In Season: Shallots, Purple Kale and Brussels Sprouts

Hello again 🙂 so just to continue with the “vegetables in season in February” as mentioned in yesterday’s post, I wanted to  share a new combo of vegetables I tried last week after looking up the Eat the Seasons website.

I chose parsnips, turnips, leeks and swede for my soup and also bought shallots, Brussels sprouts and purple kale.

Purple Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

Purple Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

 

Many people associate Brussels sprouts with Christmas dinner and forget about them after that, but they are so lovely and cute that they deserve to be eaten more!

Brussels sprouts have anticancer properties and when they are steamed or stir fried -rather than boiled to death as many other poor vegetables for Sunday or Christmas dinners – they do not acquire that bitter taste that may put some people off.

A few weeks ago a kind colleague asked if any of us wanted some Brussels sprouts as she had so much delivered in her organic veg box that she was actually getting a little sick of them. I asked if I could have some, including the stalks, to try to use everything up.

…Unfortunately I didn’t manage to use the stalk, not even for my stone soup, because it’s as strong as steel.

I’m sure they could use Brussels sprouts stalks for scaffolding like they do with bamboo in Hong Kong.

I looked up several forums and blogs to find tips on how to use them and someone had even suggested running the stalks over with the car to make them easier to compost. 😐 So I sort of left it.

I did however make the Brussels sprouts straight away and they were delicious!!

-After washing them and taking the outer leaves off, I simply cut them in half, cooked them in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil on a medium-high heat to char them a bit, then added a splash of water to the pan, put a lid on it and let them steam on a medium heat until soft but still retaining a firm texture.

A little seasoning and voila’! Deliciously sustainable and vegan.

 

Charred and Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Vegan Sausages and Tomato Relish

Charred and Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Vegan Sausages and Tomato Relish

 

I also bought purple kale as it is in season and I have read many blog posts about how wonderful kale is, with many people having it in super healthy smoothies. I had never tried it before and I never realised how beautiful it looks…

Pretty Purple Kale

Pretty Purple Kale

Kale also has anticancer properties as well as beta carotene, Vitamin K and C, calcium and more loveliness!

I looked up a couple of recipes that used kale and then decided to keep it really quick and simple.

-I chopped 2 shallots and cooked them in a little extra virgin olive oil until soft, added the Brussels sprouts cut in half as mentioned earlier and once they were charred I added the bunch of kale, cut in smaller pieces, and some water to steam it all for a few minutes.

I served it with lightly fried chili tofu for another sustainable vegan meal 🙂

Vegetables in Season and Tofu

Vegetables in Season and Tofu

Using the Eat the Seasons website was fun as it encouraged me to try something new, in season, cheaper and grown locally. I tried purple kale and thought “it’s so healthy that sod’s law: it must taste pretty awful” but it was actually really nice and I will have as much of it as possible while it’s in season.

 

How do you choose the vegetables you buy? Do you think of what is in season?

Have you even managed to use Brussels sprouts stalks for something?

Spicy Tasty Jamaican Jerk Tofu

A couple of week ago I made jerk tofu and it was SO full of flavour! I served it with my butternut squash chunky chips.

Some may think of tofu as bland, but it absorbs flavours really well and this dish is everything but bland!

There are so many variations of jerk marinade, mine was inspired by Ainsley Harriot‘s recipe but I plan to try other recipes and update this post accordingly.

I bought my tofu, but if you would like to be extra sustainable, make your own!

I found out about making your own tofu from J-F, who blogs on 222 Million Tons. He lived in Japan and is an expert when it comes to tofu: making it, storing it and using it in delicious recipes.

The recipe included 120ml dark soy sauce. There is a myriad of kinds of soy sauce, with different fermenting duration and ingredient ratios which give very different results, and the one I have is a very sticky, dark and dense Thai one with molasses. Its flavour is very strong and overpowering, therefore I only used 30ml of it and used  light soy sauce for the remaining 90ml.

 

Jamaican Jerk Tofu

Ingredients to marinade about 500g /1lb tofu

  • 500g (organic) firm tofu, drained and sliced
  • 225g onions, quartered
  • 2 Habañero or Scotch bonnet chillies, halved and seeded
  • 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • thyme sprigs or 1tsp dried thyme
  • 120ml vinegar
  • 90ml light soy sauce, 30ml dark soy sauce

 

Jamaican Jerk Tofu Ingredients

 

I used Scotch bonnet chillies, they are so beautiful and so, SO spicy. Be careful when you cut and handle them, make sure you do NOT touch anything sensitive with your fingers for a few hours after you have cut them, especially your eyes! Or maybe use surgical gloves.

Beautiful and fierce Scotch bonnet chillies

 

-Put all the ingredients, except for the tofu, in a food processor and whizz until smooth;

 

Ready to become a spicy paste

 

Once everything was whizzed up and I took the lid off the blender the fumes from the Scotch bonnet chillies were so strong I thought my face was going to fall off! 🙂

-Put the tofu in a dish and pour the spicy mix over it, cover it with cling film and leave it in the fridge for a few hours.

Not so tasty tofu

 

Extremely tasty tofu 🙂

-Cook in a pan or bake it and enjoy!

Jerk Tofu with butternut squash chips

 

Have you tried jerk tofu before? What ingredients did the spice mix include?

Tasty and Sustainable Vegan Breakfasts

Breakfast: the first meal of a promising day that breaks the fast from the previous night: some skip it, I cannot function without it!

I always find it pretty hard to explain why I stopped eating meat because it’s not sustainable, but yesterday the Vegetarian Society tweeted a useful link on a few reasons to be a vegetarian and “Growing grains and pulses to feed to animals is much less efficient than eating them ourselves. The livestock industry uses huge amounts of land, water and fossil fuels, while producing 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and all sorts of other pollution.”

At the moment my favourite quick and healthy (and sustainably vegan) breakfasts are…

Porridge

It’s great now that the Autumn air is getting crisper: it’s nice to leave your home with something warm in your tummy, or know that you can having something healthy and warm at work.

I make it with hot water from the kettle and add cinnamon to it – 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower cholesterol, it has an anti-clotting effect on the blood and contains calcium and iron amongst many other health benefits;

Porridge with Cinnamon

I also like to add the Linwoods Q10 seeds and nuts, even on top of the cinnamon.

Porridge and Healthy Sprinkle

There are several other sprinkle combinations you can get from health shops or sites such as Amazon:

Linwoods sprinkles variety

Yesterday morning I tried porridge with a completely new and unexpected topping: chilli powder.

I know it sounds weird, I was expecting to be annoyed with myself for making it but it was actually really nice!!  🙂 Please try it on a spoonful of porridge  and let me know what you think! 😀

The only downside with having porridge with sprinkles and cinnamon (or chilli powder!) is that I sometimes get hungry soon after I step into the office, so I have found a way of making my porridge more filling:

Porridge with Peanut Butter

I topped my porridge with the Meridian crunchy peanut butter I first tried a couple of months ago and it really filled me up for longer! I first got this peanut butter from Whole Foods but this time I got it from Holland&Barret (£5.29 for 1kg tub). It was SO nice!

Or if you fancy a change, add Almond Butter to your porridge.

Meridian Almond Butter

This almond butter is 99.5% roasted almonds and 0.5% salt, rich and slightly salty, it’s lovely and unusual.

There are many other butters you can try such as cashew, pumpkin seed, hazelnut, brazil nut…you can find them at Holland&Barrett or Amazon.

For a more indulging porridge I add dark chocolate squares to it, they melt with the warmth of the porridge and it becomes silky and chocolatey – I started doing this when I was in China and it’s simply luscious…

Porridge with Chocolate and Dragon Well Tea

I usually have it with Lonjing Tea 龙井茶 also called Dragon Well Tea, a distinctly flavoured pan-fired green tea from Hangzhou, where we were studying, and one of the most famous ones. You can buy it in good tea shops or online, it’s definitely one of my favourites.

If you love fruity porridge, as suggested by J-F from ever-interesting blog “222 Million Tons“, you can make it with a little soy milk, which makes it more satisfying, and add cinnamon and raisins, apple or banana while it’s cooking. Super healthy!

Granola

Have a look at my crispy crunchy granola recipe post, great with soy yogurt, milk or on its own.

Home Made Granola with Soy Yogurt (and forgotten raisins!)

Home Made Granola with Soy Yogurt

Bagels

I also really relish bagels and got some seeded ones lately…the New York Bakery Co. are always available in shops and come in several versatile varieties (the cinnamon and raisins ones are a must try!).

New York Bakery Seeded Bagles

So I have been having these toasted with Vitalite dairy free spread (£1.20 for 500g from Tesco)

Seeded Bagels with Vegan Spread

They are so delicious toasted and it’s so nice to hear the seeds *pop* in the toaster 🙂

Seeded Bagels with Crunchy Peanut Butter

Yogurt

I also tried Alpro soy yogurt and topped it with crunchy corn flakes and cinnamon.

Soy Yogurt with Crunchy Topping and Cinnamon

You could also add the topping that you’d add to the porridge like almond butter or jam, fresh fruit or fruit compote.

Alpro Soya Yogurt

This 500g pot of yogurt was £1.25 at Morrison’s, it can also be used for marinades and for anything you’d use cow’s milk yogurt for.

Soy Yogurt Benefits

It is naturally low in fat and cholesterol – of course you can buy many types of cow’s milk fat-free yogurts but there are often full of added sugar and other additives, including gelatine.

Hot Drinks

If you are more of a “breakfast on the go” person and love to grab a hot drink on your way to work, have you tried having soy milk in your morning latte or cappuccino instead of ordinary milk?

If you normally avoid soy milk because you don’t like its taste, do not worry, you can’t taste it with the coffee or hot chocolate.  So you can utterly enjoy a warm and light drink that doesn’t make you feel bloated by milk.

Hot Chocolate with Soy Milk

This is delicious, it’ll make you look forward to a sweet Monday morning 😀 add cinnamon to make even more warming and Autumnal.

Caramel Macchiato with Soy Milk

Caramel Macchiato with soy milk is another way to enjoy a more sustainable coffee.

Vegan Bars

If you are a fan of cereal bars, have you tried making your own at home?

My vegan bars don’t have any nasty additives that some shop-bought ones have and are very simple to make, and of course they are SUPER TASTY.

Vegan Breakfast Bars

All you need to is cut them up and pop them in a Tupperware box  or wrap them in tin foil to have a crunchy breakfast wherever and whenever you want.

Cooked Breakfasts

And if you fancy something savoury and have a bit of time to cook something for breakfast you could try scrambled tofu on toast with fried potatoes and tomatoes:

Scrambled tofu on toast with potatoes and tomatoes

Or why not have a more sustainable, healthier sausage sarnie by using vegan sausages?

Linda McCartney Vegan Sausages

2 of these sausages provide 202 calories and 8.8g fat, 3.6 saturates.

2 of my boyfriend’s Tesco Finest grilled pork sausages with caramelised red onion provide 320 calories and 23.7g fat, 8.5 saturates.

That’s such a big difference…! Of course the vegan ones aren’t as juicy as the pork but also not as fatty and artery-clogging.

Linda’s sausages are delicious with ketchup and just thinking about them is actually making my mouth water!

Pancakes

I made these satisfying fluffy vegan pancakes a while ago and they were really nice, no need for milk or eggs.

Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

There are many more sustainable breakfasts I haven’t included here such as French toast made with silken tofu, soy/almond milk and fruit smoothies, apples with peanut butter…There is something for everyone!

What sort of breakfast do you enjoy?

Would you try a vegan breakfast to start your day?