Black Bean Guacamole

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the easiest, right?  Well, here’s a recipe that the statement certainly applies to!  I am seriously obsessed with guacamole.  I could probably live on it for the rest of my life… and to be honest, no one makes better guac than they do in the States.  There are so many things I love about living in London but this foodie misses her GUACAMOLE!  And here’s the thing – it is so easy to whip up in seconds and have it on rye bread in the morning or with some corn chips for a mid-afternoon snack.  In this recipe, I wanted to add a twist to it and make it VERY Tex-Mex and thus the black beans have been added!

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For a good portion of black bean guacamole dip, grab yourself these ingredients:

2 large avocados, peeled and pitted

1 cup of black beans, cooked (from a tin is fine too, just make sure to drain and rinse)

1 small red onion

A large handful of coriander

1/2 a lime, juiced

1 garlic clove

Pinch of pink himalayan sea salt

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Let’s quickly zoom in on black beans and their mighty nutritional profile.

Black beans are packed with fiber and protein. That means they’ll satisfy even the most intense hunger, and will keep you feeling full and energetic for hours. Black beans help to regulate your body’s glucose level throughout the day, which means your metabolism will be chugging away at top speed, burning through any extra calories you’ve taken on so that you can stay slim and trim. Plus, the fiber content of black beans will help you beat cholesterol. The soluble fiber in black beans binds with the bile acids in your system and carries them out of your body, making it impossible for those acids to become cholesterol. This is great news for your heart health, and can dramatically reduce your risk of a stroke or heart attack. Black beans also pack a large amount of insoluble fiber, which is fuel for your digestive system, and helps keep your whole digestive tract in top shape. This prevents a wide range of ailments, including short-term bouts of constipation and chronic conditions like diverticulosis and irritable bowel syndrome. Plus, black beans are high in antioxidants called anthocyanins, which help fight the free radicals in your system, so black beans are a powerful nutritional weapon in the fight against cancer and the aging process. They are also high in iron and manganese, two important building blocks of a healthy overall diet.

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Place the red onion, coriander, lime and pressed garlic into your food processor until finely chopped.  Next, add the avocados and sea salt and PULSE unit you get a chunky texture.  Transfer this mixture to a bowl and fold in the black beans and seriously , that is it!  Your guest will be raving about this simple, nutritious and delicious dip!

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tibits; A Buffet with a Difference

I recently checked out tibits, a vegetarian restaurant and bar, and I absolutely loved it. Tibits offer a wide variety of vegetarian buffet food, which makes it the perfect place to dine out if you’re not quite sure what you want to eat yet! It’s brilliant for splurging or scrimping on the pennies too – it can cost as little or as much as you want. With a twist on the more conventional buffet idea, the protocol here is to select what you want from the range of dishes, take your plate up to the counter to be placed on a scale and then pay for your meal depending on the weight. It’s a pretty novel system but I thought it was great!

tibits_a_buffet_with_a_difference_the_flexifoodie (4)The buffet is apparently changed daily, and each option is helpfully labeled so that you can distinguish between the vegetarian, vegan and gluten free food. If you don’t eat meat or dairy and you’ve ever tried to dine at a regular buffet, then you’ll understand just how much easier and enjoyable this makes your dining experience. I liked the fact that there is a great selection of organic wines and beers on offer, as well as the typical fresh juices and hot drinks.

tibits_a_buffet_with_a_difference_theflexifoodieRight now there are some amazing autumn specials on the menu, such as the Onde con Funghi al Tartufo (a mushroom pasta dish) and the Focaccia Mexicana pizza, both of which are delicious! I always think the dessert is the most important part of a meal though and the dessert menu here was a treat.  The selection of sweet dishes on the list is fantastic, and with the desserts being vegan I couldn’t be happier. Needless to say, I’ll be bringing all 4 of my kids along next time for the sticky toffee pudding! The staff at tibits are really child friendly as well, great for people like me who want both quality food and good service for their kids (a rare find).

tibits_a_buffet_with_a_difference_the_flexifoodie (2)The location for Tibits is great for me as I pass through central London often. I find the problem with a lot of restaurants in this part of town is that they’re overly busy with minimal seating – not the best for sitting down with friends or for having kids running underfoot. It’s the complete opposite at tibits – as you walk down from Regent Street, Heddon Street is a blissful sea of calm away from the mad flow of tourists.

Inside the restaurant, everything is decorated to give a cheerful atmosphere, and I’d recommend it as a good spot to meet friends for lunch or for a relaxed evening meal. Tibits also offers a take away option! I’ve often wanted to grab a vegan snack as I pass through central London and seeing that all their hot food is vegan, this is ideal – it’s practically open all day. I also saw that they have “vegan day” events that are every eleven days, details on their website www.tibits.co.uk, so I’m definitely coming back for that!

I have to say that tibits is definitely one of the few vegetarian or vegan restaurants to which you can take your carnivorous friends. The friend who came with me eats meat, and to have her actively enjoy the meatless dishes is pretty astounding. I’m sure many of you reading this know just how tedious pleasing carnivores can get!

All in all, I had a great experience here and would recommend it as a vegetarian hotspot in London!  Check them out here: www.tibits.co.uk

Quinoa and Cannellini Bean Burgers

Okay, I must admit…… I’m a veggie burger addict.   I LOVE them!  And when I know they’re homemade, I’m the happiest girl.  I’ve even managed to convert my four kids, but it was hard!  There are so many ‘burger’ joints popping up around London BUT luckily all of them do have the ‘veggie’ option and I’m very honoured and pleased to say that my 15 year old ALWAYS orders one.   However, converting kids to like/love veggie burgers as much as beef burgers is/was difficult.  And so, your really need a GOOD recipe to do just that.  If you throw something from the supermarket that was frozen and tasteless in front of them, you’ve got a harder hill to climb.  But if you take the time to actually prepare a delicious veggie choice, then I can pretty much guarantee this:  they’ll like it!

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But let’s talk quinoa for a second.

1. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.

2. Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Fibre is most widely known to relieve constipation. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. Fibre lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids, and may help you to lose weight (it takes a longer time to chew than does other foods because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense,” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food).

3. Quinoa contains Iron. Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction. Iron also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. There are many benefits of iron; it aids in neurotransmitter synthesis, regulation of body temperature, enzyme activity and energy metabolism.

4. Quinoa contains lysine. Lysine is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair.

5. Quinoa is rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

6. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2). B2 improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.

7. Quinoa has a high content of manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.

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So this recipe makes six yummy burgers!

  • 1 tin of cooked cannellini beans
  • 1 cup cooked red quinoa (makes it more attractive!)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • healthy handful of parsley, chopped
  • coconut oil
  • pink himalayan sea salt + black pepper

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Let’s go….

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and coat with app. 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil.  Add chopped shallots and cook for a minute until soft.  Add the crushed garlic, fennel and cumin and cook for another minute until you smell the amazing aroma and the garlic is soft.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Put the cannellini beans, quinoa and breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl.  Add the chopped parsley and now cooled shallot mix.  Using your hands (much more fun, especially for kids!) combine everything together, mashing the beans well so that the mixture turns into a paste.  Season with salt and pepper

Once combined into a paste, create lovely veggie burger patties about the size of your palm and about an inch thick.

Fry those gorgeous veggie burgers over medium high heat and add a tablespoon of coconut oil to coat the pan.  Cook the veggie burgers for approximately three minutes each side and you will then have a super delicious, incredibly healthy veggie burger!

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Your delicious bean burger can be dressed with mustard, home-made ketchup, onions, avocado and placed between either two leaves of collard greens or a good ol’ wholewheat bun!  Yum!!!!!

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Raw Chocolate Brownie with Goji Berries

I’m always looking for ways to get the Super Hero foods into my kids diets and this recipe has come out on top!  All four of my kids love chocolate and there are some GREAT raw chocolate bars out on the market now – but with four kids, I can’t keep up with their demand and rushing out to Whole Foods all of the time!  So, I whipped this up over the weekend and as I type this on Sunday – they’ve all been greedily consumed!  I think this is going to be a household staple.  And the good news….. it’s SO easy to make!

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But the other goodie about this recipe is that it’s NOT made with refined sugar but instead made with the whole foods, a natural sweetener called DATES!  Fresh dates are composed of soft, easily digestible flesh and simple sugars like fructose and dextrose. When eaten, they replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly.  Dates are also rich in dietary fibre, which prevents LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut.  Additionally, the fibre works as a bulk laxative whereby helping to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.

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Dates contain health benefiting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins. Tannins are known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic (prevent easy bleeding tendencies) properties.  They are also an excellent source of IRON!  Yes, iron… can you believe it?!  And potassium is right up there as well as calcium, manganese, copper and magnesium.

So you can see, I’d much rather have my kids eat dates than refined sugar (which BTW has NO nutritional value whatsoever…..)

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So grab these ingredients if you don’t already have them!

Serves 16

2 cups walnuts

2 cups pitted dates (medjool best)

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

1/4 cup carob powder

1/4 cup goji berries

1TBSP coconut oil

1 cup almonds, chopped

1 TBSP coconut palm nectar, agave or maple syrup

sprinkling of sea salt or pink himalayan

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In  your food processor, pulse the walnuts until nicely ground.  Then add the salt, cacao, carob and continue to mix in the food processor.  While the food processor is on, add the dates one by one until you get a nice paste.  Once you get this lovely paste, add in your sweetener (coconut palm nectar, agave or maple syrup)  and the coconut oil.  Remove the paste into a mixing bowl and using your hands (much easier than a wooden spoon) mix in the chopped almonds and the goji berries.

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Place the mixture in either a 8×8 or 9×13 baking tin lined with parchment paper and press the mixture down so that it won’t fall apart.  Finally place in freezer for 30 minutes.  Once the 30 minutes are up, cut into squares and then try not to eat the entire batch!

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Radish Avocado Salad with Chia Tahini Dressing

I’m always looking for quick, easy salads that I can just chop up and whip together and this is one of them.   But lately I’ve been reading about the MANY benefits of radishes and wanted to incorporate them into something yummy and thus this recipe was born.  I get it, radishes aren’t the tastiest of all veggies out there, but combined with a killer dressing or dip, you’re getting a delicious treat with SOOOOOOO many benefits!

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So let’s talk radishes! First of all, they’re kind of pretty to look at and the health benefits are unbelievable……Radishes are a serious Super Hero Food that come in a little package.  Researchers at India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University found that radishes induce apoptosis – meaning they kill cancer cells. Compounds called isothiocyanates and anthocyanins are found in abundance in radishes and have been proven effective in the fight against cancer in several studies.  If you have chronic bronchial flare-ups, sinus infections or asthma, radishes can act as a natural decongestant.  They’ve been shown to lower cholesterol, manage diabetes and regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels.  The water and fiber content make radishes surprisingly filling, and the lack of calories (19 calories per cup!) puts them at the top of the “best diet” foods. The surprising number of nutrients found in these small vegetables means you aren’t skimping on nutrition while cutting back on fats, sugars and carbs.  So, let’s eat this Super Hero food, like now!

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so if you’re anything like me…. I always wanted to make them work in a recipe but it’s sort of hard, right?  Well, not anymore.  Here is a quick and delicious recipe to whip up for lunch or even for a dinner party!

Serves 3-4

2 cups radishes, diced

1 cup red pepper, diced

large handful of black olives

large handful of coriander, chopped

1 small avocado, diced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 spring onion, chopped

Chia Tahini dressing

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons tahini

1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoons fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon tamari

1 tablespoon agave or honey

pinch of himalayan sea salt

pinch of chill powder

fresh coriander and spring onions for garnish

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In a large pretty bowl add all the ingredients for the salad.  Blend all the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  The dressing will be quite thick but when you mix it through the salad it will become thinner.  Toss until well combined and garnish with the coriander and spring onion.  Enjoy!

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Now this is what I call a truly Super Food, Super Hero Salad!  If you like this blog post then why not LIKE my Facebook page or check out my website at www.juliemontagu.com for more healthy lifestyle tips!

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