quick and easy

Orange and Lemon Sweets (Vegan and GF)

When you think of oranges and lemons, what comes to mind? More than likely it is a vision of a couple of citrus fruits characterized by their leathery rind, white pith and juicy segments! Not at all surprising as these fruits are a common ingredient in baking and cooking and can have many uses for both sweet and savoury dishes. However, when I think of oranges and lemons something quite different comes to mind.

The “Happy Pear” Flapjacks

Although these treats are definitely unlike any flapjack I have ever tasted, the appeal of this healthy treat is that you can be creative with the ingredients and mix up the fruits and nuts as long you keep approximately the same volume of ingredients. I modified the original recipe replacing some of the walnuts with pistachio nuts and adding sunflower seeds in place of some of the pumpkin seeds to add colour and texture.

One Pot Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew with Cashew Coconut Lime Cream

When the weather turns cold and food is scarce, some animals such as bears hibernate to survive. Although people do not have the same metabolic characteristics needed to hibernate, I must say that I often feel the inclination to cocoon during the cold months of the year. However charming this concept seems, the “not eating” aspect of hibernation has far less appeal. In contrast to the fasting bears, during these dark and cold days, I feel that nothing beats the comfort of a simmering pot of a hearty stew.

Three Variations of Lime Tahini-Based Sauces or Dressings

As tahini is high in protein but relatively low in saturated fats, I tend to use it mostly to enhance the flavour and nutrition of a simple salad or meal of roasted vegetables. A different sauce makes for a different meal. One of the most popular and simplest sauces to make is lemon tahini which creates a deliciously rich, creamy, nutty, and tangy sauce which goes with many dishes.

As I use the lemon tahini sauce so frequently, I started looking for variations and discovered a tasty selection of lime-based tahini sauces. Similar to lemons, limes also add additional flavours and health benefits to a meal.

Gingerbread and Cranberry Chocolate Cups (Vegan and GF)

Throughout history, winter solstice festivals have been held across the world to celebrate the changing seasons and to mark the longest night of the year and rebirth of the Earth. The origin of baking treats for holiday festivities such as Christmas dates back to these solstice rituals.

One of the reasons these celebrations tended to revolve around food was because it used to be necessary to feast before the winter famine. In addition, the festivities and food often had an emphasis on the Earth itself incorporating natural foods.

Full of natural foods such as nuts, berries and spices, this recipe makes a delicious, healthy treat which can be enjoyed as part of holiday celebrations or packaged and shared as special gifts.

Christmas Mincemeat (Vegan and GF)

Growing up in England, one of my strongest associations with feasting at Christmas includes mince pies! These days I make my own mincemeat and tend to experiment with different variations every year. Although the recipes generally include a mix of fruit, dried fruit and spices, one of the beauties of modern mincemeat is that it is extremely flexible and forgiving. Some years, I have been ambitious enough to make candied peel from scratch. Not this year, however! Still, regardless of how it evolves, mincemeat with its distinct taste and aroma will always be a holiday favourite of mine.

This is the first mincemeat recipe I have tried that uses a Dutch oven rather than the stove-top method. The slow cooking of the mincemeat in the oven over 90 minutes fills the kitchen with the familiar and delicious aroma of dried fruit and spices.

Quick and Easy Lunches (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Today lunch is generally a light meal eaten around midday and usually includes foods such as soups, salads and sandwiches. I have always tended to eat the same thing for this meal which is a salad with some form of bread on the side. Even though eating similar meals day after day tends to make it easier when grocery shopping for a small household, it can become limiting when trying to provide the body with a variety of nutrients. For this reason, it helps to have some quick and easy ideas on hand.

A nutritious lunch can help us stay full, alert and energized throughout the afternoon and so there is less temptation to snack. However, as a healthy lunch can sometimes be challenging to plan for, these savoury toasts are quick and easy to prepare and can include a variety of tasty and nutritious toppings to provide a satisfying healthy meal with a variety of nutrients.

Raw Sweet Potato Salad with Curry Almond Sauce

When it comes to eating vegetables, I am not a big fan of crunching them uncooked and generally prefer roasted, stir fried or even boiled.

Despite this, I did enjoy this raw sweet potato salad with a curry almond sauce! I had prepared a similar dish many months ago in which the sweet potato spirals were stir fried for about 5 minutes before adding them to the salad which softened them slightly. However, this recipe is authentically raw! As it involves no cooking, it is great for a summer meal when you don’t want to turn the stove on or, alternatively, it can be served as a light side dish to add a fresh flavour and crunch to a warm, winter meal.

Apple and Blackberry Crumble (Vegan and Gluten Free)

One of my favourite desserts from childhood is the classic crumble with either an apple and blackberry or rhubarb base. As my cooking now involves quite a different array of ingredients than it did at one time, it is always a bonus when one of the classics can be adapted to a vegan and gluten free version. I have tried a number of variations and this Apple and Blackberry Crumble recipe seems to most closely resemble the original texture.

Double Blueberry, Lemon and Almond Granola

There is nothing quite like the sweet taste of a fresh, ripe blueberry. These small, plump berries with their deep, rich color are amazingly versatile and their fresh, fruity flavour can serve to enhance many foods as well as being a delicious addition to a variety of dishes including pancakes, pies, tarts, muffins, sauces and cakes.

This double blueberry, lemon and almond granola is vegan and gluten free and full of wholesome ingredients and by making your own, you can control the amount of sugars, fats and overall ingredients to suit your preferences.