My Easter weekend in pictures.

I know, I know it is nearly June and Easter is long gone but.. I still would like to share some pictures and captions about this holiday since it held some real special moments! So let’s get straight into it 🙂

Friday

Because the company I work at gave us this paid day off, my Easter weekend started earlier. This was not only great but also much appreciated given the fact that at that point in time I was running on fumes. It was such a beautiful day of Spring. The sun was shinning and the weather was incredibly warm. I bought myself two bunches of gorgeous flowers and I also got to wear one of my favourite floral-print dresses. All in all, pretty simple things that make my soul very happy.

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This  day off gave me the perfect opportunity to go to a cafe, sit down and devote some time to writing. This is something that brings me peace and makes me feel grounded, especially when I am loaded down with work and have a lot on my mind.

 

Even though I love this cafe vibes, staff and overall service, I do not get to come here often because is a bit far from my house. Thus, I was so happy I could use my time off work to pay a visit.

Firstly, I ordered a cappuccino with unsweetened soya milk. Despite being a coffee lover, I try to avoid drinking it at weekends due to my (oftentimes slightly exaggerated) caffeine intake during the working week. One of the reasons why I love to come to this cafe in particular is because they have this freshly brewed coffee, whose beans they roast and grind there, with a really low caffeine percentage. It tastes just like regular coffee. Plus, everyone working at the cafe seems to have proper barista skills. The cappuccinos are always perfectly served with beautiful latte art on them.

I did some journaling whilst slowly sipping my delicious cappuccino and it was oh-so-lovely.

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After doing my journaling,  I decided to order a teapot of Oolong green tea and a vegan raw matcha and chocolate bar. This was a delicious focus booster and made me feel so inspired to write and just keep on writing some more.  I lost track of time and ended up by staying at the cafe for nearly 3 hours.

Raw treat made of toasted nuts, dates, chocolate, coconut, chocolate, lemon and matcha. It was so good that I am tempted to make it myself at home 🙃

Back in January, I deliberately took the decision of reducing my weekly workouts for the balance of my mind and body. However, despite no longer working out on Fridays, I really felt like moving my body when I left the cafe. As I was quite close to my gym, I decided to go there for a 1-hour workout. I did some weight lifting and core exercises and I really enjoyed. I usually go to the gym for certain group classes (HIIT, strength training, body combat, etc..) but this doing this different workout on my own was exactly what I was craving. And it felt great in the body (and mind).

I am all for trying new things (like this one) that test and challenge our mind and body in a positive way. Though it is important to assess and understand why we do what we do. What it seems to be a positive habit may actually have a not so positive intention or drive behind. This is something I learnt as a result of falling into the habit of overexercising (obsessively and in an unealthy way) in the past and of experiencing its resulting negative effects both in my mental and physical health.

I have been making a continuous conscious effort since June 2018 to approach fitness (and everything it entails e.g. eating) with balance in mind. I have come to learn that if something makes you feel good, that does not necessarily mean that more is better.. and I guess that it is great to realise that nowadays I am able to exercise out of a palce of abudance, rather than of lack. It is so empowering to be able to move my body in a way that feels good; in a way that feels right and without overdoing it, you know? Anyway, sorry for digressing. Back to my Easter weekend.

So, after my gym session, I just went straight back home and cooked myself a good nourishing dinner. I actually felt inspired to try a new recipe that was on my list for a while.

How wonderful is it to feed our bodies with foods we enjoy whilst giving them the fuel and energy they so need to thrive?

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This is the vegan version of a traditional Portuguese recipe (one of my fave actually) and was developed by @madebychoices . It is called Tofu à Brás (english name: tofu and mushrooms “à Brás”) and you can find right here It is soooo dang good and the ingredients could not be more simple! All you need is: sweet potato, leek, fresh coriander, mushrooms, white onion, firm tofu and a few spices and dried herbs. I did add green beans because I somehow seem to never be able to stick to a recipe haha For the perfect final touch, you should add black olives on top but sadly, I did not have them at the time. So, if you are keen to give this recipe a go, please make sure you have them at hand because I trust that they would make the dish even tastier!

Saturday

I went to my usual Saturday morning gym class. This is a group class of strength training intercalated with cardio exercises that I particularly love. While it is true that a great sweat is guaranteed, I always end up by having great fun. It is impressive the fitness instructor makes these classes the most intense, enjoyable and entertaining!

Gym was then followed by a good shower, the usual house chores and a late lunch. I end up by eating late on Saturdays most of the times because I always like to clean and tidy up the house first. Only when that is done can I actually relax and sit down to enjoy my meal (and well enjoy the weekend for that matter). Does anyone can relate?

The boyfriend arrived just after lunch time. He knocked on my door and I opened it only to find him standing there with a bouquet of pink tulips (my favourite). This really was a lovely surprise. He also got me some super yummy chocolate. It might be clichĂ© to receive flowers and chocolate but… after being in a long-distance relationship for several years straight, these lovely gestures really have extra meaning for me. Plus, it is impossible not to be over the moon with unexpected flowers and chocolate, right? He surely knows how to own this girl’s heart haha

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How pretty.

Because a pretty cool looking spot with lots of outdoor seating had recently opened in my street, we decided to go there for the first time. We sat down in the bustling terrace and ordered a glass of prosecco and beer. The weather was absolutely perfect and we got to spend a great time soaking up some vitamin D and sharing laughs. What a well-spent afternoon.

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Since the weather was still pretty warm when with we left the terrace, we decided to go for a short walk in the neighborhood.  How I love to be surrounded by this greenery and boat houses so typical from The Netherlands.♄

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After the sun setting down, we went back home and had a chilled evening in. I made my coconut chickpea curry (recipe here) for dinner and we just called it a day.

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Sunday

I used to spend Easter at my home country with my family up until the second year after I moved abroad. At that time, I was really busy with my Master Degree, priorities changed and… I guess that life just happened. I still make Christmas at a home a must but Easter is now usually spent in The Netherlands, which is where I live for over three years now. This does not mean that Easter stopped being about family for me or that it has lost its meaning. Not at all. Easter is still about gathering around the table with my family and sharing a nice home cooked meal (aka an unbeatable feast). It is still about waking up and starting to cook right way. It is still about spending hours at the table indulging in finger lickin’ good food, sharing funny stories and laughing out loud.  It is still about going for a lovely walk all together in the late afternoon. It is still about valuing one another… and when it comes to all that, this year was no different. The thing is that it just involved less people and instead of talking with the fam in person, I talked with them over the phone. I still enjoyed it a whole lot. I still got to spend it doing the things I’d usually do and with someone who I dearly love: the boyfriend. I cooked us a brunch, we watched some episodes of Games of Thrones (since I was still stuck in season 3. shame on me, I know) and then we went for a sunny walk by the harbour near my house.

 

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Food dEATs: Rice crackers to dip in homemade hummus spinkled with paprika + lupin beans + leek, tofu and spinach quiche, organic chickpea puffs from @Hippeas, salad with mixed greens and traditionally Portuguese Easter bread. All vegan with the exception of the Easter bread that had a boiled egg on top for the boyfriend.
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..and I finally nailed down a foolproof recipe for making the most ethereally smooth, creamy and dollop-ing hummus! Because this recipe is from the amazing @pickuplimes , all credits should actually go to her!

Anyway, it ended up by being a really special Easter because it was actually the very first time that my boyfriend and I got to spend it together. Also, I was more than happy to cook us an Easter brunch. This is mainly because I see cooking for other people, especially for my dear ones, as an act of nurturing. It is one of my favourite ways of showing my love and care. My boyfriend really praised me and showed his gratitude for the food I cooked, which made it all worth.  Knowing that he really appreciates every time I cook a good (and well, sometimes not-so-good haha) hearty meal is a big motivator for me to keep on putting all my passion into creating and trying new recipes.

Monday

I had a very slow start to the week due to the Easter Monday. I let myself to natually wake up and made two waffles using chickpeas flour for breakfast. I topped one of them with fresh strawberries and caramel syrup* (shown in the picture below) and another one topped with dark tahini and a dash of cinnamon. I dellightfully ate them whilst writing my morning pages as per usual.

 

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Homemade freshly baked waffles are such a comforting treat.
*just to clarify: this syrup is one of those that is calorie, sugar and fat free and despite not being a big fan of this kind of products that is also free of nutrients, I decided to give this one a try. The main reason for that is its really short ingredient list with no wacky names. It is good to complement my waffles toppings but not to replace them 😉

Even though I really enjoy working out in the morning, I only have the chance to do it on Saturdays due to my work schedule. So for that reason, I decided to use the fact that I did not have to go to work and went for a full-body workout gym class.

After that I went grocery shopping for the week and then went home, took a much needed shower and cooked myself a good nutritious lunch.

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Food dEATs: Oven baked sweet potato chips + roasted turmeric, turmeric and ginger cauliflower florets + concoction of meat free mince from @quorn, green beans, mushrooms and spices + smashed avocado with lemon juice + fresh coriander leaves

 

One task that sat on my to-do list for, let’s call it, ” a considerable amount of time” was to spring cleaning my wardrobe. Finally I got round to doing it! It was about time to give my closet a spring refresh.

Declutering my wardrobe turned out to be so freeing and somehow physically relieving. It was like purging physical stuff opened up something on the inside too, you know?

I think that this just goes to show how items take up both physical and mental space. I am a firm believer that physical space and mental space go hand-in-hand. Because by freeing up physical space we are also able to freeing up mental space, declutering leads to greater mental clarity. Thus, if you feel like your brain is in serious overdrive, clearing out your closet might just do the trick! It surelly did it for me.

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I donated my clothes to charity with the hope that someone out there can give them a better use than I would. Plus, I find this to be a great way to recycle and to stop clothes from going to waste and end up in a landfill (a huge problem nowadays).

Also, now that I have done this spring cleaning to my wardrobe, I feel actually somewhat inspired to make the task of “mindfully decluttering” a more frequent thing in my life. I know I can only benefit from it because stuff I own but do not need can really take a toll in my mind.

As for the rest of my day, well I just relaxed, read a good book (picture below) and watched the movie “Mary Poppin returns”. Definitelly a classic fantasy/musical that made me feel nostalgic for my childhood.

 

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All in all, a long weekend taken really easy.  I hope you had a lovely Easter holiday/weekend filled with joy, love and good food!..and for those who do not celebrate it, I still hope you had a weekend filled with all those great things. ♄

Much Love, 

Blissfully Grateful

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Protein bliss balls (VGN & GF)

Life at work has been slightly hectic and somewhat overwhelming. This is because various unexpected changes (team- and job tasks-wise) have recently taken place and I am still trying to find my overall rhythm again. Since I have been getting home late and knackered, I see my time and headspace for the things that I enjoy doing and that make me feel grounded and at peace rather limited. Thus, if I am not away for the weekend I make sure to devote a couple of hours of my Sunday to meal prep. It saves me some valuable time during the week and makes me feel ready to take on the new week. I don’t know about you but I love to use my time during weekends wisely. Whenever I have a weekend free of major plans, I make sure I carve out some downtime/me time and I prioritise certain tasks that make me feel like I am more on the top of my game.

A few weekends ago, I wanted to make a snack that I could easily take to work with me and what you see in the picture below was the result: RAW VEGAN PROTEIN BLISS BALLS. The name could not be more appropriate as these no-bake balls really are mouthfuls of pure bliss. What a “cooking” accomplishment haha

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Even though this was only my second time making no-bake bliss balls, this recipe turned out to be so much tastier than the one I did for Christmas. I added vegan protein powder with chocolate hazelnut flavour and that was give it such a nice twist! This is an easy peasy recipe with only 4 ingredients. In less than 10 minutes you have a portable protein-packed and energy-boosting snack made of wholesome ingredients. So, without further adieu, here is the recipe:

Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 80gr pitted dates (I used Mazafati dates but you can use any other type such as Medjool)
  • 70gr toasted almonds
  • 15gr unsweetened shredded coconut (plus a bit more for the coating )
  • 7gr chocolate hazelnut protein powder. The one I use is made of brown rice and peas and it is from gold nutrition but feel free to use any other chocolate-flavoured protein powder that you may have at hand.

Directions:

  • Blend almonds in a food processor. Then add in dates and pulse until loose crumbs form.
  • Add in shredded coconut and protein powder and pulse until well combined. Knead together until the mixture sticks together.
  • Roll into balls and dip into shredded coconut (or in any other topping of your choice, such as cocoa or matcha powder )
Notes:
*You can store them in the fridge up to 1 week, or even longer in the freezer.
**You can also use other nuts, like hazelnuts or peanuts, instead of almonds. I am sure they would not compromise on the taste.

I am genuinely happy with how tasty these bliss power balls turned out: naturally sweetened, chocolate-y and slightly crunchy but still fudgey! I took them to the office and during a hectic week of work and it was marvellous to have them as a snack. They are just that perfect pick me up snack to have at work because they fuel you up without weighting you down, you know?

Even though they can be easily consumed as an “on the go snack on the go, you can also store them in the fridge and have them after lunch/dinner since they are a great bite-size dessert. Another alternative is to add to them to your breakfast smoothie/yoghurt/porridge bowl in the morning! I had a rushed morning the other day and as I did not have the time to have my breakfast at home as usually, I packed some puffed spelt, a power ball and a blueberry coconut-based yoghurt with me to eat at work (featured in the picture below). As featured in the picture below, super yummy and easy breakfast prepared in less than one minute!

 

Because this recipe is so quick and simple to make, I am sure I will be making it more often. If you happen to make these deletable grab-and-go bites, please let me know how you like them! 🙂 In case you have a different recipe of no-bake vegan bliss balls, please share it in the comment section below.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Red lentil dahl (VGN & GF)

The temperatures have significantly dropped in The Netherlands this past week. It has been snowy and rainy. As someone who was born in a sunny and warm country like Portugal, I must say that I get all excited when it snows! Well, except when I need to grab my bike and realise that I have my saddle frozen… that is just not fun. Apart from that, I love it!! haha It is such a beautiful change of scenery. Anyway, because cold and snowy weather asks for hearty comfort food for the soul, today I bring you my red lentil Dahl  recipe. This is now the third time I have made it (always using different ingredients and measurements) but this recipe turned out to be the tastiest. I was so happy with its thick consistency because a good Dahl is traditionally fairly thick. The boyfriend love it and so did I! 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram or you have been following me here for a while, you guys should now how I am al about humble comfort food, especially when it is thick, creamy and infused with fragrant spices. This dhal is quite simple to make, perfectly spiced and comforting. It will satisfy your taste buds and certainly nourish your body down to the core. ♄

 

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So, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 300gr of lentils, cooked
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (400gr) or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 1/2 tsp of garlic powder (or 2 cloves of minced garlic)
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 2 tsp of turmeric
  • 2 tsp of ground ginger (or 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh ginger)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of fenugreek (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Vegan soya or coconut yoghurt (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils and soak them overnight in a bowl of water (see note)
  2. In a large pot heat 1/2 cup of water over medium high heat. Alternatively, if you prefer you can also use a tsp of olive oil instead of water
  3. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger for 3-4 minutes, stirring. Once translucent, add in red pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is fragrant and has started turning gold. Then add salt, spices and turn heat to medium. Stir for another 3 minutes letting the spices toast and release their flavours.
  4. Strain lentils and add to the pot, along with water and tomatoes. Give a good stir, bring to boil, cover, and then turn heat down. Let gently simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until lentils are perfectly cooked and soft.
  5. . Afterwards uncover and check consistency. If it is watery, continue to simmer uncovered until it becomes nice and thick.
  6. If needed, adjust seasoning to your liking.
  7. Serve Dahl over a hearty grain like rice or quinoa; or pair it with toasted naan bread or flatbread toast.
  8. Garnish with chopped green onions, fresh cilantro and a drizzle of vegan yogurt.

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*note: whenever I cook dried legumes, I make sure to soak them overnight for optimum digestion and less cooking time. Plus, soaking not only neutralises anti-nutrients but it also increases the nutritional value. It breaks down the hard-to-digest carbohydrates and protein tinto simple components that are easier for our bodies to absorb.

If you give this recipe a go, be sure to leave your feedback in the comment section below! Would love to hear from you.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Pumpkin and vegetable soup (VGN & GF)

It is finally pumpkin season and to celebrate it, I just came from the supermarket with various types of pumpkin (some of which are actually completely new to me). You should have seen me carrying them through the steep and narrow stairs (typically Dutch) of my house! haha but hey, they looked so cute and oh so pretty that I could not help myself! #sorrynotsorry Also, I swear they screamed “Please take me home with you!” and so I did (even though I have no idea of what I am gonna do with them because it feels like it is a waste to just cook them! haha).

Anyhoo, I am here today to share my pumpkin soup recipe, it is the perfect comfort food for brisk and cold Autumn nights. It is a bit different from the “typical pumpkin soup” because I added two of my fave veggies (cauliflower, mushrooms and spinach) to make it extra nutritious and comforting.

Whenever Fall and Winter come around, soup makes up my perfect staple diet for the week. I love to cook a pot of it in the weekend and store it in the fridge for when I come back home from work and gym feeling knackered during the week.

This soup recipe is just gently spiced with ginger powder and turmeric because I wanted to make sure that the pumpkin flavour shines above the rest. However, please do feel free to adjust the seasonings to your liking. My favourite thing about using pumpkin in my soups is the perfect silky and creamy texture it gives to it.

Ingredients:

  • 500gr pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 200g carrot, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, peeled and cubed
  • 150g cauliflower, grated
  • 100g brown mushrooms (or any type really), finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 2tsp of ginger powder
  • 2tsp of turmeric
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Fill a medium-sized pan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  2. In the meantime, peel and dice the pumpkin, carrots and zucchini and put them aside.
  3. Then grate the cauliflower and put it aside.
  4. When the water is boiling, add the diced carrots, zucchini and pumpkin. Cover with a lid and let it cook for 10 minutes. Then, add the spices and salt and simmer for around 20 mins until pumpkin is soft.
  5. Turn off heat, and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth.
  6. Add the grated cauliflower to the soup and simmer it again until it becomes soft.
  7. Then add the mushrooms and spinach leaves and let it all cook for more 3-5 minutes.

….And this is what you end up with:

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A thick and creamy soup loaded with flavour! If you decide to make this soup recipe (which I hope you do!!), let me know in the comment section how you liked it! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Tofu Scramble

Nothing beats a slow and steady weekend brunch at home with your beloved one(s)!♄ It was so wonderful to slowly wake up to a bright and sunny day this morning and since my boyfriend was at home, I decided to treat him (well, treat us..) to an entirely homemade brunch. Since my boyfriend is British, I promised that I’d include a sort of vegan English breakfast in our brunch. Gladly, he was not disappointed with the result. *phew*

So, today I am here to share my absolute favourite brunch staple: TOFU SCRAMBLE!! It is not only super easy and quick to prepare but it is also very nutritious due to its high protein content and 0% cholesterol.

The recipe below includes the basics I usually use often but you are free to play around with the spices and use any veggies you have left in the fridge.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 200g firm tofu
  • 1 small thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 red, yellow or orange pepper diced (I actually used a mix of the three)
  • A big handful of spinach leaves
  • 50 gr mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 1/4 finely sliced leek
  • Fresh parsley to garnish

 

  • Seasonings:
    • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
    • 2 tablespoons of nutrional yeast
    • Cracked black pepper to taste
    • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Start by pressing the tofu, which increases its capacity to absorbe any flavourings and seasonings added to it. You can leave it draining with something heavy on top for about 10-15 minutes
  • While the tofu is draining, you can prepare and chop all the veggies.
  • Warm a skillet over medium heat with some water on it. Once hot, you may add the already thinly sliced onion and pepper(s) and saute until fragrant (about 3 to 5 minutes). Stir ocasionally.
  • Once the tofu is well pressed, you can crumble it slightly using a fork (or simply your hands) to get the preffered consistency for your scrambled tofu.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms, leek and crumbled tofu to the skillet as well as the nutritional yeast and the rest of the seasonings (make sure that the tofu is well coated). You will have most likely to add some more water to thin. Stir until well combined and let it cook it for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, until the tofu starts to get brown.
  • Serve immediately with some fresh parsley on top.

We served our tofu scramble over some gluten free multiseed toasted bread and paired it with vegan sausages. I do not consume processed meat-alternatives like this on a regular basis but it is good fun to switch things up every once in a while. Plus, I could not call it a vegan English breakfast without the sausages, could I?

If you try this recipe, please let me know in the comments how you like it! 🙂

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Small remark: I always buy organic tofu and would advise everyone to do it since, from what I have read, non-organic tofu is most likely genetically-modified and sprayed with toxic chemicals, which is just stuff our bodies do not need.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My easy Chickpea Coconut Curry recipe (VGN & GF)

I frequently crave hearty and comfort foods such as a good coconut curry. This coconut chickpea curry recipe always manages to satisfy my cravings and, therefore, I just though I’d share it with you guys. It is tasty, effortless to makeand nutrient-dense. Plus, believe me, you can’t really get it wrong.

 

Now off to what matters: what are the ingredients and directions of cooking it?

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 300-400 chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 100gr button white mushrooms, sliced
  • 150gr carrot, cut in half and then sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped (you can also used the equivalent in canned tomatoes)
  • 2 handfuls of sugar snaps
  • 5 cobs of baby corn, cut into short lenghts
  • 3 handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
  • 100gr of red capsicum, sliced
  • 100gr of yellow capsicum, sliced
  • 400ml of canned coconut milk
  • 100gr of firm organic Tofu (optional)
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 small handfull of fresh cilantro
  • Lemon/lime

 

Cooking directions:

  1. Heat some water in a large pan and add the onion finely sliced. Cook until softened, it should take about 10 mins. Add all spices and stir to combine them properly. Cook for 3 mins, then pour in the chopped tomatoes, using a wooden sppon to break them up, and simmer for 10 mins.
  2. Pour in the coconut milk and add some salt to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer for a further 15 mins until the sauce becomes thick.
  3. Tip in the chickpeas, the carrot, fresh spinach leaves, yellow and red capsicum, baby corn and green beans (all previously boiled until tender-crisp), and warm through. Cook, stirring frequently, for a further 7-10 minutes.
  4. The tofu is totally optional in this recipe. When I use it, I like to cut it in small cubes and bake it in the oven with some mustard. However, in case you prefer, you can also tip the tofu cubes in when you add the chickpeas and the veggies to the pan.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed and as per your preference.
  6. Serve over some rice (white or brown) or quinoa and garnish with fresh lemon or lime juice and fresh coriander leaves.

 

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For an incredibly flavourful curry is important to have the right blend of flavours and textures. This is quite a versatile recipe but I find that using these veggies, herbs and spices, makes it very rich in flavour, wholesome and satisfying.

If you try this recipe please let me know in the comment section below. Also, do you have a different coconut curry recipe that is also vegan? As a curry lover, I am always open to need recipe ideas! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful