High Protein Vegan Rice and Peas

I love rice and peas. It is such as simple dish, and is perfect for when you aren’t feeling too great (perhaps due to a few too many glasses of vino the night before – as was the case for me when I cooked this for dinner earlier this week!). Since I have transitioned to a vegan/plant-based diet I have been thinking of ways to make this into a high protein vegan meal. The other day I stumbled upon frozen edamame beans as I was picking up my peas in the supermarket, and I decided to give them a try (after having seen them pop up many times on my Instagram feed). They pack a whopping 12 g of protein per 100 g (which is about 3 times more than peas). Here are some other benefits of this meal:

  • As it is uses frozen vegetables, it is great for those days when you are running low on fresh vegetables.
  • Edamame beans (which are green soybeans) are a ‘complete protein’ (i.e. they include all nine essential amino acids). However, in addition to being just like an animal-based protein, they are also packed with dietary fibre.
  • There is very minimal chopping to do (just the onion) and you just chuck everything in a pan and leave it for 25 mins. This also means hardly any washing up!

Ingredients (Serves 1)

75 g of brown rice

Half a red onion, chopped

100g frozen edamame beans

100g frozen peas

Large handful of spinach

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Sauté the chopped onion in a pan with a glug of olive oil for a few minutes.

In the meantime boil the kettle.

Add the rice and heat for about 1 minute.

Next add the peas and the edamame beans and heat for a further minute.

Add boiling water (which should be twice the volume of the rice – I find the rice fills about half a glass, and so I add a full glass of boiling water).

Season with salt and pepper.

Leave on a low heat with the lid on for about 25 minutes.

Add the spinach, put the lid back on and leave it to wilt. Stir in the spinach, e voilà!

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

What I Eat in A Day: Plant-Based Diet

I recently transitioned to a plant-based diet and probably the best thing about it so far has been the enjoyment I am taking from experimenting with so many new ingredients and recipes.

Here is a typical ‘what I eat in a day’ with a couple of options for each meal and snacks. I try to eat a variety of legumes for protein, but I certainly eat less protein than I used to, but I am not so worried about it. The options below include protein powder, but I don’t actually have it every day. My percentage of carbohydrates has certainly gone up, but they are such good carbs – full of healthy fibre. I keep reading that it is very difficult to be deficient in protein, but a large majority of us really are deficient in fibre. Rather than focusing on what I am removing from my diet, I am instead thinking about the vegetables/legumes/tofu I have never bought before, how I can cook them, what spices I can add to make them taste great etc.

So read on for my ‘what I eat in a day’ and buon appetito!

What I Eat in a Day

Breakfast

Porridge or overnight oats made with almond/soya/coconut milk with a number of different added ingredients (not necessarily all at the same time!): vegan or hemp protein powder, peanut/almond butter, flak seeds, chia seeds, cranberries, pine nuts, raisins, walnuts…
or
Smoothie made with frozen banana, vegan protein power, a handful of spinach (you really can’t taste it!), peanut butter, flak seeds

Lunch

Mashed white beans with garlic, green olives and sun dried tomatoes on toast (made with a nice seedy bread) with chilli flakes on top
or
Vegan piadina pizza – see recipe here!

Snacks

Raw brownies (Deliciously Ella’s recipe) made with medjool dates, almonds/pecans, raw cacao powder and maple syrup
or
Pita bread and hummus (I still haven’t got round to making hummus myself, but that is next on my ‘to do’ list)

Dinner

A hearty soup with lentils, beans, chickpeas, vegetables (e.g. cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, leeks, courgette) and some crusty bread to dunk.
or
Portuguese Pasta (well, this is the name my Portuguese partner has given it, as Italians would never cook pasta this way!): onions, peppers, courgettes, peas and tomatoes are cooked in salted boiling water and then the pasta* is added and cooked together with the vegetables to create a yummy pasta soup.

(* I have also experimented with chickpea, lentil, and black bean pasta which are all high protein and very tasty)

Bean mash on toast

Lentil soup

Raw brownie

 

Vegan Piadina Pizza Recipe

Piadina pizza recipe

Ah, my first ever recipe post! If you knew me (and my lack of culinary skills), you would appreciate how hilarious this is. Anyway, since I have transitioned to a plant-based diet, I have had to expand my repertoire of everyday dishes, especially at lunchtime, as I had got into the habit of having two-scrambled eggs on toast almost every day.

I first got the idea for making a simple vegan piadina pizza from a fitness blogger called Carly Rowena (see her version here), but as I live in Italy I have replaced the two tortillas in her recipe with a ‘piadina’, naturalmente! It is quick and easy to make, so I thought I would share it with you (and just so you know, until you tell me to stop I’ll keep sharing my latest recipes with you!)

Ingredients

1 wholemeal piadina (or tortilla or whatever flatbread you have or can find in your local shops)
Spicy olive pesto (or tomato puree)
Vegetables (whatever you have in the fridge, but I find the following work particularly well): broccoli, peppers, cherry tomatoes, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olives (ok, maybe some of these are officially fruit, but you know what I mean)

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (it doesn’t really matter, just let it get hot – I have noticed that this seems to be a pretty standard lower-bound temperature in most recipes…)

Spread the pesto on top of the piadina, placed your chopped veggies on top so that they look aesthetically pleasing (well, you may want to take a photo later for Instagram) and pop it in the oven for about 8-10 mins.

Remove from the oven and devour!

 

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