12 Meals of Christmas – Day 10 – Kale Chips and Breaded Broccoli

To celebrate Christmas, I’ve launched a brand new blog series covering the twelve days of Christmas with the 12 Meals of Christmas. Each day you’ll be getting an exciting christmassy recipe to help you save money and your belly for the big day.

Kale chips are something that I’ve been working on for some time now. After seeing them on several healthy cooking sites, I decided to have a go at making them on my own. Now, after several attempts, I feel like I’ve mastered them. So it seemed only right that I should share the recipe with you as part of the 12 Meals of Christmas series. Even better, to celebrate the shortest day, here’s one of the shortest recipes I’ve ever made too!

Not only do the kale chips work perfectly in this recipe, but the breaded broccoli is just as tasty and equally as crunchy. Both of these vegetables, when baked, will take you to foodie heaven if dipped into a rich, creamy Stilton sauce – but I also enjoy them on their own with a salad.

Kale Chips and Breaded Broccoli (Serves 2)

A handful of kale

Two handfuls of broccoli florets, halved

Seasoning

A teaspoon of paprika

A lug of olive oil

One egg yolk, beaten

100g of breadcrumbs

A teaspoon of rosemary

Dairy/Vegan cheese, grated or scattered, to serve

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5/180C. Prepare your breadcrumb by combining a little seasoning, the breadcrumbs and the rosemary together in a bowl. Dip your broccoli halves into the egg yolk first and then layer them in the breadcrumb and rosemary, before resting them onto a baking tray. Repeat this for each broccoli floret until all of them are covered and ready to go into the oven.

Next, lay out your kale over the baking tray and drizzle over a little olive oil. Scatter sea salt and the paprika over the leaves before placing it all into the oven for around 10 minutes. Check regularly and only remove when the breadcrumb on the broccoli has started to crisp.

Serve this dish with a tasty salad or blue cheese sauce, which you can make by melting 25g of Stilton and popping this into a ramekin or small pot.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the 12 Meals of Christmas. If you enjoyed this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with all of the meals featured.

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Broccoli and Stilton Burgers

You vote, I make. The new recipe from last week’s Twitter poll. Keep up to date by following me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and get the chance to vote in the next poll!

We all love broccoli and Stilton soup in the winter, right? Well, I’m taking the match-made-in-heaven to the next level in this latest recipe.

It’s time to stop buying supermarket burgers and have a go at making one yourself. And, with my own personal seal of approval, these burgers will not disappoint.

By adding a couple of other ingredients, you can make a very tasty burger which doesn’t require a lot of time, energy or washing up. Even better, make a bulk and keep them for work lunches or for effortless dinner the following day.

Broccoli and Stilton Burgers (Serves 2)

A handful of broccoli florets

50g of Stilton

A tin of peas

One onion, finely chopped

Four or Five mushrooms, finely chopped

A clove of garlic

A pinch of rosemary

Seasoning

Olive oil

Into a large mixing bowl, take a cheese grater and grate your broccoli florets. Once the florets are all grated up finely, add your onion, mushrooms, crushed garlic and your Stilton, broken down into smaller crumbs. Follow this with the tin of peas, rosemary and seasoning before mashing everything together. You want to make sure that the burgers stick together, so the peas need to be mashed thoroughly and the ingredients should be mixed in well.

Next, turn the hob onto a high heat, take a frying pan and heat up a little oil. Using your hands, scoop up the mixture and form it into patties, placing each onto the pan. After you’ve added all of your patties, cook them on one side for around 5 minutes before turning down the heat to medium and cooking on the other side. The patties may stick a little to the pan. If this does happen, as you turn them maintain their shape by pushing the sides together with the spatula.

When the burgers look cooked on both sides, serve up in delicious buns with a good dollop of mayo or tomato ketchup and a generous green salad for a healthy-but-beautiful dinner.

What did you think of this recipe? Do you have vegetarian recipes that you love to make?

 

Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale and Red Onion Soup

When the days get colder and shorter, there is nothing for it. It’s time to bring out hot soup. And no, that doesn’t mean picking up a ready-made tin from the supermarket. This is the proper stuff.

This butternut squash soup only takes an hour to make, and most of that is spent roasting. Grab yourself some tasty bread and get dunking.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale and Red Onion Soup (VG)

2 servings


Ingredients

Half of a butternut squash, de-skinned, with the seedy flesh in the centres removed

Two red onions, chopped

Chilli pepper, chopped

Two big handfuls of kale

Seasoning

Dash of paprika

Vegan margarine

A vegetable stock cube


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C. Take your squash halves and slice into smaller chunks. Lay these onto a baking tray and drizzle over a little olive oil. Next, scatter over salt and pepper, as well as the dash of paprika. Place the squash in the oven for 40 minutes or until the skins begin to brown.

Take your squash out of the oven and set to one side. Into a saucepan, drop in your vegan margarine and gently heat until it melts. Pick up your onion and add to the pan. Stir the onions for around 5 minutes, or until they’ve absorbed the margarine and are looking softer.

Grab your baking tray and pop the butternut squash pieces in with the onion. Stir in your chopped chilli and stir the vegetables for a further 5 minutes. Boil a kettle full of water and top the saucepan up with this, so that the water just covers the vegetables. Before covering everything with a lid, add a vegetable stock cube. Leave the vegetables to simmer for around 10 minutes. Just before you remove from the heat, add the kale and push the leaves into the vegetables for 2 minutes or until the edges begin to soften.

Remove the pan from the heat and, taking a hand blender, blitz the vegetables until almost smooth, with some texture still remaining. Serve up into bowls and enjoy with some fresh bread for that perfect curl-up-sofa-TV-feeling.

 

Healthy Breakfast Apple Muffins

 

How many of us, rushing to get to work, forget to eat our most important meal of the day? Porridge is a faff, cereal and milk isn’t portable enough to eat on the way to work and expensive smoothies are completely out of the question. Well, like all things in life, plan ahead and you can both perform at your best and not be eyeing up a horse by the time your lunch break arrives. Even better still, this recipe takes only an hour out of your week and you can enjoy the rewards throughout.

Healthy Apple Muffins

 

Ingredients

150g of whole-wheat flour

50g of oats

½ teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of vanilla

1 egg

75g of butter

75g of honey

2 apples grated

1 apple sliced with skins kept on

 

 

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The Cooking…

Turn the oven onto Gas Mark 5/ 180C.

Grab a cake tray and place your muffin cases into the slots.

Measure out your whole-wheat flour, baking powder, oats, cinnamon and salt and add these to a large mixing bowl. Next, cube your butter and drop this into the bowl. Using only your fingers, gently combine the butter into the flour. Once the mixture begins to resemble breadcrumbs, make a well in the centre of the mixture and add your egg. Taking your spoon, fold the dry mixture into the egg, following the figure of eight to ensure that air gets into the batter.

Next, add your grated apple, honey, vanilla essence as well as the chopped pieces of apple. Stir these into the batter carefully again, making sure that you don’t rush the mixing. When this is done, transfer your batter into the cases and slot the cakes into the oven for around 35-40 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the knife comes out clean. As the muffins cool, add a little drizzle of honey over the tops to give your cakes even more flair.

Pack into an air-tight container and the muffins should keep for a week. Enjoy as a healthy alternative ready to get you on your way in the morning.

 

How to Start Growing Your Own Food

Last week I talked about the ideas surrounding growing your own food and attempted to throw out some of stereotypes we often have with gardening. The image of a retired person tending to their flowers is hard to shake, but growing plants for food is a highly practical and sensible thing to do and it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, busy or not, there are so many ways that you can grow your own food.

So, you have your terrace or balcony ready or you’ve bought a spade ready for turning your garden into a productive space – what next?

Before you start carving up large areas of your garden, building beds or buying pots – grab a cup of something hot, settle down and spend a few minutes writing down what you want to grow/achieve with your new growing space. It’s so tempting to jump into the thick of it, but spending a little time drawing up these ideas will aid you a great deal later on and organisation, as we all know, is essential if you don’t have a lot of time spare.

Things to consider when you’re drawing up your plans:

What Do I Enjoy Eating?

Sounds obvious, but myself and my fellow garden bloggers have grown a variety of veg that we don’t like eating. Vegetables such as radish and Brussels Sprouts might fill traditional vegetable patches, but that doesn’t mean that they have to fill your space. If you want to turn your garden into a pumpkin farm, go for it. If you want to grow several types of tomatoes, you don’t have to diversify. By choosing a couple of vegetables that you enjoy for next year or by choosing some fast-growing salads that you really want in your meals to grow this year, you’ll find it easier to keep motivated.

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Do I Want To Be Self-Sufficient?

Traditional food growers can be split into two categories; there are those who grow a couple of squash plants for the fun of it and there are those who turn every inch of their garden into a foodie feast. One of the main reasons I got into growing my own food in the first place was because I couldn’t stand rising food prices and poorer quality any longer. This spurred me onto my journey, starting with tomatoes and taking me right up to pumpkins and other delicious crops.

Being self-sufficient – growing food for your table all year-round and not having to rely on supermarkets – is very hard. However, don’t let that put you off. Whilst I’m not self-sufficient yet, I have a couple of months where I can rely on my own fruit, a couple of months of pumpkins for soups and throughout the winter, I harvest tasty salads to cut out the regular food shops. I find it better to see the idea of “living off of the land” as a goal and not necessarily as an end destination. The point is that by adding more and more of your own harvests to your plate, you’ll be helping the planet and your wallet out too.

If you’re going to grow a variety of different vegetables, check out their planting and harvesting times. Organise it so that your pumpkin, with its longer season is allocated that space, but that it is intercropped with lettuce and radish which only take a couple of months to mature, if that. The other fantastic way that you can get the most out of your vegetable patch is by using the growing habits of plants to their advantage.

By taking a pumpkin, with its low-growing habit, and marrying it up with tall vine beans, you can get twice as much food out of one space. We’ll be looking at this in more detail later on. Yet, good pairings to consider are: pumpkins and beans, peas and lettuce, fruit trees and strawberries, leafy greens and tomatoes. The list goes on and you can find more information on intercropping here.

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Should I Add Fruit Into the Mix?

It might seem like a huge effort to grow your own food. Yet, the only thing that you need is patience. Fruit trees are brilliant when they really start to produce fruit. However, this can take them a couple of years or potentially more depending on the fruit. By planting your fruit trees in pots, though, you can create portable plants that can travel with you should you move home. Putting your trees and other vegetables into pots makes everything so much easier later.

I often leave my fruit trees alone now, and they thrive. Aside from the odd prune and feed, these plants are better built than shorter-rooted vegetables and there are a lot of advantages to this.

How Can I Make Things Simple and Easy?

Raised beds bring the height of your plants up, making it easy to de-weed. Potted plants are great for gardens where you need to move things around a lot. And, by sinking plastic bottles cut in half or old plant pots into the soil around your plants, you can save on watering. Slugs and snails find it harder to eat plants grown in raised beds, yet coffee grounds around the bases of your plants and beer traps (make by pouring beer into plastic containers and sinking them into the ground at the lip) will ward off most of these slimy fiends.

Now that you’ve made a note of the things that you want to achieve and how you’ll achieve them, you can start building your productive patch. Late summer is the perfect time to get things together for the next year, so knock together wooden pallets for raised beds, invest in some hangers to grow small veg and strawberries vertically or go for the old-fashioned route and begin breaking up the top layer of soil and mark out your new plots.

Next week, we’ll be looking at easy time-light ways to get rid of weedy ground, buying the right sized pots and talk about that all-important step of getting the soil right.

 

An Introduction to Growing Your Own Food and Working Full-Time

You’ve finished work for the day, you’re on your way home and you suddenly realise that you have no food in your cupboards. Heading to the local shop, you pick up the easiest stuff that you can find. Tins of beans, instant noodles and ready meals fill your basket week in and week out. If you’re feeling a little more gourmet, in goes the pasta sauce. But you want to live healthily and you see those garden programmes and all of the people on them look so happy.

In your dreams, right?

What we would’ve considered to be the normal way of life even within the last century has become something of a “hobby”, or the Good Life. That essential life skill of finding and growing our own food isn’t needed anymore what with supermarkets and fastfood chains. Yet, what we find in supermarket foods – sugar, salt, fat and more fat – hardly does us any good. We’re not meant to eat such processed meals, and the environmental impact of mass production is another problem altogether. With more and more mouths to feed, our food is becoming less nutritious and more expensive. Yet, it’s all well and good me preaching this to you. The reality is that you have a 40 hour a week job and not much time in between. Why would you want to grow your own food?

It’s not as complicated as you might think. Like anything, you can go as deep as you like with gardening and those who do sometimes alienate the rest of us. What’s important to remember is that most of it is unnecessary for the average grower. Even I don’t have the time to do half the stuff that others do. And you probably struggle finding the time to tie your own shoelaces, let alone reading up on all that there is to read on starting an allotment. But by following some simple steps and bringing little veggie additions to your patio, balcony, windowsill or room, you can improve your food and your wellbeing immensely.

Every week, I’ll be bringing you a new little guide to help you become a boss at growing delicious food, whilst still managing your 9 to 5. If you’ve tried it and failed before, I’m here to motivate you. If you’ve never done it, but something’s switching you on – I’m going to help you achieve it. All you need is a pot, some compost, a plant and about fifteen minutes of your life a week.

Now, I won’t take up any more of your time. Next week, we’ll be looking at setting up your quick and easy garden. Stay tuned for the first of my guides!

 

Small Space Garden Episode 3 | Peashoots and Peas

The Small Space Garden series continues.

June is the perfect month to roll up your sleeves, pick up a trowel and start growing some quick and easy crops.

Peas are great speedy vegetables. Home-grown, their flavour is phenominally better than those cheap ones in cans, and if you’re clever you could even save a bit of money too.

In just under a week and a half, with a bit of heat, you’ll have pea seedlings poking through the soil. Very soon after potting the peas up or planting them outside, you’ll be inundated with flowers and delicious pods, ripe for picking.

Trust me, they won’t make it back to the dinner plate.

Last year, I grew just one large container’s worth of peas. There were about ten plants in total. From those ten plants, I received a constant supply of pea pods that saw me through the best part of three weeks. This just goes to show how productive peas can be, even in the smallest of spaces.

No room for a big container? Grow your peas in a small pot and harvest the growing tips instead. Use these on your salads and you can gloat about how healthy you’ve become.

Check out my video below for more information on growing peas:

Somerset Garden Day

The days are warmer, the sun is out for longer and there is plenty of fun to be had in the garden. Today is Somerset Garden Day, the first garden celebration day of its kind in the UK. Whether you’re the proud owner of a window box, a terrace or a full-blown garden, today is the day for putting your feet up and enjoying the space that you own. In celebration of the day itself, myself and fellow blogger and Incredible Edible Bristol community gardener, Man vs Allotment took time out of our busy schedules to throw a little party.

I’m ashamed to say that I don’t have many visitors to my plot. Although the plot itself is huge, it’s been under development for quite some time. However, with Somerset Garden Day dawning, it provided me with the perfect excuse to get some of my allotment neighbours and housemates over to the plot for some relaxing and unwinding.

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By allowing yourself the time to unwind in these places of nature, or by sitting in your terrace garden with friends, you really do feel the stresses of the week fall away. It’s been proven that spending time around plants and trees and nurturing your own garden helps with anxiety and depression, and as someone who suffers from the former, I can confirm that it really does work.

Not only did we take some time out to immerse ourselves in the allotment, I also learnt more about my allotment neighbours. Ross (Man vs Allotment) is famous on the site for featuring with his innovative pub-shed idea in Big Dreams, Small Spaces presented by Monty Don. Naturally, I had to see it and we wandered up to enjoy a beer and talk about a range of different plans and ideas. Through inviting people into your garden or allotment, you can exchange great new ideas and inspiration, and I came away exactly having achieved it.

What was also brilliant to see was the diversity between the five of us. My two housemates own a colourful terrace garden right in the noisy centre of Bristol. Yet, they surround the space with lots of different plants to create a tranquil space. Tim, one of my allotment neighbours who writes for a local community newspaper has just taken on his second half-plot on the site and we exchanged lots of ideas about gardening and garden writing. Ross, again, has some great ideas for using his space, growing hops over his pub-shed so that he can start making his own brew, as well as lots of other little quirks on his plot. Together, we were all a hive of different ideas and the whole day was a refreshing change from the norm.

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Across the county, let’s escape the stresses of the week and immerse ourselves in our slices of paradise. If you haven’t got enough plants, why not pick some fresh new colour, edibles and more from a local garden centre today?

Don’t forget to follow Somerset Garden Day on Twitter and on Instagram and tweet/take lot of photos of your garden spaces!

youngground reviews: Café Kino

Bristol is the spiritual home of alternative culture. From veganism to multiculturalism, it leads in so many ways. For non-meat eaters who live in Bristol, the city is a haven of alternative food. For those who live outside of the city, a pilgrimage to Bristol is well worth it.

Every corner and every street in the city has a new and exciting eatery to tempt you in. Instead of having to rely on the small box on the side of a menu offering a salad or a bog-standard veggie burger, us meat-avoiders can sit down and eat a meal that is as full of love and passion as any top-quality steak.

Stokes Croft is a densely-packed feast of treats. Along with the bright graffiti and fantastic pockets of music and rhythm deeply engrained into the street’s identity, each restaurant and café you pass holds its own inspiring menu and decor.

Café Kino is a pioneer in vegan thinking. The eatery and café’s ethos is all about community. And this sense of a big community is only reflected in their rich menu. From a selection of non-dairy milks to go with your coffees and teas to vegan cheese to top your chips and your burgers, Kino has considered the tastes and interests of everyone. There are no traces of meat anywhere on the premises, of course. Whilst that may turn off those kings of beef, by taking out that most common of ingredients you’re left with a menu that challenges, inspires and excites.

Slightly political note: linking back to Kino’s community ethos, this also applies to the wider world. With demand for meat increasing at an alarming rate, those quality steaks are going to become rarer. By looking at alternative cuisine based on pulses, grains, nuts and soya, we can continue to enjoy rich-quality food at much cheaper prices.

And boy, was the burger I ordered delicious! Again, not an ounce of cheese in sight. Kino do offer vegan cheese to top your food. However, I really didn’t miss the cheddar once I tucked into my meal. Whilst cheese has become an essential ingredient for everything, my burger matched any cheesy quarter-pounder and the beautiful, flavoursome tomato salsa I layered on top of my burger took the definition of a vegan burger to new heights.

Meat-obsessives: be a little more open-minded and give Kino a try. You can go one day without meat. To my fellow non-meat lovers in the UK and beyond, Kino alone is enough to make the journey to Bristol.

Beat the January Blues: My Easy Veggie Tikka Masala

How do you make the poor month after Christmas more exciting? The weather is still cold and there’s not much money in the pot so eating out is not an option.

Well, there is one way that you can celebrate: make your own easy, delicious curry by following this ridiculously easy guide. Oh, and by the way, it’s both veggie and vegan friendly!

TOTAL APPROXIMATE COST: £4.64

DAYS IT’LL LAST: 3

Go on, treat yourself this evening and have a tasty curry, you won’t regret it and you’ll save money as well!

Like what you see? Why not check out some of my other tasty, cheap and exciting recipes here.

I’d love to see your results, why not share them over on @youngground or on facebook and we can celebrate a foody January together!