Tahini Chickpea Curry with Couscous (AKA TahPeaCous)

I was planning on having sweet potato nachos and chilli today but on a sweep of my cupboards I discovered I didn’t have any black beans…first world problems. I decided to go rouge and cobble something together. I made a pile of things I like and things I thought would go together.

Exhibit A:

IMG_5368

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 1 can of chickpeas (in water not salt)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 80g of uncooked couscous
  • 1 red onion
  • I pepper (any colour, they all taste good to me)
  • Massive handful of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini (I love all nut butters and although this is ground sesame seeds it tastes like peanut butter to me)
  • Cumin (To taste)
  • Chilli flakes (optional, to taste)
  • Half an avacado
  • Spring onions (as many as you want, I used two, chopped them up and mixed them in with a mashed up avocado)

The secret to not crying when you are cutting an onion is not to get emotionally attached #lifehackIMG_5369

 

 

 

IMG_5372

Into the pan goes the can of chopped tomatoes, the chopped onion, the spinach, the chopped pepper, the can of chickpeas, the tahini, cumin and chilli seeds. I cooked it on a low heat…It took around 10 minutes. I popped half in the fridge fr tomorrow and put the rest on top of of the cooked couscous, with a coupe of spoonfuls of yogurt and topped it with the mashed avocado and ping onions! Done!

 

 

I am really happy with the dish, not only because it was so nice but because it is packed with ingredient that is now working away in my body giving it so many good things! It is working FOR my body and not against it. I have been doing this for over a month now (with around 2 real sugary cheat meals thrown in there) and I feel good, I have always been active and eaten my greens but stepping things up a notch has really made a difference. I feel good, inside, I feel energetic, I feel awake, I don’t get the mid morning or mid afternoon slump, I feel sharp and my goodness it feels good!

 

Midnight Munchies (by midnight I mean, morning, noon and night)

Breaking the evening sweet treat routine, usually some sort of cake or chocolate biscuit, was a worry for me. If anything was going to break me, I thought that it would be this. I would happily munch my way through a chocolate orange, some giant chocolate buttons or a piece of carrot cake. Seriously what do people eat as a treat of they’re not eating chocolate or cake?

At first I indulge on dates, porridge covered in honey, banana milkshakes etc. Now whilst all this was added sugar free I was starting to notice I had no concept of when to stop and  also dates are not cheap!

So I after some thought ( no thought, just googling) I decided to give popcorn a whirl. I cant remember when I last ate home popped popcorn, I would usually get toffee coated popcorn for a movie night or to take to the cinema. As this is now off limits

IMG_5331

I had no choice but to go caveman. Took me a while to find it in the supermarket but once sourced I got to it. The instructions tell you to put oil in the pan first but this isn’t true, (in fact it can remove many of the benefits if you do add it, apparently) you can just add the kernels straight into a heated pan and cover with a lid, turn the heat down though otherwise it’ll burn. I think that one of the best things about home popped popcorn is that your house smells delicious and the “popping” becomes one of the most welcome sounds you can hear. After its popped add whatever you like, I either add salt or stir a teaspoon of honey into it. (Please note the picture my hand posed for, I have about 20 more on my phone with my hand at various stages of hovering over the bowl, to help create the anticipation / excitement of a good old bowl of hand popped popcorn!..did I over think it…100% I did) 

Right, real talk, despite the fact that its delicious there are many benefits to eating popcorn

  • Its anti-inflammatory! Woohoo!!
  • Contains a large amount of antioxidant capacity, which help prevent cancer and prevent ageing,
  • Its full of protein. Apparently ounce for ounce more than spinach or eggs. (surprising if true!)
  • Low fat. As long as you don’t cook it in oil, and cover in sugar or butter. Yes I sometimes add honey but only around a teaspoon so I think I’ll pass (hope so!).
  • Its a wholegrain, so lots of fibre so will improve / is good for your digestion
  • May seem obvious but its gluten free
  • Cheap! I usually have around 50g (pre popped) a time and there is 500g in my bag, at £2 a bag that’s 20p a serving. You cant even buy a Freddo for 20p these days!

Keeping it “good for you”:

  • Don’t add oils or lots of sugar / butter to it,
  • Check its organic (mine doesn’t say it is so I am assuming that means its not,
    I will look for organic when I restock. Also stay away from microwave popcorn too as there are chemical in the packaging which you can do without.

Disclaimer: I have gathered the above information by searching the web and cross referencing health claims. Obviously I haven’t tested popcorn myself in a lab or conducted my own research / trials so I cannot be 100% sure all of this is true (especially as I am beginning to think that everything we are told is just a conspiracy theory). I hope they are though!

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Nachos with Black bean chilli

Today I woke up feeling heavy and lethargic, after a family party this weekend, I consumed a good ol’ portion (or 5) of sugary foods. I go by the 95/5 split, where I eat plant and sugar free based 95% of the time but I don’t begrudge myself a sugar tipple should IMG_5312the occasion call for it. At this point I’m still a beginner and may go 100% sugar free in the future. However I really felt like I paid for it yesterday and this morning, it almost felt like a hangover. The thing with feeling “hungover” is that you crave carby / sugary foods, so whilst that was what I wanted I knew that what I needed was plants and lot of them! I decided on nachos and chilli, oh yeahh! As this is a plants based / sugar free blog I decided on a tasty plant based alternative. Sweet potato nachos and black bean chilli! It was so good I already planning on having it again tomorrow

Black bean chilli: 

This makes enough for around 4 portions. I like to make enough to keep in the fridge or feed a few people.

Garlic clove (I use about 3 as I love garlic, but you can alter according to your taste)

1 red onion

Canned sweetcorn

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 can of back beans

Cumin / Paprika / chilli flakes: Add to taste, I put a good old shake of each

Method: heat a small amount of oil (I use fry light or olive oil), add chopped garlic and then a minute later add the chopped onion. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, can of drained black beans, half a can of sweetcorn (or all of it if you want! I like to add half and then have half in the fridge to eat straight from the ban or add to a baked potato / salad  / falafal etc) and spices. At this point I also like to have a sweep of my fridge and see if there is anything else I can add…spinach, actual tomatoes, peppers (red, yellow, green)

Once you have had a taste and you’re happy, take off the heat and set aside or pop into a tub to cool before you pop in fridge if you are making a batch up.

Sweet Potato Nachos

Pre heat oven. I gave a fan over and preheat it at 250.

Slice a sweet potato up, one per person should be enough if you are having other things on the plate, if you want a heaped bowl full Id do over a potato each.IMG_5303 Once slices put on a tray with oil, I use fry light or a drizzle of olive / sunflower. Salt and pepper to taste. These should take around 20 minutes, I keep checking on them as you want to keep turning them.

 

 

Once done take out, cover it in cheese and pop back in for the cheese to melt. I have startIMG_5305ed to try out vegan cheese. Violife do soft cheese and blocks. I think this one is pretty nice. I got this from Tesco. It tastes, slices and grates like a regular cheddar. I’m not a cheese connoisseur so I’m sure others will be able to give you a more specific review but I like this one. It melts well too, which is a big plus. I took a recording of the melted cheese to demonstrate of stringy it gets but I would need to upgrade my version of wordpress to upload it… sorry I’m feeling too frugal to do that this month!

I also mashed an avocado and added a few dollops of yogurt to made a guacamole, because if you ain’t dippin’ you trippin’. Yum.IMG_5297

So now you just put it all together, nachos, chilli and guac. I also added beetroot, as I absolutely love it and a few more dollops of yogurt. Obviously you can load this up with the chilli on top but I like to have my different food in piles. Also I am definitely gong to add more cheese next time (tomorrow!)

 

 

Things to make to keep in your fridge to “pick” at

Two of the things I am currently making that I keep in the fridge so I can add to a dish, on bread, eat with a spoon etc.

  • Hummus: Chickpeas and olive oil. That’s it! How is it possible that its that easy?! But it is. Of course you can add things to it. My two favourite “flavours” are garlic, salt and pepper and the second is fried red peppers with salt and pepper, Just pick your flavour and add it in to the blender with the chickpeas and blend. I then keep a stash in the fridge and pick away at it throughput the week. 
  • Guacamole: mashed avocado. That’s it! You can, again, add things to it. Onion, herbs (coriander, parsley, mint etc), lemon. Go wild! 

Carbs!

Oh yeaaaah! Actually, oh no! They all have sugar in them 😦 What will I do??!! Obviously  potatoes are fine as they are a vegetable but rice, pasta, bread and noodles all have added sugar. Devastating.

So I fired my keyboard up and scoured the internet for my options. What I found is there are other option! Phew! Some staples I am enjoying right now:

  1. Rice noodles
  2. Cous cous
  3. Alternative spaghetti (soy bean, black bean and edamame) All of which I got from Aldi
  4. Home made bread. I simply used a generic recipe and left the sugar out (Yeast, flower and water). Tastes so blumming good, especially straight from the oven. Heaven. I actually make a few batches up, divide into bun size portions and freeze until I need it. That way I get hot bread straight from the oven when I want it. Seriously, why didn’t I make my own bread sooner?!

Sweet! I might just be able to do this afterall!

 

Making the transition to plant based sugar free

The first thing I did was scroll Pinterest for ideas, saving the things with ingredient in I knew I liked and becoming curious to try things Id never had before. The hardest part of this type of diet change is that you realises that you have no idea what is in your food. The more I researched the more shocked I was how much sugar is in EVERYTHING! Bread, pasta, sauces etc. This makes it nearly impossible to eat out, grab a bite so there is only one thing for it…fall in love with cooking, with how your food tastes and most importantly, get prepared!

I dipped my toes in before I dived in, It took me around a month to make the transition. I had been thinking about it for a while before I decided that the challenge was something I wanted to take on. I got to the point where I want to do everything I can to improve the quality of my life. 

The best thing about getting started is trying lots of foods you wouldn’t normally eat. I have pretty much replaced chocolate with dates, popcorn and honey…I have no issues satisfying my sweet tooth. Which I found quite surprising considering my favourite thing is marshmallows dipped in milk chocolate then covered in sprinkles and Costco carrot cake 🙂 

IMG_5125

Sugar and palm oil free nut butter are amazing, my favourite is almond and coconut hands down. 

.

IMG_5127

 

Nuts, dates, figs, coconut honey and popcorn go a long way as ingredient or on their own. 

 

 

Next up I went to the condiments. I stocked up on

  • coconut, sunflower and olive oil
  • Rock salt, pepper and chilli flakes (personal reference as I love chilli)
  • I looked around and found sugar free sauces in ASDA by the Blend Bros, who actually produce their products in Manchester, which was enough of an incentive for me to try them! Only had them a few days so far and as you can see the sweet chilli sauce is going down a treat. I’m not blown over by the ketchup as its very tangy but I also love the piri piri sauce.
  • I also have a cupboard full of raisins, dried apricots, prunes, seeds and nuts.

 

 

 

My current situation

knee

As you can see my left knee (right in this picture) is considerably swollen. It looks like i have it bent but I don’t, this is straight. I have run two half marathons this year and my knee wasn’t too happy at the time and definitely isn’t happy now (over a month after the last one). Just to help you understand me a bit more, I walked a 10k on crutches so pain and discomfort wont stop me from doing something, and someone telling me I shouldn’t do something “because of your knee” will only make it want to do it more and make me more determined to manage this disease better! However when my knee is as swollen as it is right now it definitely does slow me down, which is pretty frustrating to say the least.  I am used to the swelling continually going up and down but sometimes it doesn’t settle which is when I need to get help. This usually ends up in it being drained and occasionally having steroids to help prevent it from swelling straight back up again.

 

As Thomas A Edison said;

“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” 

I know I am past prevention but I am not past taking responsibility and taking advise from all the nutritionists I am reading about and seeing if what I eat really can make a different in the management of this disease.