quick summer black soya bean spaghetti (vegan, gluten free)

When the sun is shining in Scotland and temperatures goes up it’s not the time to sit indoors. This weather is not going to last for long, so the best you can do is to try to enjoy it as much as you can. If your work allows you to take advantage of the sun and spend time on the beach or hiking – good for you. To take the most of the Summer and do not die starving you definitely need a quick, healthy and delicious meal you can prepare effortlessly in your kitchen in less than 30 minutes.

So here comes fresh and colourful veggie pasta. But it’s not an ordinary spaghetti. It’s black soya bean spaghetti – gluten free, dairy free, wheat free. Free of almost everything 😉 If it would be carbohydrates free it would be ideal 😉 But it contains 15g of carbs per 100g, so it’s half less than in regular pasta.

Veggie season is officially opened – I started receiving my organic and local veggie delivery and it always inspire me to prepare something new, fresh and delicious. I love having plenty of veg in my fridge because it’s so easy to cook with them – you can easily prepare something yummy, good looking almost from nothing. I keep on learning new things about veggies, about their edible parts we usually put to rubbish (to learn more about this click here) and it gives even more opportunities to make the most of each vegetable.

I highly encourage you to include more veggies into your diet, Summer is the best moment for that. Experiment with veggies you don’t know and never tried, prepare salads, smoothies, stir fry or grill veggies if you have a chance. Veggies are the easiest and quickest to prepare if you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. But remember to buy locally, veggies that didn’t travel thousands of miles, but are locally grown with love are the best veggies.

So today we have easy-peasy and quick gluten free and vegan spaghetti with stir fry veggies and bunch of delicious spices. Although you don’t need to use these exact spice mix. If you have your own favourite mix – use it. If you want to try something new grab some fenugreek, nigella seeds, fennel, coriander seeds, black pepper and cloves. You can use a mortar to grind them together or simply pop them into the coffee grinder. Then add dried tomato flakes, chilli flakes, some dried parsley and chives, mix with some onion powder and voila!

quick summer black soya bean spaghetti

(vegan, gluten free)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pak choi cabage
  • handful of sugar snap peas
  • couple cherry tomatoes
  • small tin of chickpeas
  • 1 spring garlic (or couple garlic cloves plus spring onions)
  • 200g black soya bean spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds oil
  • natural rock salt to taste and to cook spaghetti
  • mix of spices: onion powder, fenugreek, tomato flakes, nigella seeds, chilli flakes, fennel, coriander seeds, parsley, black pepper, chives and cloves

DIRECTIONS

Cut of the ends of sugar snap peas and boil in water for 4-5 minutes, then drain. Also cook black soya bean spaghetti in salted water for 2-3 minutes as describe on the packaging. Slice spring garlic, finely chop its green part. Also thoroughly rinse and chop pak choi. Cherry tomatoes cut in halves.

Heat a large pan adding 3 tbsp of olive oil, add snap peas and chickpeas, fry for 3-4 minutes and add all the spices. Then add sliced spring garlic, leaving the green part on the side. Add cooked spaghetti, tomatoes and pak choi cabbage. Give it 4-5 minutes so pasta can soak all the flavours. Add more spices if needed. At the end drizzle with a tablespoon of sesame seeds oil and sprinkle with green part of garlic.

Serve fresh and hot. Enjoy!

celeriac and cranberry side salad

I had some leftovers of cranberries and some celery root, and because I like combining fruits and veggies in salads I decided to make this simple side salad. It’s very easy to make mix of celeriac, little bit of apple, some cranberries (but raisins will work too, although they will add more sweetness) and spices. And this purple powder you see on the photos is pinch of pomegranate tea I found in my cupboard. I thought that it’s purple colour will look great with cranberries and it also added some fresh, fruity flavour to the salad. I think that hibiscus tea would also work great as an exotic addition.

Celeriac salad is juicy, nutty and balanced with a mix of sweet apple and sour cranberries. It will work great as an addition to fish or delicate white meat like chicken or turkey. It will also be a great snack or light Summery supper.

Celery root is a perfect source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin K – necessary for proper blood clotting. Also antioxidants and important minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Comparing to other root vegetables have quite low carb content , and it’s also low in glycemic index.

When buying celeriac choose medium-sized roots that are firm and free from soft spots or damage. Celeriac is available year round but is at its best from September to April, so it’s the last moment to make this delicious salad 🙂

celeriac and cranberry side salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 250g celeriac/celery root
  • half of small apple
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • pinch of himalayan salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • optionally: pomegranate tea or hibiscus tea

DIRECTIONS

Peel and wash celery root, do the same with half of small apple. Grate both and combine together. Add little bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Add handful of cranberries and about 2 tablespoons of double cream. Give it a good stir and set aside for couple minutes, so the flavours combine.

Optionally before serving sprinkle with pomegranate or hibiscus tea – it will add fresh and slightly fruity aroma. But if you don’t have any of these teas, just skip this step, salad will be also delicious.

seasonal eating – vegetables & fruits – with free calendar

If you think you need expensive and exotic vegetables and fruits or extraordinary superfoods to be healthy, then you are wrong.

Seasonal vegetables and fruits bought locally are a brilliant source of not only delicious taste, but also vitamins, micro elements, freshness and health. And Spring is a perfect time to introduce more vegetables and fruits to your diet. I wanted to prepare a list for myself of vegetables and fruits according to the season, but I thought it will be a great idea for a blog post, so I prepared a vegetable and fruit calendar for you. Availability of all vegetables and fruits in supermarkets all year round made me lose track a bit when it comes to their seasonality. As I currently live in the UK, I chose this country as my fruit and vegetable base. But I encourage you to prepare your own vegetable and fruit calendar for the country you live in.

We have access to fresh vegetables and fruit all year round. Obviously, if you look at the labels lots of these veggies and fruits are grown thousands of miles away from UK. It’s because some of them do not grow in UK at all, like tropical fruits and veggies, others does grow but in different season, like tomatoes in January. But imported vegetables and fruits have one big drawback – in order to survive, they are sprayed with pesticides, which cannot be fully removed, even by washing and scrubbing the plant. This is not the case with seasonal fruit and vegetables, as they are usually grown on nearby farms, so we can be sure that they are fresh, and even if they are sprayed, to a much lesser extent.
In addition, fruit and vegetables from abroad are harvested not fully ripe (so that the banana comes to us yellow, it is picked when it is still green), so they are not fully developed with vitamins and minerals. This takes away their health benefits and makes them less valuable for our body. My friend who lives i Malawi told me once, that bananas that we eat here in UK have absolutely different taste that the one that grow until ripen in Malawi. It’s like completely different fruit. You can easily experience that eating juicy strawberry from your garden in the middle of Summer, and large and beautiful but absolutely tasteless strawberry bought in the supermarket in the middle of Winter.

It’s also worth knowing that vegetables and fruits begin to lose their nutritional value at the time of harvesting and larger amounts of bacteria responsible for spoilage begin to appear. So by eating them as quickly as possible since harvesting, we gain more benefits for our body. Also imported fruits and veggies are more expensive than seasonal ones. They need to be transported many miles before they reach to your local shop.

Transporting such fruit and vegetables leaves behind a huge carbon footprint and a multitude of other pollutants. I’m not saying that we should suddenly stop eating exotic fruits or imported vegetables if we like them. I love vegetables myself and I like to eat them all year round, and it would be difficult for me to only eat root vegetables out of season. However, if we would like to introduce more seasonality into our diet, it is a good idea to start from buying vegetables and fruits in season. A great idea in my opinion is also buying vegetables and fruits from local farmers – such vegetables will not only be much healthier but also cheaper, and their cultivation and sale more environmentally friendly (if you’d like to know more about the difference between supermarket veggies and the one from sustainable farms, take a look at my interview with one of our local farmers).

Lastly it’s worth mentioning that seasonal vegetables and fruits are simply much tastier. It’s much nicer to enjoy the taste of strawberries on a sunny Summer day, when they are juicy, full of flavour and sweet, than to spoil your experience by buying an expensive small plastic box of strawberries that taste like nothing.

Very often the simplest solutions are the best, so if you want to make a little revolution in your vegetable world this Spring, start by downloading the calendar I have prepared (you’ll find it on the bottom of this post below the photos). Keep it on your phone, for easy access when you go shopping, or print it and stick to your fridge.

all veggies you didn’t know you can eat raw

We are so used to prepare certain foods in a certain way, don’t you feel a bit bored with your cooking choices? When it comes to veggies we usually prepare them in a same way – cooked, pickled or raw. Typically we use raw so called “salad veggies” like: cucumber, cabbage, lettuce, bell peppers or tomatoes. Others like: broccoli, cauliflower and root veggies usually land in the soups, stews or casseroles. But what if we would look out of the veggie comfort zone and see if we can eat raw these vegetables that we usually cook?

Curious? Lets go then!

But before we get to the point lets have a look at some nutritional facts.

Apart from vitamins and minerals obvious for everyone, what else vegetables have that other foods don’t?

The answer is fiber. According to food science dietary fiber is essential for healthy body.

But what it is exactly and what it does?

Dietary fiber is the parts of plants that your body cannot absorb or digest. Normally all the carbs, fats and proteins are processed in your body and transformed to energy. Fiber travels thorough your digestive system mostly intact, and simply leaves you body. It also contains different nutrients and minerals but have different function. Scientists divided fiber into two types:

  • soluble fiber – this type of fiber dissolves in water making gel-like consistency. They bypass the digestion of the small intestine and are easily fermented by the microflora of the large intestine. Soluble fiber helps to lower glucose and cholesterol levels.
  • insoluble fiber on the other hand helps to move all of that you’ve digested to smoothly get to the point where you get rid of it. So it’s really helpful when you have constipation issues.
So what are the benefits of fibre?
  1. Ability to decrease body weight or attenuate weight gain – soluble fiber, when fermented in the large intestine produces hormones generate feeling of satiety. So Foods that contain a lot of fiber make you feel full and satisfied for longer.
  2. Dietary fiber may significantly decrease energy intake.
  3. Dietary fiber intake increases, the intake of simple carbohydrates tends to decrease. Soluble fibre can slow down the absorption of sugar and improve blood sugar levels.
  4. Fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it so it’s easier to pass. When you increase your fiber intake also increase the amount of water you drink, so the fiber can absorb it properly.
  5. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease).

That’s some of the good things that fiber does for our body. Although researchers still don’t know everything about what fiber does, many of them claims that there’s is a strong relationship between fiber and coronary diseases and certain types of cancer. There’s still a lot to discover.

So finally let see what veggies you didn’t know (or maybe you already knew that and it’s just me?) you can eat raw.

Cauliflower

Rich in nutrients, full of fibre. Great low carb alternative for grains and legumes. Recently very popular as a replacement for everything (I mean popular in low carb and ketogenic communities). Can be eaten raw, and taste delicious for examle with avocado dip, joghurt and garlic sauce or tomato salsa. My favourite option – caulislaw – coleslaw like salad made with raw cauliflower instead of cabbage. Yummy!

Courgette

Did you know that courgette is actually botanically clacified as a fruit not a vegetable? Wild courgettes are very bitter and should not be eaten raw. This bitterness comes from cucurbitacins, which may be poisonous for humans and animals. Store bought courgettes are safe, and can safely be eaten raw. Although if you bite into courgette and it tastes extremely unpleasant and bitter, it’s best to spit it out and dispose of the entire fruit to avoid the risk of cucurbitacin toxicity. Don’t let this discourage you from eating courgettes. It’s very unlikely that you’ll buy very bitter courgette in the shop. The best is always buy from proven stores or farmers markets. You can use courgette for variety of ways: it’s great in salads, you can use it as a low carb noodles, as a wrap or simply eat with a dip as a snack. The sky is the limit!

Beetroot

Oh I love beets, but all my live I’ve been eating them cooked or pickled. If you like beets, try them raw. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science, pickled beets have less nutrients than raw ones. You can eat raw beets in many different ways: thinly slices, served as carpaccio, grathed or chopped in salads, blended in fruit and vegetable smoothies, you can juice them with other fruits (like apples) and drink. Beetroots comes also in other colours than red, they are yellow and white. Try my raw beetroot recipes: raw beets and avocado salad, raw beets, broad beans and feta salad, golden beets carpaccio.

Brussels sprouts

Surprised? I was as well. But actually you can eat them raw as cabbage. They are quite firm and not everyone will enjoy their taste, especially if you’re used to eat them roasted or cooked. Wasn’t my favourite raw veg of choice, but definitely I could consider adding raw Brussels sprouts to all sorts of salads. The best way is to slice them very thinly, you can use a mandoline. With all sorts of dressings will be great addition to sandwiches or side salad for meat dishes. Definitely give it a try to find out if you like it or not.

Broccoli

Just the same as cauliflower, broccoli can easily be eaten raw. Small tendersteam broccolies can be delicious in all sorts of salads, but regular large broccoli finely chopped or divided into small florets can make crunchy, beautiful green salad. Just let yourself experiment.

Parsley root

Did you know you can use parsley root just the same as you use carrot? Add raw parsley root to smoothies, salads or make thin slices using a peeler and prepare small rolls adding some goat cheese for example.

Root celery/celeriac

Exactly the same as parsley root – instead of popping them into a broth or stew prepare juicy spring salad. You can grate celery root and prepare all sorts of different side salads. It goes great with: apple, raisins, cranberries, sweetcorn, pineapple, hard cheese, Greek yogurt or mayonnaise. Perfect with white meat or fish dishes.

Collard greens

I love collard greens slightly sauted with butter and garlic, but as othe cabbage they can also be eaten raw. Although similar to kale they need a lot of chewing. To make it less difficult to eat you can chop them finely, drizzle with olive oil and some salt and massage rubbing the toughness away. After this “treatment” you can add them to your salads and happily eat without feeling like a cow in the pasture 😉 Because of their large leaves, they will be also a great wrap if do not enjoy traditional flour wraps.

When you got to this point and you think: I wish I could eat more veggies, but they make me feel bloated, I have cramps and gases! Okey dokey – that may happen if your body is not used to eating raw foods (I mean raw vegetables) and whole grains. In this case start adding high fiber foods gradually and observe which ones makes you feel better which ones make digestive issues. That’s the easiest way – observing how your body reacts to certain foods if you feel like your body doesn’t like certain veg, you feel discomfort or simply don’t enjoy the taste, just grab a different one. Vegetable world is wide and for sure you’ll find couple veggies you really like. Or maybe you don’t like it’s cooked version, and the raw one will taste much much better? Become an explorer in a vegetable world this Spring and find your favourite tastes.

And one more thing before I let you dive into your veggie drawer: always wash your vegetables thoroughly before you eat them raw! Choose veggies from trusted source – your local shop or farmer. Personally I hate buying veggies packed in plastic, that travelled thousands kilometres before they landed in my bag, but it’s obvious that buying sustainable and local isn’t always possible. So choose wisely, but also do not resign from buying vegetables, just because you can buy them only in the supermarket. Work with what you have, the best you can 🙂

Source of knowledge:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257631/