Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan

Bright, sauteed vegetables paired with mild and nutritious millet and bright herbs and spices makes for bowls of pure, gluten free, plant-based energy. Millet is a rich source of B vitamin, iron, and calcium making it the perfect seed (not a grain) for those who avoid meat, and it is naturally gluten free so it is gentle on tummies too.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeEnergy is a funny concept. We are taught in school that ‘energy can neither be created nor destroyed, just transformed from one form to another’. (Pardon my science-nerd ways.) And we memorise the different forms of energy recognised by physics theory and pray that we can remember all of Newton’s Laws and leave it at that.

As adults we learn the law of conservation of energy in different ways. Every day you have a certain allotment of energy to use during your waking hours. This precious, precious energy powers every situation, interaction, and move you make. I’m not talking about energy in the form of calories, but the deep down, soul-mined energy reserves that we have available to us when we open our eyes in the morning. Each situation extracts a certain amount from us: automatic tasks (cleaning teeth, showering etc) take very little; situations we enjoy can boost us up (snuggling with Chris in the mornings); and tense, stressful situations or people can drain us like energy vampires.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOne of my goals for 2015 is to work out what my ‘energy vampires’ are and vanquish them for good. The Huffington Post had a great article that provoked this goal, and in turn, this post. As I was pondering this article the other day I started to list what saps energy from me the most: Fear of Missing Out (majorly when I am sitting at home looking at gorgeous photos of places that aren’t Brisbane); losing just a little more weight (because we are never satisfied are we?); trying to have it all ‘perfect and together’ all of the time (Type A, hello); and worrying about losing my job/disappointing someone (just an old ‘teacher’s pet’ hang up I suppose). After I had made this list I sat down and decided how to avoid/vanquish these situations because I want to use my time and space for good, not for feeling stressed out and ‘time poor’ all the time. It’s a work in progress, and it will take longer than a year because energy vampires will keep appearing in our lives throughout time. But here in 2015 I vow that my precious, precious energy will be conserved for making my life a happy, thoroughly nourished one.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThese bowls of ancient millet, sauteed summer vegetables, and (my favourite) chickpeas are a boost to energy stores for sure, and because this makes enough for four servings, there are plenty of leftovers if you come from a small household, or you can make it ahead for work lunches (leftovers will last up to three days in the fridge) – stress-busting bonus! Millet has a mild buttery-sweet flavour, and I cook mine in vegetable stock to give it extra saltiness.

The farmers markets are bursting with fresh summer vegetables at the moment and in my Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowls they are simply sauteed with chickpeas in olive oil, and dressed with balsamic vinegar, chili flakes, and dried thyme. Once the vegetables are silky soft, they are combined with the millet and tossed with summery basil and an extra glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. These bowls are filled with marinated summer night flavours. A smattering of olives doesn’t go astray as an extra topping here.

Make them, sit down with someone who boosts your energy and let the sunshine in.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl

Serves 4 | Gluten Free | Vegan | Leftovers will last up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup uncooked millet
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced salt vegetable stock
  • 2 small red onions (or 1 large)
  • 1/2 large red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 x 400 gram (14 ounce) tin of chickpeas, rinsed well
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Small pinch chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Handful of chopped fresh basil

Method

  1. Rinse millet well and then add to a medium saucepan with the vegetable stock. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes, or until the stock is all absorbed. Then, remove from the heat and sit for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  2. While the millet is cooking: peel and thinly slice onions, slice capsicum into thin strips, and slice zucchini into thin rounds.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium heat. Add onion and capsicum and saute until both are softened. Add zucchini, chickpeas,  1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, and chili flakes (if using), and cook until zucchini is soft.
  4. Once millet and vegetables are cooked combine in a large bowl and gently toss with remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, salt, and chopped basil.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Capsicum, Zucchini, Chickpea and Millet Bowl | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Tell me, dear reader, what are your energy vampires? How do you boost your energy? Anyone love millet as much as I do?

 

French Lentil and Tomato Salad

This Wednesday marked four years since I decided to become a vegetarian. My decision to give up meat and fish illustrates the way I do many things in life: I research my decision and read all the information I can get my hands on and then I just do it. Usually when I dedicate a lot of time to thinking about something I know I have already made the decision in my heart and I am just waiting for my head to catch up. This wasn’t something expected of me: I was the biggest carnivore as a kid and even as an adolescent I could out-steak my Dad. Funny, now I don’t even crave meat. Not once in the past four years have I cracked and had even one little bite of someone’s burger, taco, or chicken wing. On the morning of the 13th of August 2010 it was though a switch had flipped in my head: I was a vegetarian and it was the most natural progression in the world.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now, I am not going to preach at you here and insist vegetarianism is the way for everyone. I know it’s not. There are many paths to the same wellness I derive from my plant-based diet. I still cook meat every night for Chris and nothing pleases me more than pulling out a perfectly crispy skinned roast chicken and presenting it to a table of hungry guests. I have written about why I love meat before and this still holds true. But my tastebuds don’t well up at the thought of a perfectly medium rare steak or a bowl of fresh summer prawns: I am drawn to the protein of the earth. My mouth waters when I discover a new type of legume, or some clever dish concocted from quinoa, or a gooey-centred poached egg. That’s just the way I work.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I am not a vegan either though (see aforementioned gooey egg), and I did give it a good shot for about six months a few years ago. For me a lot of veganism involves eating ‘fake foods’. I don’t want veggie sausages or “not chicken” made out of soy protein isolates and a whole host of other unknown substances requiring a chemistry degree to pronounce. I want real food, earth food, whole food. I know exactly what I am getting when I open up a tin of chickpeas or a bag of dried lentils. When I fry an egg I can see the whole process from raw ingredient to perfect meal. I crave food whose journey is short from paddock, to chopping board, to plate. I guess that’s why I became a home cook in the first place. I watched my Mum and Dad make meals from ingredients that were straight from the grocer, no packets or mysterious tins required. And now, as an adult, as a vegetarian cooking meals for her beloved omnivore, that is still what I crave: real food, earth food, thoroughly nourishing food. Happy Veggie-versary to me.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

French Lentil and Tomato Salad

Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 3-4

Adapted from Pinch of Yum‘s Sautéed Garlic and Tomato Lentil Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups dried Puy lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach

For the dressing

  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Place lentils, water, salt, dried thyme, and dried rosemary into a medium-size saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until cooked but still firm. Drain well, place in a large bowl, and allow to cool until required.
  2. Chop tomatoes into a large dice and mince garlic. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté garlic and tomatoes until garlic is tender and the tomatoes have started to soften. Add lentils and tomatoes to lentils.
  3. Peel and dice red onion and add to lentil and tomatoes along with spinach.
  4. To make dressing: whisk together all ingredients. Pour over salad and mix everything gently with two large salad servers or with clean hands.
  5. Serve room temperature or chilled. Lasts well in the fridge for up to two days.

French Lentil and Tomato Salad | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I am a full-disclosure kind of lady. It takes a lot of self-restraint for me not to just pour out the contents of my heart and mind when I am talking to someone.

Also, I like to know what I am getting into in most situations. The ‘most’ caveat covers such things as the Apple conditions of use page. No one on earth has time to read that when they are madly trying to update their phone while making breakfast and put their pantyhose on. No one.

In the spirit of full disclosure I have to tell you I listen to the BBC and NPR and I’m more of a country or classical girl than Top 40.

I also have to tell you that I’m just not into this whole mass of new young adult dystopian fiction that seems to be flooding the market. Sorry to all the teenagers/lovers of YA. I’d rather have my depressive darkness in a translated Danish form, or a classic love story.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

In the spirit of full disclosure I have to tell you that I actually hate cauliflower. I may be the only (former) dietitian who feels this way. I’m sorry, I know it’s a brassica vegetable. I know that y’all love it instead of rice or mashed potato when you are trying to avoid carbs (note: I am never trying to avoid carbs. Like, ever). I just can’t get past the notion that I carry in my brain that cauliflower tastes like an unflattering bodily emission that rhymes with art. You know what I mean.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I got it into my brain that I just needed to make cauliflower soup. I cannot pinpoint the genesis of this thought, but once it was there, it was there and it all culminated in the purchase of a cauliflower at the farmer’s market last weekend. With cauliflower purchased very little stood in the way of my cauliflower soup vision.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Full disclosure: I am glad that I got that cauliflower ear worm. A steaming bowl of this garlicky, creamy soup was the perfect antidote to a Tuesday night. We all know that Tuesdays are harder than Mondays.

Full disclosure: there is no cream in this soup. The creaminess of the title is contributed by a can of cannellini beans blitzed into white, mushy oblivion in the soup. Cannellini beans add protein and body to this soup – and as they render cream unnecessary (here, not in other delicious confections, obviously) this soup is completely vegan.

In full disclosure: when you saute the garlic, celery and onion together you will want to dive into the pot and abandon all thoughts of making soup. They are the necessary flavour backbone of this bowl of heaven.

Full disclosure: I am looking forward to the leftovers of this for dinner tonight. Also, I may be rethinking my stance on cauliflower.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Serves 2-4 | Vegan | Gluten Free | Leftovers freeze up to 1 month or refrigerate for up to 3 days

Tip: I made the soup up to Step 5 and allowed it to cool in the refrigerator overnight. The next night I continued from Step 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower (about 750 grams cauliflower), cut into small florets
  • 1 medium white-skinned potato
  • 400 gram can cannellini beans
  • 3 cups salt reduced vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves

Method

  1. Mince garlic. Peel and chop onion. Thinly slice celery.
  2. Heat oil in a large sauce pan. Add garlic, onion, celery, nutmeg, pepper, oregano, and rosemary. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add cauliflower florets. Wash potato and dice into small chunks. Add potato to pot.
  4. Drain cannellini beans and rinse well. Add to pot along with vegetable stock.
  5. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes or until potato and cauliflower are softened and cannellini beans have started to disintegrate.
  6. Remove from heat. Use stick blender to purée soup until smooth. Alternately, allow soup to cool to room temperature and use a blender to puree in batches. Replace soup into pot and heat before serving.
  7. To serve: spoon soup into bowls and sprinkle with toasted walnuts and parsley. Serve with toasted bread.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Mustard Dressing

This salad is a fancy plate salad. If we were at a restaurant where you could order this salad I would probably be wearing a dress, and perhaps a hat. In my fancy lady fantasies I am always wearing a hat. We would be sipping on something bubbly with fruit in it, and talking about what we are going to do in the summer. The tablecloths would be starched white linen and the plates rimmed in gold and painted with colourful flowers. The waiters would go by in their pressed shirts and black bowties and the sound of a grand piano would be drifting in the background as the perfect accompaniment to our light and fancy lunch.

Apple Celery Walnut Salad 2

It’s worth dreaming isn’t it? In reality I ate this salad while sitting on our back porch with a winter breeze tickling my knees and a bright patch of sun warming my back while I looked out at the ocean and listened to a podcast. Not a bad alternative to a fancy plate place in my opinion. The second helping will be eaten at my desk at work, hopefully followed by a walk along the dusty industrial estate sidewalk outside my office. But in my mind I will be sitting on a breezy verandah with starched tablecloths and fancy plates.

Each bite of this Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad brings something different and each mouthful is filled with crunch. The apple and celery provide salty sweet fresh dynamic with the lemon juice balances it all out with some acidity. The roasted walnuts are my favourite part of this salad, that and the mustard and yoghurt dressing that finds its way into the crevice of every soft buttery leaf of lettuce.

Apple Celery Walnut Salad 1

Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Mustard Dressing

Serves 2 | Gluten Free | Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 apple of choice (I used a Sundowner)
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 4 cups chopped butter lettuce
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon seeded mustard
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Spread walnuts over a sheet pan and roast at 180C (350F) for ten minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Core apple and dice into small chunks. Chop celery across stem into medium slices. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Add half the lemon juice to the apple and celery and toss to coat well.
  4. Roughly chop walnuts and add this to the bowl along with the lettuce. Toss until completely mixed.
  5. To make dressing whisk together remaining lemon juice, yoghurt, seeded mustard, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
  6. Divide salad among plates and top with dressing.

photo (2)

Vegan Black Bean Chilli

Chris and I ate so much of this chilli the other night that we gave ourselves stomach aches. On Sunday after Mother’s Day breakfast, a quick run, two hours spent cleaning the oven, and a smoothie for lunch, I needed to set something bubbling away on the stove while I got down to some dissertation writing business (some of the aforementioned activities may have been procrastination tactics…). This is the second time in as many weeks that I have made a big pot of this vegan black bean chilli. The first time I greedily kept it all to myself. When Chris finally managed to scavenge a bite out of the last bowl he said ‘mmm good chilli.’

Vegan Black Bean Chilli | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now, when your meat-loving, bacon-snuggling, chicken-chomping darling boyfriend expresses interest in your vegetarian – nay, vegan – dinner, lady, you better pay attention and make another pot of chilli – stat!

This is one of those best dishes layered with spices and filled with vegetables that makes your house smell like a home. As you ladle the thick, chunky stew into bowls and sprinkle it with coriander and spring onions you can feel a blanket of cosiness wrapping around you and your loved ones. Add some toasted bread, or some crackers, even some avocado chopped on top would go well. Then take yourself to the comfiest spot in the house, curl up beside the one you love, and nourish body and soul with a bowl of this vegan chilli.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, the boyfriend did end up having some roasted chicken breast stirred through his, which was enough to fill the ‘meat category’ for dinner.)

Vegan Black Bean Chilli | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Vegan Black Bean Chilli

Adapted from Cookie + Kate’s Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chilli. Thanks Kate for letting me feature my adaptation here.

Serves 6 | Vegan | Gluten Free |

I used dried black beans that needed soaking overnight. If you want to use canned black beans or even kidney beans, just skip the soaking step. If you wish for a milder chilli you could leave out the chilli flakes and decrease the chilli powder to 1 teaspoon. 

You could serve the chilli with these scones, or this cornbread if you feel like doing some baking while your chilli bubbles away. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • ½ medium red capsicum
  • 2 stems celery
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • Sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 800 gram tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Chopped coriander, spring onion, avocado and other toppings to serve

Method

  1. Place beans in a medium size bowl, cover with water, add baking soda and stir. Allow to soak for 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Dice red onion, carrot, capsicum, and celery. Peel sweet potato and chop into small chunks.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or small stock pot over medium heat.
  4. Add vegetables to sauce pan. Sauté vegetables for a few minutes or until onions start to go clear and carrots begin to soften.
  5. Crush garlic and add to pot along with spices, tomatoes, and vegetable stock.
  6. Drain beans and rinse very well. Add to pot.
  7. Give everything a big stir and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for up to two hours. Stir every so often so that the chilli does not stick to the bottom of the pot. The liquid will reduce to a gravy-like consistency and the vegetables will soften during cooking time.
  8. Ladle into bowls, top with garnishes of choice and enjoy.
  9. Chilli will keep in the fridge for 3 days in an airtight container, or in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Vegan Black Bean Chilli | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Despite our Sunday night stuffed-with-chilli tummy aches, we will definitely be making several more batches of this during the next few chilly months (oh, a pun at the end!).

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup

The act of making soup in the middle of the week is a perfect relaxant, no drugs required. Even though a bowl of hearty nourishing soup can take just 45 minutes from chopping board to table you feel like you have accomplished a task that should have taken all day. We are just recovering from the shock of going back to work after two long weekends back-to-back – serendipitous events of the calendar happen every now and again – and that shock requires soothing, seemingly labour-intensive-but-not-really recipes to help us sink back into the rhythm of the week.

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

When I saw this easy spicy carrot soup recipe while paging through a neglected cookbook that has now found itself shuffled over to the cottage by the bay I knew I had the perfect back-to-work dinner recipe. All the ingredients were in the cupboard already and I had only to chop and sauté for a few moments before I could leave the pot bubbling away merrily to itself. A shower and change out of my running clothes, and a welcome home kiss for Chris later and the soup was thick and ready to be ladled generously into bowls and be anointed with a final drizzle of coconut milk. In the dark of the night in our little house we slurped and dipped and nourished ourselves with conversation and spicy sweet soup. Every day is like a weekend when you share a meal with the one you love.

This Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup is thick and slightly chunky, layered with spices, and slightly sweetened by light coconut milk. It comes together in barely the time it takes to unpack the groceries. Once you have softened the onions and leeks you add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer away. Thirty minutes later you add the coconut milk, ladle the soup into your favourite bowls, and serve with an extra drizzle of coconut milk and maybe some toast (or bacon as Chris enjoyed his). Then, enjoy.

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup

Adapted from Delicious: Home Cooking by Valli Little

Vegan. Gluten Free. Serves 4 generously.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks (white parts only), chopped
  •  5 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons mild curry powder (I used Keen’s)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and leek and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes until the onion is softened but not colouring.
  2. Add carrots, garlic, spices, tomato paste, lentils, and vegetable stock. Stir well.
  3. Bring soup to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. When the carrot is well softened and the tender red lentils have broken down the soup is ready. I mashed mine slightly with a potato masher, you can use a stick blender to purée to a smooth consistency, but I like my soup a little chunky and textured.
  5. Stir through coconut milk and ladle into bowls. Drizzle over extra coconut milk to serve.
  6. The leftovers will keep for 2 days covered in the refrigerator. Reheat well before eating.

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

Random Thoroughly Nourished Family story: When my mother was born the doctor thought she was jaundiced because she was orange all over; however, it turns out it was actually carotenaemia caused by my grandmother’s insatiable appetite for carrots while she was pregnant. Or so the family legend goes. The result of this incident is that my mother now refuses to eat any orange vegetables: pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots – anything that lies on the spectrum between red and yellow is not on her menu. Except pumpkin soup (secretly I think this is because it is an excuse to eat lots of bread and butter all in the name of ‘dipping’…this may be genetic…).

Garden Vegetable and Olive Pasta Bake (gluten free)

Reason number 40,598,235 why I love Chris: he loves pasta as much as I do. In fact, one of the first things I ever cooked for him was some sort of tomato and pasta dish. We ate it sitting cross-legged on his bed talking to each other, learning about each other, still fresh and new and unsure of where this was all going to lead. And now here we are on a Monday night still making pasta and sitting among tangled sheets; talking and laughing and debriefing about our day and making the most of every moment we have to be together.

DSC01102

This pasta bake is perfect for those nights when you want to spend less time in the kitchen, and more time catching up with your family. You simply boil the pasta and at the same time make the sauce, then add the two together and leave it in the oven for half an hour. A half hour in which you could make a cup of tea for yourself and your loved one and de-stress, or play fetch with your dog, or even take a glorious nap (just remember to set your timer volume to loud!).

The resulting dish is satisfyingly dense with a sweet and savoury tomato flavour punctuated by the vegetables, which melt into one another during their time in the oven. I like using tinned cherry tomatoes because I love being surprised by a mouthful of baby tomato sometimes. If you aren’t a fan of olives you can leave them out, but they do add a certain umami flavour that banishes any Monday blues.

This pasta bake is great the next day too, which is perfect if you love leftovers after your Tuesday gym date (like Chris and I), or if you want something delicious for lunch that will make all your colleagues jealous.

DSC01107

Gluten Free Tomato and Olive Pasta Bake (gluten free, vegetarian)

Serves 6. This is delicious accompanied by a large leafy salad (or meatballs if you are that way inclined). Be sure to only cook your pasta to al dente because it will continue to cook while it is in the oven, and you don’t want mushy pasta. A good guide for this is to choose the shortest cooking time suggested on the box/bag of pasta that you choose to use. I love the San Remo gluten free range because it tastes and feels like gluten-full pasta – and Chris likes it too.

Ingredients

  • 250 grams dried gluten free pasta
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 medium capsicum
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 x 400 gram tins cherry tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup black olives, sliced in half
  • ½ cup shredded cheese

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (356F) and put a large saucepan of water on to boil. There should be enough water that your pasta will be able to float freely. I boil the kettle first and use this in the saucepan as it boils much faster.
  2. Once the water in the saucepan is boiling add your dried pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente (see notes above). Then drain well and set aside until needed.
  3. While the pasta is cooking finely dice the carrot, onion, celery and garlic. De-seed and thinly slice the capsicum.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add carrot, onion, celery and capsicum. Cook until the carrot has softened a little and the onion is translucent.
  5. Add garlic, herbs, tinned tomatoes, vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Then turn the sauce to low and simmer for ten minutes. Add olives right at the end and stir to distribute.
  6. Combine pasta and sauce and spoon into a medium-size ovenproof dish. Sprinkle cheese on top and place in pre-heated oven.
  7. Cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Spoon out onto plates and serve with tossed green salad.

 

A Simple Bowl of Millet and Spiced Vegetables, and Thoughts

Welcome friends, can I speak a little about something that has been bothering me? Thank you.

Lately, I feel like I haven’t been doing justice to this little space I love so much. I haven’t been tending the seedling that is my Thoroughly Nourished Life address with as much care and discretion as I possibly could. When I first began writing here I promised wholefood vegetarian recipes, sweet treats (with a focus on gluten-free), active living, and fuel for the mind. I feel that I have wandered a little off course, and I want to right the ship a little. I have piles of cookbooks that I have bought and never cooked from, cooking and bake ware that still have the price tags attached, and notebooks full of ideas, but something keeps holding me back. No longer. This is my renewed commitment to Thoroughly Nourished Life. To whole foods, fitness adventures, books, articles, and ice cream (I bought an ice cream maker recently – and it is pink!) – here is to sharing it all with you.

I want this space to grow from this tender beginning into something more. I want to reach out to others in the vast void in which our digital lives take place and make a real connection. I want Thoroughly Nourished Life to mean something to people, and give something back to all who grace me with their presence here. I want the words I write and recipes I share to contribute to the bounty available to us all here on the world wide web. In the realm of food blogs I stand in the shadow of giants, and they in the shadows of titans. Rather than being intimidated by their power and influence I am inspired to find my own little niche. I want to contribute my unique Australian-vegetarian-gluten-free-baker-runner-over-thinking voice to the chorus of glorious blogging voices that sing through the windy online halls.

I want to bring joy to your tables; highlight the extraordinary in the everyday; start a conversation about how we nourish ourselves mind, body, and soul in this crazy modern world; share adventures and yummy sweets; and above all be authentic.

So, today, I renew my promise, I refocus my aims for this little corner of the online world, and commit to living a Thoroughly Nourished Life online and off.

Last night while all of these thoughts circled in my head I needed something grounding in my belly. I bought a bag of millet on the weekend and, once cooked with care in some vegetable broth, this gluten free grain was a creamy and comforting accompaniment to vegetables sautéed in some of my favourite spices.

millet and veg1

A Simple Bowl of Millet and Spiced Vegetables

Serves 2.

When I was cooking my millet I found these instructions from The Kitchn very helpful to read before I started. I enjoyed this meal by itself, but I can’t wait to try it with a poached egg balanced on top and sprinkled with a little extra sumac.

 Ingredients

  • ½ cup uncooked millet
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 medium purple onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • ½ medium red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 5 sundried tomatoes (oil-packed)
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sumac
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

 Method

  1. Combine uncooked millet and vegetable stock in a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat with the lid on the pot, and simmer until millet is tender (about 25 minutes).
  2. While the millet is cooking dice purple onion and sundried tomatoes, and thinly slice zucchini and red capsicum.
  3. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and spray with olive oil.
  4. Add chopped vegetables, spices, salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Sprinkle over sesame seeds and stir gently. Cook for another minute or two.
  6. Once the millet is cooked (all the liquid should be absorbed by this stage) add to sautéed vegetables and stir to combine.
  7. Spoon into two bowls and enjoy.

Thank you my friends for letting me get this off my chest. There may be some changes here as I figure out how to live up to my goals for Thoroughly Nourished Life, and please let me know if there is anything you would like to see more of.

x Amy.

Pesto Chickpea Patties

In all truth, I meant to make these last night for dinner, but work things happened. Then gym things happened. And the next thing I knew all that was happening was me asleep on the couch while watching Agatha Christie’s Poirot with an empty bowl of sautéed mushrooms, kale, and chickpeas sitting next to me.

I meant to make them because the thought of this flavour combination had been racing through my head all day. So, I delayed gratification, which is a sound psychotherapy tool (or so I’ve been told), and it was totally worth it. The brilliant thing is: I now have six more of these beauties stashed in my freezer for next time the craving hits. Take that delayed gratification!

This time I topped them with a dripping early season tomato salad, but I imagine they would be just as at home on a fluffy hamburger bun laden with all the usual trimmings and some garlic aioli.

DSC00810

Antipasto Chickpea Patties (gluten free, vegetarian)

These patties are a little tender, so just be careful when handling them after they are cooked. Despite this crumbliness however, they are deliciously pesto flavoured and very filling.

 Ingredients:

  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 400g can butter beans
  • 1/3 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 salad onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup diced capsicum
  • 3 tablespoons pre-made pesto
  • 8 semi-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoon rice flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled feta (or more…)

 Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (356F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Spray a medium-size frying pan with cooking oil and place over a low heat. Add diced mushroom, onion, and capsicum and sauté until the onion is transparent and capsicum and mushroom are softened. Set aside to cool.
  3. Drain chickpeas and butter beans and rinse very well.
  4. Place chickpeas, butter beans, pesto, and tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined. Add egg, flour, and salt and pepper, and process again.
  5. Remove mixture from food processor and place in a large bowl. Stir in cooled sautéed vegetables.
  6. Place bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.
  7. While patty mixture is chilling prepare the tomato salad (see below).
  8. Divide mixture into 8 portions and shape each into a round(ish) patty.
  9. Place patties onto the lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Flip over halfway through cooking time. The patties are a little tender so be careful.
  10. Place two patties on each plate, and divide tomato salad between. Sprinkle with feta. Serve and enjoy.

DSC00817

 

Tomato Salad

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 spring onion
  • 2 large handfuls baby kale
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and black pepper

Method:

  1. Halve cherry tomatoes and place in medium-size bowl. Thinly slice spring onion and add to tomatoes along with baby kale.
  2. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, chopped oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. Mix dressing through salad and allow it to stand while you prepare the patties.

DSC00811

Nourished Life Gratitude List Week Twenty-Four

Tonight I am sitting alone in the house. My parents have gone on holidays, Chris has gone home, the dog isn’t talking to anyone because she’s depressed that Dad has left her behind, and my cat is seriously evil in a small purr-y and furry body so he doesn’t deign to talk to mere humans at any time. I rarely find myself with this amount of quiet space around me but it presents a great opportunity to reflect on the wonderful week that has passed.

Without further ado let me present the Nourished Life Gratitude List Week Twenty-Four:

Monday: When I got home to Nanny’s house from work she put the kettle on and made me a cup of tea. I was grateful that I had an hour to relax with Chris before we made dinner. As I lay in bed on Monday night the smell of orange blossoms carried on a light spring breeze lulled me into the land of nod.

Nights in Manly

Tuesday: The month of drought finally broke for a few hours this morning. I was grateful for the window in my new workplace so I could watch the first soft sheets fall lightly past colouring the concrete and speckling our window with crystalline drops.

Wednesday: Grateful for an entertaining podcast that had me laughing on my drive home. I am completely in love with the Joy the Baker podcast Joy and Tracey are my new guilty pleasure when driving or running. I just want to sit and sip wine and eat cinnamon buns with these awesome ladies. Also, we had wonderful leftovers of this pasta salad for dinner. Worthy. Definitely worthy.

DSC00771

Thursday: Got home in record time (even with a visit to the cake supply shop) and managed to have a beautiful sunset run (despite being swooped by magpies twice!). Then I stayed up late and made good use of 16 eggs, a kilogram of butter, 6 cups of sugar and a whisk, making an engagement cake for a friend’s sister.

Friday: I am grateful that I made the decision to sleep in this morning. It was needed and it helped me to get in a grocery trip, a run, and cake decorating in the evening.

My grandmother and my little sister

My grandmother and my little sister

Saturday: What a super day! An early morning walk was followed by a great lunch with my sister and my grandmother where we sat out in the sunshine and soaked up the spring in the air and the joy of being in each other’s company. I had a delicious nap in the afternoon, Chris showed up in time for dinner, and we had these very more-ish Cocoa Hazelnut Meringues for dessert. I ate five. Don’t judge.

meringues

Sunday: Chris and I had a wonderful quiet day at home after Mum and Dad left for their holiday. Just a day where I could potter around and do some baking and house chores and revel in being in the company of my darling.

joy the baker muffins

This week: I am playing house with Chris! There will be dinners, and Scrabble battles, and some baking for the team at his work.