Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers

I’ve been dreaming about the veggie burgers I had in Europe ever since I got back.


Black bean burgers, soy burgers, cauliflower burgers-ugh it’s like a vegan’s playground! Vegetarianism is pretty uncommon in Zimbabwe, so it’s incredibly difficult for me to find something to eat whenever we go out to dinner. So you can imagine my delight at finding that most European food establishments in fact have a separate menu for vegetarians/vegans. Even McDonald’s had a vegan menu. You heard me, MCFREAKINDONALDS STOCKED VEGGIE BIG MACS + VEGGIE MCNUGGETS. Absolute insanity.


On a brighter note, the supermarkets in Zimbabwe have recently started re-stocking vegan frozen foods, i.e. vegan chicken burgers, vegan nuggets and vegan sausages. These are incredible options for veggies who don’t always have the time to prepare their own burgers from scratch (I know I don’t). If you’re not big on the taste of commercially produced frozen food, then hey, this post is for you! Top tip: prepare these burgers in bulk, shape and freeze them to consume at a later date!


These burgers are packed with intense flavour, and are amped up with the addition of toppings. I’m a huge fan of loading burgers with as many toppings as possible, just look at these loaded burgers I made a couple of months ago. For these particular burgers I spread the toasted buns with some honey mustard sauce, topped with burger, followed by sliced tomato and fresh sprouts! Other alternatives include sliced avo, caramelised onions, crispy onions, an extra burger (cheeky) or even some good old tomato sauce. Make sure not to skip out on the sweet potato fries, they are heavenly! Or crack open a cold one with the boys on a warm summer afternoon with these burgers!


Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1×14 oz tin of canned chickpeas or 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • ½ red or white onion, diced finely
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup plain flour (or gluten free flour)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or water if you want them oil-free), optional
  • For serving: 4 bread rolls (gluten free if desired), sliced tomato, sliced avocado, fresh sprouts, sweet potato fries

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Add the chickpeas to a large bowl. Use a fork to mash them as best you can, it’s okay if some of them are still whole, at least half should be mashed. Throw in the rest of the ingredients, except the olive oil, and use your hands to mix until the ingredients have been evenly distributed.
  2. Shape into 4 patties. If you’re finding the patties difficult to shape or they keep falling apart then add the olive oil (or water) and try again. You should be able to shape them easily after this.
  3. Lightly grease a rimless baking sheet and gently transfer the patties to the pan. Bake for 15 minutes before gently flipping and baking for another 7 minutes. The burgers should be golden brown and crispy on the outside. Enjoy on top of a freshly baked roll topped with tomato, avocado and sprouts!

 

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Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

First new recipe of the new website! Woohoo!


A.k.a. what I’ve been eating everyday for lunch since I got back from Europe last week. It’s THAT good. This recipe has been swimming in the depths of my mind since we visited Rome about 3 weeks ago. There was an authentic Italian all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant about 500m down the road from the hostel we were staying at. So on a sunny Tuesday evening (it was 30°C, full sunshine at 7 pm, can you imagine?!) we paid a visit to this beautiful establishment. For €11 I got to enjoy a refreshing Mimosa, the scenic views of downtown Rome and all the delicious risotto, biscuits, pasta and bean salads as I could eat. How’s that for a bargain?



Believe me, there was a ridiculous number of items on offer. Pasta in tomato sauces, pasta in various pestos, pasta of all different shapes and sizes- I’m surprised I didn’t gain 2 jean sizes from just looking at it. There was one particular salad that had my tastebuds raving. A grain similar to orzo pasta, oodles of fresh herbs, juicy red tomatoes and a dressing to die for. Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, I was browsing recipes from different cultures and BAM, it was there.




Tabbouleh. The same life changing salad I had had in Rome. So of course I made it to relive a great memory. Then I made it again with a couple of tweaks to suit my taste. Then I made it again because I really enjoyed it- and you know what happens after that.


This salad makes the perfect weekday lunch, it will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and it’s also a fabulous addition to your Sunday lunch! Hold on, I think I’ve still got some leftovers in my fridge…..

Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry couscous
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley and fresh mint, finely chopped
  • a handful of dried apricots, chopped finely
  • a handful of chopped pecans
  • a handful of chopped sliced almonds

Method

  1. Add the dry couscous to a small Pyrex baking pan. Cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Add ½ tsp of salt and a drop of olive oil to the couscous. Stir well with a fork to combine. Cover the baking pan with aluminium foil and seal tightly. Let sit at room temperature or in a warm oven for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Make sure you’re happy with the texture- if too wet, leave it in uncovered a warm oven for another 5 minutes, if too dry then add a tablespoon of water and fluff again.
  2. Whilst the couscous is soaking, prepare the dressing. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to a small jug and allow to sit at room temperature. Taste the dressing to make sure you’re happy with it, if it’s too bitter then you can add a teaspoon of warm honey to improve the flavour, though I usually don’t find this necessary.
  3. Once the couscous is done and you’re happy with the texture, transfer it to a salad bowl or the dish you’re going to serve it in. Top with the tomato, cucumber, onion, fresh herbs, dried apricots, pecans and almonds. Use a salad spinner or 2 forks to toss the tabbouleh and evenly distribute the veggies.
  4. Drizzle in the dressing when you’re ready to serve and briefly toss the tabbouleh again. Serve with hummus or add to your meze platter! Enjoy!

Baked Spinach Quinoa Falafels

In other words: my latest obsession.


It’s taken me way too long to get a falafel recipe right. believe me, I’ve tried almost everything this year from lentils to mushrooms to wild rice. I just could not create a falafel recipe that

a) Didn’t fall apart in my sandwich

b) Wasn’t drier than the Sahara desert

c) Worked every single time

UNTIL this one happened.


Believe me, I’d long given up on the falafel dream, resigning myself to order from the Lebanese lady at the farmer’s market. If you’ve read my vegan carrot cake pancakes post then you’ll know about the abundance of home grown produce in my home. Among these vegetables, we have some leafy green spinach hanging around. To put it to good use, I blindly added it to my food processor with some chickpeas and quinoa. And whoa. And I mean WHOA. These beautiful things came around.


I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this is all I ate for a week. I could not believe that they were this good and came from my own kitchen. And now, I’m posting the recipe here so that you too can experience heaven in a bite!


Falafels are traditionally eaten in a pita with cucumber and a yogurt sauce. Today we’re keeping it strictly vegan with an avocado sauce that I will also be posting soon. I didn’t have any pitas on hand, but there was some naan dough that I had frozen, so I whipped up a batch of fresh naan and can I just say, BEST LUNCH EVER. So I encourage you today, reader: go forth and make delicious falafel balls!

Baked Spinach Quinoa Falafels                                                              makes about 20 falafel

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups soaked chickpeas, rinsed
  • ½ cup fresh spinach
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Method

  1. Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the quinoa to a medium saucepan and cover with a cup of boiling water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove the cooked quinoa to a bowl and allow to cool.
  2. To a food processor, add the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, spinach and olive oil. Process until combined, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetable mixture to a large bowl before adding the flour, baking powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the vegetable mixture, stirring carefully to ensure there are no pockets of flour.
  3. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper/aluminium foil. Dampen your hands to make it easier to shape the falafel. Use a tablespoon to portion out the falafel and use your hands to shape into a sphere before adding to the baking pan. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture. If the mixture fails to hold together, add flour 2 tbsp at a time until it does. Refrigerate the falafel for 20 minutes whilst you preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
  4. Bake the falafel for 15 minutes before gently turning over and baking for another 10 minutes. Serve warm in a pita with cucumber and tomatoes. Enjoy!

‘Lean Green Fat Burning Machine’ Smoothie Bowl

I have so many words of praise for this smoothie. It’s as if everything good in the world was blended to combine this lush green paradise.


For those of you who read my last post, you may be a bit confused. My reply: get you a girl who can do both. If she can sip green smoothies with the grace of a goddess but still tear up sticky ribs like a carnivore then she is a keeper.

Styling this was like going back to a Grade 1 art lesson. Minus all the shouting, paint throwing and screaming of course. But throw in all the creativity, fun and general excitement of exploring new territory. Having styled several plates before, this didn’t feel completely out of my breadth, but there was just something completely different about building a smoothie bowl. A swirl of coconut milk here, a sprinkle of chia seeds there and the touch of a flower in just the right spot. I just felt like I had more control here, and I was able to put every single little thing in place.



This was such a breath of fresh air. Give your intestines a break today from all the binge eating. Do yourself a favour and make this now! This is best served with some homemade granola, and extra fresh fruit.


‘Lean Green Fat Burning Machine’ Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

2 cups of chopped spinach, fresh or frozen

1 small mango, diced into ½ inch cubes

1 small avocado, deseeded and all the flesh scooped out

1 cup coconut milk

2 cm of fresh ginger, or 1 tsp ground ginger

Method

Throw the spinach, mango, avocado, coconut milk and ginger into a blender and pulse for 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Top with extra diced mango, chia seeds, shredded coconut,  homemade granola, edible flowers or whatever takes your fancy.

Spicy Cashew Coconut Lentil Curry

Adjusting to a new diet has proven to be quite the challenge, but one of the most enlightening things is being introduced to a whole new section of the grocery store. 2 months ago, I probably would have scoffed at you if you brought chickpeas, lentils or butter beans anywhere near me. Now I embrace these staples as part of my daily regime.


The shocked looks I get when I tell people about my meat-less habits haven’t ceased to amuse me. I’m sure that most people have visions of me sitting on the kitchen floor, crying whilst clutching my bowl of lettuce and carrots. Little do they know that I curl up on the love seat with a hot bowl of curry in my lap, warm naan to my left and cold yogurt to my right. The grass is indeed greener on this side.


This dish starts with a homemade red curry paste that takes 5 minutes to prepare and can be stored in the fridge for all your future curry needs. YES.


What I love about lentils is their insane nutritional points and incredible versatility. These are easily slipped into any curry, wrap or salad. I look forward to exploring all the fun ways to exploit this sneaky little bean but for now, I’ll start with this curry.

 

Spicy Cashew Coconut Lentil Curry

For the red curry paste: 

1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp, grated ginger

2-6 chillies, I used 3

1 tbsp lemongrass, I used fresh from the garden but you can use pre-packaged

¼ cup fresh cilantro

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp each salt and black pepper

For the curry: 

olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ yellow onion, sliced thinly

½ red onion, sliced thinly

between 2 and 4 tbsp red curry paste, I used 3

1 14 oz can tinned tomatoes

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup dried brown lentils

2 cups water

½ cup chopped spinach, optional

salt and pepper to taste

rice + naan for serving as well as natural yogurt

cashews, parsley, lemon wedges for garnish

Method

Make the red curry paste

In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the red curry paste and pulse until combined. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it’s not blending well. Keep sealed in a glass jar and refrigerate until use. Will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge but you can freeze individual portions in ice trays if you would rather keep them frozen.

Make the lentil curry: 

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep saucepan and toast the cumin seeds for a minute before adding both the yellow and red onion. Fry the onions until translucent then add the red curry paste. Coat the onion in the paste and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes and coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil before adding the dried lentils and 2 cups of water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

If after 30 minutes the curry is still very watery or is not at your desired consistency, increase heat to high and boil for 5-10 minutes or until it’s thick enough. Before serving,  add the spinach to the curry and cook on low for 5 minutes, or until wilted. Serve hot with rice, naan and cashews, dollop natural yogurt on top if the curry is too spicy for you.

 

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Hola!

I am glad to announce to the world that I am still alive. I’d love to catch you up on what’s been going on in my life but I’m afraid that’s going to have to wait for the next Actuellement post. You can imagine that after close to 3 months of inactivity, I’m a bit rusty to this blogging thing. My sincerest apologies if any of my followers feel as though I have forsaken you, leave me a comment and let’s catch up!


I thought I would ease back into the swing of things with this simple recipe for Strawberry Chia Seed Jam. 5 ingredients. 10 minutes of your time. Vegan? Yes. Paleo? Yes. Delicious? OH YEAH. This jam is a perfect accompaniment for any cheeseboard, the sweetness of the jam works wonderfully for a creamy cheese such as brie (which I used in these photos) or cream cheese. This is so much better than anything you would find on any supermarket shelf that you can guarantee is full of sugar and preservatives and all sorts of other nasty things. As a bonus, you can gloat to all your friends at the next wine and cheese gathering that you tackled this all on your own. I’ll raise my glass to that.

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Ingredients

1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp chia seeds

a pinch of salt

Method

In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, honey and lemon juice. Cookover medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes, the honey should have completely blended with the strawberry juices. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender* to purée the strawberry mixture until it reaches your desired consistency. Stir in the chia seeds and salt and transfer the jam to a glass jar.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.Serve on toast, on crackers with a side of brie or with your yogurt and granola at breakfast.

*If you like a chunkier jam with fruit pieces, there’s no need to use a blender. If you don’t own a blender, you can also use a potato masher to crush the strawberry pieces.

Apricot Almond Chia Granola Bars with Yogurt Drizzle

Confession Time: I have loathed peanut butter since I was 7 years old.

Before I was 7, I loved peanut butter and put it on virtually everything I ate. From crackers to sandwiches to rice (it’s a Zimbabwean delicacy along with kale and peanut butter) I could not get enough of the stuff. Until one unfortunate occasion when my peanut butter addiction punished me with an upset stomach. From that day onward, peanut butter was my mortal enemy. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups stopped being enjoyable, my PB & J sandwiches were PB deficient and Heaven knows what I would do when presented with a stir fry drizzled with peanut sauce.


I was perfectly happy to condemn myself to a nut butter-less life until I came across the most wonderful granola bars ever. And the worst part is: they were peanut butter flavoured. You can only imagine how confused my taste buds were. All the work I had put into disliking peanut butter in the previous 10 years had gone to waste. Feeling guilty, I decided to give it another chance.


And that opportunity led itself to where we are today, with these wonder-bars. With an apricot jam filling, every bite is jam-packed (haha) with that sweet fruity flavour and you don’t have to feel guilty because there is NO SUGAR in these bars. Bonus: they’re also paleo, vegan and full of everything that could ever be good for you on Planet Earth. We got almonds, we got chia seeds, we got oats, these bars will make your tummy so happy. The bars are the perfect balance of chewy and crunchy, so your teeth won’t break when you bite into them, but your jaw won’t get tired from chewing them. Have I got your attention yet?


Apricot Almond Chia Granola Bars with Yogurt Drizzle                                        makes 8 bars

Ingredients

Granola Bars:

2 cups oats

1 cup almonds, sliced or whole is fine, you could use pecans if desired

1 cup dried apricots, any other kind of dried fruit is okay

¼ cup chia seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup honey

1 tsp vanilla essence

½ cup apricot jam (optional)

Greek Yogurt Drizzle: 

½ cup Greek yogurt

2 cups icing sugar

1 tbsp honey

Method

For the granola bars:

  1. Grease an 8×8 baking pan and line with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the granola bars and stir until well combined. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat together the peanut butter and honey, stirring often until blended together. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla essence. Pour the peanut butter and honey mixture into the dry oat mixture and mix well until fully coated. You’re welcome to use your hands to make sure to really incorporate the wet ingredients.
  3. Press half of the granola bar mixture into the greased baking pan. Make sure that the base is fully covered. Press down to make sure you have an even layer. Microwave the apricot jam on high for 30 seconds to make sure it’s pourable. Pour the hot jam over the first layer of the granola bars and use a butter knife to make sure it’s spread evenly. Cover with the remaining granola bar mixture and press down to make sure you have an even layer. Freeze for 2 hours, then slice into 8 bars and return to freezer.

For the Greek Yogurt Drizzle:

  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Greek Yogurt Drizzle and mix until combined. After cutting the bars, drizzle the drizzle (fo’ shizzle) over the bars and freeze for 30 minutes or until set. If desired, you could dip the bars into the drizzle and let set, drizzle side up. Store these bars in the refrigerator for up to a month.


This recipe was adapted from these Blueberry Vanilla Greek Yogurt Granola Bars by Half Baked Harvest.