When talking sisters, mine is as cool as they come. She is currently here in London, spending the week with us and cooking up a storm in efforts to fill up my freezer before the baby makes his entrance into the world. She’s like a freakin’ tornado – and I love it!
Other than being completely awesome, my sister is also very well travelled. She’s been everywhere (almost), and once went and spent several months in Thailand working with an underwater conservation team. It was on this trip she also managed to befriend several of the kitchen ladies, who ended up teaching her how to cook some of her favourite Thai meals. And this Massaman curry is one of those. A dish that tastes so original, is perfect for entertaining and so tasty when made vegetarian. While my sister usually makes with either beef or chicken, she makes it with chickpeas when visiting us. And she even admits that it is every bit as delicious with chickpeas! It is great served on rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice and an added squeeze of fresh lime and a few cashew nuts to top. So good!
The homemade Tom Yam chilli paste is really the crown of this dish, but if the thought of making your own feels too intimidating or time consuming, it can be substituted for a storebought chilli paste. This one will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge when kept in a glass jar (I collect old jam jars for these purposes) and it can be added to a multitude of curries, stews and other meals that go well with a fantastic kick of garlicky spice sensation. It is so good and while it can be added into the curry before serving, I like to keep it separate so people can decide how spicy they want it – and so my kids can eat it too.
This curry is dairy free, gluten free and full of healthy fats from the rich and dreamycreamy coconut milk. The chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) add a good amount of plan protein as well as fibre. Just 1 can (1 1/2 cup) contains around 17 gm fibre, which is over 50% of the recommended daily intake!! Fibre promotes a healthy digestive system, help prevent certain types of cancers and can be helpful for weight loss since it helps keep you full and satisfied for longer.
Chickpeas also contains a unique and amazing balance of antioxidants that are known to help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Research studies actually confirm that consuming chickpeas can help lower “bad” cholesterol and that just a small amount of chickpeas every day can help significantly improve cholesterol levels in the span of just one month! So, vegetarian or not, if you haven’t yet added chickpeas to your recipe repertoire, now would be a good time. And this recipe is the perfect place to start! Enjoy…
8-10 chopped, pre-cooked, small potatoes / or ½ butternut squash
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tsp fresh lime juice
Optional: add 300 g chicken/beef/tofu
Melt oil in a large pot and add carrots. Sauté for about 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. Then add onions, garlic and chilies. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat off, then add soy sauce, sugar and lime juice and stir well using a spoon.
Put everything in a blender or food processor (I use my mini food processor). Process until a paste forms and there are no big pieces of chilies left.
Put the paste back in the wok for 2 minutes, then transfer to a glass jar. Set aside.
Melt the coconut oil in a large pot or wok pan. Add onion, carrot pieces, tomatoes and curry powder and sauté over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the onions are soft.
Add coconut milk and stir well. Leave to simmer until it thickens up a bit. Add a little water if necessary (depending on how thick your coconut milk is).
Add soy sauce, sugar, potatoes (pre-cooked), chickpeas and stir to combine. Leave for about 5 minutes to allow the chickpeas to heat up.
Turn off heat, add a touch of lime juice and top with tom yam chilli paste and roasted peanuts/cashew nuts. Serve over rice or quinoa.
Pittaway JK, Ahuja KDK, Cehun M et al. (2007) Dietary Supplementation with Chickpeas for at Least 5 Weeks Results in Small but Significant Reductions in Serum Total and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterols in Adult Women and Men. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism. Vol. 50, Iss. 6; p. 512-518.
Wallace, TC, Murray, R & Zelman, KM. (2016) The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 29;8(12).
Murty CM, Pittaway JK and Ball MJ. (2010) Chickpea supplementation in an Australian diet affects food choice, satiety and bowel health. Appetite. 54(2):282-8.
Pittaway JK, Robertson IK and Ball MJ. (2008) Chickpeas may influence fatty acid and fiber intake in an ad libitum diet, leading to small improvements in serum lipid profile and glycemic control. Journal of American Dietetic Association. 108 (6), p. 1009-10013
Warm hugs and hot soup… two of my favourite things.
It all started sitting on the floor playing lego with my 4 year old when I asked him what we should make for dinner. “Hot soup with crusty bread”… (huh?) High-fiving wildly on the inside, I checked again… and sure enough, the request was indeed.. soup! So I grabbed my jacket and ran to the bakery for a fresh loaf of rye sourdough before heading back my stove, ready to oblige his humble and healthy request for soup.
Scouring through my fridge, I remembered a delicious pepper soup my sister made me while visiting this summer. I assembled a few ingredients I thought would work well using the idea of her soup – but heartier. And what transpired was a new favourite meal. A comforting winter soup that feels like eating your way through a warm bowl of hugs. Don’t you love those moments, when what you set out to do is a simple meal using whatever you happen to have on hand, that then end up making an pretty great, repeat-worthy meal!?
I started roasting the peppers and zucchini and got chopping all the basics of a great soup – onion, garlic and ginger root. And by the end we all ended up having creamy soup with crusty rye that night. And even the kids went back for second helpings. So here ya have it… I thought it was too good and too simple not to share.
Red lentils are perfect for soup as the almost completely disappear when cooked. Visible or not, they add a great amount of plant protein to a meal and are also an amazing source of fibre, making this soup extra satisfying and great for digestive health.
Fresh chives, chilli flakes + fresh parmesan to top (optional)
Preheat oven to 180 C.
Split the romano peppers open by cutting them length wise and discard the stem and seeds. Cut the zucchini length wise and place them in the oven to roast for 25 minutes until fragrant and soft.
While the veggies are roasting, heat a large pot and melt a little butter or oil. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until soft - about 5 minutes. Then add ginger and leave for another minute or so.
Add in chopped carrot, sweet potato, vegetable stock, lentils and spices and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the lentils completely cooked.
Once the vegetables in the oven are roasted, place them in a blender (or if using a hand held blender put them in a bowl).
Once the soup mix is cooked, add that to the blender as well and blend until smooth (or as smooth as you want it). Alternatively you can use a handheld blender as well and blend it in the pot.
Top with fresh chives, chilli flakes, parmesan and crusty bread.
Sore throats and throat infections go hand in hand with cold winter months. And as an avid believer in avoiding anti-biotics unless absolutely necessary, I recently found myself challenged by a nasty throat infection that I needed to beat without antibiotics due to the pregnancy. So naturally, I started searching through my kitchen, ran to my local health food store and stocked up on some of my favourite immune boosting foods. And to my great relief, 3 days later it was as good as gone! Natural foods and their healing properties can be so effective, especially when infections are caught early on. And I hope some of the suggestions below will help and inspire you for next time you’re feeling a little under the weather.
Apple cider vinegar is one of my favourite staples and great for sore and infected throats due to its antibacterial properties. Add it to some warm water with fresh lemon juice and drink or gargle it raw a few times a day to help “flush” the painful/infected area. Make sure to get a raw, unfiltered and organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother” which is the effective part.
Ginger is a natural anesthetic, numbing the mouth and providing instant relief. It is a natural antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent and has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. I usually go for a large shot at my local juice bar, but if you can’t get your hands on a proper raw shot, you can also add a good amount of raw ginger to your smoothie or make your own tea by grating fresh ginger and boiling it in a pot for 5-10 minutes before straining and drinking it hot or cold.
Raw garlic is another effective remedy that prevent and treat sore throats due to its antiseptic and immune boosting benefits. Add garlic (preferably raw) to your food or take a garlic tablets if you don’t like the taste (ask at your local health food store for the best product).
Using a humidifier is also super helpful as they add moisture to the air, preventing your throat from becoming dry. These are especially amazing if you add essential oils. A good friend of mine has bene supplying me with Young Living’s Thieves oil and it has worked wonders for us this winter. I add 3-4 drops to my diffuser and leave it overnight. Alternatively you can also drop 1 drop under your tongue once or twice a day or dilute it with a carrier oil and rub it under your feat several times a day (this is amazing and safe for kids too).
Salt water gargles can be very helpful as they help prevent bacterial growth and flush out the area while loosening phlegm (mix 1 tsp in 240 ml water) and gargle several times a day. Remember to use a new cup every time to avoid re-contamination.
Drink plenty of water. Drinking plenty of water helps loosen phlegm and helps flush out toxins from your system. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to make it even more effective, as lemon juice help kill germs and is rich in vitamin C.
Hot herbal teas. You can’t overdo the herbal teas, many of which have great medicinal properties as well. Some of my personal favourites include liquorice root, ginger, peppermint, echinacea and cinnamon.
Rest up. Even taking a day or two off exercising can help your body speed up recovery as even something as good as exercise can be a “stressor” in a negative sense when your body is trying to fight off sickness.