Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Tomato, lentil and vegetable pasta - a syn free, dairy free, vegan recipe





These days my diet is best summarised as 'nearly vegan'. Health wise, I've not noticed any particular benefits, although I'm sure my weight loss is connected. The main focus of my diet is that it's sensitive to Harry's allergies and whilst there is plenty of processed food that is allergy friendly, I mainly focus on whole foods, cooking and eating a wide variety of beans, vegetables, lentils, fruit. That's not to say I'm perfect by a long shot - vegan cake is a food group as far as I'm concerned.

Making filling, healthy food that appeals to a toddler's burgeoning taste buds and my husband's carnivorous tendencies whilst being allergy friendly is not easy. I was over the moon at the reception this pasta dish got - Harry inhaled his, M did similarly(and he didn't even suggest it could have been improved with chorizo or bacon) This is based on a recipe I've used on Brownie holiday - so for the Guiders out there, it scales up to feed large quantities easily and, topped with grated cheese is a favourite with our girls. 



Tomato, lentil and vegetable pasta
Dairy free, vegan recipe. Syn free
Serves 8

Fry light/ olive oil
2 red onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 sticks of celery
4 small-medium carrots
3 peppers - I only use red & yellow as a personal preference
2-3 small to medium courgettes
150g mushrooms
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of frozen sweetcorn
1 cup of red lentils
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 400g carton of passata
large splodge of tomato puree
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Handful basil, shredded


I prep all the veggies for this in the food processor - but if you're not, then finely dice everything aside from the carrots, and grate those.
Liberally spray a pan with Fry light (or add a good glug of olive oil) and when warm add the onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat until softened
Add the celery and carrots and continue to cook for another 5 minutes of so
Add the rest of the veggies and cook down for another 5 minutes
Add the tinned tomatoes, passata and tomato puree and stir well.
Bring to a gentle simmer, and add the lentils, oregano, salt and pepper

The next two steps are purely optional - for me I do this for the Brownies, but don't bother at home - 
Cook down well for about 30 minutes or so
Take off the heat and allow to cool before blitzing with a stick blender

Add a good handful of fresh basil, before stirring into pasta





Sunday, 17 April 2016

Growing together with Ikea: terrariums and toddlers





Disclosure: I'm an Ikea Lagom Ambassador

This weekend we went over to Ikea for a Lagom project update. It was really interesting hearing how everyone was incorporating the Lagom ethos into their lives, and how it was benefiting them. I popped our three month update up last weekend, and this was really what I went through at our get together. 

One of the areas that the Live Lagom project aims to encourage is growing your own - and as a kind of aside to this, we had a go at planting a terrarium at our workshop. It was a family session so Harry got involved too, and I thought you might like to see our progress. We followed these instructions from the Ikea website and it really was so easy, even a toddler could join in! 



Harry and I have since had a go at planting up some chilli and coriander seeds. He loved getting mucky and I'm really excited to be growing some new plants. They're currently (hopefully) out of reach of little fingers on a sunny window sill.







Friday, 15 April 2016

Chickpea curry recipe: vegan, dairy free, soya free, syn free




This quick, easy and incredibly tasty recipe is vegan, dairy free, egg free and soya free - when I Instagrammed it I used the #veganuary hashtag and it got lots of interest, similarly in both my Slimming World and CMPA groups people were after the recipe.

I wrote that first paragraph back in January. And then abandoned this post - and to be honest a lot of the blog. Without wishing to jinx things, I do have a few posts lined up at the moment.

This recipe was supposed to be the Chana Masala from the Oh She Glows cookbook, and it is still loosely based on that. However, I did that food blogger thing of adding a bit of this, a bit of that - until it became a bit different. Then when I made it the second and third times I did it from memory rather than a recipe and we seem to have set on my recipe so I thought I'd take the opportunity to blog it.



Chickpea curry - dairy free, soya free, vegan
Syn free on Slimming World

Fry light spray (or coconut oil if you're not on Slimming World)
2 red onions
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
Thumb sized piece ginger
3-4 carrots
2-3 sweet potatoes
2 - 400g tins chickpeas (if you're egg free, keep the water and use it to make awesome egg free meringues)
2 - 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 400g carton passata
1.5tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp garam masala
1.5tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
If not feeding a baby - Half tsp salt
Large bunch coriander

Either by hand or in the food processor, peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, chilli (I deseed it as I'm feeding Harry too) and ginger
Peel and grate the carrots and sweet potatoes
Liberally spray a large pan with the Fry light - or add about a tablespoon of coconut oil and warm it so that it's liquid
Add the cumin seeds and fry gently until they start to pop
Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and onions and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. The onion should be really soft and completely translucent
Add all the spices and stir well
Add the grated sweet potatoes and carrots, and both tins of chickpeas. Stir to make sure that everything is coated in the spice/ onion mix
Add the tomatoes and passata and stir well.
Bring to a gentle simmer, put a lid on the pan and leave for half an hour - 45 minutes
Top with lots of freshly chopped coriander and serve with rice or roti.

Quick, easy, and super healthy. What's not to like?

If that's piqued your interest in a dairy free or vegan curry - why not try one of these recipes from some other lovely bloggers too:


  • Over at The Veg space there's a lovely Swiss chard and new potato dhal that's ideal for those of us who are dairy free as it's packed full of calcium containing greens.
  • Recipes from a Pantry has a gorgeous looking Roasted pumpkin red thai curry  Do not that you'll want to omit the fish sauce if you're veggie or vegan. Bintu suggests simply and easily replacing it with extra lime juice
  • There's another Thai curry - this time green from Tin and Thyme - packed full of loads of lovely veggies and with my favourite cashew nuts too
  • Tinned tomatoes has a curry my hubs would love - Mushroom and potato 

I'm adding this post to Attachment Mummy's Friday fabulous linky...

Friday Fabulous

And A mummy too's Recipe of the week one too

Link up your recipe of the week





Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Giant couscous salad: dairy free, soya free, syn free, vegan



This salad is lovely - slightly warm, with the fresh crunch of all the veggies, and the spice of the chilli really make it a light, and tasty lunch.

It's really yummy with a hefty dollop of my staple humous - why not try my aubergine humous which is so, so tasty - if I do say so myself. It'd be awesome with some chopped avocado as well, but despite it being pretty much the only bit of Slimming World I disagree with. It's healthy fat! We need healthy fats! I'm desperately trying to shift the last bit of weight.

A dairy and soya free recipe, it's quick and easy to knock up, and perfectly portable for packed lunches. I'm an Ikea Lagom ambassador and use their Fortrolig containers as I can see what's in them and so am less likely to forget what I've got and leave my lunches languishing in the fridge. 

Anyway, enough chatter - on to the recipe: 

Giant couscous salad 
Dairy free, soya free, vegan, syn free

150g giant couscous
Enough cold water to cover
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen sweetcorn
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 small-medium carrots, grated
1 red chilli, finely diced
Cherry tomatoes to taste, halved (I add these as I dish up, as they go a bit bleurgh otherwise and use 7 per serving)
1 tin mixed beans in water, drained
Olive oil Fry light/ or a tablespoon of olive oil (but obviously the recipe won't be syn free if you add this) 
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

In a small medium pan, put the couscous and cover with the cold water. Bring to the boil and add the peas, sweetcorn and drained beans. Turn the heat down low and allow to simmer for 6 minutes
While this is cooking, prep your veggies and pop in a medium bowl. Although I just put them straight into a food container that can go in the fridge because I'm lazy efficient like that. 
Once the couscous is cooked - it'll be slightly translucent - drain the pan of any leftover water and leave to cool for 10 minutes or so. 
Spray with some olive oil fry light, or add a tablespoon of Olive oil at this point
Once cooled slightly add the contents of the pan to your bowl and mix thoroughly
Add the juice and zest of the lemon

Serve, with your humous, or just as it comes. It's really delicious and so lovely just slightly warm.  

As a side note - Harry wasn't keen (but he's teething and only wants to eat weetabix at the moment) but did enjoy picking up the giant couscous, peas and sweetcorn before daintily discarding them over the side of his high chair. So even if it's not a winner for eating, apparently it's nice for his pincer grip! 

If you're in the mood to egg the sunshine on with some more dairy free salads - why not have a look at these from some other lovely bloggers:

Tin and Thyme has what I suspect would be a beautifully fresh Fennel salad (I love fennel - I wonder what Harry would make of it)

Monday, 11 April 2016

Meal Planning Monday


This week where we live is still the Easter holidays, so we're without most of our baby groups but Harry's had a temperature on and off this weekend so I'm thinking another quiet week won't be the end of the world.

Breakfasts: overnight oats with almond milk, apple and banana for me. Although I've seen something online about doing something similar with quinoa which I want to try. That said, we're out of quinoa. Of course we are. And just how middle class does that sound!

Lunches: I've got some carrots and parsnips to make into soup first thing tomorrow that's going on with a handful of red lentils and some veg bouillon.

Suppers:

Monday - Stir fried chicken, veggies and rice noodles

Tuesday - Chickpea and sweet potato curry with rice

Wednesday - Leftover curry

Thursday - Sausages, baked potatoes and veggies

Friday - Steamed salmon and veggies

Saturday - I've seen a lamb and harrissa casserole I'd quite like to try - maybe with cannellini beans and green veggies

Sunday - Hopefully a roast chicken

As always - At home with Mrs M for the other meal plans.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Living LAGOM with Ikea - month 3 update


This is a sponsored post, written in conjunction with Ikea - I am one of their LAGOM ambassadors. 

How are we going? How is our LAGOM life project three months in? I'm impressed that the differences I've noticed have been for the better - I don't feel like we're sat in the dark, missing out on joy because we're trying to be greener. And I was worried we might. Completely wrongly worried, but worried nonetheless. In fact I've been warmer, cosier, and more relaxed about things like popping the heating on because of the changes we've started making.

In terms of our Ikea shopping - the things that have made the most difference thus far have undoubtedly been in the kitchen. A room that's clearly important to me. We've added a blind to the big kitchen window and back door, put a runner style rug down on the floor and changed the light fitting. And it's made a huge difference. The room is warmer and cosier and somehow the bright floral of the blind distracts from the violently yellow cabinets. The rug is at once a wonder and drives me insane as I have to hoover it, then lift it to sweep and clean the floor daily but it makes the tiny kitchen so much warmer. The light was such a shock - we replaced the fluorescent tube and the difference the LED lights make in our tiny kitchen is huge - it's light, bright and makes such a difference if I'm trying to bake/ cook/ or photograph food of an evening. For a change that vast that uses less power not more, you can colour me impressed.

Across the rest of our home, the changes have been less dramatic, but still making a difference:

All the lights are now LEDs and they're brilliant (quite literally), lovely and bright, and don't need to warm up. We had to change the light fittings in the kitchen and on the upstairs landing, but elsewhere it was a case of just the bulbs which was a quick and easy job.



The lunch boxes, water bottles and glass food savers are being used all the time. M's new job has meant that he can have a hot lunch so often takes leftovers, and Harry has a little packed lunch after church on Sundays so that's all in regular use.

In terms products that haven't done what we'd hoped, the self watering plant pots just don't work for me at all which is a huge disappointment, and neither has the blind in the bathroom as we'd have to drill into our tiles, so that's on hold for the moment.

Things I still need to do include running up a new set of curtains for the back bedroom - the window is massive which is making fabric buying expensive (hence the delay). I've also started decorating the kitchen, the walls and ceiling have been freshened up with a coat of white paint, and I've started painting the cabinets with a chalk paint as that can go straight over that garish yellow with no need for standing or primers. The cupboards will need to be sealed and new handles, but that's all infinitely more within our reach than a new kitchen.

We're also getting our veg patch ready for this years seedlings - I'll probably use Seed Pantry again as I love their varieties, and I'm hoping my Mother-in-law will be able to get us some tomato plants too.

So that's us - still Lagom-ing three months in, and not sat in the dark; cold, miserable and cursing whatever possessed me to take on the project. It's all a win!






Saturday, 9 April 2016

My handmade home: crochet bunting




This crochet bunting is relatively quick and easy to knock up, and a fantastic way to shop your stash - I used lots of leftover yarn from my blankets, making it practically a free project.

I love bunting. Always have, to me it speaks of spring fairs, festivals, sunshine and summertime. I've been keen to make some for the house a while now. I have some amazing Hungry Caterpillar fabric from Higgs and Higgs that is earmarked to be stitched up for Harry although I've held off as I've not bought any tape yet. Well that and I've been crocheting like a woman possessed since last September.

Our home is a work in progress, before my redundancy we had a to-do list that we hoped to work through relatively briskly, dealing with the 70's tastic decor and a few more fundamental issues too. However, as always with these things, life got in the way and so we're slowly, happily and lovingly making the best of what we have.

I'm not really an ornament person so our mantle is adorned with photos and a cross stitch sampler I made when I was 16, but it needed more colour - something to brighten up the expanse of concrete. Crochet bunting it was...


I used Lucy's pattern for the granny bunting that adorned Yarndale a couple of years back - it needed a bit more concentration than blankets as I had to learn how to change colours when not crocheting in rows. Lucy had no pattern for joining the bunting triangles so rightly or wrongly I used a colour yarn I'd not used thus far in any of the triangles (Stylecraft Special DK in raspberry) I started with a chain of 20 and then used double crochet along the top of each triangle, joining them together with no gap, another chain of 20 at the other end finished my first row. Once I'd gone along one way, I turned around and went back, doing another row of doubles, this time into the stitch below. It was quick, easy and beautifully effective. As you can see from the picture above. Even M said (and I quote "The fireplace looks less pants than it did before"



I even made M some in motor racing colours - I'm just such a good wife!





So, crochet bunting... and brightening up our home. It's all good. Why not have a go at shopping your yarn stash and making some pretty bunting.

Next up on the crochet projects is a Crochet along in aid of Mind, the mental health charity.

I'm linking up this post with Attachment Mummy's Friday fabulous linky - do pop over and see what everyone else has added.

Friday Fabulous

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