Pesto perfecto: Kale and Walnut Pesto

I won’t claim credit.

This is a raw pesto dish hubby made for me one evening.

Served on a bed of raw zucchini noodles, it was one of the best homemade dinners I’ve had in a while.

Kale & Walnut Pesto

leaves from 1 bunch kale
1/4 cup walnuts
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon – juiced and zested
sea salt and pepper

Blitz all ingredients in a food processor.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

If you want a runnier pesto, add more olive oil.  If you like it thick, it could also serve as a dip for vegetable crudites.

Quirky fact:  Did you know walnuts have been revered since ancient times as a symbol of intelligence.  It is attributed to the similarity of their kernels to that of the human brain.  Enriched with health-benefiting nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids (a 25g serving provides a whopping 90% RDI), it’s an apt correlation.

It could also be called the ‘beauty’ nut, containing about 21g of Vitamin E per 100g (that’s 140% of your daily required levels!)  

P.S.  Walnut and kale is used here, as this is what was in our fridge.  I don’t see why these ingredients couldn’t be substituted for similar items.  Cashew and spinach pesto, anyone?

pretty pesto

pretty pesto

5-minute Asian-inspired Coleslaw

Can barely muster up the energy to change the TV channel, let alone make yourself something to eat?

Enter one of the easiest ‘no brainer’ dishes ever.

I usually make a large batch and I’ve got lunch for the next few days.  Winner with hubby’s taste buds too.  For those interested, see this previous post regarding the nutritional benefits of cabbage, and especially its anti-aging properties.

Refreshingly light, this version skips the heavy processed mayo characteristic of traditional coleslaw.  If you’re not a fan of garlic omit one clove.

Sesame Seed ‘Slaw

1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 grated carrot
handful diced onion
lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 diced tomato
1 tsp sea salt
olive oil
apple cider vinegar
sesame seeds

Mix everything together in a large bowl.  Let the flavours develop for at least 10 minutes.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.

The colours in this dish make it appetizing to both the eyes and the tummy 🙂

To add more ‘bulk’ and turn this side dish into a complete meal, top with slices of avocado or throw in a mugful of sprouted chickpeas, buckwheat or quinoa for added protein.

Bahhh… Mondays.  Where did the weekend go?  Hope you survived yours in good nick.

rainbow coleslaw

rainbow coleslaw

middle eastern mania: 3 dishes in 30 mins for a party of six

raw baba ghanoush

raw baba ghanoush

When travelling abroad, falafels have always been a safe choice for me.  It’s a traditional Arab street food which is served in pita bread (like a sandwich or wrap) and sometimes topped with salads, pickled veg, hot sauce and lashings of tahini-based sauces such as hummus. When made with chickpeas, falafels are rich in protein, soluble fibre and complex carbs.  The only bummer is that falafels are usually deep fried.

Chickpeas are low in fat, salt (if possible make your own out of dried chickpeas; if you buy the canned version, rinse them a few times under running water to reduce the sodium content) and contain no cholesterol. Its key nutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, Vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B, and folate.  Because of its high fibre content, it’s effective in lowering blood cholesterol.

Baba ghanoush is made of eggplant mashed and mixed with olive oil and various herbs and spices.  The process usually involves oven roasting or wood-firing the eggplant prior to mashing it with the other ingredients.  I’m a huge eggplant fan! Eggplant is rich in a myriad of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  Some of these are:

  • dietary fibre
  • manganese
  • potassium
  • vitamins C, K, B6
  • magnesium
  • copper
  • folate
  • niacin
  • nasunin and chlorogenic acid

Here is a comprehensive nutritional profile on this humble vegetable.

Tabbouleh is an Arab salad.  I’ve usually had tabbouleh comprising of couscous, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and various other seasonings.  It can also be made of bulgur wheat.

So the challenge was:  how to veganise (and uncook) traditionally deep fried or wood-fired dishes like falafels and baba ghanoush?  Although there are far greater ‘unhealthy’ foods, I wanted to reinvent tabbouleh too!  Mission accepted. The guests were die-hard onmivores. The odds were stacked against me.  Cue cold sweat here.

A true litmus test is when non-vegans gobble up the food.  Hurrah!  Big sigh of relief.

I also created the tabbouleh again for a potluck picnic where the response was overwhelmingly positive.  So as promised, here they are below – quick, easy and super fresh.

Raw Baba Ghanoush

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large eggplant, diced frozen and thawed
1-2 heaped tbs tahini
lemon juice
olive oil
sea salt
paprika (to sprinkle on top)

The day before, dice and freeze the eggplant.  The eggplant will need to be thawed before you start.

In a food processor with the “S” blade fitted on, add diced eggplant until it forms a chunky paste.  Add the remaining ingredients (except paprika) and process until creamy.

Empty into a bowl and sprinkle paprika on top.  Drizzle with additional olive oil if you want.  Serve as a dip for flatbreads or smother onto pitas, add the falafels and devour!

raw cauliflower tabbouleh

raw cauliflower tabbouleh

Raw Cauliflower Tabbouleh

1 large cauliflower head – florets only
1 cucumber, finely diced
black pepper
3 cups parsley
2 tomatoes, finely diced
1/3 cup onions, finely diced
juice of 4-5 limes
olive oil
1 tbs sea salt

Whizz cauliflower until it resembles couscous in a food processor.  Don’t over-process as you want to maintain that ‘crunch’ factor.

Empty into a big bowl and add other ingredients.  Mix well and let sit for a few minutes to let the flavours develop.

Sprouted Chickpea Falafels

2 mugs sprouted chickpeas
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/3 c dried parsley
1 tbs tahini
1 tbs chia seed mixed with 3 tbs water, whisked and left for 10 mins (this acts as an egg replacer which binds the felafels together)
3 tbs almond meal (you can also use rice flour or potato flour)

the humble falafel

the humble falafel

Process the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, parsley in a food processor until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl, add almond meal and chia mixture and mix well.

Shape mixture into balls or patties.

If you let these sit in the fridge for 30 mins, they will firm up nicely.

There’s 2 options:  you can serve them as is (bring out of fridge about half hour before serving) or put them under a grill on the lowest setting if you want a falafel with a harder outer shell and a still-chewy inside.  However, this means it’s not entirely raw.

Happy eating! 🙂

Cabbage: The Chinese fountain of youth

raw cabbage saladLast week I met food coach Marion Egger.  A food ‘coach’, you say?  What is that?  Well, similar to how a sports coach motivates, advises and trains athletes to improve their performance, a food coach does the same except with food.  They assist clients in maximising their output by changing their input (ie. food intake).

Anyway, I really liked her cabbage salad, and so decided to play around with it.

The phyto-nutrient rich cabbage belongs to the “Brassica” family of vegetables.  Other brassica veges are brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, Chinese cabbage and broccoli.

I know cabbage is good for you.  I mean, really good for you.  It’s probably one of the most under-rated veges out there. The health benefits are impressive:

  • Nutritious yet low in fat and calories. 100 g of leaves provide just 25 calories.
  • Powerhouse of antioxidants (thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zea-xanthin, sulforaphane, isothiocyanates) which protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL levels in the blood.  LDL is the “bad cholesterol” peeps, in case you’re wondering.
  • Rich in Vitamin C (61% of RDA per 100g).  Regular consumption of vitamin C-rich foods helps the body develop resistance against infection and free radicals.  Cabbage also contains essential vitamins B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine) and B-1 (thiamin).
  • It also contains minerals potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
  • Provides about 63% of RDA levels of Vitamin-K, which gives you strong healthy bones. In addition, vitamin-K is a known cure for Alzheimer’s as it limits neuronal damage in the brain.

cabbage in the raw

Cabbage and Mushroom Salad

¼-½ head of white or red cabbage (shred finely with a knife)
½ Spanish onion
½ parsnip, thinly sliced
2 handfuls of roughly chopped broccoli
¼ carrot, thinly sliced
½ cup of sesame seeds
Sliced mushrooms

Dressing:
fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
tamari
1 clove of garlic chopped
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder
EVOO

Mix all ingredients together and marinate for at least 30 mins.

The original recipe called for radish (instead of parsnip) and sunflower seeds (in lieu of sesame seeds).

Hope you like it as much as I do! 🙂