Chorizo “carbonara” with catalan market salad

I’ve placed the word carbonara in speech marks because on the Jamie Oliver page there is a massive argument about it not really being a carbonara because it doesn’t conform with the traditional Italian perception of that dish. Personally I don’t care what conforms to what norms. I didn’t event this recipe, but what I can tell you is that it was bloody delicious and nutritious.

I fed this to my fussy eating vegan parents, brother, grandmother and little sister and they all very much enjoyed it. It however took me 20 minutes because I had to double the quantity of pasta due to the amount of people I was serving. The recipe below is the quantities for 4 people.

 Ingredients

  • For the salad

  • 25 g pine nuts
  • 2 green chicory
  • 2 clementines
  • 100 g baby spinach
  • 4 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 45 g vegan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • For the pasta

  • 320 g wholemeal dried penne
  • 70 g vegan chorizo (My parents live in the middle of nowhere so I had to improvise and use Redwoods sausages with lots of chilli.)
  • ½–1 fresh red chilli
  • 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 heaped tablespoons vegan soya yoghurt
  • juice of ½ a lemon

Method

Ingredients out • Kettle boiled • Large frying pan, medium heat • Large lidded pan, high heat

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Toast the pine nuts in the frying pan for a few minutes, tossing often

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Put the pasta into the lidded pan, cover with boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions

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• Finely slice the stalk ends of the chicory and click apart the upper leaves into a serving bowl. Peel and finely slice the clementines, add to the bowl with the baby spinach, then pick over the mint leaves. Shave over a tiny bit of vegan cheese and scatter with the hot nuts.

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In a cup, make your dressing with the vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and agave nectar, then season to taste and put aside.

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Finely slice the sausages or chorizo, chilli and rosemary and put into the frying pan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of pepper, then squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher and move everything around until lightly golden.

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Place the lemon juice, soya yoghurt and remaining finely grated vegan cheese together in a food processor and blend until it looks like the below image. I also added some nutritional yeast for extra cheeseyness.

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Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of the starchy cooking water. Toss the pasta into the chorizo pan, remove from the heat and mix well with the creamy sauce, loosening with a splash of cooking water, if needed, then season to taste

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Dress and toss the salad, then serve with the pasta

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Then me and my Mummy went out for a walk to burn off the extra calories! (Approx 600 per serving which is fine if you are training or if you are not trying to lose weight. Otherwise do what I did and have loads of salad and only a little bit of the pasta.)

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Everyday Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

The British summer is finally upon us and what do you need on a hot summer’s lunchtime or evening? A light, refreshing but filling and healthy salad. I got this recipe from, “Appetite for Reduction.” It is written by the guys who wrote Veganomicon and all the recipes contain less than 450 calories each. So it’s a great book if you’re working on a calorie deficit which you should be if you’re trying to lose weight and body fat.

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Ingredients: Salad

2 big handfuls of quinoa that you have already pre-cooked in boiling water for 20 minutes, drained and allowed to cool. (To make this raw you could use sprouted quinoa.)

1 small red onion, sliced thinly.

1/2 a romaine lettuce, chopped however you like.

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed. (To make this raw you could use sprouted chick peas.)

Ingredients: Dressing

A large handful of cashew nuts. (The non-flavoured or salted kind.)

A large shallot, chopped finely.

A dash of balsamic vinegar.

2 teaspoons of dijon mustard.

1 teaspoon agave nectar

A pinch of sea salt.

Method:

In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the salad ingredients together and leave to one side.

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Then place the cashews and shallot into a food processor and pulse on and off  to get them chopped up quite finely.

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Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and pulse on and off for a couple of minutes until you have a type of paste to pour on top.

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Then eat your delicious salad which is only 375 calories and has 17g of protein. Get in!

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Let’s talk about fats baby! Let’s talk about you & me!

Fat gets a really bad rep in the media. Low fat this and low fat that. A  healthy vegan diet is naturally low in fat. We must strive to remember however that fats help in the transportation of certain vitamins around the body, improve skin and hair, insulate and protect your internal organs and especially the fatty acids, help with nervous function and therefore brain power.

If you eat junk food that is laden with fat and do very little exercise, of course you’re going to put on weight. You can also be at risk of heart disease and cancer. However if you eat a small amount of healthy fat each day, you can improve your health, lose/maintain weight and look great.

So what are the fats to avoid?

Chinese takeways or any takeaways for that matter are often deep fried in vegetable oils or lard. An average takeaway can have up to 20 grams of fat. That’s a woman’s entirely RDA. Having a takeaway isn’t forbidden, but it’s probably better to make it more of a rare thing than a regular thing.

Travel Pictures Ltd

100 grams of crisps (a couple of bags)  contains over 30 grams of fat. Don’t even think about going for the low fat versions either. Cut them out altogether. They are nutritionally void, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or stay fit.

Crisps

Fast food burgers and chips are again absolutely full of fat and especially trans and saturated fat which are really bad for your heart and circulatory system.

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Cakes and sweets are also loaded with unnecessary fat that you don’t need.

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What are good sources of fat then?

Linseed and flaxseed. I put half a teaspoon in a smoothie or on porridge everyday and it doesn’t taste of anything.

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Now this might surprise you, but leafy green vegetables. They don’t provide huge amounts, but they do have enough Omega 3’s to keep you going. I love kale and spinach and I’ll eat it for both lunch and dinner if I can.

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Avocados are quite calorific and that’s because they are full of good fats. As long as you don’t eat like 5 a day, you’ll be fine. I generally have about 3 a week and normally in salad, although I do like making guacamole out of them.

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Nuts and especially almonds and hazelnuts. They are at their best when they are unsalted and eaten as a snack instead of a bag of crisps.   hazelnutsimages

Good luck guys and make healthy choices.

 

 

 

Saf – Kensington

Mykey and I do occasionally like to splash out on an exquisite meal and our visit to Saf in Kensington ticked all of the boxes. Now situated on the first floor of Wholefoods on Kensington High Street, it’s about 200 metres from the tube station.

For an aperitif we had a bourbon cocktail which is described in there menu like this:

Kentucky On My Mind

For those who love to try something different. A very delicate taste of Heaven Hill bourbon mixed with triple sec, fresh apple juice, fresh lemon juice and orange bitters. Served with a slice of dehydrated apple

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It was absolutely delicious and bourbon was of a very high quality and this is coming from someone who normally refuses to drink it because they are a total whiskey snob. (That’ll be me!)

We also had some raw guacamole and crackers whilst we waited for our starters.

Raw Nachos with Guacamole

Hand cut raw potato and courgette nachos served with freshly made guacamole

The guacamole had a very bold feel. You could taste all the individual ingredients. Smooth avocado, crisp lime and a hint of chilli. The nachos were also delicious and they were available to buy from Saf in boxes.

When our starters came we also ordered two large glasses of red wine. It was thick and juicy, just how a red should be.

Malbec, Tizac

Catamarca, Argentina
Cigar box fruit, blackberries with just the right level of tannins are what to expect here.

Mykey had some gyoza and I had some dolmades. (Quite funny seeing as my favourite food is Japanese and his is Italian.)

Spinach & Sorrel Gyoza

Grilled rice pastry dumplings filled with spinach, sorrel and courgettes served with a tamari-sesame vinaigrette

Cheese & Cauliflower Dolmades

£6

Vine leaves stuffed with our signature tarragon cashew cheese, cauliflower rice and fresh herbs, served with lemon-aioli dip and herb oil

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The cashew cheese was to die for. I really need to learn how to make it because they were the best dolmades I have ever eaten. Mykey’s gyozas were smothered in a spiced vinaigrette which gave them a great kick. (Of course I stole a bite. Who wouldn’t?)

For our main courses I went for a raw lasagne and Mykey went for a noodle and tofu dish. Again we both tried each other’s food. The vegetables in Mykey’s dish were cooked to perfection. Not too hard and not too soft and the tofu was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just the way it should be. The walnut, almond and sun dried tomato sauce on my lasagne totally blew me away. It really made the whole dish, but didn’t overwhelm the other flavours.

Lo Han Chai

An energizing bowl of rice noodles with tamari marinated shiitake mushroom, sautéed baby spinach, mange tout and courgettes, grilled baby corn, grilled organic Saf brand tofu and water chestnuts

Lasagna Verde

Layers of courgette, marinated spinach, walnut almond and sun-dried tomato bolognese and a cashew and yellow pepper béchamel sauce served with a green herb pesto and side salad

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Dessert is quite often off of the menu for us at normal restaurants, so when we go to a vegan place we have to indulge. We shared ice cream and sorbet and also a Victoria sponge trifle. We spent the whole time we were eating the ice cream and sorbet guessing what the flavours were and we were totally wrong when we asked the server what they were. Haha! I still can’t remember what they were, but they were delicious and very unusual combinations. The Victoria sponge trifle is something that I need to go away and learn how to make. That would win Come Dine With Me it was so good. I sat there making mmmmm noises with each mouthful.

Ice Cream & Sorbet

Three scoops of our signature ice cream and sorbet served with crispy rhubarb biscuits. Please ask your server for daily specials

Victoria Sponge Trifle

Traditional and indulgent British pudding done Saf style, with raw vanilla cream, forest berry coulis, and soft sponge cake pieces

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When we had finished our meal, we had to dash because we had spent too much time getting involved with our food that we were running late for our gig that evening. Luckily eating a majority raw and wholefood meal kept us full of energy the whole night and we didn’t feel sluggish at all as we often do after heavy cooked meals.

At £84 it wasn’t cheap, but we did have absolutely everything on the menu including alcohol. I’ll give Saf a 9/10 only because it was so expensive.The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. Well and truly recommended.

http://www.safrestaurant.co.uk

Subway: Do we love it or hate it?

Now we don’t have the veggie burgers and other mock meat in Subway in the UK, but there are still plenty of options especially for someone who travels a lot like me.

Some vegans I know refuse to eat there, stating that they don’t like salad and bread. I say you should make the most of what you have got. Healthy food at a cheap price, available nearly everywhere. It beats grabbing a bag of over salted peanuts.

Here are some of things that I have when I visit Subway either when I am out on the road or have to take a working lunch.

6” Veggie Delite (no cheese) in a wheat bread sub. I have this with literally all of the salad they have on offer and sweet onion sauce.

Veggie Delight

A foot long Veggie Delite (no cheese) in a wheat bread sub (There are other types such as Hearty Italian, but I’ll only really recommend whole wheat breads.) with all the salad again, but this time ketchup.

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A Veggie Delite Salad Box (no cheese) with all of the salad and hot chilli sauce. The picture below shows Redwood’s Chicken Style Pieces scattered over the salad. It tastes good on its own, but sometimes I need some extra texture and protein and I’m lucky that the subway I visit most often has a Nutricentre next door.

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There are also ready salted and sweet chilli crisps which I never have, but hey whatever floats your boat.

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The drinks however are all owned by Coca Cola. If you choose to support them, that’s up to you. I personally avoid them where I can.

 

At least three healthy lunch or dinner options which is a lot more than can be said for most places. Still hate Subway?

Quinoa, Bean and Pepper Salad

Here is a quick, easy and nutritious salad recipe that can be eaten on the go.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ of a bag of Quinoa (Tesco is by far the cheapest place to purchase Quinoa at £1.69 a bag.)
  • A whole yellow bell pepper.
  • A whole red onion.
  • A handful of pinto beans. (Pre- soaked or from a tin.)
  • All-purpose Caribbean seasoning.

 

Method

 

  • If you are using pre-soaked pinto beans, you will need to cook these in water on a high heat for approximately 30 minutes first. If you are using tinned pinto beans, drain excess liquid and put to one side.
  • Pour quinoa into another pan of water and cook on a high heat for 20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, deseed and chop the pepper and peel and chop the onion into small chunks. Place in a large bowl.
  • Add cooked pinto beans (or from a tin) into the bowl a long with the cooked quinoa.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and sprinkle with Caribbean seasoning for acquired taste mixing again.

I’m lazy, so I just ate it out of the big bowl I mixed it in. You can serve with a fresh, crisp salad if you’re that way inclined.

 

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