If you have never cooked your own chickpeas you simply have to. Yes, you need to plan and yes, they can take 60-90 min to cook but it is so worth it. My reasons for doing this:
  • The taste is far superior. Hummus from home cooked chickpeas is so much tastier than one made from tinned ones.
  • They are more digestible (tinned ones are not soaked properly and are more likely to cause digestive issues - i.e. excessive flatulence and bloating)
  • The cost! You will end up with about 4-5 tins worth of chickpeas from dry

How I do it:
  • Soak your chickpeas for 12-24hrs, the soaking not only reduces the cooking time but it reduces they phytic acid in chickpeas. This has a knock on effect in increasing the mineral absorption from your chickpeas. (this applies for all legumes )
  • Drain the water, put the chickpeas into a large stock pot with large amount of water, about 4x the volume.
  • Add couple inches of kombu seaweed, this is meant to further reduce the gas-producing properties of the legumes. Kombu is used in stock making in Japan and will add to the flavour of the cooking liqour and the chickpeas. I also add an onion (left whole as it is easier to remove) and couple of bay leaves. You can also add other herbs and vegetables like carrots and celery.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for 60min, check and cook longer if the chickpeas are not tender. Generally anywhere from 60-90min should do, the cooking time does depend on the age of the chickpeas.
  • Helpful tip: If you want to freeze the chickpeas freeze them in the liquor.

I always cook 500g pack of chickpeas all at one. I generally use a portion for soup or curry, and make hummus with the rest. You can easily make 3 dishes with this amount of chickpeas. This is one of my favourites; chickpea and coconut curry. I love it as a part of a larger Indian meal, next to a saucy creamy curry. It is also great for a midweek meal with an indian flat bread topped with soya or coconut yoghurt and mango chutney and Kuchumbar on the side for freshness.



Serves 4

2 tsp coconut oil
15 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups of cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup (or more if needed) water
salt and pepper to taste
200g (half pound) of spinach
3 tablespoons unsweetened desiccated coconut


  • In a large lidded sauté pan heat the olive oil and add the curry leaves and spices, let cook for about 1 minute or until the spices begin to pop. Take care not to burn the spices.
  • Next add the onion and cook till softened and golden brown.
  • Add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (when ginger is not cooked enough the whole curry can have a bitter undertone). Add the turmeric and cook further 30seconds.
  • Add in the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or till they soften.
  • Add the chickpeas, coat well in the spices and flavours.
  • Pour in the water, add salt and pepper, put the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes. Cook till most of the sauce has evaporated.
  • Next add in the spinach and let it wilt into the chickpeas.
  • Sprinkle in the coconut, stir it through and serve garnished with some fresh coriander.





Lasagne the ultimate comfort food, it’s right up there with mashed potatoes. The classic dish is loaded with cheese and white sauce made of butter and milk. Yep not so good for you, the planet and the animals…

This lasagne was made on my daughter’s request. She wanted something with the spinach “cheese” layer. It’s her favourite way to eat spinach (other than raw in a salad). When my girl says make me something with a vegetable I do jump (it doesn’t happen often).

I used dry lasagne sheets (egg free), no need to cook them. The only cooking required is making the sauce (or you can always buy a couple jars of a good tomato sauce I like Seeds of Change range) and wilting the spinach. Rest is done by whizzing things up and baking it in the oven. Great “make ahead” dish and will feed 8. It does satisfy a doubting omnivore too. My mom-in-law was a happy diner indeed.


Serves 8

tomato sauce
1Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 tins of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup (120ml) water
1/2 -1tsp sugar (optional; depends on the flavour of the tomatoes)
salt and pepper to taste

spinach tofu ricotta
300g baby spinach
1 package Cauldron Tofu (396g, just under 1lb)
2 tsp yellow miso
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
juice of half a small lemon
2 tbs nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste

silken tofu cheese sauce
1 package silken tofu
1/2 (70g) cup cashews (soaked for at least 30min)
1 tsp yellow miso
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 garlic powder
2 Tbs nutrition yeast
1/2 juice of half a small lemon
1/4 -1/2 (60-120ml) of water
salt and pepper to taste

12 lasagne sheets
large deep baking dish

  • 1. First make the sauce. Sauté the onion and garlic in 1 tbs of olive oil till softened. Add the oregano, tomatoes and water. Add sugar, salt and pepper and cook on a low heat for half an hour.
  • To make the spinach layer wilt the washed spinach in a sauté pan and drain throughly.
  • In a food processor combine the spinach tofu ricotta ingredients and pulse till combine but not completely smooth. Set aside.
  • Put all the “cheese” sauce ingredients with 1/4cup (60ml) of the water in a blender (high speed works best) or a food processor. Process till you get a very thick sauce (Greek yoghurt consistency) add more water if needed.
  • To assemble lasagne spread few tablespoon over the bottom. Layer 3 sheets of lasagne, 1/3 of spinach mixture, 1/3 of sauce, lasagne and repeat. You last layer should be lasagne sheets. Pour your silken tofu sauce over the top.
  • Bake at 180C for 40minutes of until the top is golden brown and lasagne tender (test with a knife)
  • Let sit for about 10minutes before serving.





You may think having a curry is not a good idea in the summery weather but I could argue that is always summer in India… This recipe is light, no heavy sauce or too much oil like you might get in your takeaway. The main ingredients are some of the favourite among the plant based folk; potatoes and lentils. Both are indeed very filling and satisfying.

Yesterday, we had few friends over for a mezze type eating feast. My Brazilian friend announced she was brining Brazilian potato salad. I didn’t want to rain on her thunder but I needed to let her know that I am also using potatoes. I was making a spiced Indian potato salad… To my delight she swept my worries away with a firm: “You can’t ever have enough potatoes!”

Lentils, unlike beans, are known to be easily cooked even without soaking. That may be a convenient feature but I still recommend soaking all pulses, even the very small red lentils. It takes a bit of planning, but if you know you will be making some delicious lentil curry or soup in the evening just start soaking your lentils in the morning (or indeed the evening before). Beans, I preferably soak for 24 hrs. The soaking degrades phytic acid that minerals in the pulses are bound to, thus soaking them will make the minerals easier to absorb.

Another good idea is to cook your pulses with a piece of kombu seaweed. The kombu softens and you can either munch on it (it is a bit slimy…) or blend it into a sauce or soup. Kombu is traditionally used in Japanese broths to add flavour but when cooked with beans or lentils it increases digestibility and reduces the notorious gassiness… Skimming the foam off the surface will also reduce the gas production later :)

In this recipe I have used lentils verte (Puy), these are not traditionally used in Indian cooking, but I wanted the texture of these European lentils. Indian dals tend to be more mushy and soupy ( and I do love them) but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to experiment a little. French - Indian fusion, this may just catch on...


serves 4

250g dried lentils, I used lentils verte - Puy (or 2 tins of puy lentils) soaked for 12 hrs
1 - 1inch piece of kombu seeweed (optional)
2 tsp coconut oil
10 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella or black mustard seeds
2 tsp coconut oil
1 large red onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
1 thumb piece of ginger, grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1/2-1tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (or other chilli powder)
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbs tomato puree
3 medium sized tomatoes, chopped and if you wish peeled and deseeded
1 and 1/2 - 2 cups water (this will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
200g spinach
1tsp garam masala.


  • First cook the lentils with the kombu in plenty of water for 20-30 minutes until they are just tender but still retaining shape. Drain and set aside
  • In a large sauté pan with a lid heat the coconut oil. Add the curry leaves, cumin and mustard (nigella) seeds. Heat till the mustard seeds start to pop and you can smell the aroma of spices. Take care not to burn.
  • Next add the onion and cook till soft and golden.
  • Add the ginger, onion, chopped green chilli (or add it whole with a slit down its side for less heat). Cook for 1 minute before adding the Kashmiri chilli powder and turmeric. Heat the spices for about 30 seconds.
  • Next step is to add tomato puree and chopped tomatoes, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 10 minutes of till the tomatoes start to soften.
  • When the tomatoes are soft and pulpy add 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of water (can use vegetable stock for even more depth of flavour). Add the potatoes and cook for about 15 minuter or until potatoes are tender.
  • Finally add the lentils and cook very gently for another 10 min to allow the flavours to combine. Towards the end stir through the spinach and garam masala and check for seasoning. Cook briefly just to let the spinach wilt into the curry.
  • Serve with rice, Indian bread and Kachumbar.

Kachumbar recipe:




My Dad is coming over for Christmas and he promised to bring more of his foraged, hand cut and dried over wood stove wild mushrooms. That’s why I have been clearing “the last year’s stock” by sticking the woodland treasures into everything. They add so much flavour and meaty chewy texture. I love them.

Due to the never ending supply courtesy of my Dad I use them very liberally, by large handfuls. The cupboard where I store the bags of mushrooms is drowned in the their characteristic scent (there is a reason why you can’t find dried mushroom scented candles in shops). Dried porcini tend to be rather pricy in the UK, but luckily you don’t need a lot, half an ounce will give plenty of flavour to your dishes.

For this recipe I used a mixture of lentils (one of those soup mixes from a shop), feel free to create your own mixture or use just one type of lentil. The soup will taste great with any type of lentil. Beware it is very filling, I did say it serves 4 generously, I mean generously. This is a main course soup. No need for bread either.

It freezes beautifully. My plan is to freeze a batch to have a quick lunch on hand when I have had enough of cooking over the holiday season. You may just need to add more stock when reheating. I do hope my Dad will approve of the use of his handpicked mushrooms (and won’t miss the meat ).


Serves 4 very generously.

1 large onion, chopped into small dice
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped into small dice
2 stick of celery, chopped into small dice
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 Tbs of tomato puree
1 tin of tomatoes
15 - 30 g (1/2 - 1oz) dried porcini mushrooms
2 medium potatoes, cut onto 1cm dice
300 g (1 and 1/2 cups) lentils (I used a mix of red, puy and green)
6 cups (1.5 litres) of vegetable stock
200 g frozen spinach (300g fresh), defrost if using frozen

  • In a large stock pot heat 60ml water (or stock) and the onions, garlic, carrot, celery and rosemary. Cook with the lid on for about 10min or until soften. Add more water if needed.
  • Next add the tomato puree, cook for a minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, cook for 10 min with the lid on.
  • Next add the porcini, potatoes, stock and lentils. Cook on low heat for 30-40 min or until the lentils are cook. Depending on the how much the lentils absorb you may need to add more water if need.
  • Add the spinach, if using frozen defrost and let it heat through in the soup. If using fresh let it wilt in the soup.
  • Season and serve




My cupboard is always full of spices, that way I can always create a dish with influences from different cuisines. Sometimes I buy pre-mixed concoctions but I do love creating my own blends. They may not be authentic but it is all about the taste.

Last weekend we had a Moroccan feast so perhaps that’s why I reached for Moroccan spices again to make this lentil and spinach soup. It was thick, chunky and filling, just the thing one needs after a long dog walk through mist and fog. I though it could have done with a bit more chilli. Mind you I always have a handy chilli flake grinder or a bottle of chilli sauce within my reach...

This is a great soup for batch cooking, just double the quantities and keep some in the freezer for those “can’t be bother to cook” days. And if you want to shorten the preparation a bit more look out for Moroccan spice mixes such as Ras El Hanout in your spice isle.

I had about a cup of the soup left over for today, due to the lentils it thickened considerably overnight in the fridge. I considered pouring the leftovers over a baked sweet potatoes but had no patience to wait an hour for it to bake... I opted for sauteing some mushrooms, cooked couple handfuls of brown rice pasta and mixed it all together with the leftover soup and few squirts of ketchup. It turned out to be a very yummy lunch for one.


Serves 3-4

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped into fine dice
1 stick of celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp harrisa paste (depending on how spicy you like your soup)
1 tin of tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) red lentils
3-4 cups of vegetables stocks
100g spinach

  1. In a large soup pot heat 1/3cup (60ml ) water (or 1 tbs oil) and saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic till soften, add more water if the vegetables are starting to stick.
  2. Add the spices and cook for about 30seconds.
  3. Next add the harrisa paste and tomatoes and cook for couple of minutes.
  4. Add the lentils and vegetable stock and cook for 20min or until the lentils are soft, nearly falling apart and the soup is thick.
  5. Add the spinach leaves and let them wilt into the soup, this will take about a minute.

Leftover magic




Cooking is my way to be creative. I am no good at drawing, my piano playing days are a distant childhood memory and when I sing my kids cover their ears. When it comes to food there are so many ways to get my creative juices going, I get inspired by ingredients or world cuisines to create new dishes. I love to “veganise” my old favorites or sometimes I have a go at recreating dishes I enjoyed in a restaurant.

My vegan spanakopita came to life as a mixture of the above processes. My husband and I had a rare opportunity to enjoy an evening meal out together (minus kids). We chose a Lebanese restaurant that featured many vegan mezze dishes on the menu. One of the mezze’s we had were delicious filo pastry tringles filled with lemony spinach. Few days later I came across Jamie Cooks Morocco while flicking through the TV channels. Jamie Oliver was making a sweet almond filo pastry “snail”. This is when the cogs in my brain started to turn. I love the way the “snail” looked and with my Lebanese spinach triangles still on my mind I thought of the traditional Greek recipe spanakopita, a filo spinach and feta cheese pie. I could see the spinach, the filo, tofu instead of feta, some pine nuts and lemon juice coming together. Surely I was onto a winner.

Trust me, this recipe is not as complicated as it looks, just be careful not to let your filo pastry dry out. Do not answer the phone or the door. Work fast and you will end up with a dinner party masterpiece. Spare pair of hands is a bonus, I had my daughter on hand. Serve with some homemade tomato sauce, salad and maybe some Greek olives for a super Mediterranean meal.



Serves 6

1 kg (2.2lb) frozen spinach
2 large young onions with stems (or 6 spring onions, scallions), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried oregano
250g (9oz) extra firm tofu, grated
100g (4oz) pine nuts, reserve 2 Tbs
juice of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

270g (10oz) filo pastry, 6 large sheets (if frozen defrost first)
2-3 tbs olive oil


  1. First let your spinach defrost. I take it out of the freezer several hours before cooking, set a large colander over a bowl, place the spinach into the colander and leave in a warm place. If I am impatient I just pour some boiling water over it.
  2. When the spinach is fully defrosted squeeze out as much water as you can. The most efficient way is to put it into a clean tea towel and twist and squeeze until most water runs out.
  3. In a large bowl combine the spinach, onion, garlic, dill, oregano, grated tofu, pine nuts (minus the 2 tbs) and juice of a lemon. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Prepare a large baking tray, you can oil it or line it with some baking paper.
  5. This is the fun bit. On a large clean surface ( I use my dining table), prepare the pastry. Lay the first sheet on the table, brush lightly with olive oil. Lay the next sheet in a way that it creates a long rectangle, make sure you overlap the shorter edges by about 5cm (2inches). Brush with oil. Repeat with the third sheet. Lay next three sheets on top of the first layer, brush with oil. You should be left with a very long double layered rectangle.
  6. Next place the filling evenly into the middle, creating a long line, see picture. Wrap the pastry around tightly but carefully, creating a long tube, like a strudel. Don’t worry about small tears. Make sure the seam is down. Next secure the edges by folding them over. The filling is not runny so don’t worry it won’t run out.
  7. Shape your your strudel into a coil creating a “snail shell”shape. Slide onto a baking tray. Brush with some olive oil (or non-dairy milk), sprinkle with pine nuts and carefully transfer onto a tray. (Extra pair of hands to hold the tray is very helpful at this point)
  8. Bake at 180C for 35-40 min, or until the pastry is golden brown.
  9. Transfer onto a serving platter and cut into wedges.





Guess who’s back?! Yes, I am back online. We are still not connected but my clever techie hubby bought me a nifty device to get me onto to world wide web. Much appreciated! 1891 emails are slowly downloading...

Our house move went really well, I have great admiration to the removal men who tirelessly lifted and shifted all our stuff (it was a lot of stuff!!!). While packing I was careful not to overload the book boxes (there were lots of them) but they carried 2 at a time!!! The physicality of their job is unbelievable. I was tired just watching them.

My new wall hanging:

My first week in the new house had lots of ups but a few very overriding downs. Second day in our house I went down with some stomach bug which left me in bed for a whole day. This was accompanied with a rather painful acute tooth infection. I spent over 4 days on painkillers, something I hate to do, they left me unable to speak coherently and rather sick to my stomach. Finally (after the Bank Holiday) I got to see my dentist who put me on very strong antibiotics. Yuck! But believe me I was in so much pain that I was ready to take anything! These horrible things made me feel absolutely knackered, with a headache and nausea. But guess what, the pain is gone! Now I am awaiting an appointment for a dental surgery to remove the partially erupted wisdom tooth that has been causing me so much trouble!

Even though I was going through the above c..p I have been enjoying the new house. We all do. Especially now that everything has been unpacked and assigned its new space. We are eagerly waiting for the new turf to settle to fully enjoy our new bigger garden. Especially since the weather has been so fabulous! Hopefully next year I can claim a patch to start a kale plantation!

Another highlight of the last 2 weeks (yes we have been in the new house 2 weeks today!!!) was meeting
Eric Brent, the man behind the fabulous HappyCow.net, who came to visit our annual VegFest in Bristol. It was fabulous to meet the man in person and I hope I can keep providing HappyCow with more recipes. I was planning to take a photo with him but somehow my painkiller fogged mind forgot! I think this could give me a good excuse to travel to San Francisco!!


I made this for a friend who came to lunch. Easily doubled to serve four.
Serves 2

8-10 new potatoes, cut in halves
6 medium tomatoes (plum tomatoes are great)
1-2 tsp Berbere spice mix (or Cajun)
2 cloves garlic
1/4tsp dried thyme (1 tsp fresh)
pinch of salt
1 tin of chickpeas
4 spring onions
juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
100g (3oz) baby spinach or other green salad leaves
2 Tbs fresh coriander, chopped.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes or until just tender. Drain and place into a large salad bowl.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, place in a small baking dish (no need to oil it), sprinkle with the Berbere spice, thyme and salt. Place the 2 unpeeled garlic cloves next to the tomatoes.
  4. Bake for 20min, shake the dish halfway through.
  5. Next add the chickpeas to the tomatoes, shake to coat with the spices and any tomato juices. Bake for further 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the garlic, gently squeeze the soft garlic flesh into the bowl with potatoes. Add the chickpeas to the potatoes, mix together to coat the potatoes with the spices and tomato juices.
  7. Let the potato and chickpea mix sit for about 30 minutes.
  8. When ready to serve, place spinach leaves into larger salad (pasta) bowl, top with the potato chickpea mix, squeeze some lemon juice over and sprinkle with coriander. Enjoy.




This morning I made a smoothie (recipe below), my own concoction and later I realised it very close to the smoothie from my plan that I should be having tomorrow. I guess great minds think alike. With my smoothie I had a small piece of chia coconut bar. This one has been dividing the audience, my son loves it, my husband had a bite and handed it back and I am somewhere in between. At least they are filling and give a quick energy boost. The recipe made a big batch so I shall chow through.



Lunch, the last piece of the lovely asparagus quiche, with “all you can find in the fridge” salad sprinkled with some hemp seeds. Yum. While preparing the dinner I sneaked in some olives and capers. Dinner was fabulous tapenade stuffed marinated mushrooms, they spent some time in the dehydrator which made them rather moorish. Another salad on the side. This time some simple baby leaves, rocket, beetroot and avocado with a splash of balsamic. This was a surprisingly satisfying dinner.

Here is my morning smoothie recipe:


Makes 2 large glasses

flesh of 1 large mango
1 banana
3 handfuls of baby spinach
250ml (1 cup) coconut water
1/4 lime
1 tbs of ground flaxseed
handful of ice

1. Put in a blender and blend till smooth.




Sometimes I stand in front of my fridge or pantry and can’t think of anything to cook. My daughter was standing beside me and said: “Mum, there is pasta, there are lentils; if you have rice you can make that rice and lentil thing we all like. Or I can have giant couscous and you guys have something with chilli...” Simple.

My vegetable box is arriving tomorrow and that is why my fridge veg drawers are looking rather pathetic. One pepper, 2 bunches of celery (what do I do with those???), half a bag of spinach, some fresh turmeric, piece of ginger, chilli peppers and a quarter of hispi cabbage. I have to mention the lovely kale my friend gave me (a much appreciated present indeed), it did already find its way into the dehydrator to be turned into kale chips - I think I have developed a case of kale chips addiction. In my pantry I found 2 tins of shiny South American black beans asking to be transformed into a yummy dish. The wheels in my brain started to turn (squeak squeak) and a lovely spicy black bean stew started to take shape.

Did you know that in Brazil black beans hold its own spot on the country’s food pyramid? The people of Brazil are recommended to eat black beans each day. One rather brilliant idea! Dr Fuhrman also includes beans (legumes) in his G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, seeds and berries) the magic foods that everyone should be eating daily for optimum health. We know that beans are rich in protein, fibre, minerals such as iron but did you know that also contain antioxidants? Apparently they are as rich in antioxidants as cranberries! And yummy too!



the stew
1 large celery stick, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 red chilli peppers, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red pepper, cut up into pieces about the size of beans
11/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp thyme dried or 1tbs fresh
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs tomato paste (puree)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tins of black beans, drained
375ml (1 and 1/2 vegetable stock)
100g (3.5 oz) fresh baby spinach
the lime cream
1 cup cashews soaked for at least 30min
1/2 and 1Tbs water
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp dried onion
salt to taste


  1. In a large deep saute pan heat 60ml (1/4) water. Add the celery, onion, garlic, chilli pepper and saute till softened. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add in the red pepper, spices, herbs and tomato puree. Cook for a minute.
  3. Next add the drained black beans and vegetable stock.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for half an hour.
  5. While the stew is simmering prepare the cream. Drain the cashew nuts. Place them in a blender together with 1/2 cup and 1 Tbs water, lime juice and dried onion.
  6. Process till smooth, test for seasoning. Chill until needed.
  7. Stir the spinach into the bean stew until it just wilts and serve the stew straight away.
  8. Serve the bean stew topped with 2 Tbs of lime cream per person. Brown rice or quinoa make a great side dish, kids will love some organic tortilla chips too.




The London Olympic Games are about to start. Years of preparation will culminate in the highly anticipated opening ceremony and display of sporting excellence. We all have our favourites, I am definitely rooting for the Czechs, my tennis heart will be supporting Switzerland and of course as a British resident I will be pleased with any medals going to the Brits. But there is another team that me and my fellow Bristolians will have a soft spot for.

The Olympic teams arrive many weeks before the actual start of the Games. Driving to kids to school quite a few weeks ago I noticed a huge banner at our neighbouring University welcoming the Kenyan team. Athletes from Kenya were staying next door to us and they trained at the sports facilities of our local college. My friend’s son had a twinkle in his eyes when he showed off the autographs from the whole team at school. He certainly was inspired and promised me his autograph when he becomes the world champion.

So here is a recipe for the Kenyan team, a thank you for the inspiration they gave the local kids. I have based it on a Kenyan classic, irio, a bean, sweetcorn and potato mash. Irio is fantastic as it is, but I wanted to make it a bit more special and created irio cakes served with lovely tomato spinach that would not (I hope) be out of place in any Kenya home. My daughter asked if she will run as fast as the athletes after eating these.

ready for the oven


irio cakes
2 large baking potatoes (mine were 800kg or 1,7lb)
250g (2 cups) sweetcorn (tinned or defrosted from frozen)
1 tin red kidney beans, drained
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped

tomato spinach
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tomatoes, skinned and seeded
450g (1 lb) spinach (preferably mature spinach)
1 Tbs lemon juice
salt to taste


  1. Pierce the skin of your potatoes and place them in a 200C (390F) oven. Bake for about an hour or till skewer goes in without any resistance. Remove potatoes from the oven and let cool down.
  2. Halve the potatoes and scoop the flesh out into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Turn the oven down to 180C (350F).
  4. Add the drained beans, sweetcorn and scallions to the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Using a potato masher mash the ingredients together. The sweetcorn and most beans will remain intact while to potato will turn into a mash. The whole mixture should come nicely together.
  6. Place some cornmeal in a shallow bowl (or a plate). Divide the mixture into equal portions and make cakes, 6 for a starter portion and 4 for a main dish.
  7. Roll each cake in the cornmeal and place on a baking sheet lined with a grease proof (baking) paper. Bake for 30min or till they start to brown. Turn them half way through. (You could also fry these cakes if you wish.)
  8. While the cakes are baking prepare the spinach. If using mature spinach remove the stalks, wash thoroughly and cut up, I used large scissors to cut up the spinach.
  9. In a large saucepan heat the oil, add the spices and cook till they start to pop, take care they do not burn them.
  10. Chop up the tomatoes and add them to the spices together with 2 Tbs of water. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes soften.
  11. Add the spinach to the tomatoes, season with salt then cover with lid and cook on low heat for 10min or until the spinach is very tender (if using baby spinach reduce the cooking time). Add the lemon juice.
  12. Serve the cakes on top of a spinach mound.




When you are constantly trying to come up with new recipes things can get a bit heated in the dining room. I am talking about feeding kids. They can be tricky customers. And sound creatures of habit, they like to eat what is familiar. Mum’s experiments can get rather a cold reception. Sometimes they just look at a dish in front of them and say YUCK. I just keep trying and it seems to be paying off at times.

Only last week my daughter ate (not happily but ate) a portion of miso dressed kale. Normally she only likes kale chips. After years of trying to persuade her she finally started to eat avocado this week, she will only eat it with raspberry or strawberry vinegar but it is going down. She is particular about her carrots they have to be raw not “wet”(meaning cooked). Pineapple she consumes in huge amounts provided it has been made into a smoothie. Even cherries and apricots get a seal of
approvement but only if “smoothified”... Peppers disappear into tomato soup and butternut squash into my mac and (no) cheese. It does take a lot of concocting but there is always a way.

Last night I was expecting the “Yuck I am not eating that” at dinner time. And yes those were the first words she uttered when she spotted the casserole dish. Honestly all she could see was the tomato sauce on top! I served her up one stripy wedge anyway. After tasting it she smiled and said: “Yummy! This is one of the best things you have ever made!” My son gave it 10/10. Two super endorsements! I thought this could be a kids pleaser but never imagined it would be this successful. Even the spinach layers disappeared!


I used shop bought refried beans. You could make your own but it is a weekday and I know kids adore the taste.

As my kids are not keen on too spicy so I made half of the casserole with added jalapenos and half without. I marked one side of the casserole dish so I didn’t make a mistake of mixing it up, the dish will turn when you layering it. Imagine the look on their faces if they bit into a jalapeno!!!

tomato sauce
1 Tbs olive oil or 60ml (1/4cup) water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tins of tomatoes

spinach tofu layer
220 g (1/2lb) frozen spinach, deforested (or use lb of fresh)
250g (1lb 1oz) tofu
1 tsp dried onion
1/2 tsp dried garlic
2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
salt and pepper to taste

jalapeno peppers
8 soft corn tortillas
1 tin of refried beans
vegan melting cheese on top (optional)

  1. First make the sauce. In a sauce pan heat the oil (or water) and saute the onion till soft.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the spices, cook about 30 seconds.
  4. Next add the tomatoes, season, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 30minutes.
  5. Next make the spinach layer.
  6. Put spinach, tofu, nutritional yeast flakes, dried onion and garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor. Process till quite smooth (it will resemble ricotta cheese).
  7. Now layer the casserole. Make sure that you use a deep round casserole dish that will fit the tortillas snuggly. First put some tomato sauce on the bottom. Layer: tortilla, 1/3 refried beans, tortilla, 1/2 spinach with tofu, tortilla, tomato sauce topped with jalapenos, tortilla, refried beans, tortilla, spinach with tofu, tortilla, tomato sauce with jalapenos, tortilla, beans, tortilla, tomato sauce with jalapenos. Top with vegan cheese if desired (I like it with or without)
  8. Bake at 180C. Bake it covered for the first 20min and than uncovered for 15min.
  9. Let sit for 10min before serving, you will get better layers. Serve with a crisp salad and some avocados (or guacamole).




A whole week of revision. On Saturday I have my final Biomedicine exam therefore I have been buried in books and lectures, making notes and tables, drawing pictures. By now I can draw a mean neuron!

When I am this busy it would be easy to eat rubbish, but I can’t and don’t want to do that. When it comes to grabbing a sandwich I get bored very quickly. Even I love hummus there are only so many hummus wraps I can eat. Taking a break to make a quick, nutritions and delicious lunch will only enhance one’s study performance. Another break to take dogs out will clear head and refresh the brain for further info intake.

Enough talking here is the recipe before I get back to infectious diseases and other delights...


This can be served hot straight from the oven or at room temperature. Whatever you do wait till you are ready to eat before you add the spinach. T

serves 2 as a main dish salad, 4 as a starter

700g (about 1 and 1/2lb) butternut squash (it was a half of a large one)
2 medium red onions
1 Tbs of olive oil
1 tin of chickpeas (no salt added)
2 tsp sambal oelek
1 Tbs rice vine vinegar
2 tsp brown rice miso
200 g baby spinach leaves

  1. First preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Peel and deseed the butternut squash, cut into larger bite sized pieces.
  3. Peel the onion and cut into chunks (each onion in about 8 pieces)
  4. Put onions, butternut squash and olive oil into a medium size roasting dish, toss together and place in the oven
  5. Roast for 25 min than add the drained chickpeas and roast for 10 more minutes.
  6. In the meantime combine the sambal oelek, vinegar and miso together.
  7. Remove the vegetables and chickpeas from the oven and toss with the dressing. Place on top of spinach leaves and serve.




We had another scorching day, perfect weather for hanging out at the harbour and eating some yummy vegan treats. Annual VegFest came to town and as usual didn’t disappoint. We tried loads of great food. Tested some natural cosmetics. Ended up with a bag full treasures, and one melted raw chocolate bar that was in the VegFest goodie bag. It has found a sanctuary in the fridge before it meets an untimely end...

How excited I was to meet and have a chat with the fabulous Jackie Kearney, who made it, despite being a vegetarian, into the last four of Masterchef 2011. We all fell in love with her bubbly personality and her Asian inspired veggie food. I was very disappointed when she didn’t make it to the top. After lunching on her fabulous Jungle curry I am even more convinced that she should have won... It tasted great. Check out her recipes and appearances on her website:

After all the smoothies, bubble teas, raw bar, vegan sausages and cheeses, chocolates and ice-creams, my kids got soaking wet at the Millenium square in the water feature. Apart from crushing my sunglasses by sitting on them this was a fantastic family day out. Bring on the next VegFest.

For dinner we had lentil and spinach burger served in a pitta bread. Accompanied with some delicious Reggae Reggae mild sauce, avocados, tomatoes, red onions and salad leaves. Chickpea salad on the side, this was a perfect al fresco dinner. I have to warn you these burgers don’t look pretty, they are swamp green (hence the name) before cooking. After cooking they turn slightly muddy brown, not much of an improvement. They taste good and that is what counts. They are also packed with iron and protein.

Make sure you season this burger well, the spinach needs it. Cook them straight away as the spinach will leak more water and a wet burger means sticky burger... I used some vital wheat gluten in the recipe, I like the texture it gives but you can use gram flour if you don’t have any on hand.



The spinach: I was convinced I had fresh spinach but sadly that wasn’t true. Luckily there was some frozen one, perfect for this recipe. The 200g when defrosted and squeezed out of water yielded 1 cup. To get the same amount from fresh you will need about 1lb.

We had Reggae Reggae mild sauce with our burgers, simply because we are addicted, but any great sauce will work, even the humble ketchup.

200g (1 cup) Puy lentils
200g frozen spinach (or use fresh, see above)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup (packed) parsley
1 heaped Tbs tomato puree
2 tsp of cumin
4 spring onions, white parts only
salt and pepper
3 Tbs of water
3 Tbs of vital wheat gluten
(if you don’t have the wheat gluten use 3Tbs of gram flour minus the water)
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. First cook the lentils in plenty of water until they are soft, about 25min.
  3. Next prepare the spinach. If using frozen just defrost and squeeze all the water out. If using fresh wilt the spinach in a hot wok or frying pan and also squeeze the water out.
  4. In a food processor process the lentils, spinach, garlic, parsley, tomato puree, cumin and spring onion until it all comes together. Season.
  5. Place the mixture into a mixing bowl, add the vital wheat gluten and water. Using your hands mix thoroughly, you will see strings appearing within the mixture resembling stringy cheese. (If you are using the gram flour just mix thoroughly)
  6. Mould the mixture into 6 burgers.
  7. Place the burgers onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  8. Bake for 30min turning halfway through the baking time.
  9. Serve in warmed round pitta breads with variety of toppings.





Around the world people love cooking various ingredients in pastry cases very often formed into half moon shapes. Think of Cornish pasties, calzone in Italy, empanadas in Latin America, pierogi in Poland or gyoza dumplings in Japan. They are all different but the philosophy is the same. Roll a dough into a circle, fill with yummy filling and bake, boil or steam.

My husband’s family comes from Cornwall, the home of the world famous Cornish pasty, the, local speciality that dates back centuries. Any Brit will tell you that pasties were the perfect  “packed lunch” for the Cornish tin miners. Easily portable, the flaky pastry case was stuffed with beef, swede (in Cornwall called turnip), onion and potatoes. Apart from salt and pepper that was it. Sometimes one corner of the pasty encased a portion of stewed apple for dessert. 

Cornish people are very protective of their pasty, even down to the crimping of the edges. There is only one right way to do it and they will snigger at any rogue attempts. My husband’s grandmother made pasties at home. I had her pasty once, with vegetarian filling, only to discover years later that the pastry was made with lard :( This might have been the only animal product I had since going vegetarian... 

My pasty is not like the traditional one. The pastry is different, of course I don’t use lard but I also keep away from any vegetable shortenings that would make a credible replacement. Therefore I have decided to use a yeast dough, slightly crossing over the the calzone territory. Yes the texture is different, but it went down really well with the family. 

The filling of course is rather different too, no beef here, instead we have luscious combination of sweet potatoes, mushrooms and spinach, gorgeous healthy vegetables, and in keeping with Cornish pasty seasoned with lots of pepper.

The plan is to serve it to my mum-in-law next time she comes for a visit, I will dodge the comments about my lack of crimping but hopefully she will enjoy my take on the food she grew up with. 



the dough

1 cup of warm water
1 Tbs of olive oil, plus more for the rising of the dough
1 tsp of agave syrup 
1 sachet of instant (or fast acting) yeast
150g (1 cup) of fine wholewheat flour 
225 g (1 and 1/2 cups) of wholewheat spelt flour

the filling 

2 medium large sweet potatoes (roughly 600g, just under 1 and half lb)
1 Tbs olive oil (separated)
3 large portobello mushrooms
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
200g (about half a lb) baby spinach
salt and lots of pepper to taste



  1. First make the dough for the pasty.

  2. In a large bowl mix the warm water (just hand warm, not boiling hot) with the agave syrup, olive oil and yeast. Stir. Let it stand for 10min to get the yeast activated, the mixture should start to bubble up.

  3. Next start mixing in the flour. Don’t add all the flour at once, each flour is different and can yield different results at different quantities. After about 1 and half cups add 1 tsp of salt, get your hands in, mix, adding more flour until you get soft pliable dough, not dry or stiff. You are making a basic bread dough.

  4. Invert the dough on a floured surface and knead for at least 5 min until you get a smooth ball of dough. Add more flour if dough is sticking to your surface too much.

  5. Rub a little bit of olive oil all over your ball of dough, place in a large bowl, cover with cling film and let rest in a warm place for about 1 hr or until it has doubled in size.

  6. Preheat your oven to 200C.

  7. While your dough is rising, peel your sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch dice, place in a roasting dish lined with some baking paper. Add 1/2 Tbs of olive oil making sure all pieces are coated. Roast in a the oven for about 25 min or until the potatoes are cooked through and  caramelized along the edges.

  8. In a large frying pan, heat another half a Tbs of olive oil. Add the onion and cook for about 5 min or until soft. 

  9. Add the garlic in and cook for further minute.

  10. Cut the mushrooms into 1 cm pieces and add to the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 min or until mushrooms are soft. Don’t forget to season everything.

  11.  Next add in the spinach, cook until it is just wilted (about 1 min). 

  12. Place the vegetables into a bowl together with the roasted sweet potatoes. 

  13. Mix all the vegetables together, breaking some of the potatoes as you go. Season with plenty of pepper. Set aside.

  14.  When your dough has risen, invert it onto a floured surface and knead for about 2 min.

  15. Divide the dough into 4 (this makes large, calzone size pasties) or 8 pieces (for smaller pasties - perfect for picnic).

  16. Make sure to divide your vegetable mixture accordingly. 

  17. Roll each piece of the dough into a large circle (the dough should be quite thin, think pizza), place the filling on one half of the circle leaving about 1/2inch border. Fold the other half over trying not to make any holes. Press the edges down with a fork.

  18. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the pasties on top. Bake for about 25 minutes in a 200C oven or till the pasties are lightly brown and sound hollow when you tap on the pastry.

  19.  Enjoy!





There is no doubt that eating as nature intended is good for us. We all know that including more fruit and veggies in our diet is the key to good health. Eating the majority your fruit and veggies raw can further amplify their magic health giving powers. I have been trying to incorporate more raw foods into my daily menus. I love green smoothies and raw desserts, make my raw crackers, but I still wanted to know more. The obvious solution? A raw food seminar!

Saskia (Raw Freedom, the wonderful raw food coach) runs her classes from her house. Not only you will find out about why and how to eat raw, you will also have plenty to taste. Wonderful raw lunch is included and rest assure she makes sure you leave with a tummy full of delicious raw goodness. I wanted inspiration and that is what I got. As you may know I already use cashews to make creamy cheesy sauces, but having raw courgette “pasta” with it was a new discovery ( I need to invest in a spiraliser). All the food was amazing from the guacamole mushrooms to the zingy purple salad. And if you think that you will lose out on your favourites when eating raw there was a cheesy tart and 4 different amazing raw ice-creams.

The best thing about Saskia was her infectious enthusiasm for raw food and her enviable vitality. She is not trying to persuade anyone to become 100% raw, that would be daunting, she inspires you to have a go and discover what raw food can do for you (less wrinkles anyone?). If you need a bigger push and support she offers one to one coaching, which is tailored to your individual needs.

I have several raw cookbooks and when I look at the recipes they seem very daunting. Long lists of ingredients, some of which are extremely difficult to find in my immediate area and too many steps to get through. I love my cooking but those kind of recipes make me give up before I start. Saskia’s recipes are nothing like that, they are easy and very doable. I left very inspired, raw chocolate ice-cream in the freezer, I feel poised to embark on the quest of including more interesting raw foods in my family’s diet.

To get inspired and well fed check out Saskia’s website, go to her next seminar or book one to one coaching. I am sure you will feel amazing.


To inspire you even further here is a couple of Saskia’s recipes (with her permission) that I just had to make for my family today.



Saskia presented this as a special treat for breakfast, I think it would make a perfect dinner party dessert!

Serves 1

Make a delicious fruit salad for one from a selection of the following fruit:
banana, papaya, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, mango, grapes, nectarine, dates, pineapple, orange, apple, plums...

4 mint leaves, chopped
1/4 inch ginger, finely chopped or grated

handful of cashew nuts
1 orange, juiced
2 Medjool dates

Blend the nuts with the orange juice and dates, adding water if necessary to get the right consistency. Pour over you fruit salad and indulge.



Watch Saskia making this recipe on her website.

Makes 1 large or 2 small bowls of soup

3 handfuls young spinach
1 avocado
1 spring onion, white part only
1 cm ginger
1/2 tsp mineral salt (pink Himalayan salt)
1/2 water

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

To make the soup warm, use 1/4 pint boiling water mixing with 1/4 pint cold water to make the 1/2 pint water in the recipe.



The 2012 London Olympics will show off the fittest sportsmen/women from every corner of the world. Unfortunately this is under the sponsorship of the likes of Coca Cola and McDonalds. It nearly feels like some parallel universe where the impossible becomes reality.

As the obesity rates are rising in the UK, with the harrowing prediction of 48% of men and 43% of women being obese by 2030 (current numbers 24%women, 22% men), we have to welcome the initiative coming from the organisation that represents nearly all doctors in the UK. The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges is calling for an immediate review of the obesity tackling measures.

The 3 month long enquiry will look at actions such as diet, exercise, banning companies as the two mentioned above from sponsoring sporting events, restriction of advertising, fat taxes, fast food free zones around schools... I am extremely pleased this has become a priority for the medical community.

Judging from some of the comments, that follow articles on this subject, many people are outraged by the possibility of “fat tax”. Many families, who are on very restricted budgets, can’t see past the cheap junk food, many have never been shown how to. This is why an education program should be put into place. You can (and we should) make cheap, fast and junk food less available but not without offering other options, teaching people how to shop, cook and eat. I know it is a bit of a utopia in today’s cash strapped world, but I think if money was spend on teaching mums how to feed their families, kids about healthy eating, and getting everyone back in the kitchen, perhaps in due course (even if this means few decades) we may be able to reverse this massive problem.

To quote Prof Terence Stephenson: “ This is a huge problem for the UK. It’s much bigger than HIV was, much bigger than swine flu.” Action is definitely needed and I wish AoMRC will be able to kick start a major change.


I never though she would but my daughter really enjoyed eating these pancakes, possibly because she made them with me or perhaps her brother cheering made all the difference.

For the spinach: I had 250g of mature spinach, after taking stalks off, wilting it in a pan, squeezing all the water I was left with about a cup of spinach. You could use 200g of baby spinach. Or just defrost and squeeze some frozen spinach. The amount doesn’t need to be precise.

Makes 16 pancakes


Spinach pancakes
175g (1 cup + 2 Tbs) wholemeal self-raising flour
375ml (1 and 1/2 cups) non dairy milk
1 cup cooked spinach (see above)
6 spring onions, white and light green parts only, finely sliced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil spray

Mooli pickle
1 good size mooli (Japanese horseradish)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs Sweet Freedom (or agave syrup)

  1. First start making the pickle.
  2. Peel the mooli, grate in coarsely using a box grater or food processor.
  3. Add the teaspoon of salt to the mooli, place a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy such as tins of beans.
  4. Let rest for 30min.
  5. Put the mooli into a clean tea towel (you can wash the salt off first), squeeze all the water out.
  6. Dress the mooli with vinegar and sweet freedom. If you like a tarter pickle omit the sweetener. Set aside.
  7. To make the pancakes, in a large bowl combine the flour and milk, mix well, creating a thick batter.
  8. Chop the spinach finely and add to the batter.
  9. Add the spring onions, cumin and cayenne (if using).
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 20min.
  12. Heat a large non-stick frying pan, spray with some olive oil spray.
  13. Spoon a heaped tablespoons of the spinach batter into the frying pan, cook until bubbles start to appear on the surface (about 2-3 min), flip over. Cook for further 1-2 min or until the pancakes fill firm with no batter using out when pressed.




The beautiful fresh baby spinach in my organic vegetable box just called out to be eaten in a salad. Tender crispy sweet leaves came straight from the field.

Like other leafy greens spinach is a nutritional giant. It is full of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, but over all tastes fabulous.The baby leaves are so sweet that even kids like it. I love adding spinach to my kids smoothies, they can’t even tell it is in their glass, especially when you add some dark berries that hide the green colour. This salad however hides nothing. It looks like a rainbow.

Unfortunately I am not a fan of fresh tomatoes (I can’t stand the seeds surrounded with that jelly like juice) , however I do love them cooked, sun dried or oven dried, the concentrated flavour is irresistible. Lucky for me, the almighty antioxidant lycopene is more available from cooked tomatoes so it is a win-win situation. The concentrated tomato flavour goes incredibly well with the sweet roasted butternut squash, add red onions for bit of a bite and seeds for some crunch. Perfect lunch I say!


To make the balsamic vinegar glaze (syrup) just place about 125ml (1/2cup) vinegar in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil and cook till reduced and syrupy. You can also buy already prepared balsamic vinegar glaze, just beware of added sugar.

Serves 2 as a main dish salad (4 as a started or side dish)

450 (1lb) butternuts squash, prepared weight (peeled, seeds removed)
1 tsp olive oil
oven dried tomatoes (see below)
1 small red onion (I used about 1/4 of a medium large one)
2 Tbs pumpkin or sunflower seeds (or mixture of both)
100 g (3 1/2 oz) baby spinach leaves
oven dried tomatoes (see below)
Balsamic vinegar glaze to drizzle (about 1 Tbs of balsamic ) or use just balsamic vinegar.

Oven dried tomatoes
4 medium vine ripened tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil

First make the oven dried tomatoes.
Preheat the oven to 120C.
Use the 1 tsp olive oil to grease the bottom of the baking dish big enough to fit the tomatoes in one layer.
Place the tomatoes in your baking dish and season.
Bake for about 2 hours (or longer if needed), you are looking for texture of sunblushed tomatoes, they should loose most of their moisture but still be soft unlike sundried tomatoes.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

The salad
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Cut up the butternut squash into bite sized pieces, place on a non stick baking tray, add the oil, using your hands coat the butternut squash pieces with the oil. Surprisingly 1 tsp will do the job. Season with salt and pepper if you wish.
Roast for about 20 min or until the pieces start to caramelize and are cooked through (pierce with a knife). Remove from the oven and let cool.
Slice the red onion as thinly as you can.
Preheat a frying pan, add the seeds and toast them, take care not to burn them. Let them cool down.
In 2 large bowls place the spinach leaves, top with the rest of the ingredients and toss lightly. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar glaze.