Pomegranate and Tomato Salsa

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There are some very large pomegranates in the supermarkets in Berlin at the moment and they are really juicy. This is deliciously fresh and healthy and works really well served with the eggplant pilaf. We like it spicy in our  house, so bear this in mind! Use the best tomatoes you can find.

Ingredients

Serves 4 as a side dish

The juice and seeds of one large pomegranate

About 15 cherry tomatoes or 3 large, ripe tomatoes chopped

A spring onion chopped very finely

A large green chili very finely chopped

A large handful of fresh coriander finely shopped

A tablespoon of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the  ingredients in a medium bowl and season to taste. Leave for an hour before eating for the flavours to develop.

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Eggplant, Chickpea and Mushroom Pilaf with Toasted Almond Flakes

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I keep complaining how hard it is to get really good Indian food in Berlin. Sometimes I need to eat a plate of Indian food that is  vibrant with the complex flavours of fresh, whole spices. That is hard to find here so I have to cook it myself. I like this dish because, although it is rice based, it is light and  not at all stodgy. Use the best basmati rice that you can afford and rinse it well before use then be very careful to cook it lightly as it can turn to mush easily. Both eggplant and mushroom have good, strong texture and hold their flavour well. The toasted almonds add extra flavour and texture. It is really important to use fresh, whole spices, powder is just not the same in this dish.

Ingredients 

Serves 4

1 large onion thinly sliced

Half an eggplant cut int thin half moons

200g mushrooms cut into thick slices

2 medium tomatoes chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, a whole green chili and a thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger ground to a pulp

250g basmati rice rinsed

1 tin of chickpeas

1 teaspoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds

1 piece of cinnamon stick

2 black cardamom pods

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons of toasted almond flakes or slivers

A large handful of fresh coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onions gently in half of the oil until they are dark brown but not burnt. In a separate pan fry the eggplant and mushrooms in the rest of the oil. Toast all of the whole spices in a small dry pan but be careful not to burn them. Then combine them together with the chili, garlic, ginger paste, rice, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, chickpeas and tomatoes in a larger pan. Add just enough water to barely cover the rice and season. Bring slowly to the boil and  cover tightly with some foil before putting on the lid. Turn to a very low simmer until the rice is about two thirds cooked. Do not stir during this time.This will take about 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave with the lid on tight for a further 5 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and liberally garnish with almonds and coriander.

Update on the Super Immunity Diet

You may remember that in September, I raved about Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Super Immunity. I promised to try out the super immunity boosting diet to test if it prevented me from getting a cold this winter. Well the news is that I have been eating in accordance with the diet since September. I have filled my fridge with mushrooms, greens and onions and have been incorporating them into almost every meal. Beans have also been a huge part of my eating plan, whether tinned white, black or red or soy in the form of tofu and edamame. Spoonfuls of linseed have gone into nearly everything. Only berries have eluded me. I have tried to buy dried cranberries each week and use them when I eat muesli but this is not often. I do not eat as much fruit as I do veg and the fresh berries shipped from the other side of the world or grown in Europe under plastic, do no appeal to me. I know I could do better and be more imaginative with the berries.

What I can tell you is that I have only had one very light cold so far this winter. That was in New York and developed the day after the 8 hour flight from Berlin. I shook it off in 2 days, despite having jet lag. I have watched so many colleagues in school this year come down with two or three colds or bad bouts of flu that have laid them low for as much as a month but I have seemed to be somehow immune. My husband who has inadvertently been following the same diet has had one bad cold in December and it took about a week to shake. However, it is worth mentioning that he is not taking the recommended supplements

I think the supplements recommended by Dr. Fuhrman help a lot. I do not normally take supplements beyond B12 daily and iron when I need it. However, I have been taking 15 mg of zinc each day plus Vitamin D. I increase the zinc to 30mg is I feel I may have a cold coming. I have done this 3-4 times since the autumn. I have also been sitting in front of my Lumie daylight lamp at my desk for about two hours each work day since early October. I am not sure whether it is one or a combination of these things that are helping but I have found the winter very easy so far and, despite the dark days, I have been surprisingly cheerful and energetic.

Of course, I might be counting my chickens before they are hatched so I will let you know the final results in April, when spring arrives.

Hellykellysbelly is Back

Hello to all of my followers. I have been off the radar for a few months. My camera broke and I had to have it repaired. I then found myself to busy to post, although I haven’t stopped cooking! We then got into the wintertime and I just felt uninspired by the available ingredients here in Berlin. It is interesting that today I looked at the the other vegan blogs I follow for the first time in weeks and found that many people post less in winter- just when we need the most inspiration and should be taking the best care of ourselves.

I am delighted to see today that I have received nearly 2500 hits since I started last August and the hits and new followers have kept on coming, even during my quiet period. This gives me the inspiration to pick up where I left off, spreading the word about great, simple, plan-based dishes.

 

So today I am back. I have cooked a few nice recipes in the last couple of days  and I will be posting the this week. I look forward to your feedback.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas and Baked Corn Salsa

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The fresh corn is coming to an end now in Europe but it has been an amazing season. As a more warming dish for the slightly cooler weather, I baked this dish to create Enchiladas and also baked the salsa on top. The enchiladas are filled with a combination of sweet potatoes and red, kidney beans. Sweet potato enchiladas is one of the first vegan dishes I ever created. I have served it to the most fussy and old fashioned meat eaters and everyone has loved it.

Preparation time 20 minutes. Cooking time 1 hour

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the enchiladas

A medium onion finely chopped

A crushed clove of garlic

4 medium fresh tomatoes liquidised

Two chopped red chillies

Two medium, peeled, sweet potatoes cut into 3cm cubes

A tin of red kidney beans

A large red pepper chopped or sliced

A teaspoon each of ground coriander and ground cumin

A teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

A teaspoon of oregano

A handful of fresh coriander

Half a tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Four large tortilla wraps

For the salsa

Two ears of corn roasted in the oven for 15 minutes and corn removed

A large tomato finely chopped

Two chopped spring onions

A red chilli finely chopped

A handful of fresh coriander

Two teaspoons of lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and cook the onion, garlic and peppers for about five minutes till soft. Add all of the other ingredients for the enchiladas, except the tortillas. Bring to the boil and turn to a simmer for about 40 minutes. Before filling the tortillas, mash some of the sweet potato with the back of a fork so the fillings a thick consistency.

Share the filling between the four tortillas and roll or fold them for cooking. Place in a large baking dish.

Add all of the salsa ingredients to a bowl and stir together. Season to taste. Spoon evenly across the top of the enchiladas. Place in a medium oven for 10 minutes until the salsa is warm and the tortillas are soft.

 

Button Mushroom and Chickpea “Chasseur”

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Chasseur is the French term for hunter. Chasseur dishes are normally made with game cooked slowly in wine until the dish is sweet and rich. Fortunately, during the hunting season, there is also an abundance of mushrooms for us vegans to enjoy. Mushrooms are another food that help build our immune system and should be eaten every day during the winter. I found some delightful, tiny, button mushrooms which cried out to be the main feature of a dish. This would also be great with the addition of whole, tiny onions. The chickpeas could be replaced with white beans. This could be served with crusty bread or mashed potatoes.

Preparation time 15 minutes. Cooking time 1 hour.

Serves 4

Ingredients

300g of button mushrooms left whole

Two large carrots cut into circles 1cm thick

A large onion finely chopped

A large aubergine cut into 3cm dice

A tin of chickpeas

150ml of white wine

A large tomato chopped finely

A crushed clove of garlic

Two teaspoons of fresh thyme

Half a tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a casserole dish and add the onion, garlic and aubergine. Stir for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and place into a medium oven for about an hour. You can add a little water if it starts to dry out but try not to water down the dish sauce too much. The aubergine should be soft and starting to melt before the dish is removed from the oven.

Brussels Sprouts with Mustard,Cumin and Fennel Seeds

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Brussels sprouts are just coming into season in Europe. I hated these as a child and now cannot get enough of them. We eat huge piles of them in our house all through the season. They are best after the frost has been in them so taste much better in the winter. I could eat them on their own with a pool of gravy any day but it is nice to experiment with other ways to cook them, especially as they are part of the magic Cruciferous vegetable family that are so good for our immunity during the cold months. Apparently these kind of vegetables are better for us if we chop them before eating. Joel Fuhrman explains the science of this in his book Super Immunity.

I served these as a side dish with another more substantial curry but they could be served with just about anything.

Preparation time 5 minutes. Cooking time 10-15 minutes

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

Half a kilo of Brussels sprouts finely sliced

Two shallots finely sliced

A crushed clove of garlic

A medium tomato finely chopped

Half a teaspoon each of toasted cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds

Half a tablespoon of oil for sautéing

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and add the garlic, shallots and seeds. Stir fry for about three minutes until the garlic and shallots are soft. Add the sprouts and tomatoes and continue to stir fry for two minutes until they are coated in the other ingredients. Turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook until just soft or leave crunchy if you prefer. Season to taste.