Porcini & Lentil Bolognese Pasta with Cashew Parmesan

This recipe is really close to my heart for so many reasons. The first obvious one is that since I am Italian pasta will always be the food that brings back so many childhood memories. The second reason is that I am originally from Bologna (yes where the Bolognese ragu comes from) so this recipe is my tribute to my beloved city and to a traditional recipe I grew up eating most Sundays for lunch, I obviously put a Happy Skin Kitchen twist on the traditional meat ragu recipe by using instead meaty dried porcini mushrooms and lentils. I know some of you might be skeptical about this, but trust me, this sauce is so flavoursome and packed with amazing textures it will make your belly sang with joy! Don’t skip on the homemade cashew “parmesan”, it takes no time to make and it adds a lovely crunchy and extra flavour. I hope I made my grandma proud 🙂

This recipe is in collaboration with Barilla to celebrate World’s Pasta Day.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 medium-sized carrots, finely chopped
1cup of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in some warm water for at least ½ hour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1cup of cooked brown lentils
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/3cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
400gr of Barilla Spaghetti no 5

For the cashew Parmesan:
1cup raw cashews
1/4cup nutritional yeast
sea salt to taste
1teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon of white miso paste (optional but add an extra cheesy/salty flavour)

Start by making the cashew parmesan. Simple place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you have a crumbly kind of consistency. Set onto one side while you are making the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook for about 6-8 minutes, until the onion starts to turn translucent.
Drain the soaked porcini and roughly chopped them.
Add the mushrooms and garlic to the pan Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, keep stirring from time to time.
Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and all the herbs to the pan. Stir the mixture well, and bring it to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes on a very gentle heat. If the sauce becomes too thick add a splash of water.
When the sauce is fifteen minutes from being done, heat a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and add a splash of olive oiol to prevent from sticking.
Divide the pasta into bowls and top with the bolognese sauce. Serve the pasta with some extra fresh basil , cracked black pepper and the cashew parmesan.

 

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Pea and Avocado Super Green Pasta

This is the perfect dinner for when you really can’t be bothered to spend hours cooking but you still want something healthy and filling. It’s a super speedy meal which only take you about 15-20 all together so it’s an ideal midweek supper. I love adding extra veggies on top, it’s very effortless way of eating your greens without compromising on taste. This sauce is so simple, completely nut free and yet so packed with flavour and has the most gorgeous creamy consistency.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:
1 cup of cooked peas
1/2 avocado
1/4 cup of basil leaves
a small handful of fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons of olive oil
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon of One Earth Green Goddess
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 clove of garlic
Salt & pepper to taste

Pasta of your choice (I have used wheat spaghetti)

To add on on top (optional):
hemp seeds
steamed broccoli florets, extra peas, grilled courgettes or peppers

Place all the ingredients for the pasta sauce and blitz for at least 1 minute until you have a creamy consistency. If you find it too too thick add more olive oil.

Cook the pasta of your choice according to the cooking instructions. Mix about 2 tablespoon of pesto in each plate and sprinkle with the hemp seeds or extra nutritional yeast. I love serving this pasta with some steamed romanesco cauliflower or broccoli but any roasted veggies would be great too.
Store the leftover sauce in a jar in the fridge for few days.

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Chocolate and Strawberries Cheesecake Cups

 

To make the most of the last British Strawberries I whipped up this super easy and fail proof dessert. It’s a great pudding to be served at any dinner parties as you can make it in advance and store it in the freezer. For the filling I instead of using cashews I experimented wit coconut milk and sunflower seeds which worked perfectly creating the creamiest of the consistency.

Ingredients:

For the base:

¾ cup of almonds

2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder

1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil

10-12 medjol dates – pitted

For the cheesecake layer:

1/2 cup of sunflower seeds soaked for at least 4-5 hours

1 tin of full fat coconut milk – refrigerated overnight  (please don’t skip this step)

3 tablespoons of maple syrup (add more if you like it sweeter)

1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil

½ cup of fresh or frozen strawberries (you can also use raspberries)

A dash of vanilla extract

For the chocolate layer:

100gr of good quality dark chocolate, melted – I have used Goodio Wild Bluberrries for extra berry flavour

Start by making the base: place the almonds into a food processor and blitz until you have a coarse flour. Add in all the other ingredients and blitz again until you have a sticky dough.

Lightly grease with some coconut oil a muffins tin. With your fingers press the mixture down in each case to create the base.

Place the tin in the freezer to set while you are making the filling.

Drain and rinse sunflower seeds and place them into a blender with all the other ingredients. When using the coconut milk make sure to use only the thick creamy part which should be at the top of the tin. Don’t use the watery part (that can be used in curries or smooties. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Remove the tin from the freezer and pour the strawberry cream on top of the base. Smooth it out with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Place the tin back in the freezer to set for at least 1 hour.

Melt the chocolate and pour it on top of each cups. Place the tin back in the freezer for 20-30 minutes until the chocolate is completely set. To easily remove the cheesecake cups fill up a large bowl with boiling water, hover the tin over the bowl for few minutes. With the help of knife pop the cheesecakes out of the moulds. Enjoy! Store any leftover in an air tight container in the freezer for few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

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Vegan Mushroom Sausage Rolls

 

These are just the perfect party food ideal for the holiday season. They are packed with flavours, they are flaky on the outside with a lovely gooey filling in the middle. They could the perfect starter or the perfect aperitivo nibbles and I promise you that you will surprise everyone when saying that they are completely vegan!

Ingredients:

Makes about 17-22 sausage rolls depending on the size

1 roll of puff pastry

1 small white onion – diced

2 clove of garlic

1 cup of roughly chopped chestnut mushrooms

1 tbsp of dried thyme

1tbsp of dried sage

½ can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans

½ cup of drained and rinsed puy lentils

½ cup of potato starch

2 tablespoon of nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of Udo’s Choice Beyond Greens blend https://www.udoschoice.co.uk/shop/Udos-Choice-Beyond-Greens

1 tablespoon of olive oil for frying

Optional: a handful of spinach

In a large pan sauté onion, mushroom, and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.

Then add in thyme, oregano, and sage and stir occasionally for another 3-4 minutes until the mixture is slightly brown and has soften. Add in the spinach at the last couple minutes of cooking so that they just going to wilt but not overcook.

Add all mixture to a food processor with the cannellini beans and lentils, sea salt, ground pepper, nutritional yeast, potato starch and Udo’s ultimate Greens blend.

Process until the mixture is fairly smooth. Remove it from the food processor and place it into a bowl. Cover it with a plate and place it in the fridge for about ½ hour for a gloopier and more solid consistency.

Dust you rolling surface with some flour. Roll out the puff pastry. Cut out some long strips, about 4 cm wide. Spread the “sausage” mixture all the way along on the pastry strip. Roll it and then slice the log in about 7-8 pieces.

Brush all your “sausage rolls” with some olive oil. Place them on a baking tray and bake them in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes until slightly golden brown and flaky.

It’s best to serve them straight away while still warm.

 

 

 

 

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Apple Breakfast Cookies

I have been slightly obsessed with cookies lately, they are just so easy to make and they are the perfect snacks and sometimes breakfast. Although there are some great healthy shop bought cookies out there, I still believe that the one you make yourself will always be the best. I love playing around with different ingredients and try to pack as much good stuff as possible. I normally would use a mashed banana as a binder but this time I swap it for an apple as they are in season and it worked perfectly! These cookies are chewy with a subtle crunch from the chia seeds and naturally sweet. I love to have them as a mid afternoon snack or as on the go breakfast.

Makes about 8-10 cookies depending on the size

Ingredients:

1 apples (skin on) grated

½ cup of smooth and runny almond butter

3 tbsp brown rice syrup or date syrup

2 tbsp of melted coconut oil

A dash of vanilla extract

¾ cup of oat flour

1/3 cup of ground almond

⅓ cup of milled flaxseeds

1 tablespoon of chia seeds (optional but add a nice texture)

1 tablespoon of One Earth Rejuvenate Your Soul Blend

2 tsp baking powder

Line a large tray with some baking paper.

Start by preheating the oven at 180 degrees Celsius. In a bowl mix together the almond flour, oat flour, milled flaxseeds, One Earth blend and baking powder.

In a separate bowl add the almond butter, grated apple, rice syrup and coconut oil. Mix everything together breaking down any lumps of the almond butter. You want the mixture to be quite gloopy and creamy.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently mix everything together. Try not to overmix it as it will result in heavier consistency. If the cookie dough is too dry add a splash of almond milk.

Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and place it on the baking tray. With your hands try to shape I into a round cookie shape. Don’t worry if they look very irregular, they will still be delicious!

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Pumpkin Muffins with Vanilla Frosting

These muffins have been my latest autumn treat. They are packed with warm seasonal flavours like cinnamon, nutmeg and sweet pumpkin and they are just the perfect afternoon treat. I love how indulgent they are and yet packed with wholesome ingredients. The vanilla frosting is just super creamy and decadent and it goes perfectly with all the other flavours.

This recipe is in collaboration with Udo’s Choice.

Ingredients:

2 cups of spelt flour

½ cup of coconut sugar

2 teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoon of mixed spice

1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

1 cup of almond milk

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

¼ cup of agave nectar

¾ cup of pumpkin puree

For the frosting:

1 cup of cashews, soaked in water for at least 8 hours or over night

1 cup of coconut cream

½ tablespoon of Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil https://www.udoschoice.co.uk/shop/Udos-Choice-Ultimate-Oil-Blend-250ml

1/2 cup of coconut oil

4 tablespoon of agave nectar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Start by preheating the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices. In a separate bowl whisk together the almond milk, coconut oil, agave nectar and pumpkin puree. Pour the wet mixture into the flour and gently fold everything together. Be careful not to overmix it as it will result in a too heavy batter. Scoop out (even better if you use an ice cream scoop) about two tablespoons of the batter for each muffins case. Bake the muffins in the oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool down in the tray for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Make the frosting: drain and rinse the soaked cashews and place them into a food processor or blender until you have a complete smooth and creamy mixture. Place the icing in fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up a bit and the frost away the cupcakes!

 

 

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Peanut Butter & Vanilla Buckwheat porridge with Stewed Plums

This has been my latest favourite breakfast, I love how creamy and indulgent it is and yet so packed with goodness! I really think buckwheat is such an underrated grain (is technically a seed) and definitely not used enough. It’s packed with easily digestible protein, antioxidants, high in fibre and rich in vitamins and minerals. I love pairing it with creamy peanut butter, banana and One Earth Vanilla blend, it just create almost like a caramel flavour which goes so well with the stewed plums.

 Serves 1

 Ingredients:

¾ cup of buckwheat groats

1/4 cup of almond milk

1 pitted dates

1 tablespoon of smooth peanut butter

1tablespoon of One Earth Vanilla Zilla blend

1 frozen banana

 For the stewed plums:

 2 ripe plums destoned and cut in half

2 tablespoons of coconut sugar

A splash of water

 Extra toppings:

 Fresh or frozen berries

Granola

Bee pollen

  The night before soak the buckwheat groats with plenty of water. Drain the buckwheat groats and make sure to rinse them very well under fresh water. They will have a slightly slimy layer on top, don’t worry, it’s totally normal. Just rinse them properly.

 To make the stewed plums just place the coconut sugar and water in a pan on a medium heat. When the coconut sugar syrup starts to bubble add the plums. Cook the plums onto 1 side for a couple of minutes and then turn them on the other side and repeat the process until they are soft and squishy.

 To make the buckwheat pudding place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy. If your blender is struggling add more almond milk.

 Serve the pudding with the syrupy plums and topping of your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating Organic September with Wyld Wood Cider

To celebrate Organic September last week I had the real pleasure of visiting Wyld Wood Cider https://www.instagram.com/wyldwoodcider/ beautiful organic apple orchard in the enchanting British countryside.

Westons has produced organic cider for over 15 years and Wyld Wood is a brand that comes straight from the heart of the company’s values.They have converted 10 acres of their land into an environmentally friendly Wetlands Waste Management System, where all of their waste water is processed naturally through it creating a haven for wildlife. The added bonus is that the purified water is then pumped back onto their orchards, substantially
increasing the yields. Westons Cider’s organic orchards are sustainably managed to preserve and enhance nature until the apples and pears are ready for picking. The company nurtures its old orchards and has been planting new organic orchards, working with the Soil Association and the Wildlife Trusts.

 

We started the day with a super interesting talk from the Soil Association about what organic actually means, organic farming and the benefits or purchasing organic food. If you have been following me for a while you probably will know by now how passionate I am about organic agriculture and this talk inspired me even more about buying organic when possible.

“Food as it should be”. Organic means fewer pesticide, no artificial additives or preservatives, the highest standards of animal welfare and no GM ingredients.

There are endless reasons to choose organic but if I can I here are few bullet points to make it easier:

1- Knowing what’s in your food- choosing organic is an easy way to avoid pesticides, herbicides, additives and preservatives.

2-Better for the animals- organic farming has the highest standard of animal welfare. Animal are raised in conditions to suit their natural behaviour. They are also raised without the routine, preventive use of antibiotics.

3- Better for the wildlife-organic farmers don’t use herbicides at all, this is good news for the birds and bees that live on organic farms.

4-Better for the planet- If all the UK farmland was converted to organic farming at least 1.3 millions tonnes of carbon would be taken up by the soil each year- the equivalent of taking nearly 1 millions cars off the road.

Do I buy everything organic? No, unfortunately I can’t afford to buy every single item on my shopping list organic but I am always try my best to buy whatever I can afford organic. I particularly enjoy shopping at my local farmers market to buy most of my vegetables. Not only I think the quality is much better than supermarkets but I also love supporting small producers.

After the talk we had a delicious (organic) lunch packed with local and seasonal produces. We then got taken to a very interesting tour around the facilities where Wyld Wood Cider is made. Since I am not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to cider it was very interesting for me to see the whole process from apple to bottle.

 

Finally we got taken on a tractor ride by Harry Weston himself (!) to the most beautiful apple orchards I have ever seen. Rows and rows of organic apple trees, surrounded by luscious green fields.

I was so sad when it was time to leave, I really wish I had more time to enjoy the stunning surroundings. But I am so grateful to have had the chance to learn more about cider making and organic agriculture. It definitely instilled in me even more a huge passion for organic agriculture and for sustainability when it comes to the food I am consuming every day. We can all play a big role in supporting what “food really should be” by purchasing organic produce whenever is possible.

We all vote with our pound and I am even more conscious now of what I want to support with my money.

If you want to find out more about how to get involved in Organic September click on the link below:

https://www.soilassociation.org/certification/food-drink/business-support/marketing-organic/organic-september-get-involved/

 

 

 

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Double Chocolate Bounty Bars

If you are a fan of bounty bars you will definitely love these. I decided to add a fudgy chocolate bottom layer because you can’t ever have too much chocolate right? If you want to make them even more indulgent you can also add extra melted chocolate in the base. I love adding some buckwheat groats for an extra crunch but feel free to leave them out.

 For the bottom layer:

2 cups of ground almonds

3 tablespoons of almond butter

1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil

5 tablespoon of maple syrup

3 tablespoons of raw cacao powder

2 tablespoons of buckwheat groats – optional but add a lovely crunch

Optional, to make it extra chocolately: add to the base 30-40gr of Goodio Coconut chocolate- melted

For the middle layer:
2 cups of shredded coconut
1 can of full fat coconut milk chilled in the fridge overnight (please don’t skip this part)
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons of maple syrup

For the coating:

100 gr of melted Goodio coconut chocolate

Line a brownies tin with some parchment paper.

Make the first layer: in a bowl mix together the ground almonds, almond butter, coconut oil, raw cacao powder, maple syrup, melted chocolate and buckwheat groats (if using). Mix all the ingredients together until you have a smooth mixture. Spread the chocolate mixture into the brownies tin and press it down with your hands. Place the tin in the freezer while you are making the other layers.

To make the coconut layer place the shredded coconut, coconut milk, maple syrup and coconut oil into a food processor and blitz for a good minute until you have a creamy and smooth paste. Make sure to use only the thick part of the coconut milk which should be at the top of the tin. Don’t use the watery part, you can use that for curries and smoothies.

Remove the base from the freezer. With the back of a spoon spread the coconut mixture on top of the chocolate layer. Place it back in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up.

For the final chocolate layer: Heat a pan full of water on a medium heat. Cover it with a ceramic or glass bowl. Place the chocolate in the bowl and let it melt gently.

Remove the tin from the freezer and cut it into slices. Dip the bites into the melted chocolate. Place them on a baking sheet to set. To speed up the process you can also place the bars in the fridge or freezer. Enjoy!

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for few weeks.

 

 

 

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Chocolate Buckwheat Porridge with Caramelised Banana

I have been slightly obsessed with buckwheat lately and I have especially been loving it when it comes to breakfast. I love the subtle crunch of the groats and how it soak ups all the flavours. Buckwheat is also a powerhouse of vitamins and mineral and it’s also an easily digestible protein. To make this porridge uber chocolately I have used One Earth Organic Chocolate dream blend and for extra indulgence I served it with caramelised banana and peanut butter.

Ingredients:

Serves 2

1 cup of buckwheat groats

1 cup of almond milk or non dairy milk of your choice

1 cup of water

¼ cup of raisins or a couple of pitted dates for sweetness (you can also use a liquid sweetener like maple syrup or agave nectar)

2-3 tablespoons of One Earth Organic Chocolate Dream

For the caramelised banana:

1 ripe banana cut in half1 tablespoon of coconut sugar

Toppings:

Peanut butter

Cacao nibs

Coconut chips

If you want to speed up the cooking time of the buckwheat soak it in the plenty of water the night before or for at least 1 hour. Rinse the buckwheat groats really well and place them in a pan with the water and almond milk. Bring it to a boil. Once it’s start boiling turn the heat down and put the lid on. Cook the buckwheat on a low heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the groats are tender but still with a crunch. Add more liquid if needed.

While the porridge is cooking caramelised the banana. Place the coconut sugar and water in a pan on a medium heat. Once the sugar starts to bubble add in the 2 banana halves. Cook the banana onto each side for about 2-3 minutes.

Serve the porridge with the caramelised banana, peanut butter, cacao nibs and coconut chips.

 

 

 

 

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