Bish, Bash, BOSH!

Ultimate Vegan Chilli

You could be forgiven for thinking that Vegans can be a bit militant but for me, 2018 is the year Veganism went mainstream.

This movement has firmly been helped by vegan converts, Ian Theasby and Henry Firth, who started their own youtube channel BOSH! to showcase their recipes creations. The BOSH boys are taking veganism mainstream, and whether you are full on vegan or just want to add some meat free days to your week, you're going to want to check out their style!

Ahead of their appearance at The Cheltenham Food festival on the 16th of June, I had the chance to interview the guys just after their trip stateside and I wanted to find out more about them, their ethos and also try cooking one of their recipes!

Welcome back! I have been watching your trip over in New York on Instagram and it looked amazing! What would you say were your highlights from the trip...food and places, you visited?

IanWe were in New York to cook on The Today Show, which was so much fun! We definitely made the most of our time there, as we also visited the United Nations which was incredibly cool and one of the highlights of the trip. Of course, we had to check out all the best vegan spots too – Champs Diner in Brooklyn is amazing, they do banging burgers and vegan fried chicken!

When did veganism first arrive on your radar? How did the journey unfold for you both, to go from meat eaters to vegans and evolve into BOSH today?

Henry: We both became vegan three years ago for different reasons. Ian became vegan on the back of a New Year’s resolution where he challenged himself to abstain from alcohol for 3 months. I became vegan a little later, after watching Kip Andersen’s Cowspiracy documentary and realizing the effect that agricultural farming has on the environment.

Although when we became vegan we found that there wasn’t much good food out there, we had to pretty much re-learn how to cook! As foodies, we embraced the challenge and wanted to create delicious plant-based recipes that were hearty and fulfilling! We take a lot of inspiration from food that we enjoyed when we ate meat and dairy, so you’ll never go hungry with our recipes.

What do you notice about the people that are coming to see you and what are the reasons they are interested in cooking more vegan food?

IanWe love meeting people who have bought our book or follow our channels. Everyone has their different reasons for cooking more vegan food, but it’s really interesting when we meet people who aren’t vegan and are just trying to introduce more plant-based cooking into their diets. It’s really exciting to see more and more people trying out our recipes and learning first hand how delicious vegan food can be!

What would be your top 5 essential store cupboard ingredients for cooking vegan food be?

Henry: Garlic – it’s the best thing ever and adds flavour to any dish.

Nutritional yeast, also known as magic dust! – it provides a great nutty, cheesy taste and a great source of vitamin B12.

Chickpeas – essential for hummus and falafel, plus aquafaba (the liquid ina chick pea can) is an incredibly useful substitute for egg and dairy in cooking.

Tinned tomatoes – a great base for sauces!

Pasta – a cupboard essential for a quick meal.

What do you feel is one of the most versatile vegetables that you work with when you are cooking?

 IanMushrooms are incredibly versatile when cooking, especially as a mince substitute. It’s so good that you can hardly tell the difference. Even my sister who hates mushrooms eats our Chilli!  The trick is to pulse the mushrooms finely and then fry them off, which creates a meaty texture and taste. We also use the mighty mushroom in our Big BOSH! Roast, which would satisfy any meat eater!

What are your two most delicious fuss free recipes that my followers would be able to cook and the whole family potentially enjoy?

Henry: Definitely our Ultimate Chilli or Spaghetti Bolognese, two classic family favourites that are full of flavour and incredibly filling!

Out of ALL of your recipeswhich recipes have you recreated that are essentially vegan versions of your favourite meals you used to eat?!

HenryOur ‘Fish’ & Chips are a great substitute for the real deal, made with tofu and incredibly tasty. I loved Fish & Chips, so this recipe had a lot of thought put into it!

I'm really looking forward to watching you cook at The Cheltenham Food Festival (15-17th June) Saturday at 12.45. What are you looking forward to most about being at there?

Henry: We can’t wait for the Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival! We’re looking forward to chatting with visitors and eating some really delicious vegan food! It’s going to be a great day.

So the recipe I decided to try was the Bosh Ultimate Chilli!  It went down an absolute storm with Mr Fuss Free, who quote "enjoyed it more than a normal chilli!" High praise indeed! After following the recipe to make the chilli I bought some tortillas, made a simple guacamole and tomato salsa (you could buy them if you wanted to keep it more fuss free) and layered up to make a nachos sharing platter!

BOSH Ultimate Chilli

Serves 4 (easily doubled for a freezer stash too)

400g mushrooms
olive oil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 red onions, peeled
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
30g fresh coriander stalks removed and finely chopped, set aside leaves
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 red pepper, small dice
1 tbsp tomato purée
250ml red wine
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin black beans
1 x 400g tin kidney beans
1½ tsp maple syrup
10g dark chocolate

FOR THE SPICE MIX 

1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf

  • Put the mushrooms in the food processor and pulse until very finely minced (you can chop them if you prefer, but it’s quicker and better with a food processor)
  • Pour a little oil into the hot frying pan. Once the oil is hot, tip in the mushrooms with the salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
  • Place the onions and garlic in the food processor and mince. Add a little oil to the large saucepan. Once it is hot, add the minced onions and garlic, the finely chopped coriander stalks and the chillies, and cook gently for 5-10 minutes, making sure you stir regularly. Add the chopped celery and red pepper chunks to the pan and stir. Add the mushrooms back to the pan.
  • Add all the spice mix ingredients to the pan and stir so that the spices are well mixed and coat all the vegetables. Stir in the tomato purée to give a rich colour and depth of flavour. Pour the red wine, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar into the pan and turn up the heat to high. Stir constantly until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds and the alcoholic aroma has subsided. Tip the chopped tomatoes into the pan, stir into the chilli and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce is noticeably thicker.
  • Drain the black beans and kidney beans and add them to the pan along with the maple syrup, dark chocolate and the minced mushrooms. Stir everything together really well and then reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. Leave this bubbling away with the lid off, stirring occasionally until it’s reduced to the right thickness (at least 10 minutes). You can leave it bubbling for longer to deepen the flavours, adding more water if needed to keep the right consistency.
  • Remove the bay leaf. Stir the coriander leaves into the chilli and serve.

This went down an absolute storm with Mr Fuss Free, who quote "enjoyed it more than a normal chilli!" High praise indeed! After following the recipe to make the chilli I bought some tortillas, made a simple guacamole and tomato salsa (you could buy them if you wanted to keep it more fuss free) and layered up to make a nachos sharing platter!

As I was making this for children too I lightened the amount of fresh chilli and coriander. Also, I made use of a tin of aduki beans and a tin of green lentil I had in my cupboard which worked really well! If you wanted to make this into nachos like I did you can layer up tortilla chips with chilli, salsa and guacamole and (vegan) cheese. Do this twice and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 deg.

Credit: BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby is published by HQ, HarperCollins in hardback BUY here for £8! https://amzn.to/2J1DbdX

The Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival is happening on 15th-17th June 2018 and also features wine expert Oz Clarke, live music and food demonstrations, wine tasting and children's entertainment. To win tickets:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Beets n Roots Cafe, Cotham Hill

Beets n Roots Cafe

There's nothing like a bit of sunshine to check your comfort food intake, so this week was a perfect time for Beets n Roots, self-confessed vitality cafe, to launch their new summer menu. Located on Cotham Hill, I have always associated this spot with delicious, nutritious food as when I first moved to Bristol it was Blue Juice cafe and was a regular stop off!

Today, with the beautiful sunken deck perfect for people watching and soulful tunes, Beets n Roots couldn't feel any more like a cool holiday hangout if it tried! The food is totally en pointe, as these days more and more people are conscious of eating more plant-based foods, and nutritionist Rosie Letts, has been brought in to help design and balance this new menu.

If you are a meat eater with vegan or vegetarian friends, this is the perfect place to go as you will not even question the lack of meat on your plate! If you are feeling the need to be energised after a heavy weekend or working flat out, Beets n Roots is your place. Whether you want to stop in and grab a smoothie bowl with luscious toppings or revitalise with a freshly pressed raw juice, like my beetroot juice, you will feel it doing you the world of good!

If you have a bit more time on your hands the brunch dishes like the 'All Mighty Breakfast' which includes flat mushroom, avocado on toast, organic baked beans, scrambled egg or tofu, roasted tomatoes and sauteed kale will certainly keep you going. If you fancy something a little more indulgent (and healthy too!) the buckwheat pancakes with banana, chocolate and maple syrup topped with coconut shavings and pumpkin seeds are definitely worth trying.... A-Ma-Zing! 

I'm heading back next week to try out the lunch menu, so I will add my findings here! I love the look of the loaded Miso soup, burrito bowl and the Beets burger bowl. But if you just fancied a wrap or buddha bowl they look pretty good too.

If you fancy trying out the menu for yourself, I'm offering you a chance to win a voucher which allows 2 people free brunch at Beets n Roots before the end of April, so enter here and the winner will be announced and notified on Monday! a Rafflecopter giveaway  

 

 

 

When a Vegan came to tea……

Sticky Vegan Orange Marmalade cake

I'm only socialising with my vegan friends. It's seemed that way this week as 2 friends in 2 days visiting were Vegan.  Thankfully my new years' resolution to educate and add more vegan recipes to my repertoire was well founded.

But had you told me though that 2/3 blog posts this year were going to be vegan and I'd be discussing my thoughts on Veganism on BBC Radio Bristol yesterday, I would have thought otherwise!

My standpoint on the radio was that if I was single and only had my self to think about I do actually think I could tolerate being Vegan! Maybe even enjoy it!! There is so much more available to be Vegan these days. Let's face it, experimenting with new foods sounds like great fun!

But add 2 children into the mix who've so far been brought up eating meat, and a husband with 4 decades under his belt....I'm not sure I'm up for that task.

But the presenter argued if we took the -ish off selfish.....why wouldn't your family want to support you in your endeavours? I guess if it was a question of health, then I guess it would force my hand and I would have to make that change.

However, as I'm not a big milk drinker or egg eater I am quite happy to eat veggie, vegan and all other foods.  We don't buy mass-produced meat and quite often have meat-free days.....so, for now, I feel in balance with the way we eat. I wouldn't want to feel that there were things that I couldn't eat. To be honest ......I just want to have my vegan cake and eat it too!

I challenge you to make this cake and not love it! EVERYONE who tried this cake this week has been amazed its vegan.....I'm off to make another one...

Let me know how you get on at The Fuss Free Foodie FB group and if you want to see what I get up to when I'm not in the kitchen don't forget to follow me on my FB page. Lisa. 

Sticky Vegan marmalade cake
        • 380g plain flour
          85g dark brown sugar
          285g caster sugar
          12g bicarb
          5g salt
          Zest of 1 orange
          480ml orange juice
          335g vegetable oil
          25g cider vinegar
          5g vanilla extract
          3/4 cup of marmalade
          I used Seville orange marmalade from last week! The bitterness works really well

          1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Prepare x2 24cm springform cake tins. Oil lightly and place a parchment disk in the bottom.

          2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Whisk until thoroughly combined, crumbling the brown sugar with the tips of your fingers if necessary.

          3. In a separate bowl whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Quickly mix the wet ingredients into the dry mix and whisk thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. If there is a small area that is uncooked in the middle, but the cake is browning, place tin foil over the top and bake for 5 more minutes until it is firm in the middle.

          4. Let the cakes cool for about 20 minutes in the cake pans, then run a knife around the inside of the pan to release each layer. Turn the cake layers out onto cooling racks. Glaze while the cakes are still warm, but not hot.

          5.To make the glaze, put the marmalade in a small saucepan. Warm over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the glaze is bubbling and hot. If it gets too thick add a tablespoon of water. Turn off the heat and immediately glaze the cake.

          6.Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Pierce the top with a toothpick a few times.
          Pour about half the liquid into the saucepan over the first cake layer. Place the second layer on top of the first, and repeat. Spoon the solid bits of marmalade peel on top of the cake.

          If you want to check out the original recipe in 'cups' click here...
          https://www.thekitchn.com/vegan-recipe-damp-orange-cake-136406

           

Resolution Rebel…

West African Peanut Soup (Vegan)

In recent years I've rebelled against resolutions!  Those few months after Christmas before Spring is hard enough, so like an obstinate child, I would begin in February. To me, this felt a more gentle start to the year with a month to permeate the changes.....in line with what I wanted to do, rather than what I felt I 'should'!

It seems over the years the chance to morph into something new is ever increasing in January.  Become Vegan, tea total, adding or taking something away. But what does this say about ourselves?  Are we not enough already?  Will a change in January bring in a new perspective for the whole year? If you last 5 days or 2 weeks will you feel you have failed?!

I guess the answers are personal and are worth considering. Whilst these ideas are designed to bring about positive change, sometimes they may not turn out as we thought but can bring gifts all the same.  I am working on reducing plastic and my recycling offerings each week.  As I fast realised as I got into it, I cannot make these changes overnight without it becoming overwhelming. So 1 new change a week or every 2, is going to be massive over the course of the year.  We are now making our own yoghurt!

But life is pretty busy. Whether you are raising kids, working, looking after ageing parents, or all of the above....the modern world can be pretty full on. Expectations to do everything and be everything to everyone can leave us feeling a little overwhelmed.

So whether you are just grateful to start the new year and be alive (see my FB Live) or tweaking aspects of the wonderful you person that you are, I ask one thing. Please approach this with a big side portion of self-care and kindness.

Whatever happens, this January, say positive things about yourself and be kind to you! It's easy to feel like you don't have all areas of life together.  And that's OK! If you are making changes, have a contingency plan. It's not just about morphing into something new overnight, it's about the longterm journey and making changes to carry through the year.  And beyond!

If you are trying out something new and learning lots along the way, why not share your experiences in the Fuss Free Foodie Community on Facebook.  We inspire each other to cook but for January why not inspire each other across all areas of our lives!! Wishing you all the best in 2018! Lisa

West African Peanut Soup

I am looking this year at introducing more vegan recipes into my diet.  I am not feeling like eating so much meat at the moment, so hence this recipe.  It really surprised me at how satisfying and delicious it was! I hope you will give it a try. I adapted this soup recipe to make it more filling and substantial by adding lentils and quinoa.  It's rich and creamy and has a bit of heat to it too!  Sounds weird but trust me it's delicious.....give it a try!!

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green chilli, sliced
  • 2 tsp of grated ginger (or finely chopped)
  • 3/4 cup of red lentils, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup of quinoa or bulgar wheat, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup of peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 1/2 cup of passata
  • 1.3L vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3-4 cups hispi cabbage or kale or cavalo nero, finely  shredded
  • 2-5 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Twist of black pepper
  1. Add a slug of olive oil to a large pan. Add the onions, ginger and green chilli and fry on a medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.  If you are trying not to use too much oil, add a splash of water to help the cooking process if it dries out.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together the passata, peanut butter and 500ml of the stock into a smooth (ish) mixture. Don't worry if it looks like it's curdled! Set aside.
  3. Once the onion is almost soft, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the tomato puree to the pan, stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the peanut butter/passata/stock mixture to the pan and stir.  Add the rest of the stock to the pan and stir.
  5. Add the lentils and quinoa/bulgar wheat and stir and simmer on a medium heat for 30 minutes. Go back and stir the pot every 5/10 minutes to avoid it sticking! Season with the salt and pepper.
  6. After 30 minutes the lentils should be soft. Add the cabbage, kale or cavalo nero and stir through. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the sriracha or hot sauce. Stir and check the seasoning.
  7. Serve in a big bowl and enjoy!  I didn't feel like I needed anything else with it, as it was a meal in a bowl!

If you fancy some more of my fuss-free soup recipes...

Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup

Broccoli and stilton soup

Leek and potato soup (Vegan)

Pea and ham soup

Minestrone soup (Vegan)

Orbs, Entities and Egypt

Falafel

There was no specific reason why I wanted to go to Egypt....it was based on a feeling. I couldn't explain it but the pull was great. So I booked it. When people asked me what I would be doing out there...I didn't even know! I hadn't checked the itinerary!!

I was going with a few people I met on a retreat a year ago. In fact, I had thought it would be fun for us to hang out again, I just hadn't expected it to be here!

In the run-up to leaving our travel plans changed due to unrest in the area. But we were assured by our Bedouin guides that they had our safety at heart. I had to trust. And I did. But leaving your husband and children with even an element of uncertainty didn't sit well. But the feeling of growth and fulfilment far outweighed any fear.

I knew I had done the right thing on waking that first morning in Cairo. After 5 hours sleep, within arms reach of the Pyramids, I listened to Lou our group leader talk. She had been drawn to visit many places on her personal journey, based on a feeling. Tears silently fell from my eyes. I knew this was right. Like Autumn where life dies and awaits its rebirth, I knew I was going to be stripped back in order for me to grow.

The morning was spent visiting the Pyramids and venturing inside. On Saturday the 11th of the 11th we were inside the Great Pyramid at 11.11am! For those who love numerology...you'll enjoy that one!

What I hadn't realised was how quickly we would be heading to camp in the desert. That Saturday afternoon we were due to leave. And news to me ....we were camping for 3 nights, not 2! (I guess a quick read of the itinerary would have told me that!!)

Taking the bare minimum, we left and headed out into the darkness. Met half way by our guides, piled into 3 land cruisers and headed off in search of the desert! Now as you can imagine, a big part of the conversation was about the desert toilet facilities! Well, it's pretty simple... plenty of sand and space. Nuff said! But most of us were a little reticent at the prospect!

Arriving in the darkness it was difficult to see our home for the next few days, but with a roaring fire, and sheltered eating area, it felt comfortable. At this point, I felt that despite meeting the group less than 24hrs ago, we were really starting to bond as a tribe.

The next few days were spent visiting whale bones in the desert, and having quiet contemplation time alone with ourselves. Staring off precipices into vast open spaces, and swimming in beautiful lakes. Sitting together and sharing meal times; Gathering around the campfire, singing, drumming and drinking Bedouin whiskey (AKA super sweet tea!).

The nights around the fire were one of the most magical times. From the brightness of the day, it felt like the night time had no judgment and allowed you just to be. Losing ourselves in the flicker of the flames, finding our voices to the rhythm of the drums. Dancing to Bedouin music, under the watchful gaze of the stars. It seems that we were joined by more than just the millions of stars too, as a campfire photo showed up we were not alone!

In the quiet of the desert, you become super aware of the few things that are going on around you. The brightness and number of stars in the sky was totally mind-blowing. Lying on our backs you could notice the different constellations. It was here on the 2nd night that I noticed 2 orbs dancing in the sky.

In the pitch black of the night sky amidst the shining stars, these were different. As they randomly danced the do-si-do I couldn't keep my eyes off them. I'd never seen them the night before or indeed the night after. They were SO bright, bigger than the stars. I had never seen 1 let alone 2 orbs before! They gave me great comfort to see and made me feel connected to my two boys, especially as it was one of their birthdays......as if they were checking up on me to say hello.

Leaving the desert was tough for us all. We had all settled into camp life and bonded not only as a tribe but with our guides too. But we did one last thing....sandboarding! So as I jumped up to give it a go (and I am no boarder!) we went up the dunes. Figuring the more I thought about it the less chance there was I would do it... I jumped aboard.

As you can see from the video of our trip (Look right... before 2 minutes) I nailed it 3/4 of the way down. But I had neglected to ascertain one bit of info from our guide.....how do you stop?! As I reached the bottom and I started to spin around, my solution to break was to wipe out! And land on my head! That's definitely one way to stop! So my parting gift from the desert....momentarily took the wind out of my sails.

Heading back to Cairo was a shock to the system, least not because my body was dealing with effectively a whiplash injury! But lucky for us, we had 2 nights aboard a boat hotel on the Nile! In all the time I was in the desert, it hadn't bothered me that a couple of lake swims was the closest thing I got to washing. The sand didn't bother me one bit. It wasn't until I stood in the reception of this lovely hotel that I felt unclean and wanted a shower! And boy did it feel great when I did.

On our final day, we visited Saccara which is best known for its step pyramid, and vast ancient burial ground, and the Egyptian museum. The focus around death in Egypt was one I'd not contemplated before. Their beliefs of the soul returning to the body was the reason they placed a mask in the likeness of the persons face so it could return to the right body. The reason kings and gods were depicted with their hands on the heart is that they believe the heart to be paramount. And therefore was left in the body after to death.

This trip for me wasn't about acquiring facts about or memorising the details of Egyptian history. (I am no historian despite my interest!) What resonated with me deeply was the energy in these ancient times for the heart and the soul. The brain was inconsequential.....removed from the body after death but heart left in. For me, it was about opening my heart and awakening a part of me that maybe had been overridden by my head.

That feeling of joy, wonder, intrigue is still there in all of us. It's whether we allow these feelings to be covered as life's experiences make us protect our wounds. As we navigate less from our hearts and more from our heads, we work out how to not get hurt or feel that pain again. Adding layers of protection over the years can desensitise us to what life can feel like. If we allow ourselves to be open and to show our hearts.....we will get back to ourselves and feel so much more in return.

What I noticed on leaving Egypt and arriving back in the UK was the expectation of the western world. We are a society that works very much on external things and the money we need to earn to acquire things to 'get on' in life. What I loved about Egypt and in particular the desert was how there was nothing! No marketing. No feeling like you had to look or be a certain way. I had a sense of freedom I had not felt for many years to just be, and a connection to the stars I'd not had since the 90s rave scene!!

Back to reality, but at least on The Nile!
I realised that as a person I hadn't lost those intrinsic parts of me. They are in fact still there, but buried away under the responsibility and putting others first. My initial fears on coming home were that I would never get to feel this feeling and connection again. That 'normal life' would resume. I feared I would get to an age and reflect back and feel regret at what could have been. I guess that's why when people survive an accident or a serious illness they get a new lease of life to fulfil their hearts desires. They have another shot at living the life they want to lead and grasp it wholeheartedly.

So do we need to go through that to start living life today? My plan going forward is to bring in elements to my life that bring the joy of Egypt each day. Connect with my self to fulfil my own needs and nurture what needs nurturing. I know that my life and that of those around me will be richer from doing this. I hope you will find something for yourself too that will rekindle the fire inside your heart. Why wait. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Carpe Diem. Tempus Fugit.

Next week is a big week for The Fuss Free Foodie, as we celebrate our 1st birthday and launch the new website!!! Keep an eye on the FB page too as I will be posting about the Hairy Bikers episodes I feature in too! Much love Lisa x

Falafel

2 cans of chickpeas, drained
1 large onion roughly, chopped
4 tbsp parsley and coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp baking powder
8 tbsp plain flour

Put all the ingredients except for the last 2 in a blender and pulse until the mixture is a rough puree.
Add the baking powder and flour. Pulse gently and then place the mixture into a bowl.
Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls.
Fill a frying pan with oil (about 1-1.5 inches deep) and heat to a medium-high temperature. Add half (or a third) of the balls carefully being careful not to splash oil on yourself or overfill the pan.
Cook the falafels until brown on one side, and then turn over. Remove from the pan, place on kitchen paper to drain. Fry the remain balls.
Serve the falafels with hummus and flatbreads. Enjoy!
Egypt ...The Movie!

Fuss Free Midweek Curry

Midweek Curry

In a world where we are constantly aware of our levels of connectivity,  it has never been easier to be disconnected.

Seeking hotspots and gateways to the virtual world as we go about our everyday lives, can lead us to feel detached and oblivious to what is right in front of us.

I stopped to talk to a woman doing a survey in the street yesterday and I realised that I knew her from a local networking group.  It wasn't until I got home that I realised we were FB 'friends', yet I knew very little about her.

If this is my experience as an adult, how is this scenario for our children? Already I hear stories of teens who are basing their self-esteem on the number of likes achieved on a social media post, or who have 'Friends' who may not even say hello in the school corridors.  It's must be confusing to try and work out how these 2 worlds operate....the 1 hard enough to navigate back in my day.

It is though, a double-edged sword that is difficult to ignore. Without this virtual world, my building of the FFF would not have happened this quick, so for that, I am grateful.  But it's probably not until you unplug, and totally connect and tune in to what surrounds you that you realise the hold the virtual world has.

Connecting to those 'real' things make me feel balanced, that everything is OK and that life is good. Getting out in nature, forgetting what I 'needed' to do to play a game with the kids or setting aside the bottomless list of to-dos and doing something for me. (Funnily enough, the list is still there when I get back!)

In connecting with others and ourselves we connect inwards to our hearts' true desire and not what is going on in our heads; Which can be logical and often fuelled with beliefs of what we feel we 'should' do. If we do this, it is the best example we can show our youngsters.

As half term starts, I intend to connect with my immediate world and look forward to unplugging a little... I hope you will enjoy that too!

Happy holidays! Lisa

FUSS FREE MID WEEK CURRY

Serves 2-3

2 tbsp Patak's curry paste (Madras, Korma, Rogan Josh)
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp grated ginger root
1 red or green chilli, sliced (optional seeds in or out!)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, chopped into quarters
200g potatoes, diced
200g frozen spinach
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
200 ml water
2 tbsps olive oil
Optional prawns/chicken/chickpeas

1. Put the olive oil into a medium-sized pan on a medium heat.

2. Add the ginger and chilli, and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and frying until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms to the pan, and fry on a high heat to extract the water for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the tomato, curry paste, and stir. Add the potatoes, spinach (frozen)and add the water. If you are using chicken or chickpeas add them at this point and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. If it is too thick add a bit more water.

4. Once the potatoes are cooked and you are nearly ready to serve, add the prawns.  If they are already cooked, just warm them through until piping hot, for a minute or 2. If they are raw, cook them for 5-7 minutes until they turn from blue to pink and cooked through.

5. Serve with boiled rice. Enjoy!

With this curry I would usually use, mushrooms and a red pepper, so feel free to mix up what you use by clearing out the fridge in the process! I would halve the amount of spinach I use if doing mushroom and pepper and omit the potato.

Doing a Meg Ryan…..

Moong Dhal with courgettes

I've got a new rule. When opportunities come knocking, I'm just gonna say yes! The cool thing with that is I don't have to let my brain get involved....and here's why. It totally means well, and is only trying to protect me, keep me safe and be logical by pointing out what could go wrong but that can take over from what my heart desires, and that's where the spark, excitement and joy can be in life. If I say yes, and it's meant to happen, it will. It just takes the control right out of my hands, and I'm OK with that!

So one of those 'Yeses' meant today I addressed 150 year 10, 11 and 12 students at a local girls school about my journey so far as the Fuss Free Foodie. Slightly daunting thought. A room full of eyes, being able to hear a pin drop and only my voice reverberating around the room. My head could've found many reasons why not to do it! But I did not allow myself to even get into my head about it. What's the worst that could happen!?! Sometimes its great just to bite the bullet and do it anyway and in the words of a well-known trainer company...Just do it! So let's see what comes up next that I have to say yes too!

I feel very blessed that so many of you are saying yes to the Fuss Free Foodie too, which I am so grateful for! Thank you! This week I've been hearing more of you giving my recipes ago, and even better you're families enjoying them as well! It's so easy to get stuck in a rut with the same 1-2 week recipe cycle, and we all experience that at some point and need to change things up!

This weeks recipe is still helping me use my yellow courgette glut (you could leave them out if you wanted but all part of your 5 a day!) and using those ingredients that lurk at the back of the cupboard. A fuss-free fast food, and is great for making ahead and reheating. Let me know how you get on! Lisa.

Courgette Moong Dhal

1 cup of Moong Dhal/yellow split lentils, well rinsed in water and drained
Heaped tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric
3 1/2 cups of water
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2-3 medium courgettes, sliced

 

Temper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 red/green chilli, sliced
1-2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5-6 tbsp butter/ghee/oil
Salt
(Optional 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp chilli powder)
I did it without and was still delicious

1. Put the lentils into a medium-sized saucepan with 3 cups of the water (retain the rest for later). Add the turmeric, tomatoes, and ginger. Stir, and bring to the boil and then return to simmer. Stir occasionally and add more water if it dries out or starts to stick.
2. This should take about 30 minutes until the lentil are broken down and the dal has a porridge consistency. Add the courgettes at this stage and let them cook in the dal for 10-20 minutes. Add a little water if is drying out. Season with a good pinch of salt. It's not going to do any harm cooking it for longer, just keep adding bits of water if needs be.
3. In a separate frying pan, add the oil/butter and raise the temperature to medium to high, so that you can add the cumin seed and fry for a couple of minutes with the shallot. It is OK to get the shallot brown, but turn down to a medium to low heat when you add the chilli and garlic. This doesn't want to be brown, just cook for a further minute or 2.
4. Add the tempeh to the lentil mixture, stir in thoroughly. Check the seasoning for any more salt, and serve with chapatis, rotis, naan or rice. I only had pittas and that worked well too!!

Remember if you love the Fuss Free Foodie, maybe you're friends will too, so please remember to keep liking and loving to keep me in your feed! Lisa x

Aubergine Curry

Aubergine curry

I never thought that being vulnerable would leave me feeling so strong. But it has. Vulnerability to me has always seemed like showing weakness. Like you were not able to work it out by yourself and that having to ask for help or for what you need just showed your flaws to the world.  However, it turns out that by being vulnerable actually shows your authenticity, the world views you in a more authentic way and will invite back much more than what you asked for.

I feel this has definitely been my growth point this week, as I couldn't decipher whether I was being vulnerable or what being vulnerable meant. I think I've always struggled to ask for help, and I think my natural mechanism in the past has been to shut down, rather than to open up; Trying to deal with things myself, cutting myself off from my friends and then falling in a downward spiral whilst I tried to sort myself.

So it turns out this is not the most successful strategy!! (Shock!) All those feelings, struggles and emotions that we have, most of the time just want to be heard, listened to or doused with tears. They want to feel validated, acknowledged and then they can move on.  When they are pushed down, and ignored and locked in a box, they come back so much bigger, with way more volume than before because they want to be heard!

I guess our transient lives have meant that to spend a lifetime in the same place, with a best friend, or mother or sibling who knows you inside out, who hears all of our troubles is far more unlikely today. And if we are not being vulnerable and letting new people into our lives, it's unlikely that we can find new people to do this with.  I think for me this has been a consistent inconsistency since teenage years, but the biggest change in the last 6 months.

I have spoken out when I needed help, ask questions when I felt unsure and reached out to people in an honest way and said, I need to get this out can you listen. By unlocking this part of me that had been closed for SO long, has allowed a whole new energy to flow.

So where I thought before that it was important to be strong, infallible and like a rock, it turnouts that the opposite is true. Being vulnerable takes courage and a fearlessness to allow people to see the true you and for you to love what you see in the mirror regardless.... because that is the authentic you.

This week I wanted to share this recipe that I found in a Sainsbury magazine 11 years ago by Nigel Slater....I've made it fuss-free considering you make your own spice paste, and appropriate in #nationalvegetarianweek and in respect to my teenage years as a veggie!

As always, please remember to give a little like, share or comment to keep the FFF in your feed and spread the fuss-free love. If you'd like to catch up on my videos to date, take a look at the Fuss Free Foodie FB page or subscribe to my channel on YOUTUBE. Have a great weekend, Lisa.

Aubergine Curry

Serves 3-4

Spice Paste

It is possible to make this paste in a large pestle and mortar, but definitely easier in a blender/spice blender.  To ensure a smooth paste I like to pestle and mortar the seeds before I add them to the blender, but not obligatory.

  • 5 birds eye chillis/2 large red chillis, roughly chopped
  • 5 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
  • Golf ball sized knob of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 green cardamom pods, smashed into powder in pestle and mortar
  • 1 tbsp groundnut or rapeseed oil
  • 25g fresh coriander

For the curry

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • 6 medium tomatoes, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk
  • 25g fresh coriander leaves (optional), chopped
  1. To make the paste, roughly chop the garlic, chillis, spring onions and ginger. Grind the seeds and cardamom in a pestle and mortar.  Add the chillis, spring onions and garlic to the blender and blitz. Then add the ginger and cumin and coriander seeds and cardamom.
  2. Add the oil, coriander leaves and stalks and blitz until smooth. Keep pushing the mixture down and re-blitzing until smooth.  I sometimes add a tbsp of water to help the process.
  3. If you have more time you can griddle your aubergines on the BBQ but normally I will chop them into 1-inch squares and fry them in the wok in oil on a medium-high heat and get some colour on the aubergines.
  4. Take the aubergines out of the pan and add the other tbsp of oil.  On a medium heat add the spice paste, letting it sizzle. Stir with a wooden spoon then add your tomatoes. Add in the aubergines, coconut milk, stir and simmer.
  5. I like to simmer this for up to 30 minutes so that the tomatoes start to break down, although you could simmer just for 15 minutes and serve. All personal preference! I've been cooking this recipe for 11 years now and I like it broken down and authentic
  6. Serve the extra coriander leaf stirred through if you like, with rice.

Don't forget to pin, post or tweet this recipe to your timeline, use the buttons below. Lx

Nourish me whole in a bowl

Vegan nourish bowl

I'm learning to take the rough with the smooth with kids, and to use a food analogy we are more ugli fruit than peachy in our house! You know that feeling like you're Casper the ghost.... invisible to your own kids, but friendly and personable to every other child, as they listen to your requests and actually want to talk to you!

So it was ironic yet pleasing that this week I was invited to guest blog for the website 'Practically Perfect Mums'. Now let's get one thing straight. As the precis describes I am no perfect mum, but qualify on 2 counts at least; And having been an A-Level theatre arts student, a chance to watch, let alone review a play was a treat. (Click the link above for my full review).

Based on a poem by Tim Burton, Oyster boy, tells the story of Sam, a boy with an oyster-shaped head and his life being 'different' and the impact this has on those around him. Though it sounds quite macabre, it was set in lively song with ukulele, dark comedy and general clowning around! But beneath the frivolity, the points of acceptance, fitting in and connecting with people drove home modern day issues. Sometimes as adults we find these things challenging, so really, why should this be any different for our youngsters growing up today?

It's not what you picture when you imagine your family life....yelling to get shoes on, repeating the same question 15 times or negotiating bottom wiping with a 5-year-old (hope you are not eating!!) But I guess home is their training ground to experiment and as parents we are facilitators. Though creating an environment for them to learn is not always easy, accepting this is probably as important as accepting them for who they are and what they will become one day.

So for all those parental, partied, recovering from illness or overworked bodies, let us nourish ourselves from the inside out! This version of a Buddha bowl is my favourite bowl made from many recipes being brought together. Please don't be overwhelmed by the different elements! Make things fuss-free by writing a complete shopping list and have all the ingredients in so that when you are ready, you can prep the elements ahead of time. I have put in a few fuss-free hacks too.

You can assemble the dish when you get home, in the Winter I reheat the potatoes for 5 minutes in the oven and beans for a couple of minutes but in the warmer months, I just serve at room temperature.

NOURISH BOWL
Serves 2 (With leftovers for lunch!)

Let me know your favourite elements in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group or take a look behind the scenes, watch tutorials and see food reviews on the Fuss Free Foodie page. See my fuss-free life in pictures on Instagram or what I'm tweeting on Twitter. Don't forget to keep seeing FFF in your feed, keep giving a little like, comment or share on FB or post to your timeline, tweet or pin with the buttons below! Lisa x

Pickled red cabbage
1/2 red cabbage, cut into quarters, cut out the core and slice thinly
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup of water
1 tbsp rice or agave syrup or honey
1 tsp salt

  1. In a Kilner jar (or similar) or large bowl, place all the liquids, salt and syrup or honey and mix.
  2. Add the red cabbage. Make sure it is all covered and leave in the fridge at least an hour before serving or longer if possible.
    Fuss Free alternative: Use the coleslaw recipe from Westbury Baked chicken but I love the crunch and sharp notes from the pickle!

Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1 red chilli, cut lengthways and sliced (optional)
1/2 small red onion, diced small
1 small tomato, deseeded and diced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
Optional 1-2 tbsp coriander, chopped

    1. Take the stone out of the avocado and mash roughly in a bowl.
      Add the juice of the lime and stir. Add the red onion, tomato, chilli and coriander (if using). Stir.
    2. Season with a few twists of salt and pepper. Mix and taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, cover and keep in the fridge until ready.
      Fuss Free alternative: If you are pushed for time sliced avocado would work. I do love the kick from the chilli with the creaminess from the avocado!

Grains

1 teacup of quinoa or bulgar wheat with red and white quinoa (Waitrose) 2 teacups of cold water
1 tsp salt

  1. Wash the grains thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  2. In a medium, pan put the water, salt and grains. Bring up to the boil and then simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the water has almost disappeared, but still looks a little wet.
  3. As soon as this happens, turn off the heat and put a lid on the saucepan and leave to steam to completely cook.
  4. Go back and shake the pan with the lid on, to the fluff up the grains a few times to ensure it stays light and fluffy.

Fuss Free alternative: Use a packet of merchant gourmet or Aldi grains, which you could dress in lemon, oil and a little salt and pepper; Or make a quick couscous by covering the bottom of a flat dish with dried couscous. Squeeze on half a lemon, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork so that all the grains are coated. Pour on freshly boiled water so that it sits only slightly above the couscous. Cover with cling film and leave for 15 minutes. Take off the cling and fluff up with a fork.

Sweet potatoes
2 sweet or purple potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sweet or hot smoked paprika
1 tbsp cinnamon
Few twists of salt

  1. In a bowl place the potatoes and add all the other ingredients
  2. Mix well and place on a tray lined with parchment. Cook at 180℃/350℉/Gas mark 4 for 25 mins or until they are cooked through and tender.

Fuss Free alternative: Use something like Barts spice rubs, like Ras el Hanout, Zatar or Cajun.

Turmeric and Tahini dressing
65g tahini
50ml cold water
50ml lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
11/2 tsp soy sauce or liquid amino (Vegan alternative)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground ginger

No alternative! This brings the whole dish together and has a tremendous colour and anti-inflammatory properties!

Black beans with garlic
1 tin of black beans
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil

  1. In a frying pan add the oil and warm on a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry gently but not letting it go brown.
  2. Throw in the black beans and toss in the garlic oil and heat for a few minutes until warm, but not allowing to go mushy.
  3. Fuss Free alternative: Use a tub of hummus for your legume-based protein.

Assembly
In a bowl or plate place, some lettuce leaves and then add a spoonful of each element. Drizzle over the dressing and enjoy!

Love it or love to try it? Share buttons are just below to post to your timeline for later, pin or tweet! Drop your thoughts in the comments below....what do you think?!

A hug in a bowl with a sourdough kiss…..

Leek and Potato Soup

When the days can be lacking in light, warmth and sunshine, I seek comfort and positivity elsewhere....and quite often by lunchtime the thought of tucking into a lovely bowl of hearty, comforting, and of course, fuss free soup is a positive pique on my emotional stance for the day!

I feel at this time of year I've got to take my wins where I can get them and park up with a hug in a bowl with a sourdough kiss is where it's at for me. Plus its a healthy and portable lunch for my husband to take into work the next day, so cue self-bestowed brownie points, wife of the year awards and domestic goddess status!

The great thing about this soup is that the ingredients can be picked up absolutely anywhere from farm shop to the corner shop. Obviously, the fresher the ingredients the better the soup will taste, and where a recipe is so simple and stripped back, it's best to get the freshest you can.

I try and get them from a veg shop, pick the freshest I can see and get some tasty potatoes like King Edwards or Marfona to add flavour; But honestly, I made this the other day with some leeks kicking around from Xmas (what better way to have a veg drawer clear out than to make a soup!) and it was amazing!

I was quite prepared as well to whack some cream into this to give it that luscious, silky feel that works so well with soup, but I found that blitzing half the soup in the food processor and leaving the rest chunky resulted in a delightfully creamy taste without the cream! I was generous with the butter at the start of the recipe as this adds a rich flavour when you wilt the leeks and to keep it fuss-free I used Kallo stock cubes and was more than happy with the result!

Let me know how you get on in the Fuss Free Foodie FB group. Lisa x

Leek and potato soup

Generous tbsp butter or oil
1 onion, diced, 1cm square
4 potatoes (approx 650g) peeled and diced, 1cm square
4 leeks, cleaned and slice into in rings, white and light green parts only
1.2L vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Optional thyme, chives for garnish

    1. Add the butter or oil to a large pan, medium heat, melt and add the onions.
    2. Soften the onions for 5 minutes, then add the leeks, and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened and wilted.
    3. Add the potatoes, stir through so coated in butter. Season with salt and pepper and add the stock and bay leaves.
    4. Once the potatoes are soft, take off the heat, remove the bay leaves and blitz half the soup smooth in a blender, then add back to the pan. Check the seasoning.
    5. Alternatively, use a stick blender to puree half the soup in the pan.
      Serve with delicious bread!

Fuss Free tip.

For me, there is nothing less satisfying than runny soup, so I always air on the side of caution and add 1L of stock to start with and keep the last bit to one side. Generally, the liquid should comfortably cover the veg. You can add it in later to alter the consistency but you sure can't take it out!! x