After a fabulous Christmas and New Year in Dubai, soaking up the sun and a little Middle Eastern culture, it was time to return to the chilly English January. Really couldn’t wait to feel healthy after the festive season and do a cleanse. This involved lots of fresh veggie smoothies with an extra boost of milk thistle to detox my liver and flax seeds for extra omega 3 intake. By not going out as much in January, a bit of hibernating in front of the log fire, which also means some good quality sleep. Part of my relaxation process is to listen to a 20 minute meditation on line to unwind before bed time. I also find it beneficial to try and eat my evening dinner by 6pm so I can incorporate some intermittent fasting for a longer period overnight. Along with hitting the gym hard with Hiit classes, but mixed up with yoga & stretch & tone all made me feel rejuvenated to move forward into 2019!
I cycled to Kew Gardens, always a joy to walk round this spectacular space only a few miles from where I live. Especially to see the new vast Victorian greenhouse which has recently opened.
Wow! Lots of Courses to bring in the new year! Well it is Veganuary, and busy prepping and trying out new recipes is always fun. Starting with the delicious Bosh Boys Vegan Chilli, you really must buy their book on all inspiring easy to follow vegan dishes at home.
Also on the calendar was the No Sugar course, which again is a great start to cut down and reduce your refined sugar intake for the new year.
I was invited for a radio interview at Brookland’s radio station in Weybridge, Surrey. It was a women’s hour programme, and there were 3 entrepreneurial speakers who had recently set up their businesses. The radio presenter interviewed me on why I set up KitchenJoy, from my passion of running the cookery school to the offering of healthy classes. I found it very exhilarating and was asked what foods a teenager could eat for acne, to calming foods for sleeping. If you want to catch up with KitchenJoy’s radio interview, here it is!
It was great to launch the new No Sugar Course and incorporate natural sugars into our diet to show clients that we can still have a balanced diet and to understand balancing blood sugar levels. This course started with a plant based smoothie with pineapple, banana and spinach leaves, to show you can get some natural sugars from fruit, yet it was balanced out with greens and maca powder plus walnuts for additional nutritional value. The main course was baked salmon with miso glaze which was a mix of maple syrup, mirin, soy, miso paste and sesame oil. It’s very simple but so delicious and my ethos is to create recipes which are easy for my clients to replicate at home.
With many vegan courses booked in January, it was good to mix up and experiment with new ideas. My friend James, gave me an easy to follow seitan recipe which was a winner! There are many ways to cook the seitan but I think steaming it seems the most effective and tasty! Once you have your base seitan, this will keep in the fridge for about one week, you can use this to make a number of dishes such as the photo above which is Mongolian stir fry. The seitan is perfect for absorbing strong flavours, so with soy, chilli, garlic, ginger & chinese five spice, this enhances the seitan and it really does taste like meat! Here is my favourite seitan recipe:
Mongolian seitan ‘beef’
Ingredients for Basic Homemade Seitan
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp blackened seasoning
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 and 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt, and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is softened slightly.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is softened and fragrant. Add the paprika to the pan, stir, and cook for 60 seconds or until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the onion & garlic mixture, including oil, to a blender or food processor. Add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, soy sauce if using, chickpea flour, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the vital wheat gluten, then stir until evenly combined. Once stirred, use your hands to knead the mixture until it becomes firm and a little bit springy, about 2 minutes. Do note that this will feel wetter and moister than many other seitan recipes, due to the fact that we are steaming it rather than boiling it. The dough will be quite loose and moist, so this won't feel similar to kneading bread.
Prepare boiling water and a steamer. Be sure to add plenty of water since this will be steaming for one hour. Form the dough into a vaguely log shape and then roll it up tightly in a piece of foil, twisting the ends tightly. Depending on the size and shape of your steamer, you may need to separate it into two pieces.
Once the water is boiling, steam the wrapped gluten dough for 1 hour, carefully flipping it over halfway through
Let the cooked seitan cool to room temperature, then unwrap it and place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. For best results, slice the seitan as needed for recipes rather than pre-slicing it. The homemade seitan in log form will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
For the Mongolian beef-less sauce:
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp minced or grated ginger
3 cloves minced or grated garlic
1/3 tsp Chinese five spice
1/3 tsp red chilli flakes
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cold water
For the crisped seitan:
1 and 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb homemade seitan (or use store-bought seitan), cut into 1-inch slices
Toasted sesame seeds
Sliced spring onions
To make the sauce:
Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic; stir constantly. After 30 seconds, add the five spice, and red pepper flakes, and cook for about one minute.
Add the soy sauce and coconut sugar and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and let simmer until the coconut sugar is dissolved and slightly reduced, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water, then add it to the pan and stir. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, until the sauce becomes glossy and thickened slightly. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and keep simmering gently until ready to add to the seitan.
To make the seitan and finish the vegan Mongolian beef:
In a pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the seitan and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 minutes or until slightly browned and crisped around the edges.
Reduce the heat to low and add the sauce to the pan. Stir to coat all of the seitan pieces, and continue cooking until the sauce has adhered to the seitan. Remove from the heat and serve hot, with rice and/or vegetables of choice, and garnished with sesame seeds and spring onions if using.
Serve with quinoa