Category Archives: Snacks

Pimp Your Veg part 3: crispy crunchy oven baked vegetables  

 Welcome to your weekend 🙂  I hope you are enjoying my Pimp Your Veg series so far and have maybe tried roasting some veggies or spicing some up?  

This week I have been baking very thinly cut vegetables to create some crunchy snacks..

As you may recall this series was partly inspired by a friend of mine who is on a weight loss journey, and I know very well that given the choice of snacking on a piece of fruit or grabbing a bags of crisps, he’d want the crisps every time, so I’m hoping this might provide a healthier option…

I also know that when you make changes to your diet, one of the things you miss is a ‘crunch’ in your food; if you’ve been used to eating crisps/chips, biscuits, crackers, sweets etc when you start to replace them with fruit, salad and vegetables, you sometimes miss something to get your teeth into. So how about some sweet potato or butternut squash crisps? Or potato peel snacks? Or carrot crunchies?

Sweet potato 

Butternut squash 

Potato peels 

Carrot

The key to achieving all of these goodies is in creating thin slices; these then bake nicely into crispy pieces.  

I tend to leave the skin on the butternut squash and sweet potatoes, and the potatoe peel is literally the peelings from potatoes I was using for something else. 

For the carrots I used a vegetable peeler to create the thins strips. 

Method

Preheat your oven to 180C

Line your baking sheets with foil

Spray a thin layer of oil on the foil 

Place the slices of vegetables in a single layer and spray the tops with oil

Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through

Watch them carefully so that none of the pieces get overcooked, remove thinner pieces of that are getting too done

Thicker pieces won’t necessarily crisp up as much as the thinner ones, but they will still be tasty!  

  
The key to getting them to crunch up is in having the willpower to leave them for a few minutes once they have come out of the oven and they will crisp up For the carrots: massage some oil into the strips and bake for around 10 minutes, again, watching them carefully and agitate halfway through, then leave to crisps up before serving.

The crunchy curly pieces that this creates are great for adorning any dish and making it look ‘chefy’ or to entice children to eat carrots.

Options

You can really pimp these by sprinkling them with salt, and/or herbs and spices prior to baking..

These butternut squash slices are sprinkled with salt and chilli flakes. 

These potatoes peels were sprinkled with paprika prior to cooking, and these I actually grilled..

  Try this with parsnip, beetroot, basically any root vegetable. Just make sure to keep a check on the oven as they bake.

The ‘crisps’ will remain crunchy for long enough to enjoy them; if you have leftovers, they will soften up, but you can re-crisp them in the oven quite easily. 

I hope this provides some interesting ideas, maybe for some weekend snacks? And just for the fun of it, this is a photo of some of the roasted veg from our dinner last night..I’m bringing my vegetable crisps to this week’s Fiesta Friday, hope to see you there, have a great weekend x 

Spiced nuts..

 Whilst I’m on the theme of spices, I thought I’d share my recent spiced nut adventures..

This week I made roasted nuts with my rose harissa spice mix, some with the Mexican spice mix from www.spicekitchenuk.com,  some with garam masala, and finally some cashews with chilli powder.. 

To make your own spiced nuts, start with raw nuts; 

Heat the oven to 190C and spread the nuts on a baking tray in a single layer;

Roast until they start to brown;

Keep checking them and move the nuts from the outside edges into the middle and around the tray so that none of them get overdone; 

Whilst they roast, pour 1 tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil into a bowl and stir a tablespoon of your chosen spice mix into the oil – of course, this may vary depending how may nuts you’re roasting, you need to gauge it yourself; resist the temptation to use any more oil, the oil is only to help the spices stick to the nuts and too much will make the nuts greasy;

Once they start to brown, take the tray out;

Mix the nuts with the oil and spices then put them back on the baking tray and back in the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes or until you feel they are sufficiently done. 

Depending on your tastes, you may wish to add a sprinkle of salt. 

* Don’t put the spices in right from the start of roasting the nuts or you could burn the spices and they will become bitter. 

Mexican spiced 

Chilli cashews 

Garam masala spiced 

Rose harissa spiced 

    
  I thought I was making these rose harissa spiced nuts below for me when I first made them and suddenly my boys had eaten the lot! That’s success in my book 🙂  

Enjoy!

Happy Sunday x

Spiced spinach, buckwheat & cheese baked flatbreads/pancakes/pizza bases…

Welcome to Friday!!! Or…depending where you are, I hope you’ve had a good Friday and a good week? Let me share with you a recent creation from my kitchen..colour, goodness and flavour all in one go..

Basically, these concoctions could be used for so many things, hence the title…what they truly are, are tasty, healthy rounds of goodness that you could eat on their own or as a base for something else..

It all began with some leftover cooked buckwheat groats, a bag of spinach and some cheese…
Ingredients 

250g baby spinach

1 cup (when uncooked) buckwheat, cooked

80g mature cheddar 

Harissa spice mix – I just threw it in but probably around 2 heaped tablespoons would do – and if you don’t have this spice mix, throw in any spices that you like 

Method

Blend it all together in a food processor then place in a bowl to use immediately or refrigerate for later

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) 

Press several spoonfuls of the mixture onto silicone paper sprayed with olive oil until about 2mm thick

Bake for 15-25 mins until you start to see the edges dry out

  
  Above shows before cooking..

Below shows after cooking..
  They should happily slide off the paper or you should be able to turn out onto a plate in one piece 

I spread various dips and sauces over mine and ate them like pizzas..

But they would be good with just melted cheese, or a tomato sauce and cheese, or so many other things, or just eaten on their own..

  

  
I was so pleased with these and I had made enough of the ‘dough’ to enjoy them for a few days 🙂 sometimes, leftovers make the best meals!! Plus, the flavours developed further over a few days so maybe these are best made ahead anyway? 

I am bringing these babies to this week’s Fiesta Friday, I missed last week’s, so look forward to seeing everyone this week 🙂 

What would you feed me…Shruti?

 
This week we are being treated to a lovely dish by the lovely Shruti from Cooking with SJ. Shruti is one of those lovely people we meet on our blogs, always supportive and joyful; she prepares and shares tasty, fabulous looking dishes, as well as making amazing eggless cakes; her decorating skills are stunning! Her cakes are works of art 🙂 

So, what would you feed me, Shruti?

I have made so many virtual friends ever since I started blogging 5 years back… And specially when I switched to wordpress 🙂 Elaine is one of those lovely foodie-buddies. Well, despite me inviting co-bloggers over my space to do a guest-post, this is the 2nd one that I’m doing for someone else 🙂

Let me introduce myself a bit… I’m Shruti aka SJ of Cooking with SJ 🙂 I better describe myself as a home-chef, food-blogger and of course, a vegetarian baker!!! Now… I’m wanting to write so many things about Elaine but kinda stuck at my words. I have been following her space since last 2 years and must say, it’s as gorgeous as Elaine herself! Whenever I communicated with her through of comments or quick chats, I feel like I’m talking to someone who’s a master of flavors and healthy cooking!!! I have learnt a lot and yes, I’ll keep learning from you always 🙂

The dish which I have brought here is ‘Savory Pancakes’ which has got a pancake look with a healthy Indo-Chinese touch! To be honest, this is my 1st experiment with gluten-free flour and I must admit, it was not as tough as I imagined 🙂 Here is the recipe for you all to go through 🙂

   

SAVORY PANCAKES

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup Quinoa Flour

2-3 tbsp Rice Flour

1/4 cup Shredded Purple Cabbage

1/4 cup Grated Zucchini

2 tbsp Green Onions, chopped

2 tsp Soy Sauce

1/2 tsp Chilly Paste

Salt, to taste

Black Pepper Powder, to taste

STEPS TO FOLLOW:

1. Take all the ingredients (except veggies) in a big bowl and make a medium thick batter by adding water as required.

2. Add all the vegetables into it.

3. Mix everything well until well combined.

4. Heat a non-stick pan and pour a ladlefull batter onto it and spread it to make a small disk.

5. Drizzle some oil on top and roast on both the sides until crisp and golden in color.

6. Sprinkle chat masala on top and serve with Soy-Lemon Vinaigrette!

  

SJ’s NOTE:

• To make a regular version, you can substitute quinoa flour with plain flour.

• You can add more seasonal veggies of your choice 🙂

• To make Soy-Lemon Vinaigrette:

Mix 2 tsp Soy Sauce, 1 tbsp Lemon Juice, 1/4 tsp Garlic Paste, 1 tsp Sugar, 2 tbsp Olive Oil, salt & pepper 🙂

I love these, Shruti, thank you so very much, and great tips for mixing them up. Thank you for taking part and your lovely words 🙂 xx

What would you feed me…Chitra? 

 This week’s guest post comes to you from the powerhouse that is Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen. I say powerhouse because Chitra posts healthy, wonderful recipes daily, her recipe log is massive, you are guaranteed to be inspired! Chitra’s aim is to share healthy recipes, often her healthy version of typical indian recipes, always complete with nutritional information, which, of course, highly appeals to me 🙂

So, this week, Chitra, what would you feed me?   

 When Elaine approached me for guest post, I was really thrilled and it was a great honour for me to be here. “What would you feed me” is a series of guest posts initiated by Elaine and I am glad to be part of it. It is a great opportunity given to me by her to meet new people thru her blog.

I get inspired by Elaine’s Vegetarian healthy recipes mainly Salads and Dips variations. Knowing Elaine’s inclination towards spices and sugar free dishes. I wanted to try something which fits to ‘What would you feed me’ series, as well her healthy blog concept, so tried this Spiced Kiwi Lassi instead of Sweet Lassi.


Thanks again Elaine for the opportunity.

  

Kiwi Lassi – Spiced:


About:

Smoothies/Drinks are quick and easy and are a real treat on warm days. This is a thick, rich, flavorful smoothie is cool and refreshing and can be taken as a light meal or can be served for breakfast. You can enjoy it any time of the day … Delicious and loaded with nutrients, I love that 🙂


Health Benefits:


Kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange and it’s seeds are rich in Omega 3 acids. Supports learning process, boost immunity system and helps your skin to glow.


Fennel seeds (Saunf) are very effective for digestive problems. These seeds can be chewed upon or had as a tea decoction for beneficial effects upon the stomach. In India, these are routinely chewed upon after meals to aid in digestion after a rich meal while acting as herbal mouth freshener.


Cardamom– Elaichi or cardamom not only does it add sweet taste and unique flavour to your dishesCardamom contains chemicals that appear to treat stomach and intestinal spasms and gas, and increase the movement of food through the intestine.


Yields -2 servings

Preparation time -10 minutes


Ingredients:

• Kiwi fruit- 4
• Plain greek yogurt-1cup
• Milk-1/2cup 

For Spices:

• Fresh mint leaves-8-10
• Cardamom-1pod
• Ground pepper-1/4tsp (or as per taste)
• Fennel seeds-1/2tsp
• Salt- a generous pinch ( I used black salt)

Procedure:

• Place all spices (ground pepper, cardamom pods, fennel seeds), salt , mint, in a blender and pulse until coarsely crushed.
• Now to this add kiwi fruit, yogurt, mint and continue to blend until smooth.
• You can add more milk to reach your desired consistency and ice if you like a frosty smoothie.


Enjoy.


Note:

• Spices can be personalised
• Consistency of Lassi can be altered too 

 

What a wonderful, fresh looking smoothie, and with the spices, a completely different take on fruit smoothies for me. Thank you so much, Chitra xx

My veg box fun…part 1

You may recall that I mentioned that I received my first vegetable box delivery last Friday evening? It was from a local business ‘Luke’s Local Produce‘ and delivered by Luke himself, a nice young man with an interest in food – so he must be nice!!! 

I had no idea what to expect and I’ve been very happily impressed by the produce, it definitely brought new items into my vegetable world and challenged me to make new dishes, of which you will be seeing a few more posts this week..for now, let me tell you, the box included potatoes, carrots, parsnips (the photos of these three were taken AFTER washing off the mud!), shallots, mushrooms, a red onion, a HUGE leek, a kohlrabi….

….stunning purple kale, broccoli tops….

…and, wait for it….sprout flowers…a really new one to me…



…aren’t they beautiful?? And all this for £10! Very nice 🙂 Some items needed to be used sooner than others, which is no problem for me, and now, nearly a week on all I’ve got left is a couple of potatoes. 

So, to start with I made kale chips with the purple kale and threw in some of the sprout flowers too and they crisped up nicely too.



I washed both sets of the vegetables and dried them as much as possible, then chopped the flowers from the main thick purple stalk, and cut the kale leaves from the or stalks and cut them into pieces.

I heated the oven to 140C fan assisted. 

I sprayed the leaves and the flowers with olive oil spray, making sure it covered everything by moving through the leaves with my hands as I sprayed the oil, and seasoned them with salt and pepper, then laid them in a single layer on a sheet of baking paper on an oven tray.



I cooked them for 5-6 minutes then turned the tray and cooked for another 5-6 minutes then took them out and forced myself not to eat them all immediately whilst they crisped up a bit more. 

The sprout flowers needed to be cooked for a bit longer – you need to judge it yourself really, getting the leaves crispy but not overdone. 



This was just the beginning…and a very nice beginning it was too 🙂 

Check back tomorrow for the next dish veg box dish – something completely new x



Homous: soooooo much more than a dip!!!

IMG_7073Following my recent post where I shared my ‘holy grail’ homous recipe, I got into a couple of conversations about the eating of homous that made me think that maybe people don’t eat it or use it, quite like I do. I then read a post from the Frugal Hausfrau in which she and Ginger challenged each other to make their version of the same dish, and a plan formed in my head….the FH and I started to discuss a similar pair of posts between us and debated what dish we could compare. When she mentioned using chickpeas, my light bulb moment occurred: let’s compare how we each utilise homous. Here’s what the Frugal Hausfrau did with hers 🙂

Yes, I spell like this: homous; you may be used to seeing it like this: hummus, or this, homous, however you spell it, we are talking about the Middle Eastern dip comprised of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic (for my full foolproof recipe refer to my post). You’ve all seen me playing with variations on the theme, roasted parsnip, roasted carrot, harissa, black garlic, spiced sprouts, roasted garlic, sweet potato, there is an endless array of variations and flavours that can be achieved with this wonderful stuff, and all of mine are listed in my recipe index.

So, yes, on occasion, I too dip carrot sticks into my homous, bit more typically I eat my homous as my ‘meat’, for want of a better description. I eat great piles of it, together with salads and vegetables; it provides the protein in my meal with the tahini and chickpeas..

IMG_7377

IMG_7378I also use it as a sauce/dressing to add something ‘wet’ to my salads or vegetables. It’s probably a habit from the Middle East, homous and dips are eaten as a mezze with everything.

IMG_7365

IMG_7349I also use mine as a replacement for cream or yoghurt on sauces, especially in something like a chilli if I want to reduce the heat..

IMG_7134

IMG_7358..again, I’m adding much needed protein in my vegetarian diet, but it’s also then non dairy if anyone is looking for a replacement. You could also use tahini sauce, basically, replace the chickpeas with water to make it and add it to everything!

IMG_7133I hope these will give you some ideas about using homous differently and why it’s a great reason to make your own: it’s cheaper for starters! And when you use as much as I do, buying little 200g pots wouldn’t last me a day!!! (And also why it’s a myth that vegetarians are thin!!!)

The Frugal Hausfrau and I are bringing our homous regimes to this week’s Fiesta Friday; we hope that you can join us and all of the other wonderful bloggers who come along, and especially the weekly co hosts who look after us all so well; this week our co hosts are the inimitable Suzanne and Sue, two wonderful cooks and gorgeous ladies that I am very happy to call my friends 🙂

And if you’ve never visited the Frugal Hausfrau do pop over and have a look through her blog, every post comes with such useful information, she is so thorough and knowledgeable. You won’t fail to find a plethora of useful recipes!

Have a great weekend everyone, Happy Valentines Day from me and Bob xx