Tomato risotto with a twist!

Today has been feeling a bit of a slow day, I think I’m still recovering from doing my longest ever run yesterday (13.5k, and I ran all the way, no walking or stopping!) and being kicked out of bed at 6am didn’t help either.

Soon to be breakfast smoothie!To give me a good kick start I had a huge morning smoothie as usual, that’s my only breakfast nowadays and I love it, it gives me a lot more energy and keeps me fuller longer than many other breakfasts, even things like porridge. I always change it a bit but the base is always a few bananas and a small handful of dates, it’s delicious just like that but I can add berries, pineapple (like today), spinach, green lettuce, mango… you get the idea. I’ve never added yogurt or other dairy, I just don’t feel the need for it. Also, I will need a total separate post on why I’m happy to eat so much fruit and not only I don’t believe it to be bad but I find it hugely beneficial.

Moving on! I had already today’s lunch planned (I’m trying to be good and make weekly menus to spend and waste less) so no last minute weird combination, instead we had a lovely tomato risotto, with a twist! My mum gave me this recipe when, not long ago, while on the phone to her I told her how it was almost dinner time, I had no idea what to make and an ’empty’ fridge.. she asked me what I had and I told her I pretty much only had pesto so it would have probably ended up in a fairly unexciting pasta with pesto. How wrong was I! This risotto is amazing and far from unexciting.

Now, yes, risotto does need you to stir and add stock almost continuously, but I’m often on my feet doing 10 things at once around the kids anyway so stopping for a quick stir every few minutes really isn’t that daunting to me, and the result is certainly worth it. It usually takes me about half an hour or less from start to finish.

Tomato risotto

INGREDIENTS

80-90g arborio (risotto) rice per person – I normally make 200g and that’s enough for me and 2 kids.
1 onion
1lt of sock
a tin of chopped tomatoes, or small bottle of passata
zest of one orange
2 tbsp pesto
olive oil/butter
seasoning

METHOD

Chop up the onion really finely and cook on a very low heat in a large pan with some olive oil (or butter) until they soften – not brown or burn! Easy does it. Put the stock in a separate saucepan on a low heat to keep it warm, if you use cold stock it will stop the rice from cooking properly.

Once the onions are soft, pour in the rice and let it toast for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes and a ladle of stock, stir well and cover. Keep on stirring it every few minutes and add stock ladle by ladle when needed, waiting until it’s completely absorbed until you add more. That’s it!

Season (though you may not need to as it’s been cooked with stock), then serve with a nice sprinkle of orange zest on top and a little pesto in the middle, and add some parmesan too if you like it. Done! It’s a great hit around here and so good for when I have no fresh ingredients in.

Tomato risotto

 

Did  you try it? Was it good? Was it horrible? Let me know! Any feedback is helpful 🙂

 

Raw chocolate brownies – you MUST try these!

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m not trying to completely avoid any added refined sugar – and by that I mean sugar that has been extracted or processed and that isn’t in its natural form anymore.

I’ve been sugar-free for almost 3 months now and I feel much better for it, my moods have improved, I have far more energy and the weight has been slowly but surely coming off, and trust me when I say that I’m in no way controlling my portions, I always end up finishing my daughter’s dinners and putting lashings of oil or butter on anything! We’re a fat friendly house and I most certainly don’t count calories.

Ingredients readyBut I didn’t know all this when I first started, all I knew was that I really, really liked chocolate and I wasn’t quite ready to face a chocolate-free life. And this is when I found The Rawtarian’s website and so so glad I did. She has many raw vegan recipes, including an amazing raw cheesecake recipe, raw chocolate truffles for when I’m in need of a quick fix and, above, the awesome raw chocolate brownies. I swear, every single person who’s tried them has loved them and I’ve been asked for the recipe many times, so if you’re trying to go sugar-free or just have a healthier alternative to regular brownies, you should really add these to your to-do list.

The recipe is as easy as it gets:
– one cup of pecans (I added some cashews too)
– one cup of dates
– 5 tablespoons of raw cacao (I use regular cocoa powder)
– 4 tablespoons of dessicated coconut
– 2 tablespoons of honey
– pinch of sea salt

I throw it all in the blender at once though Laura-Jane @ the Rawtarian suggests blending the pecans first, then the dates, then adding the rest of the ingredients. Blend until it’s fluffy, but don’t overblend it or the natural oils will separate, I talk from experience!

All in the blender  IMGP1873

Press down into a pan (she says with clean hands, which makes me giggle – of course you’d use clean hands! And if you didn’t you’re probably the kind of person who doesn’t really care anyway) and put in the fridge for a few hours to set, unless you’re greedy and impatient like us and end up eating it almost immediately. Then cut into squares just like you would with regular brownies and stuff your face serve.

Raw chocolate brownies

I really recommend topping them with her raw chocolate icing too, it’s delicious and you wonder how they only have healthy ingredients, they taste too naughty to be so good. I only make it on special occasions, purely because my toddler is crazy about these and the icing can get quite messy in small clumsy hands.

Butternut squash “pizza”

This weekend has really flown by, my brother, sister-in-law and nephew came for a brief visit after I hadn’t seen them for well over a year so there’s been lots of catching up and running around to show them how beautiful Brighton is – which also involved a fair amount of not particularly healthy food (takeaway curry anyone?).

I wanted a light dinner but fancied trying something new, and I was also tired. New, healthy and quick… now that’s a challenge! Thankfully I remembered a recipe I had saved on my Pinterest food board (are you on Pinterest? If no, you really should, it’s amazing for saving all great things in one place!), it was a butternut squash pizza crust, the idea being to have a paleo-friendly pseudo pizza. I also saw this roasted butternut squash with goats cheese recipe yesterday so I combined the two to make my own veggie butternut squash pizza.

Baked butternut squashIt’s all pretty easy. Preheat the oven to 200°, cut the butternut squash in slices around 1cm thick then drizzle with olive oil (or butter, or coconut oil… whatever floats your boat!) and place them on a tray and bake for around 30 minutes – the timing depends a lot on the thickness of your slices so it’s worth checking them after around 20 minutes to make sure they’re not getting too mushy.

The next step is not necessary as it depends on what you want as topping, but here’s what I did! Prepare a quick tomato sauce by softening some finely chopped onion in a pan with a little olive oil, pour in a can of chopped tomatoes and let it simmer for a few minutes. Next add some chopped courgettes, fresh basil and oregano and cook until the courgette are softer and the sauce has thickened up.

Now, assemble! Put the veggie tomato sauce on the butternut squash slices and crumble feta cheese on top, pop back in the over for 10 minutes and there you go, lovely dinner ready to serve. It was a winner all round (ok, my daughter did leave the courgettes, one day she’ll eat them again, or so I hope!).

Butternut squash pizza with feta

I think I’ll make it again soon, though next time I’ll add more feta cheese, I found myself saving the cheesy bits for the end!

 

Chickpeas swimming

p.s. chickpeas are soaking… can you guess what I’ll be attempting to make tomorrow?