Recipe: Shredded Sprouts and Tofu

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I love my Abel and Cole Cookbook. It’s full of wholesome, hearty recipes which work with the seasons (and therefore the ingredients in my weekly veg box!) So today, when deciding to use up a bag of organic sprouts languishing in post-Christmas asylum, this book was my go-to guide for some wintery inspiration. Now of course, the wonderful recipe writers at Abel and Cole land aren’t all vegetarian and so I am used to getting creative when not wanting to miss out on a beautiful dish, but this recipe Shredded Brussels and Bacon appeared to challenge us veggies directly:

“If you’re vegetarian and thinking about moving over to the dark side”

The blurb read arrogantly (But with a good enough dollop of tongue-in-cheek honesty, to allow me to refrain from offence) I did feel challenged though. Opening the fridge, I spotted a pack of smoked tofu that really needed using and considered if this would be enough to match the succulence of fried bacon. Perhaps not in texture but paired with the sweet maple syrup I had to hand, I thought I’d give it a go! So often with meat, it’s the sauces, flavourings and texture we in fact crave, not the taste of the plain meat itself. I also had some Indian ghee (clarified butter) to use up, and with its high smoke point (making it incredibly stable in molecular structure when cooking) it would be perfect for browning and adding much lusted-after flavour to the tofu.

Ok so here goes; a simple, healthy and seasonal vegetarian recipe inspired by Abel and Cole’s meaty one; where I switched bacon for smoked tofu, soy sauce for maple and butter for ghee. The original recipe also includes carrots, which I didn’t use – as I didn’t have, but I’d say feel free to experiment with/increase the variety of vegetables to your liking/as the season dictates.

Ingredients:
A small bag of Brussels Sprouts
A 225g packet of smoked tofu, cubed (I find that Clear Spot’s has a very good firmness)
1.5 tbsp of ghee (or a good quality oil)
A good glug of maple syrup
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp fresh chopped sage (optional)
Brown rice (to serve)
Vegetarian hard cheese, grated (optional)

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1. First get your rice simmering in water and then begin preparing the sprouts. You’ll need to cut a few millimetres off the bottom of each sprout (depending on size of stalk) and remove the outer leaves, before slicing in half and then shredding lengthways, with each slice around 2mm wide.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a heavy-bottomed pot and begin to fry the tofu cubes until golden and beginning to crisp on each side. Do this gently, but don’t allow it to stew. I find a medium-high heat, plenty of ghee, with as little stirring as possible the best method here.

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3. Add the shredded sprouts and half the chopped sage. Splash in a good glug of maple syrup, give it all a good stir and then leave it to cook for between 5 and 10 mins. After which, taste and season accordingly, adding more maple syrup if required.

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4. Serve on a mound of rice, with the sprouts having kept a slight bite and sprinkle over the rest of the sage and some vegetarian hard cheese for extra richness and flavour.

This recipe can easily be adapted for vegans, just switch the ghee for a good quality oil (one with a high smoke point like rapeseed would work well here) and omit the cheese or switch for a dusting of nutritional yeast.

I hope you enjoy this healthy, wintery treat, my children aged 7 and 3 cleared their plates and asked for more! An unequivocal Brussels Sprout result in my book!

Happy New Year!

Jaime xx

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Purple Healing Juice

I love this time of year. The world around us is filled with the colours, sights and sounds of Autumn and best of all, we are reeping the rewards of the Summer’s vegetable harvest. With the change in seasons however, come some familiar battles. Our skin and hair may begin to suffer as the sunlight wanes and central heating clicks on for those chilly, misty mornings. Colds and viruses too, cling on and linger in the cool, damp air and chesty coughs can seem to last forever. I always feel tired this time of year, the heat and fun of Summer are a distant memory as we begin to wake up in the dark and plan for the coming festive season.

Diet plays a huge part in how we feel, so in addition to your hearty vitamin-packed soups, fresh local fruit and plenty of water; I’ve created a fabulous seasonal juice recipe to heal and refuel this Autumn.

Pomegranates are incredibly high in vitamin C and potassium. Pomegranate juice is also high in three different types of polyphenols, a potent form of antioxidant. The three types – tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid – are present in many fruits, but fresh pomegranate juice contains particularly high amounts of all three.

As well as all the vitamins, beetroot juice has been proven to have beneficial effects on blood pressure and fitness output. So instead of your usual caffeine hit, feel energised, refuelled and refreshed with the juice of this beautiful Autumn vegetable.

As a natural anti-inflammatory, a large dose of ginger is the perfect antidote to the lingering coughs and colds of Autumn and will help to soothe the worst of the seasonal aches and pains away. I love ginger and try to drink it steeped in warm lemon water as much as possible, but here it makes an appearance in another delicious juice recipe.

You will need:
1 pomegranate
1 – 2 medium sized beets
Minimum 1/4 inch piece of Ginger
1 carrot
1 apple
A large handful of dark leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale or cavolo nero all provide excellent nutrition and a large boost of chlorophyll)

To Prepare:
1. Wash and soak your greens.
2. To open your pomegranate; cut a circle at the top of the fruit about an inch wide around the brown ‘nib’, remove this lid. Then, make five or six (depending on the size and shape of your pomegranate) cuts down each ridge on the main body of the fruit, but take care not to break the plump seed pods contained inside. Carefully remove all the seed pods and pop in the juicer. (For a clear step-by-step on preparing your pomegranate, click here, for a handy fact sheet by Waitrose.
3. Wash, top and tail your beetroot and carrot and add to the juicer.
4. Pop the soaked greens and slice of ginger into the juicer and juice, finishing with your apple to push through any remaining pieces.

Drink fresh and feel revived!

*Tip: For maximum output, I always rehydrate my leafy greens (especially if they’re pre-cut) in a bowl of cold water for around 15 mins prior to juicing.

Jaime x

Image Credit: The Jolly Beetroot

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Go Green From the Inside out

I have finally bought myself a juicer! Yes I know I am terrifically late, but the main cause of my almighty dithering was purely down to shopping. Yuk. I really do hate shopping and after reading hundreds of different reviews and searching every juicer under the sun online (£400 will get you the best at-home-juicer. Yes, £400!)  Bearing in mind the spinach and kale bill steadily mounting up (In line with my nutritional aptitude of course), I’m glad I wasn’t persuaded to go for this option just yet. In the end, last Sunday morning, I packed the family into the car and we went juicer shopping.  I just needed to go out, pick one and buy it.  In the end I went for a simple Philips centrifugal model, which is compact, smart and easy to clean.  Yes its pretty loud and the pulp isn’t as dry as it could be, but hey, its a juicer and so far, it’s great!

Who knew that the hardest part about juicing was getting set up in the first place?

So why juice? This was another major factor in my procrastination over juicing – I have a good diet which includes plenty of vegetables, so why do I need to juice them too?  Well the reality is that we are just not eating enough of the stuff and certainly not enough of the really special stuff.  Dark green leafy vegetables are nutritional superheroes packed full of vitamins, minerals and those all important phytonutrients which are associated with protection against the big four: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. They are also rich in chlorophyll, which alkalises the blood.  When was the last time you ate half a bag of raw kale?  That is what you get from juicing – all the goodness of the veg minus only the fibre, which you replace by either hiding some of that pulp in your meals (yup!) or if your not that brave, just ensure that the rest of your diet includes plenty proper sources of fibre like legumes, wholegrains and fresh fruit and vegetables.  For me, my frothy fresh green juice has become a daily, ‘extra’ which I take first thing in the morning.  It is by no means a meal replacement or part of any fad diet to lose weight.  This is just about balancing my body and filling it with the goodness it needs to be of optimum health.  Do ensure you are prepared to sit down for a moment or two after your first cup, to savour the moment yes, but also to steady the legs – I felt an extraordinary high after drinking mine!

A couple of tips to get you started:

1. This form of ‘juicing’ refers to the extraction of nutritional goodness from beneficial, largely dark leafy greens – not that thick, sweet, fruit smoothie shake you’ve been blending (Although those are of course awesome as a treat!)

2. SOURCE YOUR GREENS RESPONSIBLY! I cannot emphasise enough, how important it is that you use homegrown, local or organic produce in your diet – particularly in your juice which is super concentrated. Go find that farm shop!

3. Kit yourself out! Blenders and food processors are great but do try to pick up a juicer, there are brilliant options available for all budgets. It doesn’t have to be professional standard – a simple model will get you started and won’t blow the budget.

4. Drink your juice right away.  Unless you have a really expensive piece of kit, the juice produced from most at-home juicers needs to be consumed within 30 minutes before it starts to spoil.

5. Have fun with it! Try swapping in different fruit and vegetables to enhance the taste and nutrition of your juice.  You will find an apple in most green juice recipes – why not try swapping for a pear?  Remember, don’t overdo it with the sweet fruits – its all about the greens!

6. Top tip from my lovely local farm shop owner; soak your greens first to hydrate them which will not only flush out those pesky minibeasts (Caterpillar, anyone?) but will optimise the amount of juice you are able to extract.

My fave green juice recipe so far:

  • About six kale leaves, soaked
  • A large handful of spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • One medium size carrot, whole
  • One apple, whole
  • 1/2 a lemon, peeled
  • A 1 inch (or less!) chunk of ginger, peeled
  • A handful of mint leaves (Or any other flavoursome fresh herb!)

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Start by juicing the greens, lemon and the ginger and then finish by pushing in the cucumber, carrot and apple. Give it a stir and pour into a clean glass to enjoy immediately!

 

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This frothy green goodness tastes surprisingly delicious!

So have I convinced you?  Are you rushing out the door as we speak on a juice-kit pilgrimage? Or are you a pro with recipes to share? Please do 🙂

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