Stuffed Sweet Potato

My stuffed sweet potato recipe is the perfect dish to cook up after a particularly taxing day. This is because it will re-energise your mind and nourish your body due to the combination of super healthy ingredients!

Sweet potatoes are packed full of calcium and potassium, as well as an abundance of vitamins A and C. In fact, the gorgeous colour of this vegetable is due to the presence of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. The presence of this vitamin in adequate amounts is key to the optimum health of your skin, immune system and your vision.

You may not have come across samphire in your cooking before but there are many great reasons to begin making an effort to include it in your diet. This tasty sea vegetable grows in abundance in marshland and along shorelines. It is perfect for adding to salads but some people prefer to boil it as it can often be quite salty. Samphire has a very exciting nutritional makeup, containing a wealth of vitamins A, B and C, as well as being a good source of folic acid. It is thought to be useful for aiding digestion and boosting mental clarity.

Stuffed Sweet Potato2 Julie MontaguTo make this dish for two people, you will need the following ingredients:

2 sweet potatoes
Rapeseed oil
1 onion (finely diced)
2 garlic cloves (finely diced)
100 grams of red split lentils (pre-soaked)
1 tbsp of cumin
1 tbsp turmeric
A handful of samphire

To get started making my stuffed sweet potatoes, you will first need to score each potato. Once this is complete you can drizzle them with olive oil and add a dash of salt and pepper. Place the sweet potatoes in the oven and cook them at 200C for 45 minutes. By this time they should become soft on the inside.

While the potatoes are cooking, add the onion, garlic, cumin and turmeric into a pan with a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and a dash of water. You can then cook this pan on a medium heat until the onions are caramelised. At this point you should add the lentils into the pan too and season with salt and pepper.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, remove them from the oven and serve with the lentil mix. Top with samphire and enjoy!

Eating a diet that includes foods bursting with nutrients is essential for the optimum health of your body and mind. To learn more about nutrition and healthy eating, head to my online e-learning portal, The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Lentil Brownies

Okay, I know this recipe might sound a bit weird and you are probably thinking, ‘is she serious?!’  But yes, I am serious!  I urge you to try this because I promise you, these brownies are so seriously good and gooey!  They do not disappoint if you are looking for an indulgent treat that is healthy too!

There are many benefits to eating lentils, such as promoting digestion and preventing ill health. The great benefits of eating lentils stem from the wealth of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and dietary fibre contained within. They are especially rich in potassium, calcium, zinc and vitamin K which all contribute to essential biological processes in the body!

To make twelve of these brownies for yourself you will need the following ingredients:

2 x 400g tin of lentils, drained and rinsed
12 Medjool dates (make sure you are using soft dates and Medjool are the softest!)
60g of almond butter
40g of cacao powder
1 Tbsp of honey
1 banana
½ tsp of baking soda

The first step in making these brownies is to preheat your oven to 200C. Next, in a food processor, pulse the lentils until they are mixed.  You can then add the almond butter, banana, cacao, honey and baking soda into the food processor and blend again.  After a few moments, scrape the sides to make sure everything is mixed together.  The next step is to add the dates and then blend again. Finally, in a greased 8×8 square pan, pour the mixture in and bake for 15 minutes.

Once this time has passed the brownies should be gooey, so if they are then that’s perfect! Remove from the oven and allow them to cool before slicing into bars. You can either enjoy them right away or place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.

Puy Lentil Quinoa, Roasted Aubergines and a Tahini Dressing

This could be one of my favourite creations so far! I was running late for the school run and in fact my entire day was just a LATE day….. I was late for everything!  So I had to whip up something quick but of course, good for the family!  And quinoa is one of the quickest grains to cook.  So while I was cooking that, I roasted some aubergines and boiled some lentils at the same time.  Mixed them together with some soaked goji berries and topped it all with a yummy tahini dressing that I knew the kids love.  So, here’s one family recipe for you that is now a favourite amongst my four kids……

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Serves 4-6

1 large or 2 small aubergines, cut into 1 cm rounds

2-3 Tbsp. Coconut oil, melted

2 tsp. cumin

200g quinoa

250g puy lentils

large handful of sultanas

large handful of pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:

1 Tbsp. tahini

2 Tbsp. tamari

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

Squeeze of lemon

Heat your oven to 200C.  Bring 400ml of water to the boil and add the quinoa.  Bring back to the boil and then cover and simmer until the quinoa is cooked approximately 20 minutes.   At the same time bring a pot of water to boil and add the lentils.  Cook until soft, again another 20-25 minutes.  Coat the sliced aubergine in coconut oil and cover with the cumin.  Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until soft.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, lentils and aubergine.  Top with the pumpkin seeds and sultanas.  In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, tamari, apple cider vinegar, honey and lemon and pour over the quinoa mixture.   And voila… that is one delicious and nutritious family meal or even great as a side dish for a dinner party!

For more health and wellness tips, follow me on Instagram @juliemontagu OR keen to learn more about nutrition?  Head to my first online nutrition course:  Nutrition for Optimal Health at www.theflexifoodie.com.

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Artichoke and Lentil Salad with Raspberry Dressing

This dish is amazing for all round nutrition as it combines fruits, vegetables and legumes in one delicious creation. The inclusion of maple syrup in the dressing gives it an extra nourishing kick and because this meal doesn’t take long to make, it is the perfect choice after a tiring day at work! When I’ve had a long day teaching yoga and then running the kids around after school, this is one of my first choices as it means less time between getting in the door and filling everyone up! The raspberry dressing is a great fit for most salad dishes and if maple syrup isn’t to your tastes then it can be swapped out in equal measure with any other natural sweetener!

To feed two people you will need the following ingredients and just double up for a family of four!

One cup of puy lentils

Pink Himalayan salt

Two cups of kale

50 grams of raspberries

One lemon

Apple cider vinegar

Maple syrup

Olive oil

One cup of pre-cooked artichoke

One red onion

Half a cup of sun-dried tomatoes

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It’s always best to soak puy lentils before you use them. Upwards of four hours will do the trick but if you want to leave them soaking in the fridge overnight then that’s great too. Once your lentils have been soaked, boil them in a pan with two cups of water and a dash of salt.

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As soon as this pan is heating up, chuck your kale into a separate pan with three cups of water and boil. Next, in a jug or mixing bowl take your raspberries and blend them with one teaspoon of lemon juice, two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons of maple syrup, one tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of water. Sieve this mixture and place in the fridge for now.

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After approximately 10 – 15 minutes your kale and lentils should be cooked. So the next step is to transfer the kale into cold water to cool down and then drain the lentils before returning to the pan (with the heat turned off). Finely dice your red onion and mix with half a cup of sun-dried tomatoes into the pan of lentils. Once the kale is cooled it can also be added into the pan with the lentils, onion and sun-dried tomatoes. Your meal is now ready to serve so spoon onto two plates, drain the artichokes before you add them and finally take your raspberry dressing from the fridge to drip on as required.

Blue Ballet Squash Boats with Black Rice, Swiss Chard and Cranberries

Oh, how I LOVE autumn! Because with autumn comes so many delicious and amazing varieties of squash! It’s so much fun going into Whole Foods and seeing the shelves covered with the brightly coloured squashes so when I saw this Blue Ballet Squash sticking out amongst the red, orange and yellow varieties, I knew I had to have it!

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I mean, look at how gorgeous this Blue Ballet Squash is!  I nearly didn’t cut it up and was thinking about having it for decoration.  My four kids even thought it was the coolest looking vegetable they’d ever seen.

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I don’t think we all actually realise what  a power house of a food squash really is.  I mean, look at its size – these guys are big players in the game of well-being.  They’re like the big linebackers on an American football team. Plus, they simply are delicious!

P1050422Although winter squash has long been recognized as an important food source of carotenoids, only recently have research studies documented just how fantastic winter squash can be when it comes to these key antioxidants. For some groups of study participants, winter squash turns out to be the primary food source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene in the entire diet! For lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin (three other health-supportive carotenoids) winter squash also comes out among the top three food sources in several studies.

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And don’t forget about the SEEDS!  Seeds from winter squash make a great snack food, just like pumpkin seeds. If you scoop the pulp and seeds from inside the squash and separate out the seeds, you can place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them at 160-170°F (about 75°C) in the oven for 15-20 minutes. By roasting them for a relatively short time at a low temperature you can help minimize damage to their healthy oils. Linoleic acid (the polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) and oleic acid (the same monounsaturated fatty acid that is plentiful in olive oil) account for about 75% of the fat found in the seeds.

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So this lovely, quick and easy recipe serves four.  Here’s what you’ll need:

1 large ballet blue squash (or another type of round winter squash will do just fine!)

A large bunch of Swiss chard

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 cup black rice

2/3 cup dried cranberries

2/3 cup brown lentils

1 tsp. black mustard seeds

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

Sea salt and black pepper

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Heat the oven to 180C and cut the squash into four boats.  Remove the seeds and save them for later!  You’ll want to roast them for a delicious snack!  Place the squash into the oven and let them back for app. 20-25 minutes or until the flesh is beautifully bright orange and soft!

Bring two and a 1/2 cups of water to the boil, add the black rice and reduce to simmer until all the water is absorbed.  Rinse then let it cool.  Next, melt the coconut oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds.  This is a great way to really fragrant the lentils.  Allow the mustard seeds to start popping to release their flavour and then add the lentils and just enough water to cover 1cm above the lentils.  Again, bring the bowl and then let simmer until all the water has been absorbed.  Then, mix the cooked lentils in with the black rice.

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Coarsely chop the Swiss chard and steam for seven minutes or boil for two minutes.  Again, add to the black rice/lentil bowl along with the cranberries and toasted pine nuts.  Season with sea salt and black pepper and scoop a large dollop onto each of the boats so that they are overflowing with goodness!  And voila, you have the most gorgeous looking, delicious tasting, nutrient dense meal for a cold autumn night!

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Warm Dal with Spinach (from ‘tibits at home’ cookbook)

First and foremost, HUGE apologies for the 2  month delay in posts!  We’ve had a very busy summer and then getting all 4 kids back to school and other work life bits has consumed me…… until NOW!  So, posts are officially back and I’m so excited that they are!  I can feel the chill in the air in London that Autumn has officially arrived – and I love it!  The crisp air, the leaves falling and my kids playing so much sport…… every weekend has definitely made me crave something warm and grounding!

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So when I was sent a lovely cookbook called ‘tibits at home’ from the incredible tibits restaurant – I couldn’t wait to cook from it! Not only is there a restaurant in Soho (London), but there are locations in Zurich, Winterhur, Berne and Basel.  tibits has been serving healthy vegetarian food for over a decade and was established by three brothers and the according to the Guinness Book of World Records, their restaurant in Zurich is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world!  The cookbook is filled with delicious, seasonal recipes and it was hard to choose which one to do for this blog!  But after much deliberation, the Warm Dal with Spinach won!  So, let’s get started….

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Grab yourself these ingredients:

250g red lentils

1 onion

1 garlic clove

20g fresh ginger

4 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric

500g fresh spinach

400ml coconut milk

200ml water

freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

1/2 lemon, juiced

P1040086I was lucky enough to have some super fresh, organic spinach on hand from my inlaws kitchen garden.  I especially love the photo of the spinach in the basket, basking in the sunny autumn day!  But remember you can use any dark green leafy vegetable if you don’t have spinach on hand…. kale works just as well too!

P1040114Serves 4 as a main and 6 as a side….. you decide!

Method:

1.  Cook the lentils for about 8 minutes in water and then drain.

2. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic.  Peel the ginger and grate finely.  Heat a frying pan, then add the oil and sweat the onion until transparent.  Add the garlic, ginger and spices and fry for 1 minute, until the mixture develops its fragrance.

3.  Wash and pluck the spinach, add to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

4.  Add coconut milk and water, and stir well.

5.  Add the drained lentils, mix in well and cook for a further 5 minutes.

6.  Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice.

P1040121Serve in warm bowls with some wholewheat pita bread or brown rice or maybe just a simple side salad!  YUMMY!  The flavours in this recipe are perfection.  And I love it that it has turmeric, the new queen of spice that research says may help ward of dementia and reduce the risk of cancer.  I’m in!  Be sure to check out ‘tibits at home’ cookbook at www.tibits.co.uk and also their restaurants too!  I’m lucky enough to be heading to their Soho location in mid-October to check out their Autumn menu and will be posting my review here!  So stay tuned!!!!

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Puy Lentils, Sweet Potato & Pomegranate Bake

Lentils have become a real staple in our house.  From red lentils to green lentils and now to puy lentils!  But what has been so amazing about these cute lookin’ discs, is that my 6 year old LOVES them!  In fact, he loves them so much that he practically asks for them every night.  So, we’ve had to get really creative in the ‘lentils’ department to make the dishes fun (and tasty) for all 6 of us!  And this is how and why this particular ‘bake’ was born.  For those of you who sometimes wonder or get asked – like I do – where you get your protein from other than the meat slogan that’s force fed to us, well – this little legume is your answer because…… Lentils have a higher protein content than beef! No joke.

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Lentils may be small but they are a huge player in the legume family.  They are an awesome source of cholesterol-lowering fibre but they also help manage blood-sugar disorders since their high fibre content prevents blood sugar levels from quickly rising after your meal.  But there’s more!  Lentils also provide amazing amounts of 6 important minerals, 2 B-vitamins, and like I mentioned above – the full monty: protein.  And can you believe it, all of that with virtually NO fat!  Just 230 calories for whole cup of cooked lentils.  This tiny nutritional giant fills you up – not out. ImageServes 6!

250g puy lentils

600g sweet potatoes

400ml (1 tin) coconut milk

1 pomegranate

1 red chilli

2-3 garlic cloves

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

handful of parsley, to garnish

ImagePre-heat your oven to 180C/350F.  Place the lentils in a small pot, cover with water and bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until al dente.  Drain and then just set aside.

Pierce the sweet potatoes, rub with coconut oil, place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until tender.  Once cooked through, leave to cool but keep the oven on!  Once completely cooled, dice into 1 1/2 inch chunks.

Heat the remaining of the coconut oil in a pan and saute the garlic until soft.  Stir in the lentils, chunked sweet potatoes and spices with the 400ml of coconut milk and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.  Pour this glorious mixture into an ovenproof baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, de-seed and thinly slice the red chilli.  After the 15 minutes, place the sliced red chilli on top of the bake and bake for an additional 5 minutes until those red chillies are a bit charred!

Serve with lots of pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley.  YUM!

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Grass, Roots & Grains Veggie Burgers

So the snow has fallen in abundance in London causing the schools to close and all four of my children to be at home! My kids are so active and into every sport imaginable, therefore chaos is the norm in our house. For this reason it’s not very often that the six of us are all together at the same time so what a treat it was to be snowed in! I relished the opportunity to get them all cooking together in the kitchen and that’s where this week’s recipe was born.

My kids are definitely lovers of veggie burgers. They’re the kids who order them at burger restaurants, at pool side cafes or even birthday parties and I’m so proud of them for it! Eating a wholesome veggie burger is like getting an injection of so many nutrients rather than cholesterol and saturated fat. So it was a unanimous decision – we would make their favourite and my speciality, Grass, Roots & Grains Veggie Burger….served, of course, with a side of sweet potato chips and green peas!

If you’re getting ready to make this dish at home yourself then first you’ll need to raid the supermarket for the following ingredients:

125g or 3/4 cup of whole-wheat couscous
100g or 1/2 cup red lentils
1 tbsp. whole meal flour
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 a bunch of coriander
1 courgette, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 tablespoon, tahini
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Sea salt and black pepper

Once you have gathered the necessary ingredients you can begin by putting all of the couscous into a bowl and pouring 200ml of seasoned boiling water over it. A simple bouillon is perfect for this and will really flavour the couscous. Quickly mix together before covering and placing to one side.P1050292

You can then rinse your half a cup of lentils and place in a pan with 300ml of water and bring to the boil. After about twenty minutes in the pan, the lentils should have become soft so it’s now time to drain and chuck them into your food processor. Now is also the time to include the diced onion, carrot, courgette and tomato along with all of the spices and herbs, flour and tahini.

Once all of your ingredients are blended together you can remove the mixture from the blender and add it to the bowl of couscous that you prepared earlier. You must now mix the two concoctions together vigorously with your hands. As soon as your couscous combination is ready, you can wet your hands and have some fun moulding the mixture into burger shapes. With the amount of ingredients used you will have enough burger mix to make four burgers, or alternatively you could make more slightly smaller burgers.P1050299

Your burger patties can now be added to a frying pan with a tablespoon of coconut oil and cooked for three or four minutes on each side. As soon as they’re ready you can pop them out of the pan and into wholemeal baps. Garnish in any which way you like and enjoy!

The combination of vegetables inside these burgers is a great mix and provides a generous amount of nutrition in each portion. Tomatoes are an amazing source of antioxidants, especially lycopene which protects the body from those nasty free radicals. Courgettes are also prized for their antioxidant values as well as their high potassium count which is great for your blood pressure. Similarly onions and carrots are rich sources of vitamins and nutrients, especially beta-carotene for the latter which helps maintain your vision.

Although the burgers are technically cooked, the amount of time they are heated for will allow for lots of nutrients that are normally lost through cooking at high temperatures to remain.

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