I have had a lot of requests for vegan, or plant based meals. Veganism is growing in both general awareness and popularity, with the past January seeing a ‘Veganuary’ movement and the hastags #meatlessmondays and #meatfreemondays trending on Instagram. Whilst I have not joined this trend, and don’t plan to, I do eat vegan/plant-based meals. The great thing about this dish is that it can easily be adapted to someone who does not want to eat a vegan meal! This dish is so packed full of flavor, though, that I guarantee even the meat-lovers amongst us won’t disagree it is lacking in taste!
Macros per portion (based on 1 serving): 281kcal; 22g protein, 32g carbs, 10g fat
- 1 pack of Miracle Noodle ziti, rinsed (can sub for 2oz of conventional pasta)
- 1/2 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic, finely diced
- 20g roughly chopped red onion
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 15g nutritional yeast
- 30g shredded almond milk cheese alternative (can substitute for regular/low fat mozzarella)
- 15g pistachios
- Place a small non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion and garlic until the onion turns translucent.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and dried herbs and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent anything from sticking. The tomatoes should begin to bubble.
- Reduce the heat and add in the zucchini and nutritional yeast. Stir occasionally while the sauce simmers.
- Bring a medium sized pan to the boil and cook the rinsed Miracle Noodle ziti for 2-3mins and drain. (If using conventional pasta, cook according to packet instructions and don’t omit the salt. It prevents the pasta from sticking together!).
- Add the drained pasta to the sauce along with the cheese alternative and cook on a low heat for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
- Transfer to a bowl and top with the pistachios.
Savory oatmeal? You might think I have well and truly lost it, but oatmeal is actually by nature rather plain and savory tasting. We tend to think of it in steaming morning bowls with milk, fruit and nuts, but I challenge you to re-think and try using it as a basis for savory items. When making savory oats, I tend to think of it like quick cook risotto. It is super easy to whip up and the recipe can so easily be adapted to suit your palette!
Macros per portion (serves 1): 355kcal; 34g protein, 31g carbs, 9g fat
- 40g (or half a cup) of oats. Use quick cook oats if you are making in the microwave and rolled oats if making on the stove top.
- 1 cup water (can sub for milk/milk alternative)
- 100g spinach
- 3 egg whites (can substitute for whole eggs)
- 50g mushrooms
- 10 slices turkey pepperoni (can substitute for sausages/bacon/turkey bacon)
- 30g reduced fat mozzarella, grated
- Pinch of black pepper
- Pinch of mixed dried herbs
- Ketchup/mustard/hot sauce (or all 3!)
Stove Top Method
- Add the oats and water to a medium saucepan and cook on a medium heat until the oats begin to thicken and absorb some of the liquid.
- Meanwhile, in a small, non-stick saucepan, saute the mushrooms on a medium heat until they begin to soften.
- Reduce the heat of the oats and add in the egg whites, black pepper and dried herbs.
- Stir the mushrooms into the mixture along with the turkey pepperoni and spinach. Cook on low for a minute or so to allow the flavor of the pepperoni to flavor the oats and for the spinach to wilt. Stir constantly to prevent sticking.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Top with the mozzarella and place under the broil setting on the oven for approximately 2 minutes, until the cheese melts and begins to turn brown.
- Remove from the oven and top with condiments of choice – I usually opt for Heinz reduced sugar/salt ketchup!
- Add the oats and water to a microwave proof bowl and cook on high for 45 seconds so that the oats have absorbed most of the liquid. Remove and stir.
- Meanwhile, in a small, non-stick saucepan, saute the mushrooms, spinach and turkey pepperoni over a medium heat until the mushrooms soften and the spinach wilts.
- Add the egg whites, along with the black pepper and dried herbs to the microwaved oats and cook for another 30 – 45 seconds. Remove and stir. If the egg whites have not cooked into the mixture, cook for 10 seconds at a time until the oats and egg whites are cooked.
- Stir the mushrooms, pepperoni and spinach into the oats and top with the mozzarella.
- Place under the broil setting on the oven for approximately 2 minutes, until the cheese melts and begins to turn brown.
- Remove from the oven and top with condiments of choice – I usually opt for Heinz reduced sugar/salt ketchup!
‘Fitspo’ seems to suggest that the only type of chocolate you can enjoy in moderation is the highest cocoa percentage possible of dark chocolate. While some people love it, I find it far too bitter; white or milk chocolate is my jam (or my chocolate!) This recipe can easily be adapted to adjust for your chocolate preferences by using milk chocolate hot cocoa powder or regular cocoa/cacao powder. You can also substitute the white chocolate spread for Nutella or chocolate peanut butter!
Macros per blondie (based on 12 servings and excluding white chocolate frosting): 142kcal; 6p, 14c, 6f
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 150g white chocolate spread (can sub for Nutella/chocolate nut butter)
- 100g over-ripe banana
- 25g white hot cocoa powder (can sub for regular hot cocoa powder or cacao/cocoa powder)
- 30g oat flour
- 50g coconut flour
- 2 scoops of vanilla/banana protein powder (I used birthday cake Dymatize)
- 120ml almond milk
- 1/4 cup room temperature water
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2tsp baking powder
- Preheat your oven to 350f (180c) and line a 9″ baking tin with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mash the banana with a fork until it forms a smooth puree.
- Grind your oats into a flour by popping in a blender/Nutribullet until they resemble a flour-like consistency.
- In a large bowl, sieve the coconut flour, hot cocoa powder, oat flour, baking powder, salt and protein powder.
- Add in the mashed banana and stir until combined.
- Add in the remainder of the wet ingredients – egg, almond milk, white chocolate spread and water and stir until mixture is fully combined. It should have a ‘cake batter’ type consistency. If it is too dry, continue adding water a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the correct consistency.
- Pour the mixture into your tin and cooking for 30 minutes in the center of your pre-heated oven. The top should be golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing into squares.
- These are great topped with additional white chocolate spread or served warm with fruit and ice-cream! These will keep for a week at room temperature, 1 – 2 weeks refridgerated (but this will make the texture more moist) and also can be frozen/defrosted at your convenience.
These blondies are super dense – a combination of using coconut flour and purely egg whites creates a clos texture, perfect warmed up with custard (the British coming out in me!) or served with ice-cream. Equally as good is pairing with a cup of tea and some yogurt for a mid-afternoon snack.
Macros per blondie (based on 9 servings): 162kcal; 10.7g protein, 17.5g carbs, 6.4g fat
- 100g oats, ground into a flour
- 12 tbsp. liquid egg whites
- 60ml unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 120g 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
- 6 tbsp. runny nut butter of choice (I used 4tbsp. Fantasy French toast Epic Spreads and 2 tbsp. pumpkin spice G Butter)
- 20g coconut flour
- 5 tsp Stevia
- 100g raspberries, divided into two 50g portions
- 30g white chocolate chips
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- In a food processor, or blender, grind the oats into a flour. Set aside in a medium mixing bowl.
- Blend the Greek yoghurt, egg whites, nut butter, half the raspberries and almond milk and add to the ground oats.
- Sift the coconut flour into the mixture and then add the Stevia, the other half of the raspberries and the white chocolate chips.
- Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Grease and line an 8” square cake tin and pour in the mixture.
- Bake in the center of your preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and springs back when touched.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting into slices.
- Serve warm with custard, ice-cream or Greek yogurt.
So it is the season of giving, but it is also the season of spending. I am a big advocate of crafting and hand-making as much as I can. I love nothing more than creating a delicious recipe or upscaling a piece of furniture myself. You get it exactly how you want it and at a fraction of the price. As well as it being a season for giving to family and close friends, you often find yourself gifting for colleagues and neighbors and these token gestures of goodwill soon add up. (And that’s if you can even think of what to gift!) This dark chocolate and fruit bark is so easy to prepare, so versatile and so cost-effective, yet tastes decadent. It also has the benefit of being homemade, which people always appreciate. You can adapt it to suit any palette and any chocolate preferences. Time to get creative (but without breaking the bank!)
Macros per portion (based on 20 servings): 75kcal; 8.7g carbs, 3.8g fat, 0.9g protein
- 200g good quality dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s Belgian dark chocolate)
- 170g almonds
- 60g raisins
- 50g dried cherries
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- Roughly chop the almonds and set aside.
- Break up the chocolate into a medium, microwave safe bowl and microwave for 45 seconds.
- Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir the chocolate thoroughly. Note: it is very easy to burn chocolate in the microwave. Chocolate deceptively holds its shape and a few seconds too long can ruin a whole bowl of chocolate. Instead of microwaving, you can melt it over a pan of boiling water on the stove top. If you decide to use milk or white chocolate instead of dark, please be aware that these chocolates are much harder to work with due to their lower cocoa solids.
- Return the bowl to the microwave and continue to melt the chocolate in 20 second intervals, stirring thoroughly after each burst in the microwave. The heat from the chocolate will continue to melt it, even after it has been removed from the microwave.
- Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the roughly chopped almonds, cherries, raisins and almond extract until they are all combined.
- Place a sheet of baking paper in a small baking tin and pour the chocolate mixture on top. The chocolate mixture should be glossy rather than dull (dull indicates it may be burnt).
- Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to cool and harden.
- Remove from the refrigerator and break into segments.
- Place in festive bags to gift or display on a fancy plate to accompany festive drinks and coffees at the end of a get together!
The options for this are endless. For a cereal lover, why not add in crushed cornflakes? You could sub the fruit for crushed candy canes and peppermint extract to create another seasonal favorite.
I am not normally one for fruity sauces with savory meals, but there is something about the sharp tang of cranberries that really appeals to me. It has become a staple of our Christmas Day lunch to accompany the roast turkey and veggies, but, I probably prefer it more teamed with melted Brie, turkey and arugula on a crusty, seeded roll. At this time of year, cranberry sauce can be found in abundance at the supermarkets, but they are often high in refined sugar and sporting a very suspicious texture. This cranberry sauce is neither. It maintains the sharp zing of the cranberries with just enough sweetness to stop you making those tart faces! It also has a texture of a homemade jam or purée and can equally be enjoyed as a topping to ice-creams and other sweet dishes. It is so simple to make and can be stored, refrigerated for about 2 weeks.
Macros per portion (based on 15 servings): 16kcal; 4.2g carbs, 0g fat, 0.1g protein
- 12oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
- 4 fl oz fresh orange juice
- 4 fl oz water
- 15 single serve packets (15 tsp) granulated sweetener of choice
- In a small saucepan, bring the water and orange juice to the boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium, add in the sweetener and stir thoroughly.
- Pour in the cranberries carefully and stir.
- Cook the cranberries until most of them burst (this is personal preference, depending on whether you want a smooth or chunky sauce. The more cranberries that burst, the smoother your sauce will be). You will need to monitor the sauce and stir frequently to avoid it sticking. Cooking time is approximately 10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat and cook for a further 5 minutes, to allow the sauce to begin to thicken.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool completely before transferring to a dish and refrigerating. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Enjoy on Christmas Day, in sandwiches…or even as a tart topper to a dessert!
Brussel sprouts. You either love them or you hate them. They remind me of being part of the Christmas dinner as a child, and looking back now, I am not too sure why they were there?! They always came in huge packs and you always had to put a few on your plate – and they were always the one aspect of Christmas dinner that remained on its own serving plate for leftovers! Needless to say, they were not something that any of my family readily enjoyed, but, year after year, they showed up at the table! Instead of boiling them whole, I find panfrying shavings makes these vegetables entirely different and incredibly tasty!
Macros per portion (based on 2 servings): 184kcal; 26p, 18c, 0f
- 350g brussel sprouts, roughly chopped
- 200g plum/cherry tomatoes
- handful of fresh cilantro
- pinch of black pepper
- 8 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- Heat a large non-stick pan over a medium heat.
- Add in the brussel sprouts and saute for approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure all of them soften.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the brussel sprouts, enabling the liquid from the tomatoes to help soften the brussel sprouts further. Cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes.
- Add in the cilantro, black pepper, cumin, chili powder and egg whites. Cook until the omlette is cooked underneath (you will be able to tell when the edges become crispy and start to come away from the pan).
- Transfer the omlette to the oven and turn on the broil setting. Cook for about 3 minutes – until the top of the omlette is slightly golden and the omlette is cooked all the way through.
- Enjoy hot, but equally as good reheated. I ate mine with sardines, but would also be delicious with chestnuts, salsa and crusty bread.