In Which I Make Nutty Museli/Granola

This was inspired by wonderful food stylist Natalie Seldon’s recipe for Maple-roasted Nut & Seed Granola in her book The Goodness of Nuts and Seeds. I’ve simplified it and cut out the maple syrup, so it’s really more of a muesli. It also means I can choose whether or not to eat something sweet with it, depending on how I feel. It’s great mixed with yogurt and a little drizzle of honey or agave nectar (choose plant-based yogurt and agave to keep it vegan).

Oats and dried goji berries – yum!

In the recipe pictured I use pecans and cashews with pumpkin and sesame seeds, but the recipe is very versatile, so you can use whatever you have in the cupboard or fancy buying at the shop. Every time I make this I’ll use up to four different types each of nuts and of seeds to keep it interesting. You can buy pre-mixed bags of both if you can’t decide.

Chop, chop, chopped up nuts and seeds

If you’d like a lower-carb or gluten-free version, then swap the oats for more nuts and seeds. I used to make it without oats all the time, but nuts can be pricey so now I add the oats to bulk it out a little. Apparently they’re good for low cholesterol (according to the Tesco packaging), so they’re not ‘empty’ carbs. Plus, if you mix them with the dried fruit before combining everything it helps prevent the fruit sticking together. Swap for another dried fruit if you don’t like or can’t find goji berries.


Nutty Muesli

Makes 400g/enough to fill a 500ml jar

125g mixed nuts
75g mixed seeds
100g Scottish porridge oats
30g dried goji berries
20g ground seed mix, such as linseed, hemp seed and chia seed (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Chop all the nuts. As nuts can roll around when chopping, it’s easier to do this in small batches. Tip the chopped nuts along with the seeds into a deep baking tray, mix together and spread evenly. If you only have a shallow tray, you may find it easier to mix together the chopped nuts and the seeds in a bowl before putting them in the tray.

Bake for 5–10 minutes, remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.

In a bowl mix together the oats, goji berries and seed mix (if using), then add the baked nuts and seeds once they have cooled.

Store in a jar or other sealed container. It should last a few months (probably longer, but eating it for breakfast every day it’s usually gone in about 2 weeks!).

In Which I Make Courgette and Pea Pesto Pasta

This recipe was inspired by a dish I saw online/in a recipe book/heard someone mention (read: somewhere, which I then immediately forgot, hence no credit) that featured courgette ‘ribbons’ with spaghetti. Now, I don’t have a spiralizer or specific ribbon-cutting machine (knives can do just as much as any 137-use device!), so I just pulled out my bog-standard peeler (so not actually knife here, though you could probably use one if you’re good at cutting thinly. I am not…). It looks quite nice if you can peel away evenly enough with a little strip of skin showing on the side, but it’s all the same.

The pesto I created from vague memory of various recipes I’ve tried over the years, and the fact that I just cannot seem to keep a basil plant alive. If you are able to keep basil alive (or just want to buy some pre-cut fresh) then use a big bushy handful of the stuff. Or go half-and half with fresh and dried if you prefer. Taste as you go and experiment a little; too much dried ingredients and the consistency can become grainy.

Poor dead basil

Nutritional yeast (not the type used for breadmaking) is what makes this pesto vegan; it’s a popular substitute for cheese amongst vegans, as it has a similar salty/sharp flavour profile as strong cheese. You can buy nutritional yeast from health-food shops (Holland and Barrett) or online. In all honesty, I was pretty sceptical of it at first (and my SO still calls it ‘vegan fish food’ thanks to its flakey appearance), but it’s a great store cupboard food as it lasts for ages. You can leave it out if you wish, or if you eat dairy you could swap it for some grated strong cheese. (I don’t use DOC Parmigiana Reggiano, as it contains rennet so isn’t vegetarian).

Nb: dried pasta is almost always vegan, but do check the label

Courgette and Pea Pesto Pasta
Serves 4 (or 2 very hungry people, plus a bit left over for lunch the next day)

250g/half a packet spaghetti
2 courgettes
100g/2 big handfuls frozen peas

For the pesto
3–4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
50g/3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon dried basil (or 1 big handful fresh)
2–3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large saucepan with 2–3 litres of water and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and boil for 10 minutes (or according to packet instructions), stirring infrequently to stop the pasta sticking together.

Meanwhile, trim the top off the courgettes and using a peeler peel long strips (or ‘ribbons’), rotating around all sides until you reach the seeded middle. You can keep the middle for another use (or throw it the food waste bin if you really can’t stomach it) or, if you wish to use it in this dish, slice into thin discs.

3 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the frozen peas.

For the pesto, add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend for 1–2 minutes. Taste, check the consistency and add more oil/basil/nutritional yeast as needed. I prefer it with more basil and more ‘cheesy’ flavour from with yeast flakes, which requires more oil as there are more dry ingredients. It should have a similar consistency as shop-bought pesto.

1 minute before the pasta is cooked, add the courgette ribbons (and slices, if using). When the pasta timer is up, drain everything then return to the saucepan. Tip in the pesto and mix into the pasta and vegetables with a spider spoon. Serve immediately, with some more nutritional yeast flakes sprinkled on top if you like.

In Which I Make Almond Pancakes

Almond pancakes

As I mentioned in my last post, with all this free time I’ve been cooking a lot more lately and I promised more recipes, so here’s one to start off the day. It’s nice to spend a little more time of breakfast when you can; over the weekend, or if you have a day off (or work from home, as I do now). When I was commuting into the city breakfast would be a scrambled bowl of cereal or porridge at my desk, or a sugary muffin on the way in, or just a latte, because the work whirlwind started as soon as I sat down at my desk in the morning. I’ve learnt that it’s important to take care over your food – and consequently over yourself.

I’ve also been cutting down my milk intake recently (because I can’t bear to cut out cheese – cheese is life!), as drinking all those lattes for breakfast used to bloat me out in the morning so I got into the habit of trying non-dairy milks in my lattes. Loads of the chain coffee shops have started stocking them, so it’s easier than ever now. My favourite for drinking is oat milk (tastes like a cuddle for my stomach – or not; just ignore the weirdo here), but it’s quite difficult to find in the supermarket so at home I usually get almond or coconut milk. I use the latter in the recipe below, as I find it’s better for sweet foods, but you can substitute with any other plant milk you like, or even regular cow’s milk if you’re happy with dairy.

Coconut milk pancake batter!

I use dairy-free butter to fry the pancakes; I find some kind of butter is the best thing to fry pancakes in, but you can use oil if you prefer; it might just not sizzle or brown as much as butter/butter-substitute would. I’m using almond flour (also called almond meal or ground almonds, depending where you buy, though you’ll find from some producers it’s a little finer/courser), which cuts down on the carbs and increases the protein – if you’ve not had almond-flour pancakes you might find the texture a little too mealy for your taste. If that’s the case (and you’re fine to eat gluten), try starting out with a half-and-half mix of almond flour and plain flour and slowly changing the ratio until you have 100% almond.

On to the recipe –

Almond Pancakes
Serves 2, or 1 hungry person (makes 4 small pancakes or 2 large)

6 heaped tablespoons almond flour
1 organic egg
6 tablespoons coconut milk
3–4 knobs dairy-free butter
Fresh raspberries (or other fresh fruit; I used half a punnet here)
Honey (or agave nectar)

Place the almond flour in a jug or mixing bowl. (I use a jug as it’s easier to pour.) Break in the egg and mix together with a fork or small whisk. Add one tablespoon of the milk at a time, stirring each time to incorporate. (This helps it keep from going lumpy.)

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add a knob of butter. When the butter has melted and is sizzling, give the mixture another quick stir then pour in a quarter. Twist the pan the move the mixture around if you prefer a wider pancake. Fry until starting to brown on the underside (about 2 minutes), then flip. The almond flour makes the pancake a bit less flexible and more brittle than regular pancakes, so I’d advise flipping with a spatula rather than tossing it, to avoid a broken cake (and disappointment first thing in the morning). Fry on this side until golden brown (about 1 minute), then deposit onto a plate.

Repeat for the remaining batter, adding additional knobs of butter as needed, until you have 4 pancakes. I like to add a little drizzle of honey on each layer, but dress the layers how you fancy – you can squeeze raspberries in each layer or reserve them all for the top like I did here. Top with a handful of raspberries each (or more if you want) and drizzle over with honey. Serve immediately, eat, then make more if you’re super hungry!