New year, new you! For those of you who kind of fell off the wagon over the festive period, now is the time to get back to your clean-eating divine selves! Christmas can be a difficult time to stay on the healthy train, especially if you are eating out a lot or staying at other people's houses etc, you don't want to be a burden or appear as though you are the health police, so standards can kinda slip, know what I mean?! Anyway, forget about Christmas, this is January (or Veganuary for those who are giving veganism a shot for the month -go team, go!!!) This soup will help you out no end, it's easy to make, low in fat and has the creamy decadent taste of something that is laden with double cream (so those of you doing Veganuary should love it!!)
This thick, creamy and filling soup not only tastes great, but is a great immune booster to help ward off those winter sniffles that are just around the corner, kindly provided by the inconsiderate sod who sneezed ON YOU on the bus (thanks dude!) Luckily for me I have THIS anti-sniffles-guard, so I'm just fine thanks! This garlic, onions, leeks and turmeric in this soup make it an anti-inflammatory super-force to be reckoned with. Interesting (or not) fact, I have not had a single cold since being vegan, so bang goes the theory of pale and sickly vegans withering away in a corner!! I'm sure there are many pale sickly vegans, (as there are many pale and sickly omnivores) and that's because they probably just eat bread and chips, and, well... who is going to be strong and healthy on that?!
So I'm back. I had the best 9 weeks of my life in Asia (Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam. We meant to go to Laos but ran out of time!) and am aching to go back. Of all the places we went, it was Northern Thailand that was my very favourite. It felt like a spiritual home and I miss Chiang Mai with all my heart!! Before I went away I assumed that I would lose lots of weight and waste away into nothingness, being a gluten free vegan and all. As it happened that wasn't the case at all. We ate like KINGS there! Happy Cow was our best friend, and being that much of Asia is Buddhist, there were tons of vegan restaurants around, and not just for tourists/westerners. We found many local vegan restaurants, where there was no menu or English spoken, and it was a case of pointing and smiling at what you wanted piled onto your massive portion of rice. The food was really incredible and we didn't feel like we were going without at all, which was totally unexpected! I did two cooking classes while I was out there, one in Vietnam and one in Thailand, and now I am back and armed with some great new recipes to share with you! Here are a few to drool over. Apologies for the photography, my camera lens got a bit dirty out there!
So this is what I had for lunch. Since the coconut and cinnamon muffins, I have still not been shopping, so am in the lazy process of creating meals from whatever I can find in my cupboards or at the back of the fridge. One thing I do always have a full stock of however, is a large collection of spices, herbs and seasonings. I really have everything, from Chinese and Thai spices, to every Indian spice you can think of. Inbetween all of those, I have Jamaican seasonings, Japanese, French, Italian....you get the picture. I also have a separate section for sweeter spices such as the obligatory cinnamon, nutmet, allspice, cloves etc. Then in the other cupboard I have the health boosting goodies, so the wheatgrass, spirulina, hemp protein, maca, chia seeds, lucuma, raw cacao powder, cacao nibs, milled flaxseed, seeds and nuts etc. What is the point in me telling you all of this? Well, it's to show that as long as you have all the right seasonings, herbs, spices and whatnot, you can create lush vegan feasts with very few ingredients. This is what I have been doing for the last couple of lazy days, as I gradually run out of food in the house. As you can see, I have not gone hungry in the slightest!! With a bit of imagination and a store cupboard full of herbs and spices, I have created this Moroccan inspired chickpea and lentil stew, and it's mighty good!
The great thing about this soup is the smokiness of it! It makes it taste like there might be some secret bacon in it. In fact, I made this for my Mum, and when she started eating it she did look a bit confused and ask me if there was bacon in it. As if!!! There ain't no bacon on my plate (or my soup bowls for that matter!)
This is the thickest and creamiest soup you can imagine, and it's so filling that a little goes a long way. It's so indulgent it is a real treat.
It's so creamy you won't believe that there is actually no cream in it! Who needs cream when mushrooms make such a creamy texture all by themselves?! This soup is really one of the quickest things to make, and it serves 4 hungry people. Wham bam dinner is served! I use leeks in this recipe because they help to create the amazing creamy texture and they are packed with goodness. Did you know that leeks are a great source of vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimum health, including folic acid, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. Not to mention vitamins A,C,K and E. For real. You'll never look at leeks in the same way again!
Ooh la la! This is probably my very favourite meal when I want something filling, healthy and chock full of veg. I am a Ramen beast and I can nearly eat my own weight in it. Of course you can put whatever veggies you want in it, but seeing as I am a mushroom maniac I like to pack it with as many different types of mushroom as I can. We are obsessed with Shiitake mushrooms in my house (or shit-take mushrooms as my boyfriend's parents call them!)
They are so incredibly nutritious too, which makes stuffing my face with them all the better!
They are packed full of iron, are rich in B vitamins and are concentrated in minerals, which make them a great source of zinc, selenium, copper and manganese. They are also a good source of vitamin D (D2) and dietry fiber. Seriously, what is not to love? Well, unless you are my brother who honestly has a phobia of mushrooms, I can't think why you wouldn't want to eat as many of these mushroom kings as you can get your hands on!