Pesto Pasta

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Photography and styling by myself

One of my recent food obsessions is pasta, and credit for my obsession goes to my awesome sister for talking about pasta all the time, although a lot of the blame also lies on Clean Eating Goddess who has an incredible variety of delicious pasta recipes up on her site! I simply can’t resist any of her vegetarian pasta options, so today I present to you the greenest pasta I’ve ever enjoyed, the Green Goddess Pasta.

Unfortunately I made a slip up with the amount of sea salt added to the pesto which resulted in a saltier version than I would have otherwise enjoyed. On the bright side however, I now understand what it means when they state “a pinch of salt” in a recipe. It’s literally a pinch. Thankfully it didn’t matter so much because with an awesome recipe and ingredients, the end result more than made up for it compared to my usual average pasta-sauce-straight-out-of-a-jar adventures.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups fresh basil leaves

3 heaped tbsp pine nuts

2 garlic cloves

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of1 lemon

a pinch of sea salt

500g spinach fettucine

4 tbsp frozen peas (divided in half)

3 tbsp pumpkin seeds

2 ripe avocados

1 tbsp almond flour/powder (for garnish)

Serves 4

DIRECTIONS:

1. Bake the pine nuts at 150 degrees Celsius for 5 minutes.

2. Add basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic cloves, lemon juice and salt into a blender. Blend on low speed, slowly incorporating all the olive oil. Blend until a smooth pesto paste is formed.

3. Boil pasta in highly salted water until al dente.

4. Meanwhile, toast the pumpkin seeds in the same way as above, and de-seed and mash the two avocados using a fork.

5. Combine pasta, half the pumpkin seeds, peas, pesto and mashed avocados in a pan on med-low heat. Toss until pasta is well coated.

6. Serve while hot. Garnish with the remaining pumpkin seeds and almond powder. Enjoy.

Vegan Veggie Pasta

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I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making fresh pasta sauce from scratch, and this Clean Eating Goddess recipe was perfect for me to start out with. It promised a genuine Italian treat, which is exactly what I had been looking for, tips to cook European dishes the traditional European way! As this was the first time I had cooked pasta since I converted to a vegetarian diet, I was honestly slightly worried it would not turn out as tasty as before without my usual minced meat and sausages. I am so happy that it turned out quite the opposite, it was the best pasta I had ever eaten my entire life, including the numerous times I’ve eaten at restaurants. I will never eat pasta sauce out of a jar again, this recipe is too good not to reuse, and not all that difficult to create. The meat eaters and vegetable haters in my family really enjoyed this and while my mom and sister said they had tasted better Italian pasta at authentic Italian restaurants, this did rank up there with the ones they had. My dad however declared it the best pasta of his life, and I take that as a sincere compliment from someone who loves meat.

INGREDIENTS:

1 package linguini pasta (or substitute with pasta choice of your preference)

2 cans plum tomatoes

2 heaped tbsp ketchup

4 tbsp olive oil (divided)

4 cloves garlic

2 small shallots

2 zucchini

2 red peppers

1 tsp red chilli flakes

a few dashes Tabasco

1/2 cup red wine

2 sprigs fresh basil

6 tbsp pine nuts

salt and pepper

Serves 4

DIRECTIONS:

1. Chop the garlic and onions and set aside. Dice the zucchinis and julienne the red peppers and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large and deep pan on low heat.

3. When the oil is hot, add the shallot and sautee for about 1-2 minutes until soft. Add garlic, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and sautee for another 30 seconds.

4. Add the canned tomatoes and crush them with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to a boil and set the heat to low. Add ketchup and mix well. Let simmer for about 30 minutes until most of the water has evaporated.

5. While the sauce is simmering, heat another 2tbsp of oil in another pan on low heat. Add zucchini and red peppers, salt and pepper, cook for about 30 minutes or until tender and slightly brown.

6. Boil pasta according to directions on the box. Make sure the pasta is boiled in extremely salty water. I usually use 5 tsp of Himalayan salt. If you prefer your pasta al dente, minus off 2 minutes from the time stated on the box.

7. After the pasta sauce has thickened add red wine. Stir and taste. Add Tabasco, salt and pepper according to taste.

8. Bake pine nuts in a baking tray for about 5 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius or until slightly browned.

9. Add the zucchini and red peppers to the sauce and stir until well combined.

10. Serve with the pasta sauce atop the pasta, and top with pine nuts and fresh basil. Enjoy.

Blueberry & Peach Crumble

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Photos by myself

If you’re looking for something indulgent and yet perfectly healthy and nutritious, this is the perfect dessert. It’s so simple, yet incredibly enjoyable at the same time. The original recipe is from Clean Eating Goddess once again, and this is so easy to make, it’s perfect for baking amateurs, so I will be doing it repeatedly in the near foreseeable future. The granola layer at the top makes a filling breakfast and the peaches and blueberries are the most delicious accompaniments ever! I used a long casserole dish to cook this crumble, and simply scooped out the desired amount when hungry, but feel free do use any sized baking dishes/pans you have on hand! The crumble can be refrigerated, and before eating the next morning, simply heat it up for 3-5 minutes, and it will be perfectly sizzling hot and juicy.

Ingredients:

TOPPING

2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)

1 stick of stevia powder/1 tsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup walnuts

1 tsp salt

1 heaped tbsp arrowroot starch

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 tbsp cinnamon

FILLING

2/3 cup maple syrup

1 stick stevia/1 tsp sugar

4 sliced ripe peaches

2 1/2 cups blueberries

2 heaped tbsp arrowroot starch

juice and zest of 1 lemon

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine all the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well coated.

2. Add all the topping ingredients into a blender and blend on low speed until crumbly. The topping does not need to be blended finely, so large chunks are fine, as long as there is a lot of texture.

3. Pour the filling ingredients into a casserole dish (or any baking pan of your choice) and line the top with the blended topping using a spoon.

4. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius and bake for 1 hr until the fruit is bubbling and beginning to pour over. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy.

Vegan Curry Rice and Fries

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Photos by myself

Judging from my recipes on here, it might look as though I love sweet desserts more than any other food in the world, but the truth is I absolutely love savory meals. Given the choice to eat a second (or third) helping of a meal or have dessert I’d definitely choose the former every time.

Today’s recipe features a lovely little vegan savory meal I cooked for lunch one day, from the wonderful Nourish & Evolve, another food blog I adore. I’ve only recently started eating clean, and am newly vegetarian, hence numerous vegan food blogs I’ve found have been a huge help to me, and I can’t express how much delight I’ve had cooking new foods for myself and others for the first time. This meal was incredibly well received by my meat-eating family. The sweet potato fries were spicy, tangy and sweet, while the curry was aromatic and flavorful. I’d choose to add cabbage in the curry in the future for a more balanced palate, but having this the way it is now is also more than enough to satisfy. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

CURRY

coconut oil

1 can of chickpeas, well rinsed

3/4 cup of dried red lentils

5 cloves of garlic

4 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp tumeric

a few stalks of lemon grass (substitute with lemon grass powder if unavailable)

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp fennel

1 tsp chilli powder

3/2 cup water

1/2 cup coconut milk

salt & pepper to taste

3 servings of steamed white rice, depending on how much you want

FRIES

3 medium sized sweet potatoes, or 3 large, if you want to double the fries

extra virgin olive oil

salt

black pepper

cayenne pepper (for those who love spicy food)

Serves 3

DIRECTIONS:

1. Wash and skin sweet potatoes (optional, you may leave the skin on if you desire), and slice them into rectangular fries of roughly equal width. Coat them with a desired amount of olive oil, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Make sure the fries are coated well, but not swimming in oil. Since I love spicy food, I went overboard with the cayenne pepper, but adjust according to your tastes.

2. Lay out fries on the baking tray (s) making sure each fry is not touching. This prevents them from getting soggy while baking.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, and bake for 20 minutes, or until crispy.

4. Heat coconut oil over a saucepan over medium heat.

5. When the oil is hot, add in cumin seeds.

6. Sautee for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, and add in chickpeas.

7. Sautee for another 2-3 minutes, then add water, lentils, all the spices as stated above, and coconut milk.

8. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then let simmer on low heat with the lid on for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and mushy, and the water has been absorbed. At more water or coconut milk if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

9. Serve curry over steamed rice, with sweet potato fries on the side.

Peanut Sauce Vermicelli

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Photos by myself

This particular experimentation with savory vegan dishes yielded some of the best results of all time. Taken from the wonderful Nourish and Evolve, also one of my favorite nutritious food bloggers, this recipe is simple, but what really is necessary is the amount of skill and effort required for preparing each portion. It’s not quite as simple as it looks (for an amateur cook like me)! However, when cooked right, the end result is so devastatingly yummy I suggest preparing a large serving for each person so they don’t demand for more. This dish would likely satisfy a wide variety of palates as my mom and dad both enjoyed it immensely. A rare occurrence due to the fact that my mom loves light, healthy foods whereas my dad prefers something more substantial and heavy.

In the directions below, I have modified the original recipe to suit my own tastes. As I especially love thick sauces, I made a healthy amount so the noodles were coated completely with sauce to spare.

Ingredients:

MAIN

250g rice noodles

1 head of broccoli

3 large squares of tofu

5 tbsp cornflour

5 pinches of salt

PEANUT SAUCE

3/4-1 cup peanut butter

3-4 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

1/2 tbsp sugar

salt to taste

water

Serves 3

DIRECTIONS:

1. Boil the vermicelli noodles, drain, divide into 3 bowls and set aside.

2. Chop the head of broccoli and boil the pieces in salt water for about 3 minutes. Divide among 3 bowls.

3. Slice the tofu into bite-sized cubes.

4. Combine cornflour and salt in a dish.

5. Add tofu cubes into the dish and coat them completely. Add more cornflour & salt if necessary.

6. Using a non-stick pan, fry the tofu cubes on each side with extra virgin olive oil on low heat. These cook rather slowly, so leave each side on the pan for ample time until the cornflour coating is hardened and lightly browned. Divide up the cubes into the 3 bowls when done.

7. Blend the peanut butter, soy sauce, coconut milk, sugar and salt together, thinning out with water to the desired consistency and taste you want. I like my sauce thick, so I went with a large fraction of peanut butter.

8. Pour in the sauce over each bowl of noodles. Mix well and serve.

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Instagram: @velveteencockroach

Avocado hummus & baked bell peppers

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Photos by myself

The other day I was feeling particularly ravenous, and my usual guacamole and crackers for lunch wasn’t going to cut it, so I rummaged around in my food cabinet and found a can of chickpeas. The first thought that came into my mind was hummus! (My greatest weakness.) Inspired by a colorful snack I had noticed earlier on instagram of baked bell peppers, I decided to include those as a side as well. This turned out to be one of the healthiest and most filling meals I’ve ever had and I can’t emphasize how heavenly the freshly blended hummus tasted. Perfect as a snack, appetizer or even a small meal, enjoy this wonderful blend of vegan goodness.

Ingredients:

HUMMUS

2 small avocados

150g canned chickpeas

chopped coriander

1 lemon

1 clove garlic, smashed

salt and black pepper to taste

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

SIDES

plain crackers

3 bell peppers

extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Serves 2

DIRECTIONS:

1. Slice the bell peppers and coat them in a mixture of olive oil, salt and pepper.

2. Lay them out on baking trays evenly.

3. Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes.

4. De-seed the avocados and scoop out the flesh into a blender.

5. Squeeze the juice from one lemon and add that to the blender. Add chickpeas, coriander, garlic, salt and pepper. Add olive oil.

6. Blend the mixture on low until smooth.

7. Serve hummus with baked bell peppers and crackers as sides.

Other social media:

Instagram: @velveteencockroach