This plant based “Mexican” meal is a family favourite in our house. I say “Mexican” because I really don’t know how to cook proper Mexican, but this is me trying, hoping the flavours are at least close to deserving of the title. Ha! More importantly, this is a meal packed full of nutritious vegetables + flavourful spices, and literally takes only minutes to prepare and make. It’s great served for family dinners where everyone sits down together and assemble their own wraps and dig into the toppings. And even for casual evenings, this is always a great last minute meal idea that is both easy and healthy.
We love using lettuce leaves in place of wraps. However, the filling is also great used in tortilla wraps, topped with salsa and then baked for a vegan fajita-like meal. But the beauty of it is that you can serve it however you prefer, and top off with your personal favourite toppings. For the kids, I usually serve it in bowls mixed with brown rice, which is a great way to ‘hide’ the guacamole. They don’t normally like the look of avocado, so whatever works, right?! I love seeing them eat avocado, and always feel super smug when I manage to sneak it into their dinner without them knowing. And a couple of crushed corn chips on top always helps too.
When in doubt, quinoa salad! A big fresh bowl of chopped veggies mixed with fluffy quinoa and a good dressing is, as all my friends can testify, one of my favourite to-go dishes for entertaining, potlucks, picnics & barbeques. You just can’t go wrong. It is filling, completely plant based and bursting with amazing nutrition. And if you’re not a fan of quinoa, you can easily substitute it for other grains, such as couscous, millet, buckwheat or brown/black rice. My preference for quinoa stems from the fact that it, compared to other grains, has a higher protein content (8 gm per cup) while also packing a good amount of fibre, and it’s gluten free. And I love the taste and texture – but cooking it right to get it perfectly fluffy is essential! (see instructions below!).
The curry powder and sweet raisins give this salad a great middle eastern twist and reminds me of exotic holidays. The best thing is that you can ‘dress it up’ by adding pomegranate seeds, hummus, falafels & tahini dressing… or whatever strikes your fancy!
Bring water to a boil in a pot. Once boiling, add uncooked quinoa and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat and set a timer for 10 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, peel and cut the butternut squash into pieces, drizzle with a bit of oil, salt + pepper and roast in the oven until soft (about 10-15 mins depending on how large the pieces are).
After 10 minutes of cooking your quinoa, most of the water should be close to gone and the quinoa beginning to soften. Once the water is gone (but not sticking to the bottom of the pot), turn off the heat, add curry powder and raisins, give it a quick stir, and put a lid on the pot. Leave the pot to sit and steam for 15-20 mins while you prep the rest of the salad.
Whisk together all dressing ingredients and add more lemon or salt + pepper if needed.
Once the butternut squash is done, remove from oven and leave to cool while you chop the fresh herbs.
lift the lid off the quinoa and as you stir with a spoon you should have a light and fluffy, perfectly cooked quinoa.
Add the quinoa, roasted squash + fresh herbs to a large bowl and combine well.
Serve on a bed of rocket/spinach and top with pomegranates, walnuts and tahini dressing or your toppings of choice.
Spaghetti bolognese has always been one of my kids’ favourite meals. The kind of meal I knew they would eat – every time. And finally, after trying many different variations, I feel like I have a vegetarian version that they love as much as the traditional kind with meat. And let me add, if vegetarian is not for you, you can easily make this with meat as well. Or opt for half and half if you’re transitioning or trying to find recipes that include lentils. Either way, a bolognese is a great way to get a good variety of vegetables into children. And best of all, it is versatile!… Make it once and serve it in different ways; with spaghetti (I usually go for a brown rice spaghetti, as pictured), rice, in tortillas, on top of potatoes (think loaded potatoes)… the possibilities are endless. And versatility means time saver, because you make it once and have dinner for several nights to follow. Definitely my idea of a win win!
This vegetarian bolognese features lentils in place of meat. While lentils don’t taste like much on their own, they adapt the flavour of what they are cooked with (hence why some vegetarian meals taste awfully boring). So having a super flavourful sauce happening is super important. And the combination of traditional bolognese ingredients, like onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms and herbs, gives you exactly that. A sauce (and therefore lentils), full of that traditional hearty flavour, which means you’re not feeling like you’re missing the meat. So, here it is. And while this is not really much of a summer recipe, it is a four seasons staple in our house.
½ cup dry black puy lentils, rinsed and drained (or even better soaked in water overnight)
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves (dried)
2 tbsp fresh basil (or 2 tsp dry), chopped
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
Pinch black pepper
Fresh parmesan to top (optional)
Melt oil or butter in a large pot and add chopped onion. Sauté for a few minutes until onions are soft. Then add mushrooms and leave for 2-3 minutes without stirring. Give it a quick stir and add celery, pepper, aubergine and oregano. Sauté the vegetables for another couple of minutes, before adding the red wine. Then leave to simmer for another few minutes.
Add cans of tomato, vegetable stock, lentils and all the rest of the herbs and spices and bring to a boil.
Reduce to low/medium heat and leave to simmer for 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Season to taste, remove the bay leaves and serve over spaghetti with a generous grate of fresh parmesan and a pinch of fresh basil.