Butter Bean Hearts

What a winner! These treats are so great to make for a party as finger food, or indeed simply to enjoy with a nice salad for dinner. They are packed with healthy protein which is essential for growth and even my three-year-old loved them!

INGREDIENTS

1 onion 4 small cloves of garlic 200g sweet potato, cut into small cubes 3 small yellow squash, diced 400g tin organic butter beans, drained 400g tin organic red kidney beans, drained (reserve 1 tbsp juice) 2 cups fresh spinach ¼ cup sliced kalamata olives 2 tsp mild paprika Pepper t o taste (the olives give the dish enough saltiness) Frozen short-crust pastry

METHOD

  1. Sauté onion and garlic. If you do not have a non-stick frying pan then use oil sparingly.
  2. Add potato, squash, butter beans, kidney beans and tbsp of kidney bean juice and stir to mix. Season with paprika and pepper.
  3. Add olives and spinach and cook until spinach wilts and sweet potato half-cooked.
  4. Cut pastry sheet into four and repeat for remaining sheets. Spoon some cooled mixture into the middle of a square and fold one corner over to the other, containing the mixture into a triangle. Press edges together so that mixture does not fall out. You can simply leave it like this if you wish or else twist the bottom corners of the triangle and bring them together into a knot so that the pastry looks like a heart.
  5. Bake at 200°C for around 15 mins or until pastry is golden brown.
  6. Enjoy on their own or with some tomato sauce for a treat.

Sweet Potato Pastries

As someone who learned to cook with cheese, cream, and butter, I find that I still seek to find similar textures in my recipes, even when I can no longer rely on such products. When playing around with a sweet potato and puff pastry recipe, I tried to brainstorm ways of achieving a creamy addition that would hold both ingredients together. I whipped up a quick batch of hummus and well, the rest is history. The product is delicious, quick and makes a wonderful lunch or addition to a feast.

Serves: 3 – 4

INGREDIENTS

For Hummus:
1 x 400g tin organic chickpeas
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic flakes
½ tsp salt
½ tsp mild paprika

For Pastries:
2 sheets puff pastry
¾ cup cooked brown rice
2 small sweet potatoes or 1 medium, chopped into very small pieces
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, sliced
tsp all purpose seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD:

For Hummus:

  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until it becomes a smooth paste. Set Aside.

For Pastries:

  1. Fry onions until soft, if you don’t have a non-stick frying pan use oil sparingly (coconut oil would be best). Add mushrooms and sweet potato and cook until mushrooms are cooked and sweet potatoes partially cooked. Set aside.
  2. Cut sheets of pastry into four squares so you end up with eight equal squares. Spread a layer of hummus in the middle of each pastry square, taking care to leave a generous boarder on each piece so that they will crisp. Add a thin layer of cooked brown rice and then dollop onion, mushroom and sweet potato mixture on top.
  3. Cook in oven at 200 °C for 15 – 20 minutes or until pastry edges are golden brown. Bon appétit!

Bean and Mushroom Bolognaise with Wholemeal Pasta

 Serves: 4 – 6

There are some comforts that are difficult to contemplate sacrificing. For me, a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise was once a friend and a warm blanket. Yet I was wearing the meal for many days to come, with the bacon, the mince, and the handfuls of cheese. Delicious! But the meal provided close to zero nutrition. One of the wonderful things about changing your health and your attitude about food is that you can still enjoy the things that you love, varied in a way that nurtures your body, rather than abusing it. This a great recipe to make with kids too. My daughter loved helping me make the fresh pasta dough, believing that we were playing with play-dough. The great thing about getting kids involved with cooking is that they can’t wait to eat their creations. So, if safe, include your kids in as many healthy cooking projects as possible.

Note: I have made the pasta from scratch in this recipe, which is something I recommend in as many elements of cooking as possible. Making fresh pasta, bread and hummus (to name a few) means that you know exactly what ingredients are going into the development process. You avoid preservatives and are able to shop for organic ingredients, hence avoiding nasty hidden GMO’s. Don’t be scared of making home-made pasta. It is actually very easy. But if you just don’t have the time, a packet of wholemeal pasta would suffice. Just be sure to look at the label when purchasing so that you know what is in the pasta and hence, what you’ll be putting into your body.

INGREDIENTS

For the pasta:
2 cups wholemeal flour
2/3 cup water
½ tsp salt

For the bolognaise:
1 tsp coconut oil
1 red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp garlic flakes)
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
420g tin four bean mix, drained
1 potato, sliced into small pieces
100g sweet potato, sliced into small pieces
100g pumpkin, sliced into small pieces
generous handful broccoli, diced
375g mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp tomato paste
400g diced tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

For the pasta:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until it forms a dough (add more water if necessary). Sprinkle some extra wholemeal flour onto a workbench and knead the dough lightly, until it becomes a smooth ball. Keep adding extra flour until the consistency is no longer sticky.
  2. If you have a pasta making machine, proceed to rolling the dough through the different levels, flattening the dough to a couple of millimetres of thickness.
  3. Being a vegan pasta (no egg) and having no oil in the recipe, I found that when I tried to put the dough into the fettuccine cutter, it didn’t separate well. I tackled this by laying the flattened dough out on the table and simply cutting the sheets into fettuccine sized strips.
  4. If you do not have a pasta making machine, you can simply avoid the second step and roll the dough out by hand until you achieve the desired thickness. Make sure to dust your bench with flour first so that your dough doesn’t stick to the table!
  5. When you are ready to prepare the pasta, simply cook it for a few minutes in a pot of boiling water, drain and put aside for assembly.

 For the bolognaise:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and sauté onion until soft. Add the garlic, turmeric and cumin and stir quickly and thoroughly.
  2. Add the mixed beans, potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli and mushrooms and mix well. Cook for a few minutes then add the tomato paste. Ensure that the paste is well implemented through the mix.
  3. Add tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about a half an hour, or until the potato is cooked through.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and serve alongside some of your fresh wholemeal pasta.
  5. You’re done! Smile and be proud, and most importantly, enjoy! Food is there to be enjoyed so savour every healthy bite. Bon appétit!

Lentil Curry

Serves: 4

This meal is so quick, easy and packed full of goodness, you just know that your body will be thanking you for it. If you don’t like things to be too spicy, adjust the curry powder to your taste. I have used two tablespoons of curry powder, but you can certainly use one if you would prefer. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp coconut oil
1 brown onion
2 tbsp Keen’s curry powder
1 potato
100g sweet potato
100g pumpkin
2/3 cup green lentils
500ml vegetable stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup frozen peas
100g fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil and sauté brown onion until just soft. Add curry powder and stir through.
  2. Add potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and lentils to pan. Stir to mix.
  3. Add vegetable stock and tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potato and lentils are soft. Stir occasionally to make sure that the curry doesn’t burn.
  4. Add frozen peas, spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple more minutes until the spinach wilts.
  5. Serve alongside some beautiful brown rice. Bon appétit!

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