Guest blog by Annie Gill
Often we are presented with conflicting information regarding what are the healthiest dietary approaches. We see diets such as Veganism or Keto Diet being discussed, promoted or criticised so it can be very confusing to know what diet would be the right diet for you? One popular dietary approach is adopting a Vegetarian diet. Being a Vegetarian means you eat predominantly plant based foods, but you also eat eggs and dairy products. There are many reasons why this approach is considered to be one of the healthiest diets because this diet increases the amount of soluble and in-soluble fibre intake. This increase in fibre is beneficial to us because the friendly gut bacteria that resides in our colon loves to feast on this fibre. When it feasts, it helps draw out all the nutrients from that food we eat, supporting the body’s ability to absorb and use this food as energy as well as support our internal disease defence systems. It also how’s support out immune system by ensuring that the terrain where our immune cells develop is optimum.
When cooking and eating predominately plant-based foods, the challenge is to make this food taste delicious and varied. We can’t rely on the savoury depths of flavour we achieve from roasting and grilling meats and fish. Instead we have to work harder to add this flavour into these foods.
Zero stocks an array of products that enable us to achieve these diverse flavours. There are many weird and wonderful spices, powders, nuts and seeds that our housed in those glass jars, enticing us with their colourful display. I’d like to focus on a couple of these products in detail so you can feel more confident to try them out when cooking your Vegetarian meals.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast. It is sold in the form of yellow flakes, granules or powder. It is a significant source of some B-complex vitamins and is sometimes fortified with B12 so ideal if you’re a vegan, as vegans must supplement with B12. Nutritional yeast has a strong flavour that is described as nutty or cheesy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of cheese, for example, in mashed and fried potatoes, in scrambled tofu, or as a topping for popcorn. I use this product alot in my kitchen. One of my favourite ways to use it is to make a cheese free spicy harissa pasta.
My Dairy Free Creamy Spicy Pasta - Serves 4
- 300g Lentil Pasta
- 60g unsalted cashews (soak in water for 15 mins)
- 2 tsp. Harissa paste, or you can use Smoked paprika
- 2 heaped tsp. Nutritional Yeast
- 350 ml Oat Milk (unsweetened)
- Punnet of mushrooms, sliced
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
- 1 courgette, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tbsp. Olive oil
- Cook pasta using packet instructions – About 10-12 mins
- Meanwhile sauté mushrooms, courgette, pepper and spinach in olive oil. Add some salt and pepper.
- In a liquidizer/Nutri- bullet add soaked cashews, harissa, nutritional yeast, oat milk, salt and pepper and whiz until creamy.
- When the pasta is cooked, add it to the sautéed vegetables and add the sauce – Combine all ingredients until warmed through and serve.
You can add any veg you fancy or use any pasta but you’ll find the sauce really savoury and creamy. The cashews make is full of healthy fats and protein – DELICIOUS!
Lucuma is the fruit of the Pouteria lucuma tree native to South America. Lucuma powder is low in sugar yet relatively rich in fibre. It also contains smaller amounts of other nutrients, including calcium and iron. Due to its sweet taste, it’s used as a healthier alternative to table sugar and other popular sweeteners. I like adding to my smoothies in the morning.
In a Nutribullet add the following ingredients and whiz
- ½ banana
- 350-400 ml Almond milk
- Handful of spinach
- Heaped Tsp. Lucuma
- Heaped Tsp. Nut Butter
- Heaped Tbsp. Oats