Greens, glorious greens

Chef Kelly Fielding shares her favourite vegan creations and inspires us to celebrate the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Carob and Mint Dessert jars

The term “eat your greens” probably brings back vivid memories of your parents trying to force-feed you soggy, sad-looking broccoli and microwaved peas before you could excuse yourself from the table.

It’s not really until we are old enough to choose the foods we eat ourselves that we begin to appreciate anything with the natural pigment of green (and no, green gummy bears are not included here). In fact, the more we learn about food and nutrition and the more we align ourselves with a “farm to plate” mentality, the more we truly begin to love and consume these foods by choice.

Adopting a plant-based diet may mean raising your hand to answer the familiar and dreaded question, “Where do you get your protein from?” Luckily, if you are in fact a lover of anything green, your answer will be quick to your tongue: “Well, plants for starters.” The humble greens, so scrutinised by children and so misunderstood by teens, have a lot going for them. High in protein (hello, gorillas!), brimming with cleansing chlorophyll, bursting with living enzymes and off-the-charts in antioxidants, adding a healthy dose of green to your daily plate will benefit you and your health in myriad ways. Greens are incredibly alkalising, which can help protect your body against disease and illness. They also boast high amounts of easily digestible nutrients, fat-burning compounds, vitamins and minerals, proteins, protective phytochemicals and healthy bacteria helping you to build healthier muscles and tissues and aid your digestive system. These particular vegetables act as mini-transfusions for the blood, health tonics for the brain and immune system and natural cleansers of the kidneys.

When you mention the word vegetarian, vegan or raw to many people, immediately their minds will fill with a visual image of someone chomping on a carrot, Bugs Bunny style, or gnawing on a whole iceberg lettuce. Well, that’s not exactly what raw vegan food is all about! A raw vegan diet is diverse, creative, nourishing and delicious. Of course, like any way of eating, it’s also about balance and about listening to your body and finding what works for you. A 100% raw vegan diet may not be the fuel that makes your particular body thrive, but including more living and plant-based foods into your diet will still contribute positively to your overall physical and mental health. A plant-based diet is not about deprivation, in fact, quite the opposite is true; it is about celebrating the sheer abundance found in nature. There are plant-based substitutions for pretty much everything on the market and a whole new food realm to experience beyond quinoa, carrots and kale.

Eating a plant-based diet will encourage you tune into the seasons and shift your focus towards a local and seasonal approach to eating. Visiting farmers’ markets, shopping at your local health food store and supporting organic and fair-trade where possible will not only benefit your own health, but also the health of your community, the wider planet and its varied species of inhabitants. It may be unrealistic to ask the world to turn vegan overnight, yet even introducing two or three meat-free days into your week can have dramatic effects on both your physical health and the natural environment.

So, go green! Embrace the diversity of nature, be creative with food and don’t be scared to try new things. Alas, I may be preaching to the converted here, but try inspiring someone close to you: leading by example is by far the best way to create positive change.

MATCHA KIWI AND AVOCADO SMOOTHIE BOWL

SERVES 1

Smoothie bowls are such a great way to enjoy everything you love about a smoothie, with a little extra fun and sustenance. If you find your morning smoothie doesn’t sustain you for too long, try topping it with some extra nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit, oats or buckinis. You can also try adding a teaspoon of plant-based protein for extra substance. 

Ingredients:

1 banana (preferably frozen)

½ a ripe avocado

2 leaves of kale, stems removed

¼ tsp. orange zest

1 tsp. Matcha powder

½ tsp. ginger powder

1 kiwi fruit (skin removed)

1 tsp. coconut oil

½ cup of your favourite plant-based milk

Chop up your banana, avocado and kale and place them in a blender with the remaining ingredients.

Blend on high until smooth and creamy.

Pour your smoothie into a bowl and top with:

1 tsp. buckinis

1 tsp. pumpkin seeds

1 tsp. coconut shreds

1 tsp. dried rose petals (optional)

A few slices of blood orange for garnish

Or any toppings of your choice

Enjoy with a spoon!

PEA, AVOCADO and KAFFIR LIME HUMMUS

MAKES 2 ½ CUPS

As a hummus addict, I am always looking for fun, new ways to be creative with hummus. I’ve tried sweet potato hummus, beetroot and rosemary hummus, olive and sun-dried tomato hummus and lately, I’ve really enjoyed this green pea hummus recipe. It is light and fresh and perfect for warmer weather. The kaffir lime adds a really lovely flavour that almost transports you to faraway lands …

Ingredients:

1 cup of fresh peas (if frozen, make sure you allow them time to defrost)

2 Tbsp. tahini

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. salt

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

¾ cup cooked chickpeas

3 Tbsp. olive oil

½ a ripe avocado

4 kaffir lime leaves

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until well combined. I like to leave it a little chunky, but feel free to make it completely smooth if you prefer. Season to your taste with a little extra salt or lemon. This is great as a topping for salads, but also as a regular dip with vegetables or crackers and it is delicious spread over toast or mixed through pasta.

THE SUPER-GREEN BOWL

SERVES 2

Creating nourishing, colourful bowls of food like this is my favourite way to eat and share food with others. They are incredibly versatile, so feel free to add any of your favourite vegetables that you may scoop up at the weekly market. This is perfect topped with the green pea hummus dip or the Green Goddess dressing. I love the sesame seeds and goji berries as a contrast in this bowl.

Ingredients:

1 large (or 2 small) zucchini

1 small head of broccoli (around 8 florets)

1 bunch of asparagus

12 Brussels sprouts

2 small yellow squash

3-4 large stalks of kale

1 tsp. sesame seeds

1 tsp. goji berries

Wash the zucchini and chop off the top and bottom. Spiralise the zucchini with a spiraliser. If you don’t have a spiraliser, simply use a regular vegetable peeler and peel into long thin strips, much like you would peel a carrot.

Steam the asparagus, Brussels sprouts and squash until tender; check after five minutes and then watch closely. Remove the vegetables from the heat as soon as they reach your desired taste. I like to keep them quite crunchy and vibrant.

Remove the stems from the kale and chop the leaves finely. Place the chopped kale in a small bowl and add ½ a teaspoon of lemon juice, olive oil and a dash of salt. With your hand, massage the kale with the lemon, oil and salt until it begins to soften and wilt as this makes it more digestible as well as tastier!

When you’re ready, assemble the vegetables in your bowl: the zucchini noodles, broccoli, sprouts, squash, asparagus and kale.

Spoon on a good tablespoon of your green pea hummus and a drizzle of Green Goddess dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and goji berries.

Feel free to add a little extra lemon and salt to your liking.

GREEN GODDESS DRESSING

Having a good salad dressing on hand makes for easy and delicious lunches and dinners. This dressing is bursting with vibrant ingredients and is the perfect addition to the Green Bowl, or to jazz up any mid-week salad! It will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.

Ingredients:

1 cup of mixed fresh herbs (basil, parsley, coriander, mint or another of your choice)

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsps. olive oil

1 tsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsps. almond butter

2 tsp. nutritional yeast

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. tamari

1-inch piece of ginger, chopped

¼ of a ripe avocado

1 cup of filtered water

Simply place all of the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a squeezy bottle for easy use, or a glass jar, and store in the fridge until ready to use.

CAROB AND MINT DESSERT JARS

SERVES 2

My philosophy with dessert is it should be equally as delicious as it is good for you, and when it comes to raw vegan desserts, it’s really easy to fit this bill! Raw desserts are filled with healthy fats (coconut, avocado, raw nuts), plus fruits, vegetables (yes, vegetables!), natural sweeteners and yummy superfoods. The combination below is a favourite of mine. I like to work with carob because it is less stimulating than cacao powder and also high in B vitamins which can be lacking in a vegetarian diet. If you’re looking for more of a kick though, feel free to use cacao. Make sure you choose a safe, edible essential oil or simply up the quantity of fresh mint leaves. The essential oils add much more flavour though!

For the Chocolate Layer:

2 ripe bananas

½ a ripe avocado

¼ of a zucchini

2 ½ Tbsps. carob powder

2 tsp. coconut nectar

1/8 tsp. salt

½ cup of coconut milk

1 Tbsps. melted coconut oil

Chop the banana, avocado and zucchini and add to your blender along with the rest of the ingredients. Blend on high speed until the mixture is perfectly creamy.

Pour the mixture evenly into the bottom of 2 glass jars or cups and place in the fridge.

For the Mint Layer:

2 ripe bananas

½ a ripe avocado

¼ of a zucchini

2 leaves of kale (stems removed)

3 drops of edible mint essential oil

10 fresh mint leaves

2 tsp. coconut nectar

1/8 tsp. salt

½ cup of coconut milk

1 Tbsps. melted coconut oil

Chop the banana, avocado and zucchini and add to your blender along with the rest of the ingredients. Blend at high speed until the mixture is perfectly creamy.

Remove the jars from the fridge and sprinkle a layer of shredded coconut on top of the chocolate layer. This step is optional but it creates a nice separation between the two flavours.

Pour the mint layer on top of both jars and return to the fridge to set for an hour or two.

Enjoy!

……………………

Matcha

Matcha has been consumed for more than a millennium in the Far East and has recently experienced a revival. Considered as one of the most powerful superfoods on the market, matcha offers a powerful arsenal of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids. The exceptionally high level of antioxidants in matcha helps to prevent ageing and protect the body against illness and chronic diseases. Matcha has been proven to boost metabolism and assist with detoxification, as well as remove heavy metals and toxins from the body. The L-Theanine found in matcha promotes concentration and clarity of mind and also serves to enhance overall mood and feelings of general wellbeing!

Avocados

Avocados are rich in various nutrients, vitamins and minerals. They are heralded for being a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as having a low sugar content. They are a good source of natural energy and contain a number of essential vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. They also contain minerals such as vitamin C, B6, B-12, A, D, K, E, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. Avocados are a great source of dietary fibre, and contain soluble and insoluble fibres that help to keep the digestive system running smoothly. Avocados are packed with nutrients that are beneficial for maintaining healthy skin and hair, they are helpful for liver and kidney health, lower cholesterol levels, and contain both vitamin C and E, which help to enhance antioxidant properties of the human body.

Spirulina

Spirulina is a naturally occurring algae that happens to be one of the most potent sources of nutrients available on the planet! It is high in protein and a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins and other nutrients. Its high concentration of protein, iron and B12 make it ideal for vegans and vegetarians, although everyone can enjoy the health benefits that spirulina offers. Spirulina contains Omegas 3,6 and 9, as well as the essential fatty acid, gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which has gained attention due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Spirulina contains vitamins B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (nicotinamide), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-9 (folic acid), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin E. It is also a source of potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus,  selenium, sodium and zinc. Spirulina is also extremely high in chlorophyll, which helps remove toxins from the blood and boost the immune system.

Broccoli

Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family and is a real nutritional powerhouse, offering a great deal of nutrients with very little calories. Broccoli is high in calcium, and also provides well over one 100% of your daily need of Vitamin K, which further assists bone health. Broccoli is high in vitamin C which can assist immunity, lower the risk of infection and promote skin and eye health. It is very high in natural fibre, helping to maintain a healthy digestive tract and lower the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.

Kale

Kale is touted as being one of the most nutritional foods on the planet.

Like other leafy greens, it is very high in antioxidants. It is also high in vitamins C and K, as well as being a good plant-based source of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Like other cruciferous vegetables, Kale is full of compounds that are believed to have protective effects against cancer. It can also offer cardiovascular support and is a great anti-inflammatory food.

Kale is also well known for its detoxifying properties, and is great for aiding digestion and elimination with its great fibre content and high sulphur content, which keeps the liver healthy. Kale is also one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that absorb and neutralise the free radicals created by UV light. 

Coriander

Coriander is a popular herb often used in Asian cuisine, although it originated in the Mediterranean. It carries many notable chemical compounds that are known to have disease-preventing and health-promoting properties.

The deep-green leaves of coriander possess good amounts of antioxidants, essential oils, and dietary fibre. The herb is a good source of minerals, including potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium helps to regulate heart rate and blood pressure, while iron is essential for red blood cell production. Coriander is also rich in many vital vitamins, including folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin K and vitamin C, all essential nutrients for optimal health.

Kelly is a passionate writer and raw/vegan chef who combines her love of writing with her forays into health and wellness. Kelly has travelled and worked extensively across the world in health resorts, detox centres, raw food restaurants and wellness retreats, sharing ways to live simply, mindfully and sustainably.

Her work is regularly published on several online journals as well as her own website Bella and Bhakti, which offers information about plant-based living, vibrant nourishing recipes as well as inspiration to encourage others to share their own passions and dreams. A gypsy heart and lover of nature, Kelly finds inspiration in the world around her and translates her visions into whimsical stories and edible creations.

www.bellaandbhakti.com

[email protected]

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