Monday 30 May 2016

Suma Bloggers Network-Mediterranean Pate

Well, it's been a while! It's been over two months since I last posted a recipe! I can't actually believe were in June already! I have been so busy this year I never seem to sit down, I've taken on the second half of my allotment which hadn't been used for years, and I mean years. It was full of couch grass and wild raspberries and so many brambles, its taken an age just to clear half of it but it is now done and potatoes are working the soil as we speak. As well as taking on a much larger plot (double in size) I have also gone back to college to become a qualified aromatherapist and boy did I not realise how much work was involved before I started! Don't get me wrong I'm enjoying it immensely but with working full time, taking on a larger allotment and going back to college something had to give. Unfortunately that was my blog! I'm still creating recipes (a girls gotta eat - right) but I just don't have the time to photograph, weigh all the ingredients and write a blog post - sorry. I'm hoping that over the next couple of months as I complete my case studies, write the last 4 assignments and do my final exam I will be able to get back into blogging and sharing my recipes with you. I'll also share some of my aromatherapy blends with you too. 

Anyway on with the recipe. One thing I will find time for is Suma Wholefoods I love being part of their Suma Bloggers Network. There is a network of 11 bloggers currently and every other month we receive a selection of complimentary products to create a recipe and share on our blogs. To carry on the theme of my last few posts and the International Year of Pulses (IYP) the recipe I'm sharing with you today is made with chickpeas. I find chickpeas extremely versatile and there is never a day you won't find either a tin of chickpeas, a bag of dried chickpeas in my cupboard. They are great to use for a last minute meal whether that is houmous or used in curries, chillies and stews. This recipe uses them as a base to the pate and adds flavours of the Mediterranean.


1 Tin Suma Organic Chickpeas, rinsed
3 Tsp Suma Organic Vegan Pesto (heaped)
3 Suma Organic Sundried Tomatoes in Oil, thinly shredded
10 Green Oilves, cut into quarters
6 Basil leaves, thinly shredded
6 Chilves, thinly sliced
Black Pepper


1) Mash the chickpeas into a large bow with a potato masher or fork

2) Add the pesto and stir through to combine

3) Add the shredded tomatoes and chopped olives and stir to combine

4) Add the basil, chives and black pepper to taste, giving everything one last stir

5) Serve on crusty bread as a pate or sliced bread as a sandwich filler

A perfect pate to take on a picnic, eating outside whilst soaking up the sun and enjoying the taste of the Mediterranean!

To find more pulse recipes, read my International Year of Pulses (IYP) post

Jasmine x

Sunday 20 March 2016

Suma Bloggers Network - Chickpea, Kale and Leek Curry

Carrying on from my earlier post in relation to the International Year of Pulses, I wanted to share another recipe using pulses. I was hoping to share a baking recipe but its not quite perfected yet! Hopefully over the next few days I'll be able to tweak it so I'm happy with the finished result and then share with you as a bonus recipe.

I absolutely love houmous, but I don't use chick peas very often in cooking, this is about to change. With the weather taking a turn for the worse, and getting colder, I wanted something warming and filling. I've been fighting off a lurgie of some sort for nearly 2 months now, and when everyone around me is dropping like flies I've kept going, just. 

I know my last Suma recipe was a type of curry, but when the weather is miserable and I'm feeling low curry is what lifts my mood and warms me from the inside out. I've never made a chick pea curry before, but I'm sold, and I'm sure more chick pea curry recipes will be created. For this recipe I teamed the chick peas up with a couple of ingredients from my allotment, leeks and kale and it was a perfect combination.

Ingredients - Serves 2 hungry people but will stretch to 4 servings

1 Small onion 
1 Red Chilli
1 Thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled
3 Garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tsp (heaped) Garam masala
1 tsp (level) Ground coriander
½ Tsp Ground cumin
½ Tsp Turmeric
1 Tsp and 1 Tbsp Oil of choice
½ Tsp Black mustard seeds
250g Leeks, sliced
1 Tin Chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
100g Kale, shredded
1 Tin Coconut milk
Salt and black pepper to taste


1) Roughly chop the onion, chilli, ginger and garlic and add to a blender.

2) Add the Garam masala, cumin, coriander and turmeric and the 1 Tsp of oil and mix till it forms a coarse paste.

3) Add the other 1 Tbsp oil to a wok and the black mustard seeds. Heat slowly until the mustard seeds start to pop, about 2-3 minutes.

4) Add the curry paste and stir through the mustard seeds, cook over a low heat for a minute.

5) Add the leeks and stir, cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, adding a little water if the leeks or curry paste start to stick.

6) Add the chickpeas and soy sauce and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the coconut milk. If the coconut milk has separated into the liquid and 'cream', stir to make sure all the coconut 'cream' has melted.

7) Add the kale and cook over a low heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

8) Add the salt and pepper to taste

9) Serve over wholegrain rice

Sunday 24 January 2016

Going Vegan at Chico's

I don't know about you, but where I live vegan eats are hard to find! Unless you live in a large town or city your choices are extremely limited where to go out to eat. I'm lucky to have a pizza express in my town which is my normal go to place but we have no Wagamamas or Yo! Sushi here. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard about a little Mexican restaurant in the next town that had its own vegan menu!

Chico's is a small restaurant in Stone, which is decorated fabulously giving you a Mexican vibe while you are dining. The staff are extremely attentive without going over the top and the manager, Jimmy has everything running like clockwork. The bar was well stocked in fact I doubt there was a drink which they hadn't got!

After being shown to our table, I was handed their vegan menu and the dishes were explained to us. We asked Jimmy why they had decided to create a vegan menu. He explained that the team included two vegans and a coeliac and whenever the team wanted to go out together on their night off or hold team building days it was almost impossible to find anywhere that would cater for them all. So after a few miserable attempts to find somewhere to go they decided to stay in the restaurant and the chef created food to suit everyone. The chef isn't vegan himself but the kitchen used to have a vegan sous chef who has since left. Between them they started experimenting with ingredients and created a vegan menu and a gluten free menu. Any time the team wanted a night out the team stayed in the restaurant, where they knew their dietary needs could be catered for. The menus then grew from there. Jimmy explained that there was no cross contamination of food in the kitchen, and they used a separate fryer for anything vegan. This alleviated my fears as I often wonder what happens when you order fried foods like chips, which is why I never do.

I was in heaven my own vegan menu to choose from and that included all three courses - yes there was a dessert menu which was vegan too! I'd deliberately not eaten much throughout the day as I wanted to try all three courses. 

There were 7 choices on the vegan starter menu, some of these included fake meats, which I am not a massive fan of but there were other choices. You could choose from; Tacquitos, Nachos (with 5 different topping choices plus jalapeno's sour cream, cheese, guacamole and salsa), Quesadilla, Taco Shell, Potato skins (with two topping choices), Mexican Flatbread or Empanadas. My sister and I decided on a bowl of Tacos and a Mexican Flatbread to share.

We seriously couldn't believe the size of the starters, we knew we were going to have to pace ourselves! The Tacos were to die for, extremely tasty toppings, we just couldn't wait to dive in. The chef makes his own vegan sour cream from tofu and the guacamole was so creamy everything was delicious. The Mexican flatbread was huge, all flatbreads are baked fresh to order and ours used a homemade dairy free roasted garlic, cilantro and aubergine butter, cheese, herbs and red pepper flakes. We struggled to eat everything and reluctantly left some of the flatbread as we didn't want to fill ourselves up, we'd got a long way to go yet. Our eyes were definitely bigger than our bellies!

For the main course I had a selection of 14 choices, including all your usual suspects; fajitas, enchiladas, burritos and chili. I decided on the cajun vegetables fajitas, I mean how could you not after all your in a Mexican restaurant! Plus I wanted to see how they compared to my own fajita recipes. I was not disappointed! 

The chef makes his own top secret fajita spice mix which was not too spicy but extremely flavoursome. The amount of vegetables that arrived on the smoking hot skillet was awesome. The mix included onions, red onions, yellow peppers, red peppers, mushrooms, aubergines, courgette and sweetcorn, topped with a lemon wedge. The fajitas came with 5 flour tortillas, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and grated cheese. I'd also ordered a side of refried beans as I am a sucker for these! 

I'm not ashamed to say I was defeated! I simply couldn't eat all the food that came out! But it wasn't a problem, my leftover Cajun vegetables and refried beans were packaged up separately in take out containers for me to bring home. And I enjoyed them the next day!

Neither of us had any room for desserts, which was a shame as once again there were 6 vegan options including fruit Enchiladas or Burritos, Churros or ice cream. We did wait for a while in case our bellies allowed for another course but it was no use, we were stuffed. On my next visit I will try a smaller starter or have the nachos for my main course, but with plenty of other options I can see myself going time and time again.

It is absolutely fantastic that a small restaurant in a small town caters so well for those who choose a vegan lifestyle and it was music to my ears as throughout our stay I heard cries of "can I have the vegan menu please?". A massive congratulations to Chicos and I look forward to my next visit, which will be soon!

Chico's don't have an up to date website but please visit their facebook page which has photos of their menus. Go book yourself a table and enjoy a night out with delicious vegan food.

Jasmine x

Sunday 10 January 2016

International Year of Pulses (IYP)

Did you know that 2016 is the United Nations International Year of Pulses (IYP)? No? Nor me until today! But how cool is that? A whole year devoted to pulses. It has even got its own hashtag - #IYP2016 

The IYP has been launched to increase the awareness of the general public of the benefits associated with pulses. This includes nutrition, sustainable food production and working towards securing food for the future. Did you know that pulses can improve soil fertility and promote biodiversity?

So what food is included? Pulses are part of the legume family which include edible beans, dried peas, lentils and chickpeas, all of which are nutritional powerhouses! Low in fat, high in fibre and B vitamins, a good source of iron and a great source of protein.

To celebrate the launch of IYP, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have even created a short video highlighting the benefits of pulses. Food Tank have put together a list of how individuals can get involved too and celebrate the IYP2016. You can check out there list here. One way is to pledge eating pulses 1 day a week for ten weeks so to help I've put together my collection of pulse recipes, 30 in total. 

Bean Dhal                                                        Bean Potato Cake

Black Bean & Spinach Chilli                            Black Bean Fajitas

Borlotti Bean Hash                                                Butternut Squash & Lentil Curry

Cabbage Rolls                                                 Chickpea & Lentil Tacos

Chickpea Oatcake                                           Chilli Non Carne

Courgette & Lentil Roast                             Falafels

Five Bean Tacos                                             Hodmedod Chilli

Houmous                                                         Kale & Lentil Roast

Leek, Kale & Butterbean Soup                       Lentil Stuffed Mushrooms

Refried Back Badger Peas                             Three Lentil Soup

I hope you enjoy some of the above dishes during the International Year of Pulses

Jasmine x