Welcome to 'Chef's Corner' where you can peek into SwapMeat's kitchen and experience our love for plant-based cooking...
The 'Naughty-Nice' Challenge for a 'New Year, New You!!'
Yes, You heard us right: It's a New Year, and by gosh, this is the perfect opportunity for the world to meet a New and Improved YOU!!! That means you can forget about all the food choices you made last year...and start fresh. If you feel that you've been a bit naughty (and not so nice) with your Christmas favourites, NOW is the time to regroup, take a new look at the everyday foods you have in your pantry and fridge and create mind blowing, mouth watering, easy recipes. So to help you to get started, we've created our exciting NAUGHTY/NICE Challenge!!!
Here at SwapMeat, we are always thinking of ways to help you in your endevour to eat healthier. So we are asking you to give us some feedback on which foods or ingredients you would like to see alternatives or substitutes for...What are some of the naughty foods you just can't seem to give up?? Let us help you turn your favourite naughty recipes into nice ones so you can start this New Year with a New You!
Simply reply with the 'naughties' that you want to make nice and we will post FREE recipes (yes free!!!) for the month of January. These recipes will be created by yours truly and posted on our website and facebook page. Whether your temptation is sugar, chocolate, cheese or something else, we can create a guilt-free version for you that you will absolutely LOVE!!!
So don't waste another moment in holiday regret...the sooner you reply, the sooner you can get cooking!!! Post your reply to SwapMeat's Naughty/Nice Challenge below TODAY!!
...And to receive hands-on cooking training and a wealth of Nutrition and Fitness information for a healthy New Year, meet us at our New Year, New You conference THIS SATURDAY!!! Book your space today by clicking the button below!
SwapMeat's healthy pick: The Avocado
Whether it's bumpy or smooth in texture, vibrant green or its occasional dull purple, this unique alligator-skinned fruit is a stylish addition to any balanced diet. Fittingly called the alligator pear due to its skin and shape, it has a delicate yet distinctive taste when eaten raw. When sliced open, it reveals a soft greenish -yellow flesh complemented by a large brown seed at its core. The avocado is the epitome of versatility, so it can definitely take on more than just your traditional Mexican guacamole. In fact, if it existed in the desert, it would be likened to a chameleon because of its ability to change its appearance and style!
What can you do with it??
Well, as I stated before, you could go the traditional route and prepare a lovely guacamole (where's the snoring emoji when you need it...just joking except I'm really not, lol). However, let me first say that there is nothing 'wrong' with guacamole; I love it; make it myself; and make a good one I might add! It's just...well—traditional! In my opinion, cooking should be fun, creative, a journey for the palate, and a delightful experience for the hands that prepared it...(as well as the guests and loved ones who quickly gobble it up!!!)
How I like them...
When I eat avocados, I eat them sliced in half with seed removed. Then I use just two simple ingredients: fresh cracked pepper and tamari sauce which is gluten-free and less salty than your traditional soy sauce—basically a healthier and far better option. Right—Now you simply just put a few splashes of tamari and 'crack on' with black pepper, and a spoon to enjoy.
The taste is simple yet filling and most importantly, delicious. You don't have to work up a sweat or clean up anything afterwards except a spoon if eaten inside the casing. If you have a love for avocados and like tamari or soy sauce, you will love it! It truly is one of life's simple pleasures. Oh and before I forget...in case you haven't noticed, my very first blog features our chocolate goji berry torte, which was actually made from avocados! Even if you don't usually like avocados, after one taste of that torte, you would be converted. I'm sure you can see now that avocados can be stretched far beyond their appearance and basic taste—and most importantly, produce delicious and nutritious results.
Why you should add them to your diet
Avocados are great for providing us with monounsaturated fats, commonly referred to as 'good' fats because they help to lower your cholesterol level. Ultimately these fats help to improve and maintain good health by helping the body absorb important vitamins and minerals. Since more than 66% of the fat in avocados is monounsaturated, they can be a valuable part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. Using avocados in your diet will surely benefit you in ways you wouldn't believe; so go ahead, try the avocado, give it a taste and experience all the health benefits it can produce for your body!!!
Keep Cooking, Chef
Chef's Tips for picking and preparing avocados!!
To maximise the potential of avocados, make sure you pick a ripe one if using on that day. They should be semi-firm but when pressed gently, they should 'give' a little. Also, if they are hard, place the avocado alongside a banana in a brown bag, close and set in a warm place. The natural gases in bananas will speed up the ripening process.
To remove the seed, hold one half of the avocado in the palm of your hand, seed side up. Carefully, with the sharp side of the knife blade, tap the top of the seed just enough to cut into it. Once the knife is secure, twist it and the seed will pop out!!!
Slice the avocado in half by holding it firmly but gently in the palm of your hand, making sure the avocado is lying on its side. Now, take a sharp knife and carefully cut into the skin and flesh until you hit the 'core' or seed. Just very carefully run your knife around the avocado making sure that the blade stays in contact with the seed until it makes a complete circle. Remove knife, twist the avocado and it should come apart.
To experience an actual Raw Food demo from our chef, come see us at our upcoming health conference 'New Year, New You!' on the 21st of January. To get your ticket today, visit this link!!!
SwapMeat's fresh seasonal pick: Kale
Here at home base (Swapmeat headquarters), we love to let nature and what's 'natural’ guide us when creating new and exciting recipes; and we make it very easy for ourselves by following this simple motto: "Whatever is local and in season, we eat!" That’s it—Nothing too impressive there, because actually, for us, seasonal produce is simply a no-brainer! Why??—Well, first of all, it’s good for our economy and most importantly, seasonal produce is simply ‘produce at its best’—PACKED with flavour and much more nutritious than vegetables purchased out of season. In fact, eating seasonal produce will certainly make a difference in what you are cooking and most importantly, have a much more positive impact on your health. So, with that said, we will feature weekly produce which is seasonal and local—and this week’s pick is Kale!
I absolutely love Kale, simply because I can eat it raw, steamed or even sautéed. Kale is a robust, low-maintenance and long-suffering vegetable which can grow in most climates and survive even the coldest of winters. In fact, in winter, kale can be left unattended and it will continue to grow! True story...... Last winter, I didn't see my back garden in 2 months or so and to my surprise, as I poked my head around the dried corn stalks.....What did I see??...It was kale; and it was still surviving and thriving! It was vibrant green and winter crisp! I was particularly excited because that night, I desperately needed a handful of kale to complete my evening meal, yet I was far too tired to go to the shop. I finally convinced myself to venture out to the local market to get some kale, but before I took that 15-minute journey, spending money and time, I decided to doubtfully check my back garden…and there it was—my beautiful resilient Kale! That's what I love about growing my own vegetables: it's always a surprise to see what might pop up ready to eat.
What I prepared...
Until this day, I can remember exactly what I needed my gorgeous kale for on that cold winter evening. I made a tuscan kale and butter bean stew with vegan parmesan and fresh herb dumplings. Mmmmm mmmmm mmmmm. Not only was it absolutely DELICIOUS, but it was packed with nutritious vitamins. In fact, kale, is packed and I mean, PACKED with vitamin C. Our nutritionist, Dr Terri Holloway or as I like to call her, 'Dr T' always says 'When it comes to picking leafy greens, you should always pick dark greens"--or for short, 'The greener the better'! Also, when choosing your leafy greens, make sure that they have no holes and are vibrant in colour and sturdy or crisp to the touch—No limp or yellow leaves! The primary goal is to maintain all of the vegetable's nutritional content, and one of the best ways to optimise nutritional value is to purchase or pick your veg as needed. Another key method in maintaining the nutrients in your veg is to eat them when raw. For example, you can prepare a raw, buckwheat, quinoa, kale and sultana salad with pomegranate vinaigrette.
Other ways to benefit from kale's goodness is to simply steam it for three minutes. Lastly, my favourite way of preparing kale is to saute with a little oil, garlic and sprinkle with sea salt, fresh course black pepper and a pinch of chili—Absolutely beautiful!!! I promise you that adding the chili will take it to an entirely new level. And this final tip is for my more adventurous: try adding toasted almond flakes and orange-flavoured sultanas (or any sultanas will do) with the zest of an orange. The almonds will add the crunch and texture needed while the sultanas give the subtle taste of natural sweetness against the salty kale. Now that's food fit for a King or Queen!!! So make a point to go to your local market or local shop and get your paws on some kale. Try it if you have never tried it, or simply add the techniques that I mentioned to your repertoire, recreating your normal recipes by incorporating some of what I have done with this tasty and nutritious vegetable.
Cheap Cost, Rich Taste...
Kale has many benefits: In addition to being delicious and nutritious, kale is also cheap as it costs about 60 to 80 pence per pound, or £1 per bag of 200 to 250 grams. However, if you can get it fresh, GET IT! It's a lot tastier fresh than in bags. Also, it grows locally and the most convenient part about it is that it's sold freshly picked at a local outdoor market near you!!!
This Week's Seasonal Harvest: 'The Pumpkin'
Well, it's the end of October and I can't help but think about all the meals that I can create out of what remains of October's autumn harvest. Here at SwapMeat, we are passionate about letting seasonal produce navigate our culinary creations!
Freshly picked seasonal produce is amazing, not only because it’s more cost effective, but it’s full of antioxidants and nutrients that help create a healthy, fresh and flavourful meal…and this season’s most popular local staple is the ‘Pumpkin.’
This time of year, you’ll tend to see pumpkins everywhere as they are widely harvested during the holiday season. Native to North America for food and recreational purposes, the pumpkin is used for much more than just carving out a scary or goofy face. In fact, in Canada and America, pumpkins are used to create a traditional dessert for their Thanksgiving feast, which is known as the ‘pumpkin pie’.
Ideally, this pie is designed to enjoy in 'moderation' as it isn't very kind to the waist line (lol). However, if you load up on lots of delicious vegetables regularly, as we encourage here at SwapMeat, weight maintenance is much easier to achieve, and not something you will need to obsess about…It’s simply a by-product of a healthy lifestyle.
Our company is committed to promoting health, overall well being, and of course FUN! This means you don't have to let go of all your favourite foods; you can simply recreate them with ingredients that are better for you and your family…And the final result will be a healthier and happier YOU!!!!
To enjoy pumpkins throughout winter, you can peel, chop and freeze them. They will keep for 2 months if kept frozen.
Here’s some cool things you can make with pumpkins:
Pumpkin and vanilla spiced 'ice cream'
Roasted pumpkin with thyme
Vegan Pumpkin 'Cheese'