a quarter of a scotch bonnet pepper finely chopped (use gloves)

a strong pinch of general all seasoning powder

a generous sprinkle of dried mixed herbs

lemon juice from half a lemon

Method:

Wash and drain the kale in a colander and set aside.

Pour roughly half a tablespoon of a cooking oil of your choice into a large pot and melt on a medium heat.

Add all the ingredients except for the kale and lemon juice. Stir until the onions and shallot have softened a bit.

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Add kale and cook until stalks have softened slightly – you want to retain some crunch. Drizzle lemon juice all over kale and continually stir around pot over a higher heat for a few minutes. Be sure to watch the colour of the kale. Once it turns bright green it doesn’t have long to go and you don’t want to overcook it so it turns kinda dark and mushy.

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Turn off heat and you’re ready to go.

Until next time,

V

 

 

 

 

When you want to be naughty…

Rotis, bakes, cakes, bread, pasta etc… it’s just life to me you know?

So in my opening blog I mentioned how I had undergone a transformation of sorts – I’d made a decision to make healthier choices with regards to my eating and started a regime of regular workouts. That’s still the case. I haven’t fallen off the wagon. However, I am still very much human, and sometimes that means I need to indulge.

Cue the Caribbean take away.

Yeh. I did it.

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So ok, this was not the healthiest of meals, but it also wasn’t the worst. It’s all about balance. This is a once in a while thing and I’m picky with what I get off the menu and how much of it I eat. I deliberately chose vegetarian options and I tried not to go too carby. Well, sorta.

Callaloo – a leafy green similar to spinach, also known as taro leaves (at least this version of callaloo is taro leaf – in other parts of the Caribbean different leaves are used, but also called callaloo).

Sweetcorn salad – a simple mix of sweetcorn and chopped lettuce with a vinegary dressing.

Channa – curried chickpeas.

Buss up shot – a paratha flatbread that’s been torn up – this is the ‘naughty’ part of the meal. I ate the whole thing. Yes I did. (There was more of it than what you see on the plate and I feel no shame).

So as you can see, most of my choices were relatively healthy and low in fat and carbs. But the buss up shot. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an unnatural obsession with flour. White flour in particular. I don’t know. Rotis, bakes, cakes, bread, pasta etc… it’s just life to me you know? But obviously, since my diagnosis regarding my blood sugar levels about 7 months ago, all that has had to stop. And I miss it so. More than miss. I yearn. With all my being.

For the most part, I’ve actually been quite impressed with my level of discipline, but maybe once a month or once every two months I allow myself the luxury of having something gorgeously floury and full of clarified butter (ghee) – usually in the form of a roti or a paratha or something. I just can’t cut it completely out – and that’s ok.

One thing I’ve learned on this journey is how to recalibrate my relationship with food. Before my relationship with eating was a pretty destructive one. I had no restraint and I didn’t really care.

It’s been a slow but steady process. To use the cliche, my default mode would be to eat my emotions – and that’s just not good. I’m still working on finding other ways to deal that don’t involve eating, because my physical well-being has to be a priority now. I don’t think I’m completely in the place I need to be when it comes to my eating habits and how certain choices make me feel, but I’m in a much better position than where I used to be. So yay for progress.

Now time for another sunlit shot of gorgeousness:

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Until later,

V

 

Vegan food at Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien is very vegan- friendly for a mainstream chain of restaurants…

I’ve had to reconsider the types of places I go to when I want to eat out given my requirements, and sometimes it’s been a struggle, but now that it’s the ‘in’ thing to be more health conscious, it’s becoming more commonplace to see healthier options at restaurants.

Over the past year or so I’ve noticed Le Quotidien springing up in various parts of London – and I’m very happy about that. Initially, in my bad old days I was all about the deliciously sugary pastries, cakes and other baked goods the chain has to offer, but for the health-conscious individual the menu isn’t too shabby at all.

I recently stopped in one after work to do some blogging and I enjoyed the following:

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I had one of the vegan dishes, the chilli sin carne. This is a very wholesome and filling dish, packed with protein and not an animal derived ingredient in sight!

The menu describes it as ‘vegan bean chilli with fresh guacamole, soya sour cream, diced tomatoes and spring onions’. 

The only downside to this sin carne is that there isn’t the barest hint of detectable chilli in it. Unless my taste buds are broken, there’s no heat in this dish whatsoever. I think this would be disappointing for someone looking for a punchy, fiery meal. That being said, it’s still flavoursome and satisfying and very filling. I’d recommend it if you’re feeling particularly hungry but you don’t want what you have at home.

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Organic hummus with olives and some crusty bread

In addition to the chili, I also ordered organic hummus which comes topped with olives and a side of bread. This hummus is unlike any other I’ve tried in that it’s chunky, not smooth and is not too salty like a lot of ready made versions available in stores. It’s delicious and it’s something I order most times when visiting Le Pain Quotidien.

Look out for more reviews in the future of various dishes from Le Pain Quotidien.

Until later,

V

Perfect World: A review of a dairy free, no sugar added ice cream

it’s definitely recognisable as carrot cake, but I would’ve liked a little more of a peppery oomph from the cinnamon and the nutmeg…

So given my dietary requirements, I’ve had to give up on a lot of sugar-laden and carb-heavy foods in order to get and keep my blood sugar levels under control . It’s a change to my lifestyle that will have to be permanent, which in the beginning made me sad because I love carbs and sugar! But then I thought surely there must be some sweet treats that are still relatively healthy/low in sugar and can be had on the odd occasion when that craving hits. I’ve tried out a number of different treats over the past few months, and I’ll be reviewing them from time to time for you.

In this post, we’ll be looking at ‘a taste of carrot cake’ by Perfect World. This is a dairy free ice-cream made with no added sugar.

Ice cream in tub

I saw it on the Ocado website while doing an online grocery shop and had to give it a try.

You can find more information including the ingredients and nutritional values here: http://www.perfectworldicecream.co.uk/delicious-desserts/carrot

This is a relatively soft ice cream. It takes a few minutes to soften but can be scooped right out of the freezer if you’re not able to wait .. haha

Ice cream in cup

The flavour definitely is reminiscent of a carrot cake. I will say that despite it containing three different sweeteners, this wasn’t an overly sweet/sickly tasting ice cream. The sweetness was quite subtle and not too fake tasting as sweeteners can be. As for the spiced carrot cakey-ness, like I said, it’s definitely recognisable as carrot cake, but I would’ve liked a little more of a peppery oomph from the cinnamon and the nutmeg. There were enough juicy sultanas and crunchy nuts that were well distributed and added a nice variety of textures with each mouthful.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and will definitely re-purchase when I want to have dessert after a meal. If you’ve tried the other flavours by this brand, or any other dairy free/sugar free/low sugar ice-creams and other desserts, please share in the comments.

Until next time 🙂

 

spicy vegetarian sort of salsa wraps (with crunchy nuggets!)

I cut up two chillis for this… and I’m still unsure if it was a good idea.

Hey there

This is just something I sort of made up as I went along using what I already had in the kitchen. Enjoy!

From the fridge:

A generous handful of spinach leaves

One onion

Roughly 10 Cherry tomatoes

Two chilli peppers

One Avocado

Half a palmful of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

One lemon (you’ll only need half really)

From the freezer:

Quorn nuggets

From the bread bin/cupboard:

2 whole wheat sandwich wraps

A big pinch of cayenne pepper powder

A pinch black pepper

A big pinch of mixed dried herbs

A pinch of garlic powder

Put the Quorn nuggets in the oven as per the instructions on the packet. They take about 18 minutes to cook. While the nuggets are in the oven, wash and cut up all the veg (leave the spinach leaves whole and set aside along with the avocado for now). Be careful with the number of chillis you use, as there will also be black pepper and cayenne pepper in addition to the chillis. I cut up two chillis for this… and I’m still unsure if it was a good idea. (I ended up sipping on almond milk to calm things down – still ate and enjoyed the wraps though).

Put the chopped ingredients into a bowl, and add the coriander, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder and herbs. Squeeze half a lemon over the mixture and stir all together. This is kind of like a chunky salsa of sorts – not a very authentic one, but still full of flavour and very good in the wrap.

Once you’ve stirred up the tomato and chilli mix, set that aside and put your wraps in the oven (just place them directly on an empty shelf) for a couple of minutes on both sides. You want to watch them closely as you want them to remain flexible when folding them into the wraps. While the wraps are in the oven, slice open the avocado and chop into chunks.

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When the wraps are ready, take them out of the oven (also the nuggets should be done by now so take them out too) and lay them on a plate.

Make sure the spinach leaves are well drained from the washing, and layer them on top of the wrap as in the photo. Spoon some of the tomato and chilli mixture on top of the spinach leaves in the centre of the wrap.

Add to this, the avocado chunks and chopped up Quorn nuggets. Now your wraps are ready for eating! **warning** they will be very spicy, so you can adjust the amount of pepper and chilli in the recipe to taste.

simple all in one veggie roast

So one day I was swanning about the house in my PJs after coming home from work, and I knew I needed to make myself a good lunch for the next couple of days but I was feeling rather tired. I didn’t want to end up buying lunch while at the office so I thought up something simple but very healthy, low carb and tasty with the vegetables I already had in the fridge. I also had some Quorn sausages in the freezer so I thought I’d throw them in too. Behold, the birth of my all in one veggie roast.

Having looked in the fridge to see what was what, I saw that I had:

Cherry tomatoes

Mini Portobello mushrooms

Cucumber

Radishes

Shallots

Red onions

Garlic

From the freezer:

Quorn Premium Sausages – wild garlic flavour

From the cupboard:

Cayenne pepper powder

Powdered garlic

Black pepper

Mixed dried Italian herbs

Himalayan pink salt (optional)

Olive oil

You don’t have to use the same veggies or seasonings as I did, it’s really up to you and about using what you have, but the essential thing to help with the cooking of this dish is the olive oil and a decent array of herbs/spices for flavour. I also have purposely not specified amounts because again, it depends on what you want and what you have available. This is a very free and easy dish and it could come out differently every time!

Before you start prepping the vegetables, ensure you preheat your oven to around gas mark 5 or 6 (that’s 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius).

Now for the prep:

Get a chopping board and a big sharp knife, and peel, wash and slice all of the vegetables (except for the garlic cloves). When I was making it, I cut the radish and the cucumber into strips because I wanted them to caramelise and brown while in the oven. The onion, shallot and mushrooms I sliced into chunky rings and I quartered the tomatoes. You can cut the vegetables however which way you prefer and depending on what they are and how they’ll cook.

Take a large-ish (depending on the amount of vegetable) pyrex oven dish (a deep metal baking tray will also work) and drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil into it and swirl/rub it around inside the dish.

Arrange the vegetables in the dish. I enjoyed putting them into little ‘areas’ in the dish. I’m weird that way.

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Just before going in the oven…

Crush the garlic cloves (I used a crusher) and sprinkle them over the vegetables in the dish and drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Then add the rest of the seasonings – the peppers and the garlic powder (just a little) and the herbs (or whatever seasonings you’ve chosen). You can definitely experiment with this. If I’d had some, I would have grated some raw ginger on top and sprinkled a little fresh lemon juice as well I maybe would’ve used some chilli instead of cayenne pepper. Just put whatever you fancy.

Put the Quorn sausages in one corner of the dish and rub them with a little olive oil. Sprinkle them with the crushed garlic and seasonings.

Put the dish in the oven and bake until the vegetables have softened and browned slightly. Check and turn them as well as the sausages (the sausages will take a little while to brown).

You should end up with slightly caramelised, sweet and very flavoursome vegetables with very juicy well-seasoned sausages. The vegetables will have produced a lot of liquid at the bottom of the dish which would be great as a base for a sauce or gravy :).

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The end result