Veganuary: Spicy Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Last year I bought the book ‘Strong’ by Zanna van Dijk. It is a really good book for anyone that is interested in learning more about fitness, weight-lifting exercises, nutrition and how to get the right mindset to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle. One of the recipes that I have really enjoyed cooking from that book was the ‘Spicy Beef Stuffed Peppers’. I have always liked the idea of cooking stuffed peppers, but I feared it would be too complicated for me. How would I cut and core the peppers, how would I juggle the pots and pans together with the oven and get all the timing right? But one day I just decided to go for it, and it actually all turned out pretty well and tasted great. Once my diet became mainly plant-based I soon realised that I didn’t actually need to stop cooking recipes like this, I just needed to make some adjustments to replace the minced meat for beans, lentils or soya mince. I haven’t yet tried these peppers with soya mince as I haven’t yet found it in my local shops in Italy – if anyone knows an Italian supermarket that sells it, please let me know in the comments below! I tend to serve these peppers with a side of quinoa or rice, but you can also add that to the stuffing – just cook the rice/quinoa at the same time you are cooking the bean and vegetable sauce, and then mix them together before filling the peppers. I also sometimes add a dollop of guacamole on top for an extra dose of healthy fats.

If any of you are joining me for Veganuary, this will hopefully give you another recipe idea to add to your plant-based meal repertoire!

Ingredients (serves 2*)

4 peppers

Half an onion

1 medium sized carrot (I don’t always add this, but I had one in the fridge that I needed to use up)

1 medium sized courgette

1 400 g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons of tomato puree

1 400 g tin of beans (I tend to use black beans as kidney beans make me bloat – whatever you use, just make sure you rinse them.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon chili pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven on to 200°C.

Cut peppers in half, leaving the stalk on one side and then cut out the middle and remove all the seeds.

Chop and finely dice all of the vegetables (Note: you will probably want to chop them smaller than the size I did, especially the carrots as they will be too crunchy otherwise!).

Put the peppers on a baking tray, spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop them into the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

Whilst the peppers are cooking, start to make the filling. Heat some oil in a saucepan (the quantity is at your discretion!) and add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the spices and leave to fry for a few more minutes and then add the chopped vegetables, the tins of chopped tomatoes and beans and the tomato puree. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes (or until the veggies are soft).

When the peppers are ready, remove from the oven and put them aside. Leave the oven turned on.

When the filling is ready, spoon it into the peppers and then put them back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes or so.

Buon appetito!

* My partner has a big appetite and tends to eat 2 peppers, whereas I will have 1 pepper and then often we will share the last one. If you find there are too many, just pop the leftovers in the fridge and have them for lunch the next day.

The Best Women’s Winter Tennis Apparel

I know I should probably add more colour to my tennis wardrobe in the winter, but you just can’t fault a stylish black, navy blue, burgundy or dark green tennis skirt or pair of leggings. I am also a big fan of skeggings, but I tend to make them myself by wearing my tennis skirts on top of leggings. The benefits of buying or creating a pair of skeggings are 1) you have somewhere to put the ball (when I wear leggings I often struggle to get the ball in and out of the waistband) and 2) you don’t have to worry about whether the leggings have transparency issues when bending over to receive a serve. Many skeggings are mid-length, which can be perfect if you are playing indoors or the weather is not too chilly, but that might not provide enough coverage if you’re playing outside – in that case, just pair your favourite longer leggings with a skirt. And with these wintery colours it is very easy to mix and match. Check out the winter tennis apparel I have picked out for you below and let me know what you think.

Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. This helps to support my blog, and comes at no additional cost to you. You can actually get a 10% discount on all these products from Tennis Warehouse Europe by using my VIP code 40ISHLOV10 – happy winter tennis shopping!

[shopr collection=”tennis-style”]

Vegan Christmas Dinner – Deliciously Ella Recipe Review

Vegan Christmas DinnerVegan Christmas Dinner Vegan Christmas Dinner

This year I am spending Christmas in three different places. I started in England a week before Christmas for a few days with my mum, one of my brothers and his family. I cooked a three bean and lentil chili for everyone which seemed to go down well – that was the first time I had ever cooked for my family, and it took me becoming plant-based/vegan for it to happen! I then came back to Italy for a couple of days and so I decided to cook an early vegan Christmas dinner for my partner and I, so we could have our own quiet Christmas celebration before flying to Portugal to spend time with his family.

I looked for inspiration in the Deliciously Ella app and found a ‘Sage and Apricot Nut Roast with Cranberry Sauce’, which sounded perfect. As usual, however, I ended up modifying the recipe as I couldn’t find some of the ingredients in the supermarket (which happens quite a lot as I live in a small town in Italy). I couldn’t find sage, brazil nuts or cranberries so the recipe became just ‘Apricot Nut Roast’, but it still tasted so good. It was full of great vegetables, nuts and spices, and the dried apricots really were the pièce de résistance.

I also decided to cook a side of Brussel sprouts and roast potatoes, but although I didn’t quite follow the ‘Roasted Maple Sprouts with Hazelnuts’ recipe from Deliciously Ella (as I just wanted to keep things simple), I still decided to roast the sprouts together with the potatoes, and Ella was right when she said this makes them tastier than boiling. For once I also actually made desert, and I went for the ‘Healthiest Chocolate Mousse’, which has avocado as the main ingredient! Although Ella claimed that the avocado flavour would disappear, my partner and I both felt that it was still there. Perhaps I didn’t put in enough cacao, or maybe it was just knowing it was there (I really shouldn’t have told him!)  – I would still make it again, though, as it is full of healthy fats. So that was our vegan Christmas dinner – simple to cook, healthy and tasty. Do let me know if you have tried any of these recipes, and how you got on in the comments below.

The Best Books That Make You Think

Best books

My favourite book of all time is 1984 and I have read it so many times that my copy is falling apart and is being held together with masking tape. I like to read every night before falling asleep, but I now tend to read electronic books. I know reading from a screen might not be great for my eyesight and might disturb my sleep, but I have so many books in boxes gathering dust, that I feel it is better for the environment to read an iBook. The other day I was scrolling through my iBooks app looking at the books I have read this year, and there were too many that I couldn’t remember reading. You see, I am rather partial to a 99p thriller or detective novel and whilst I enjoy them at the time, I soon forget what they are about, and can’t recall the story from the title. But, there were at least 5 books that have really stayed in my memory, and were certainly the best books I read this year. I’m not really surprised that 4 out of 5 of them are non-fiction – and you could actually argue that the fifth is not really fiction – because books that relate to real life really get me thinking. So here is my list of the best books that make you think:

  1. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Hurari. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, this book got me thinking a lot about humans and our impact on animals and the environment.
  2. The Circle by Dave Eggers. This book could possibly have been part of the reason I went offline a bit this summer, and is the fiction/non-fiction I refer to above – it definitely gets you thinking about the direction society is moving in.
  3. The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith. This was recommended on a blog post I read on books that make you a better blogger and it made me think more about my blog and the goals I have for it. It also inspired me to self-host my blog and invest more in SEO – whether this will make my blog more successful, I don’t know, but I think it is all helping me to be a better blogger.
  4. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. After reading Sapiens, I wanted to know more about where my food was coming from, and I came across this book, and despite being a bit difficult to read in some places, I was glad to have reduced my ignorance on many aspects related to our food industry.
  5. Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon. An honest autobiographical book about mental health (and OCD in particular) full of hilarious stories. This book got me thinking about how fortunate I am to benefit from good mental health.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any recommendations for books that will get me thinking in 2018.

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup

Carrot, sweet potato and chickpea soup

Carrot, sweet potato and chickpea soup

Carrot, sweet potato and chickpea soup

Carrot, sweet potato and chickpea soup

It has been snowing, it is cold, the snow is turning to slush, my feet are cold and wet from inadequate footwear (as the frequency with which it snows does not justify investing in a pair of moon boots), and that excited feeling I got when I saw those first snow drops has quickly evaporated. So to warm (and cheer) myself up today I decided to make my favourite carrot, sweet potato and chickpea soup.

Carrot soup was the first soup I ever made, and I was surprised that I could make something so tasty with such little effort. It is quite difficult to get anything wrong with this recipe, perhaps the only issue can be working out how much water you need, but I think it is best to use a bit less and add more at the end if it turns out to be too thick.

By the way, I am really enjoying the fact I have expanded my blog to include recipes from my new plant-based diet as I just love  taking photos of food, even if my partner does tell me I look ridiculous cooking with a camera around my neck, and he laughs at me as I take the food to the bathroom to take a photo for Instagram (it has the best white background and lighting, ok?!).

Ingredients (serves 4)

500g carrots

1 medium sweet potato (mine weighed 250 g)

Half an onion

1 400g tin of chickpeas

1 vegetable stock cube

125 ml of boiling water

Chilli flakes

Pepper

Method

Peel and chop up the carrots, sweet potato and onion and add to a pan.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas (this is important to remove all the added salt and preservatives that are added to the water they are stored in) and add to the pan. You can keep half of the chickpeas aside if you would like to add them whole to the final soup.

Put the lid on the pan and allow the vegetables to ‘sweat’ for a few minutes over a low heat. Then add the boiling water, the vegetable stock cube, chilli flakes and pepper (to taste).

Bring the water to boil, and then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes (or until the carrots and sweet potato are soft). Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand blender. If you kept the chickpeas aside, add these to the blended soup and put the pan back on a low heat for a couple of minutes.

Add some chilli flakes on top if, like some, you like it hot!