THOUGHTFUL FORKFULS

Oil-free Hoisin Sauce Stir-fry

Healthy Chinese-style stir-fry with crispy tofu, broccoli and homemade hoisin sauce. Served with Chinese chives and rice noodles. Vegan and almost fat-free!

I don’t particularly endeavor to keep my recipes low-fat or oil-free (as there’s really no need), but I do prefer to get my fat from healthy sources: nuts, seeds, avocado etc. Give me a jar of tahini and i’ll go in with a spoon, give a me a raw salad and I’ll apply olive oil liberally, but cooked vegetable oil really doesn’t contribute any amount of nutritious benefit for our bodies so is best minimised where possible. Chinese stir-fries (or at least the British imitations that are served here) are often characterised by their greasiness (and disconcerting gloopy-ness), so it seemed like a good opportunity for a few healthy tweaks. I often get the impression that most takeaway meals have started off with a pint or two of vegetable oil in the pan, or at least an amount that no-one would dream of using in their own home so I’ve done the opposite with this dish. This recipe doesn’t fry anything in oil, but rather the sauce ingredients get mixed in a bowl and then thickened in a wok, cooking the broccoli at the same time. I’ve also mastered a technique of crispy tofu without deep-frying so that’s exciting.

The sauce is hopefully reminiscent of Chinese hoisin sauce, except that it doesn’t come of a jar or contain e-numbers. If you don’t have plum vinegar, use rice vinegar and if you don’t have Chinese chives, use spring onions or coriander. There isn’t a substitute for miso here, they sell it in the supermarkets so add it your list! Once you stock up on these condiments- soy, vinegar, miso- you are prepared for future speedy rice and noodle dinners as they offer a really big flavour punch with minimal effort. In other words, I think it’s well worth the investment if your store-cupboard is lacking in these things. Serve with rice or noodles (I’ve chosen noodles) or on its own, whatever you want.

Oil-free Hoisin Sauce Stir-fry
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 300g firm tofu
  2. 2 tbsp plain flour
  3. 2 tbsp semolina
  4. 1/8 tsp salt
  5. 75g rice noodles
  6. 2 tsp corn flour
  7. 120ml hot water
  8. 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  9. 2 tsp chilli flakes
  10. 1 tbsp miso paste
  11. 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  12. 1 tbsp agave
  13. 1 tbsp plum vinegar
  14. 1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
  15. 150g broccoli, cut in to small pieces
  16. 20g Chinese chives (optional), finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Cut the tofu in to 1 cm squares
  2. Mix the flour, semolina and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss the tofu in it, so that all sides of the cubes are covered. The wetness of the tofu will help the coating stick.
  3. Place the tofu on a foil sheet and place under the grill. Grill the tofu cubes on a high-heat for about 15 minutes so that the inside firms up a bit and the outside crisps up. Keep checking as it's cooking as all oven grills work differently; turn down the heat if it's too hot and turn up if it's not crisping up.
  4. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. I used thin rice noodles which just have to be soaked (rather than boiled) in boiling hot water for about 10 minutes, and then drained.
  5. Mix the corn flour in a couple of tbsp of the hot water separately and then mix all of the sauce ingredients (garlic through to 5-spice), including the corn flour and all of the water and whisk to combine.
  6. Place the sauce in a wok with the broccoli pieces and bring to a boil. When bubbling, place a lid over the pan and turn the heat to low-medium. Cook, simmering, for about 5 minutes, until the broccoli is just tender.
  7. Add in the cooked tofu and mix. Serve over the rice noodles, and sprinkle with the Chinese chives.
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Baked Pita With Dipping Sauces

These rosemary and olive oil baked pita pieces are perfect for dipping in home-made cashew-garlic and tomato-chilli sauces. Quick, easy and vegan.

Warmed pita is good, toasted pita is better, but baking it is something else. If you avoid crisps, you can make these instead and trick yourself in to thinking you are tucking in to a bag of Kettle Chips. This is also a great snack to whip up if friends unexpectedly pop round to watch a film (this has never actually happened to me personally, but it often says this kind of thing in recipe books so I’m left to assume that there are individuals out there who have the audacity to turn up to places uninvited).

The sauces are both winners too: tomato-chilli brings spicy and sweet, and cashew-garlic brings creamy and slightly tangy. You will require a powerful blender to get the smooth consistency, but if you only have a food processor I would recommend soaking the cashews in hot water (or boiling them for 10 minutes if short of time) for an hour to soften them slightly. These sauces are really great to have on hand to jazz up any meal, sandwich or snack and they are very quick to prepare. Here are a few suggestions as to how else you could use them, but don’t feel limited to just these; I assure you that these sauces are applicable to many a meal:

If you are gluten-free, why not make some home-made potato chips instead of pita?

They’re a great dunking destination for nut balls and falafel

They’re perfect additions to burger night

The cashew sauce in particular pairs wonderfully with this spinach and almond bake

Perfect with Mexican beans, when served with tortilla or rice

Why not combine with this Indian potato salad inside a savoury pancake?

Great with tofu scramble

Lovely on toast

And finally, I love to combine them both inside a tortilla wrap with these spiced chickpeas, loads of raw vegetables and a dollop of homous.

Baked Pita With Dipping Sauces
Serves 2
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Ingredients
For the pita
  1. 3 medium wholemeal pita breads
  2. 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  3. 1 tbsp olive oil
  4. 1 clove garlic, crushed
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
For the cashew-garlic sauce
  1. 100g cashews
  2. 10g (2 cloves) garlic
  3. 25ml (1 tbsp + 2 tsp) cider vinegar
  4. 15ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice
  5. 85ml water
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
For the chilli-tomato sauce
  1. 75g tomato puree
  2. 10g (2 cloves) garlic
  3. 6g (1 tbsp) chilli flakes
  4. 100ml water
  5. 25ml (1 tbsp + 2 tsp) extra virgin olive oil
  6. 25g (1 tbsp + 2 tsp) agave (or maple syrup)
  7. 1/4 tsp salt
Directions
For the pita
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Slice each pita pocket diagonally in to strips, about 2cm wide.
  3. Mix the rosemary, olive oil, garlic and salt in a bowl and pour in to a medium sized baking tray.
  4. Place the pita strips on to the tray and smear each around in the oil, on both sides. I've been frugal with the oil so it might seem like it won't stretch, but it will. You can add more oil if you wish.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes and remove from oven. They'll continue to crisp up as they cool.
For the sauces
  1. For each of the sauces, whizz up the ingredients in a high-powered blender until completely smooth.
http://www.thoughtfulforkfuls.com/

Spelt Pasta With Cashew ‘Parmesan’

This Autumn dish is the perfect tribute to late courgettes, with chilli, lemon and garlic encasing spelt pasta and sun-dried tomatoes. Vegan and gluten-free

There’s been a few vegan ‘parmesan’ recipes floating around for while and given my previous experience with cheese replicas, I was sceptical. However, after trying the Minimalist Baker’s version here, I was converted! Although, it is difficult to get hold of, the nutritional yeast is really essential here; while the cashews add bulk and texture, the nutritional yeast adds a lot of the flavour. As you can see from the quantities, a little goes a long way! My only alteration of the recipe that I followed was that I reduced the salt content from 3/4 tsp to 1/2.

In terms of the rest of the dish, it’s definitely one for ‘simple, quick and easy’ collection, although it’s definitely elegant enough for a dinner party. Put the pasta on at the start, and by the time it’s cooked, the vegetables AND the parmesan will be ready! The idea is that you can taste all of the elements: lemon, chilli, garlic, in generous quantities. And it’s definitely one to make right away; UK courgettes are just coming to an end of their season, and this dish is the perfect Autumn farewell dish. A tough of summery lightness with the citrus, lightly fried courgettes and olive oil, but an element of winter comfort with the hearty spelt pasta, sun-dried tomatoes and cashew ‘cheese’. If you fancy cooking this meal outside of courgette season, other green substitutes would work fine! Any leafy green, like chard, spinach or kale, would be lovely, or if you don’t have any fresh produce, frozen peas are always a winner. I use spelt pasta, but good old wheat pasta would work just fine!

Spelt Pasta With Cashew 'Parmesan'
Serves 3
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
For the pasta
  1. 250g dried spelt spaghetti
  2. 3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 20g garlic (4 large cloves), finely chopped
  4. 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. Few twists of freshly ground black pepper
  7. 1 tbsp lemon zest (about the zest of 1 lemon)
  8. 100g sun-dried tomatoes (about 80g dried, and re-hydrated in hot water for 20 minutes), roughly chopped
  9. 1 large courgette (about 300g), in thin slices or semi-circles (like pictured)
  10. Rocket (for garnish- optional)
For the 'parmesan'
  1. 100g cashews
  2. 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
For the pasta
  1. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. I cook mine in a medium saucepan in salted, boiling water for about 10 minutes, until 'al dente'. Before I drain I add a dash of oil to the water and mix around, to prevent the spaghetti strands from sticking to each other after they're drained. When cooking rice and pasta, I always simmer with the lid on, but slightly ajar: this allows a small amount of the steam to be released, but is more energy efficient than cooking without the lid, as more heat is retained.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large wok or frying pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the garlic, chilli, salt, pepper, lemon zest and sun-dried tomatoes and fry for 30 seconds.
  3. Then, add the courgette slices and fry, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until tender, but still slightly crisp.
  4. Finally, add the drained pasta to the frying pan and mix everything together.
For the 'parmesan'
  1. Add all the ingredients to a small food processor and blitz until a fine consistency is achieved. It will look a little like cous cous. This will last for ages in the fridge (you won't use it all with this dish), and is a versatile condiment to have on hand for a flavour boost.
  2. At the table, sprinkle liberally on top of the pasta!
  3. If you want, garnish with rocket as well.
http://www.thoughtfulforkfuls.com/

Pink ‘Overnight Oats’

These soaked oats are made with banana, cherries, vanilla and coconut milk, and topped with chia seeds. High-protein, vegan, sweet breakfast option.

I can’t remember the first time I discovered overnight oats, but I remember vividly the first time I tried it. It was love at first bite; I was both amazed by the sweet taste, and the cake batter-like consistency which just felt too naughty to be eating at breakfast. I have since moved away from such fruity breakfasts, opting for savoury delights instead but if I ever fancy anything on the sweet side, this is what I turn to. The concept behind this is a bit like making porridge, except just as you’re about to cook it, you don’t. Instead, you leave the oats to suck up all the liquid until you have a wet, stodgy, oat-y mixture that can be dressed up or down, depending on your preference. I have also discovered that it’s not essential to soak the oats overnight, and they will absorb all the liquid in just half an hour or so if left alone. However, preparing the night before means this is the quickest possible breakfast as it is literally sat waiting for you in the fridge when you wake up.

This method of whizzing up the banana and berries is a great way of sweetening up the dish without any refined sugars or syrups, especially as the coconut milk I use isn’t sweetened. It’s also a good way to insert loads of vitamins and minerals in to your diet, without having to have ripe fresh fruit on hand. I tend to buy mostly frozen fruit; it is inexpensive, great for smoothies, and frozen when ripe as well as soon after picking, thereby preserving it’s nutritional value. I top each bowl of this dish with a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds, knocking a bowl of these oats up to 17g of protein per serving (37% of RDA), but you can add any toppings you like. This dish is very flexible meaning that once you’ve got the general formula down, you can experiment with different flavour combinations; there are so many options!

Milks: soya, rice, oat, almond, hazelnut
Fruit: frozen or fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, apple, mango, pineapple, pear
Flavourings: ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, cacao, almond extract, citrus zest, nut and seed butters
Toppings: toasted or raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseed/linseed, cashews, walnuts, almonds whole or flaked, hazelnuts, cacao nibs, dried fruit, more berries or sliced banana, pomegranate seeds, dessicated coconut, super-food powders: spirulina, chlorella, maca, hemp protein

Instead of the coconut milk, berry and vanilla blend, other great flavour combinations include:

-Hazelnut milk, raw cacao, toasted hazelnuts, cacao nibs
-Almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, apple/pear/apricot, flaked almonds
-Any milk, peanut butter, ginger/cinnamon/nutmeg, banana

This is a really good opportunity to be creative and play around with different flavours and textures. Let me know of any good ones you try!

Pink 'Overnight Oats'
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ripe banana (125g peeled weight)
  2. 100g frozen berries (I used cherries)
  3. 250ml plant milk (I used coconut)
  4. 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  5. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 150g oats
Instructions
  1. Blitz together the banana, berries, plant milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a blender or food processor as if you were making a smoothie. Alternatively, leave the berries aside and just mash everything else together with a fork, throwing in the berries whole with the oats.
  2. Mix the smoothie mixture with the oats in a mixing bowl, and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
  3. Divide between 2 bowls and load with toppings (if desired) and you're ready to go! See the notes above the recipe for ingredient alternatives and topping ideas.
http://www.thoughtfulforkfuls.com/

Pineapple Salsa

This salsa combines pineapple, coriander and spring onion as well as garlic, chilli and lime. A sweet, refreshing, vegan and gluten-free barbecue side!

VEGAN BARBECUE MINI SERIES- PART III OF III
The third and final part of this recipe series focuses on one of the most important parts: the burger relish. I find that many shop-bought relishes are fairly mediocre, and they are often engineered to last for months, and therefore don’t have that zingy ‘freshness’ of home-made ones. Salsa (and it’s many variations) is quick and easy to make, making it completely feasible to throw together last-minute.

My general formula for a salsa involves:

Main ingredient (tomatoes, sweetcorn, peppers, avocado, pineapple)
Onion (red onion, white onion, spring onion)
Herb (mint, parsley, coriander)
Citrus (lemon, lime)
Garlic
Chilli
Salt and pepper

And that’s usually it! I’ve been known to throw in some toasted cumin seeds or pumpkin seeds at times, and it might need a tsp or two of sugar if it’s too sour, but I generally keep it pretty simple. The best thing about salsa is that you can mix everything together and then tweak it: more chilli, more salt, and so on. There’s no need to cook it as the salsa benefits from the raw crunchy vegetables or fruit, and the raw garlic and lime hit.

This particular salsa uses pineapple, coriander and spring onions, and is sweet and refreshing, with a slight sourness from the lime. I’ve used frozen pineapple chunks as I always have some in the freezer for smoothies. It saves peeling time to do it this way and there’s no benefit to using fresh although if you’d prefer to, that’s absolutely fine. There is a small amount of chilli but if are looking to make a spicy salsa, add more. I used lime zest rather than juice as the mixture was already wet enough. Be warned, as the salt works the mixture, more and more moisture will be released, but it just needs to be stirred back in. It does last for quite a few days. Eat with burgers and potato salad and if there’s any left the next day, eat with Mexican beans and ‘slaw in a tortilla wrap or with this Indonesian peanut salad: gado-gado.

Pineapple Salsa
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 300g frozen pineapple chunks
  2. 50g spring onions, chopped
  3. 25g fresh coriander, chopped
  4. 5g fresh chilli, finely chopped
  5. 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  6. 1 tsp lime zest (about 1/2 a lime's worth of zest)
  7. 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  8. 1/4 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. If using frozen pineapple, remove it from the freezer about an hour before making, to thaw. Then cut in to small cubes.
  2. Combine with the remaining ingredients and leave to sit for about 30 minutes (if you have time), for all the flavours to combine.
  3. Before serving, mix thoroughly to collect any liquid that has separated and you're good to go!
Notes
  1. If you don't like pineapple, this would work really well with mango!
http://www.thoughtfulforkfuls.com/

Chinese 5-Spice, Rice and Black Bean Stir-Fry

This stir-fry is a one-pot meal with rice, beans and vegetables in one work, flavoured with Chinese 5-spice, ginger, soy and mirin. Vegan and gluten-free.

 I’ve added a new section to my recipe page. It is a category called ‘Simple, Quick and Easy’, and it’s where you can easily find all my recipes which are, well, simple, quick and easy! My mother pointed out to me this week that my recipes often involve many different steps and a huge long list of ingredients which is quite daunting and unappealing to many people. While I’m happiest when I’m letting hours slip away from me in the kitchen and the more ingredients, the more excited I get, it’s good to be reminded that this is fairly unusual! The majority of visitors to my site are probably just looking to find healthy, tasty vegan recipes which don’t take all night to prepare and don’t involve buying an extensive list of obscure products. So with that in mind, not only am I making it easier to identify which of my existing dishes are less complicated than the others, I am also focusing my efforts on developing a set of breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas which are more straightforward to prepare, but don’t compromise on taste. The criteria I have used for measuring whether they make the cut will be the amount of different cooking techniques used, how long the whole recipe takes to prepare and how many ingredients are used. Ideally, they will be one-pot meals, with 10 ingredients or less and that take less than 30 minutes to prepare.

This Chinese 5-spice stir-fry is a perfect one to start off the series. With rice, beans and vegetables all in the same pan, it needs nothing else other than a pair of chopsticks (or fork). It is also a great way to use up leftover rice, but it’s also fine to cook some from scratch if you don’t have any. I love the texture of the black beans here- and it also makes the recipe very store-cupboard-friendly- but if you prefer, chunks of tofu would work really well here too. If you wanted extra protein, you could serve this dish alongside some grilled tofu or cashew nuts and if you’re after extra veg, some more steamed greens by the side. I often say this but it’s extra true for this dish: it’s even better cold! Perfect to take in to work for lunch or nibble on from the fridge if you get hungry again before bed. If you were looking for even more reasons to cook this dish, it’s very cheap! In terms of the fresh elements, we received a large summer cabbage in our vegetable box which is why I chose it but if you’re making this at a different point of the year, use whatever greens are seasonal. It is very spicy (in the fragrant perfume-y sense rather than the hot), so if you aren’t a Chinese 5-spice lover (why are you making this dish?), you can reduce the 5-spice to 1/2 tsp. As you can see from the picture, a slice of lime is nice for a bit of sourness but it’s certainly not essential and it’s a matter of personal preference.  

Chinese 5-Spice, Rice and Black Bean Stir-Fry
Serves 2
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  2. 1 small onion (100g), sliced
  3. 150g cabbage, sliced
  4. 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  5. 20g fresh ginger, finely chopped
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
  7. Few twists freshly ground black pepper
  8. 3/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
  9. 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  10. 2 tbsp soy sauce (I recommend Kikkoman)
  11. 2 tbsp mirin
  12. 1 drained can of black beans (230g)
  13. 250g cooked brown rice*
Instructions
  1. In a Wok, or large frying pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cabbage and fry for 5 minutes, moving the vegetables around the pan with a wooden spoon to keep them from sticking.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another 5 minutes, again moving everything around the pan so all the elements are evenly cooked.
  4. Now, add the salt, pepper, Chinese 5-spice and chilli flakes and fry for 1 more minute.
  5. Then, add the soy sauce, mirin, black beans and brown rice and cook for a couple more minutes, until everything is warmed through and everything is well mixed.
Notes
  1. *If you don't have leftover rice, you can cook some from scratch! For 250g cooked rice, you will need about 125g dried rice, and I would boil this in salted water for about 30-40 minutes, until cooked 'al dente'.
http://www.thoughtfulforkfuls.com/

Sweet, Smokey And Spicy ‘Baked Beans’

This sweet, smokey and spicy take on 'baked beans' is quick, store-cupboard friendly, inexpensive, and nutritious. Vegan, gluten and refined-sugar free.

I really like canned baked beans. I used to eat beans on toast for lunch at least four times a week. We still always have a tin in our cupboard for emergency lazy dinners or hungover breakfasts. More commonly, however, I tend to make my own baked (well stewed, really) beans from scratch. Plus, I have also widened my food repertoire so that lunch isn’t so frequently bean-based..

This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s first recipe book, but I’ve added more chilli and taken out the molasses (definitely not one of my cupboard staples). I have also switched her choice of sweet paprika with the smoked variety, to give that, well, smokey taste. Anyway, this is my take on the classic baked beans, and I find it is perfect to eat with scrambled tofu, or on toast, of course. Or, try eating it in a tortilla wrap or savoury pancake with avocado and greens, or in a baked potato. You can also switch up the types of beans you used, depending on what you have in the cupboard, for example kidney beans, pinto beans, cannellini beans etc. It’s also suitable for any meal (can you think of a food that is as appropriate for all of breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner as baked beans?). Quick, store-cupboard friendly, inexpensive, and nutritious. Oh, and tasty.

Sweet, Smokey And Spicy 'Baked Beans'
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Ingredients
  1. 1 onion, chopped
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  4. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  5. 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  8. 2 tbsp double concentrate tomato puree
  9. 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  10. 2 tbsp maple syrup
  11. 2 cans of haricot beans + water from both cans (alternatively, use 530g cooked beans and 250ml water)
  12. 100ml water
Instructions
  1. In a small or medium sized pan over medium heat, fry the onion in the olive oil until soft (about 5-10 minutes).
  2. Then, add the garlic and fry for a another minute.
  3. Add the smoked paprika, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and fry for a minute more.
  4. Then, add the tomato puree, mustard, maple syrup, beans and water from the can, and water. Bring everything to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes with the lid off.
Notes
  1. As the beans sit, they will thicken up. In this case, just add a splash of water to loosen them up.
http://www.thoughtfulforkfuls.com/

Orange And Mint Cacao Energy Bars

Dates, cashews and raw cacao combine to form deliciously sweet, vegan, gluten-free, nutrient-dense snacks. Additions of mint and orange add a great twist.

There are loads of recipes around at the moment for bliss balls and energy balls, and some involve tons of different ingredients and super-foods. Although a good opportunity to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, I actually like to keep mine pretty simple and my favourite flavours are those that use very few ingredients: one type of dried fruit, one nut and a couple of other spices or flavourings. These chocolate energy bars are just divine: a perfect snack or dessert alternative that uses dates for sweetness, cashews for fat and creaminess and raw cacao powder for the rich chocolate-y hit, negating the need (in my opinion) for the refined sugars, milk powder and other fats which appear in conventional chocolate. Unlike cocoa powder which is made from roasted and ground cacao beans, cacao powder is made from cold-pressed cacao beans which maintains the living enzyme content and retains a higher amount of nutrients than its cooked counterpart.

There are two recipes in one here; both mint and orange are great partners with chocolate, but you could also emit them and have plain chocolate energy bars.

Orange And Mint Cacao Energy Bars
Yields 16
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For the orange
  1. 300g dates
  2. 300g cashews
  3. 50g cacao powder
  4. 15g orange zest (plus a little extra for sprinkling on top)
  5. Large pinch of salt
For the mint-choc chip
  1. 300g dates
  2. 300g cashews
  3. 60g cacao powder
  4. 10g mint
  5. 30g cacao nibs (plus 10g sprinkled on top)
  6. Large pinch of salt
For the orange
  1. Simply throw the ingredients in a blender and process the mixture on high power, pushing the mix toward the blade using a tamper.
  2. When the nuts and dates have broken down and everything is combined, the mix will be oily and sticky and as easy to mould as dough.
  3. At this stage I often roll the mixture in to balls, but it is quicker to press the mixture in to a 20cm by 20cm tray lined with baking parchment.
For the mint-choc chip
  1. Do the same as with the orange recipe but withhold the cacao nibs. When the mixture is combined, remove it from the blender and place in a bowl. Mix (or squelch) in the 30g cacao nibs by hand and press in to a 20cm by 20cm tray. Sprinkle the other 10g of cacao nibs over the top and leave to set in the fridge.
  2. After a few hours, cut the bars in to 16 squares. Store in the fridge and the flavour will stay good for 3 weeks.
http://www.thoughtfulforkfuls.com/

Spaghetti Stir-Fry With Panch Phoron

Fragrant vegan fusion food: Asian spice blend 'Panch Phoron' and stir-fry style with Italian spaghetti. So quick and easy, yet totally rewarding.

This is a real 15-minute meal. Get the spaghetti on at the beginning, and by the time it is cooked, the rest of the dish will be ready to go too. Don’t be fooled by the simple look and feel of this recipe however; it is still packed full of flavour. The reason for this is the inclusion of my favourite spice blend: ‘panch phoron’, a five-spice blend mainly used in Bangladesh, Eastern India and Southern Nepal. It is available in specialist stores and most supermarkets, but you can always make your own. It consists of equal parts fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed and it adds such a wonderfully deep and fragrant flavour to any dish.

To make my fusion of East Asian cooking style and South Asian spices ever more atypical, I have also used very non-Asian spaghetti in this dish. Despite this being an accident (I ran out of noodles), I (and my diners) actually quite enjoyed the substantial texture of the pasta, and I therefore kept it in the recipe. You may also notice a distinct lack of high-protein ingredients in this dish, which is unusual for my cooking. However, I thought this dish was just perfect as it was, and I didn’t want to interfere any further with tofu or cashew nuts. Obviously, you can throw some in if you wish.

Finally, use whatever vegetables you have available; just be sure that if you add them together, they have similar cooking times. Springtime is offering up some real delights in the UK, and seasonal vegetables that could work well here include asparagus, pak choi, spring greens and grean beans.

Spaghetti Stir-Fry With Panch Phoron
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 150g wholewheat spaghetti
  2. 1 tbsp coconut oil
  3. 4 cloves of garlic (20g), crushed
  4. 40g ginger, grated
  5. 1.5 tsp panch phoron
  6. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  7. 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. A few twists of freshly ground black pepper
  10. 300g greens (I used half courgette and half cauliflower leaves)
  11. 120ml water
  12. 2 tbsp soy sauce (I use Kikkoman; it's the best)
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. I boil in slightly salted water until 'al dente' and then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a large wok on medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic, ginger, panch phoron, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, salt and black pepper. Fry for a minute or two, moving the mixture around the wok until the seeds start to pop.
  3. Now, add the chopped greens and the water and cover the wok with a saucepan lid. Steam the mixture for 5 minutes, until the greens are slightly tender, but still crisp.
  4. Now, add the soy sauce and the drained noodles to the pan and mix everything together.
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Simple Red Lentil Soup

This cheap, nutritious and vegan soup is made special by a dash of chilli and thyme. Perfect when paired with rice cakes, Marmite and apple. Gluten-free.

Soup is usually a great recipe for using up leftover vegetables in the fridge but during this ‘hungry gap’ when UK produce is fairly sparse, I turn to my favourite ever ‘store-cupboard’ lentil soup. This is a ridiculously quick, easy and simple recipe which doesn’t differ hugely from the basic recipe my mother taught me! Cheap, nutritious and always a hit, I would recommend cooking up a huge batch right now. After all, the weather might seem sunny and warm at this particular moment, but we are still in Britain; you never know when it might turn stormy or grey and if this happens, you’ll need a portion of this lentil soup ready in the freezer to get you through.

Additionally, it is essential you eat (or at least try to eat) this soup with rice cakes, marmite and apple dipped in to it. It is such a winning combination and the salty/sweet/savoury/smooth/crunchy/hot/cold medley will blow your mind and wonder why you never tried it before. Trust me on this.

Simple Red Lentil Soup
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 onion, chopped, chopped
  3. 3 cloves garlic
  4. 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  5. 3/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  6. 3/4 tsp salt
  7. A few twists of freshly ground pepper
  8. 1 tbsp tomato puree
  9. 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  10. 300g red lentils
  11. 1 litre stock (I use bouillon)
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil.
  2. Add the onion and fry for 5-10 minutes, until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  4. Add the dried thyme, dried chilli flakes, salt and pepper and fry for a further minute.
  5. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, red lentils and stock and bring to a boil.
  6. Turn down to a simmer and cook until the lentils are soft, about 15 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat and blitz to a smooth and creamy consistency.
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