Cauliflower & sweet potato soup

Last July, I promised you more culinairy cauliflower adventures…….

so, after a little break…here we go!

How about soup? Cauliflower soup?

Nice? Yes. Tasty? Yes, definitily. Pretty? Well…..if you like pale…..

I’ve been experimenting a bit with recipes, but somehow the looks never match the taste. Plain cauliflower makes a pale, white soup, adding curry makes it, well, OK, yellowish…..but still.

And then, yesterday somewhat by accident I came up with a recipe that’s both tasty, and pretty (if you like orange). It was one of those, let’s see what we have lying around in the kitchen kind of days. and well – surprise- I had a cauliflower lying around, and a sweet potato ( another thing I’ve started experimenting with lately). Et voila!

soupbythisgreenadventure

If you’d like to give it  a try, here’s what I used:

  • one medium sized cauliflower
  • one rather small sweet potato
  • an onion
  • a cube of vegetable stock
  • 120 ml coconut milk
  • half a spoon of red pepper paste
  • a teaspoon of curry
  • a teaspoon of ground coriander
  • a teaspoon of ground cumin
  • a teaspoon of kurkuma
  • black pepper

And here’s what I did:

  • heated the oven to 230 degrees Celsius and roasted the sweet potato in its skin for about 30 minutes
  • cleaned, cut and boiled the cauliflower
  • chopped and fried the onion, added all spices and pepper paste
  • allowed sweet potato to cool down, then peeled it
  • drained the cauliflower
  • added all ingredients to the cauliflower in the pan
  • blended it smooth
  • and let it boil for a little while
  • filled my bowl and sprinkled on some more pepper – black and red
  • let the rest cool down and stored it in my fridge
  • reheated what was left the next day ( today) and had a warm and tasty lunch

 

This recipe was enough for a dinner & lunch for one (no my kids don’t do cauliflower soup), and it was really thick. You can add more coconutmilk or even a bit of water to make it thinner.

And, the larger the cauliflower and the potato/potatoes, the more soup you will have. Ofcourse. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

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The single parent’s survival guide to dinner

Do you know the feeling…it’s been a long day and yet you’ve tried to make the most of dinner. Some vitamins, some colour, nothing extraordinary, just, you know something healthy…

The food isn’t even on the table yet before number one claims she has a headache and therefore…no appetite…number two is tired and iritated, and number three starts screaming as if you try to feed her poison:  ‘what’s this?! Oh no, I can’t eat that!’

All you can think is ‘why did I even bother? ‘ and….. ‘Now why isn’t there another adult at this table to  tell me ‘well, honey this is just delicious, kids, don’t fuss, eat your dinner!’? ‘

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Some nights, you’ve just got to do what makes everybody happy: feed ‘m pancakes and ice cream…………… with hidden vitamins….

For your pancakes, just make your usual batter, then add a grated zucchini (use these light green ones if you can, they’re perfect camouflage. If you use the darker green ones, be prepared to answer questions  such as ‘Mom, what are these green spots in my pancake?!?’…now try to answer that without using the V-word!

Bake and serve as you normally would…..then sit and watch them eat their veggies and smile…..

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Since we’re in a good mood, why not add some ice cream? Blend 2 chopped banana’s (frozen) and a large mango (cut into small pieces)  with the juice of one lemon. Serve, watch ‘m eat, enjoy……

Don’t feel like eating pancakes? Make yourself some soup! Chop another zucchini, boil in a little vegetable stock, throw in a handful of kale, add some cumin, coriander and black pepper, blend. Serve with some (vegan) cream, and a good swirl of ground red pepper. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

simple, tasty lentil soup

Lentil soup is one of my favorite soups e-ver.

The basis is always the same: red lentils, an onion, vegetable stock, some veggies and cumin, lots and lots of cumin……

I can eat this for days on end, and it’s a good way of using some leftover vegetables aswell!

This version is extra creamy because I’ve added coconut milk.

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You will need:

200 grams of red lentils – an onion – a large carrot – a red paprika – 800 ml vegetable stock – 250 ml coconut milk  – 2 table spoons of sunflower oil – 2 table spoons of ground cumin – a table spoon of ground coriander – half a table spoon of ground curcuma – half a table spoon of curry spices -red pepper flakes according to taste ( the more the spicier) – dried mint

 

Chop the vegetables, wash your lentils, heat the oil in a large pan. Stirr fry the vegetables, lentils and spices (except the mint) for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock and  boil for 20 minutes ( or until lentils are soft). Add coconut milk, stirr well and boil for another 2 minutes. Blend smooth, and serve with a topping of dried mint, pepper flakes (and, if you like…more cumin!).

very, very tasty with home made flatbread!

 

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Vegan ‘oliebollen’

It’s a Dutch traditon to eat oliebollen (fried dough) on New Years Eve, and in our family it’s a good tradition to bake them ourselves.

You can buy oliebollen everywhere these days, but if you’re a fan of homemade, of a morning  spent behind the frying pan, hungry kids swarming around your legs, clouds of icing sugar and batter everywhere…the 31st of December is the best day of the year!

This year I used a recipe of the ‘Nederlandse vereniging voor Veganisme’, that I came across on Facebook:

oliebollen

375 gr flour, 375 ml water, 30 gr sugar, 7 gr dried yeast, 3 gr cinnamon, 110 gr raisins, a few drops of lemon juice, 4 gr salt.

Mix all ingredients into a sticky batter, cover your bowl with a damp cloth and put in a warm spot. Allow to rise for 45 minutes.

 

Meanwhile heat the oil in your frying pan. Use 2 spoons to place drops of batter in the oil, fry for about 6 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius, or until crispy and brown.

I never manage to make perfectly round oliebollen, but the odd shaped ones taste just as good. This year I managed to bake a baby dinosaure !

oliebollen2

Sprinkle with icing sugar, eat and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Stuff I’ve been up to in October

So, if you thought October couldn’t get any better after ‘3 Oktober‘, you’re wrong.

October so far has been good, very busy but very good. Too busy to blog apparently so here’s a little catching up on what I’ve been up to lately.

One of the biggest events this month was the annual ‘Afstudeerfeest’ organised by The Foundation for Refugee Students UAF.  On this day we celebrate the graduation of all our students who graduated over the past year. As always, a great and inspiring event. I organised the children’s part of the program, and that kept me busy on October 10th and in de days and weeks preceding this celebration! But it was a joy, and particularly so because my friend Marije once again decorated the kids with beautiful paintings on their faces and arms.

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Furthermore, yes October is Vegan challenge month in The Netherlands, and I signed up!  I will be honest with you…the occasionall bite of milk chocolate or a tiny bit of cheese did happen yes. Especially when eating out I find it hard to be strictly vegan, though I try. It’s a process I guess and as this month is progressing I feel better and better about the whole ‘vegan thing’. Definitely something to continue after October! The daily mails and facebook posts and the  extensive recipes on the Vegan challenge website bring on a lot of motivation and inspiration by the way.

I’ve been focussing on including more and more vegetables in my meals, and have been eating lots of soup this month.

I was also very happy to find kale leafs at our local organic supermarket. You know, the Dutch must be the number 1 kale eaters in the world. We’ve been eating kale since long before it became fashionable, and we all grew up with ‘stampot boerenkool’; which basically consists of a mixture of chopped up kale and mashed potatoes. (which is also just about the only recipe for kale in the entire Dutch cuisine!).  So, the only kale you can buy is chopped up and put in a plastic bag. Convenience.is.everything.

Anyway, I stopped counting how many times I ate kale this month, but it was a lot. Imagine the things one can do with those green leaves: kale smoothies, kale pizzas, kalechips, macaroni’n kale…… shall I go on?

vegetables

Meanwhile the kids are enjoying their fall break, and I will also be taking  a few days of. We’ve already had a sleep over at the grandparents, a visit to Naturalis Biodiversity centre, and an autumwalk looking for chestnuts in the golden sunshine. And there’s more to come. Hurray for holidays!

fall

And finally I am trying to get my crochet-groove back. Crochet is always such a good way of escaping the busy day to day events, but it’s also something that ends up as the last thing on my list all too soon. But now I’ve started on a new crochet scarve for a good cause:

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Following a call from @vintageretrokitch on Instagram, I decided to participate in her #swapwithamessage. An initiative to send parcels to the mothers staying in a large refugeecamp in Nijmegen; women who have to look after their children in overcrowded places with little privacy, thousands of kilometers away from what’s left of their homes, and facing an uncertain future. There’s no ‘me time’ for these women, and I fully support the initiative to send them caring welcoming packages!

Now, let’s see what the last week of October will bring!

Vegan bananabread

I think it’s two years ago since I first participated in the Vegan Challenge. During the Vegan Challenge, hundreds of people  sign up to eat vegan for an entire month, to share experiences and to receive tasty recipes in their inbox. The next edition starts on October 1st, over 1700 people have signed up,  and I’m in!

Ever since that first Vegan Challenge, I’ve started eating vegan more and more. I remember feeling like a failure when, during that first challenge, I somewhat gave up after a week or two. Nevertheless, that challenge taught me a couple of succes recipes that I still use. And over time, I tried again and again to eat 100% vegan. That, however is something I haven’t achieved as yet.

I do believe a plantbased diet is better for the environment, and for a lot of animals, and I feel healthier and ‘cleaner’ when eating vegan. Participating in this next edition of the Vegan Challenge I hope will help me focus more, and be inspired to cook, bake and eat vegan more and more…..

To get in the mood, I explored the Vegan Challenge website, looking for new recipes. I came across a recipe for vegan banana bread (hurray! all other recipes I found contained eggs or dairy), and this was a real must try since I had a couple of brown spotty bananas waiting on the kitchen table.

The orginal recipe can be found here, but I made some adjustments because:

A. it was Sunday evening when I baked this, and I had to work with what was available (use what you have etc…..)

B. I am trying to cut down on my sugar consumption so I wasn’t comfortable with adding 150 grams of sugar

C. I had only 2 bananas instead of the required 3, so I adjusted the quantities of the other ingredients a bit.

vegan banana bread

First, I pre-heated the oven at 180 degrees Celsius, Then, I mixed the following dry ingredients in a bowl:

250 grams of whole wheat spelt flour, 50 grams of coconut blossomsugar, 50 grams of oatmeal, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 75 grams of chopped apricots, 75 grams of mixed nuts (walnut and pecan), 2 table spoons of cinnamon (because I looooove cinnamon, and because an extra touch of cinnamon can compensate for the lack of sugar, I hoped).

Then, in the blender I mixed:

100 ml of water, 100 ml of sunflower oil, 2 ripe bananas and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.

I added the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stirred a bit. Then I filled a small baking tray with this batter. I added  some raw cocoa nibs to the rest of the batter and filled 6 cupcake molds with this. I put it all in the oven and removed the cupcakes after 25 minutes. I baked the larger cake for 40 minutes, let it cool down a bit, put the kids to bed and made myself a cup of tea…..oh boy.

vegan bananabread2

From now on, I know what to do with overripe bananas!

Sugar free granola and crumble

Inspired by Sue Quinns ‘Everyday Sugarfree Cooking’, I decided to experiment a bit with using (dried) fruit as sweeteners in some of my favorite recipes.

In her book Sue Quinn clearly explains what refined sugar does to your body and why it’s not good for you. The book is also filled with 65 delicious recipes. This time not using stuff like agavesyrup to replace sugar, but using (dried) fruits as a source of sweetness. And that, I tell you, is very inspiring!

Her recipes are sugarfree but not necessarily vegan aswell, some are though, and with some creativity you’ll come a long way with the non-vegan ones.

sugarfree granola

The granola and crumble I made are not recipes out of this book, but where inspired by it. Next time I’ll be making stuff right out of the book. There’s a jar all set and ready, waiting to be filled with Sue Quinns home made sugarfree ketchup. And her chocolatemousse made with dates and coconutcream made my mouth water just by reading the recipe, yumm!

Today, I tried making granola without sugar of any sort, and well, it worked! I won’t give you and exact recipe because I was too busy experimenting to measure properly and to write everything down, but this is what I used:

dry ingredients: oats, flaxseed and chopped nuts

wet ingredients: coconut oil and some organic sugarfree peanutbutter.

I mixed the wet and the dry and spread it all out on a baking tray. After baking for 20 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius, I added:

chopped dates, chopped dried apricots and grated coconut

I mixed it all together, and baked for another 5 minutes. After letting it cool down I stored the granola in a jar in the fridge. I must say it’s a bit less sticky than the one I made last week, perhaps because of the lack of sugar. But…later today I found out that my foodprocessor is quite capable of mixing dates, apricot and coconut oil into a sticky, sweet paste, so that’s worth a try on making the next granola batch…learning by doing so to speak…..

sugarfree crumble

For desert I made an apple crumble, using organic apples that I found at our local supermarket, and some cinnamon. For the crumble: a mixture of oats (grounded in my foodprocessor until it looked like flour), some semolina, ground walnuts and some grated coconut. To turn it into a crumble, I added a mixture of coconut oil, dates and dried apricots. I let the foodprocessor do its magic, having it work for about a minute, and got a really sticky paste. I added the dry ingredients, spread everything out on top of the apples, and baked in the oven for 20 minutes at 150 degrees.

The outcome was tasty, sweet and crumbly…yes crumbly…but oh so tasty! I think this calls for some more experimenting, but the beginning is promissing.

I’ll definitely use fruits as sweeteners more often, I’ll experiment some more with my crumble and granola, and I really should start making the recipes from Sue Quinns book!

sugarfree crumble2

PS: I was a bit terrified to try at first, becaus what if they’d break? But it turned out these milkglass dishes I hunt for in the thirftstore are very good at standing the heat, and are very suitable for baking. I’m happy…they come in so many sizes and designs, can be found in most thriftstores, and doesn’t every dish look prettier in a bowl like this?