Butternut and Spinach GF Pasta

An excellent and tasty vegan and gluten free meal packed with tasty and complementary flavours; this is a true treat.

As a vegan coeliac I often do a weekend batch cook to keep me in lunches and ready to go meals. Today I’m cooking up some healthy meals ready for the week.

I’m starting by roasting a large butternut squash. Skin and chop, add to a roasting pan with sage and a little olive oil. Roast for approximately 45 – 60 minutes.

Whilst the butternut squash is roasting it’s time to cook the pasta. As a coeliac is use gluten free pasta. I like the fusili pasta made from maize flour but it is key to have the water boiling before you add the pasta – as well as throughout. Follow instructions as cooking varies dependant on the flour used to form the pasta.

Once the squash is roasted mix with spinach whilst warm until wilted.

Serve the spinach, squash and pasta with vegan feta and cracked black pepper.

Delicious.

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McVegan, Helsinki (GF & Vegan)

I had to do it. I had to put aside my reservations and try it. The McVegan soya burger that has made an addition to the menus offered by McDonald’s in Finland and Sweden.

Available with a gluten free bun on request this burger really could allow coeliac, vegans to access fast food and I have to say it is refreshing to find something in the mainstream that’s suitable and not an afterthought.

The hype around this in vegan circles has been huge and it really has been hailed as the best food ever. From my perspective it’s not all that. It’s tasty but personally I found it a bit too “meaty” possibly due to decades of bean and chickpea burgers.

It has a high level of protein (19g) but definitely can’t be confused with a healthy dish (coming in at 462 calories per meal). I’d say worth a try if you are in a one off situation, and I’d love to see more vegan options in the mainstream, but overall I prefer home cooking.

Vegan Moussaka

This dish has been reimagined hundreds of times. I can see why. It is tasty, nutritional and warming in the cold weather. My gluten free, vegan interpretation has made me look forward to dinner time already.

Aubergine is key to any moussaka dish. Start by chopping 2 aubergines into slices approximately 1cm thick and cooking the slices on a griddle. I use a little Fry light olive oil, sea salt and chopped coriander to season the aubergine whilst it cooks.

I am going to substitute potato with sweet potato! Lower on carbohydrates and much higher in vitamins and fibre I really enjoy sweet potato and this moussaka is no exception. Peel and then slice 2 sweet potatoes similarly to the aubergine. Place in a saucepan, cover with water and then bring to the boil before simmering for 20 minutes. When the sweet potato slices are soft enough you could break them apart but firm enough to retain their shape you are all set.

Drain and leave to cool with the aubergine slices.

When cooled the fun begins – with layering. In addition to your sliced aubergine and sweet potato you will need tinned chopped tomatoes, chopped garlic and vegan cheese.

Start by pressing a layer of the griddled aubergine at the bottom of a baking dish. Cover with chopped tomatoes, then add chopped garlic followed by a layer of sweet potato and a topping of vegan cheese. I repeat this 3 times and then bake for approximately 30 minutes.

My moussaka is ideal winter comfort food. High in vitamins, vegan and gluten free. This makes a tasty meal anytime.

Spiced Kalette Soup

I love kale and was delighted to discover kalettes whilst shopping. Kalettes are a hybrid of kale and sprouts. They are high in vitamins C and K. In addition like all cruciferous vegetables they have high levels of folic acid and fibre. Perfect for a healthy diet.

Start this recipe with a roasting pan and a warm oven. Add 2 chopped red peppers and a chopped courgette to the roasting dish and spray with cooking oil. I’ve used Fry light sunflower as it reduces the fat content in the dish. Stir through paprika and cayenne pepper and pop into the oven to roast for about 45 minutes.

Whilst the vegetables roast chop white onion, and garlic and prepare stock. I’m a coeliac so I find Kallo reduced salt vegetable stock cubes are an ideal stock cheat as they are gluten free and vegan. At only 6 calories as well they are perfect for a healthy meal.

When the vegetables have roasted combine in a saucepan with the garlic, onion and kalettes. Cover with stock and bring to the boil.

Once the soup mix is boiling turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 mins. It is so hard to wait for this soup to cook because it smells beautiful. Use a hand blender to whizz the soup up and stir. My husband has topped his with a little parmesan but I don’t need it so I’m happy as it it. The paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic are so light it makes for a perfect lunch.

Roasted Chickpeas and Vegetables with Quinoa

I’m working on increasing my protein as I’m stepping up some exercise. As a vegan I am constantly asked how I get any protein at all. One of the answers to this is quinoa which is a complete protein with all the amino acids you need.

This quinoa based dish is easy to make and perfect for packed lunches.

Start with a large roasting pan and preheat the oven. I’m using chopped courgette, red pepper, yellow pepper and carrots.

Add to the roasting dish. Instead of drizzling with oil I’m using Fry Light sunflower and squirt the vegetables with a few sprays. Roast for 45 minutes. It’s time to add the chickpeas! Drained chickpeas and cherry tomatoes will bring different textures and more protein to the roasted vegetables. Sprinkle the vegetables with a generous dash of cayenne pepper for a spicy flavour and then continue to roast for another hour. At the same time cook quinoa.

When both are cooked drain the quinoa and stir through the vegetables evenly. Tasty hot or cold it makes and ideal lunch or evening meal.

Tofu and Tamari Greens

Tamari is a great flavour for coeliacs, unlike soya sauce which contains wheat there is no gluten and Tamari will make food taste excellent without the illness.

With protein from the tofu this dish is also excellent for vegan coeliacs like myself.

Start by cubing the tofu and adding to a heated wok. I’m using sesame oil to cook as although I’m allergic to nuts I can (and do) enjoy sesame.

Cook the tofu evenly until starting to go lightly golden. Then add garlic and coriander. Continue to cook for a few minutes stirring frequently.

Add prepared vegetables. I’m adding tenderstem broccoli, Pak choi, spring greens, mange tout and red onion.

Continue to stir fry for 10 minutes then add a few splashes of Tamari. I use the Clearspring Tamari as it is organic as well as veggie and gluten free.

I love this tofu packed stir fry and hope you will too.

Mexican inspired fried rice

As a coeliac I eat a lot of quinoa and rice as a way to bulk up meals and enjoy some carbs. This recipe takes the crisp texture of a fried rice dish and combines it with tasty veg and a little heat.

Start by popping the rice onto cook. I’m using brown rice as the process applied to white rice reduces the nutritional value in white rice. Add rice to a pan of boiling water and leave to cook for 20 minutes stirring regularly.

The time the rice takes to cook is ideal veg preparation time. I’m using a red pepper, a courgette, half a cucumbers large avocado and a number of sweet, small tomatoes. Chop all the veg into small chunks approximately 1cm square.

Once the veg is chopped heat a small amount of oil in a large pan. I’m using Fry Light Avocado as it is lower in calorie and a complementary flavour. Add the chopped pepper and courgette to the pan and cook until slightly softened.

When the brown rice has cooked and been thoroughly drained add it to the pan and continue to fry.

After 10 minutes of cooking the rice should be crisp and tasty. Sprinkle over a dash of cayenne pepper and stir through chopped coriander.

Add the chopped avocado, cucumber and tomato to make a crisp, tasty and warm fried rice salad.

Tucking into this beauty for dinner has me thinking about the spring and summer ahead already.