Thursday, 26 March 2015

Moroccan Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I have a confession to make. Ok, that makes it sound really bad and it's not. It's more of an insight into my inner workings than a confession. When I'm cooking or cleaning I put my music on and sing and dance.

I wish I could say it was some amazing classical or jazz music that I listen to, but it is usually the latest pop release as that's usually what I download for when I'm working out. I needs me a good beat for the gym.

James often laughs at me for singing at the top of my voice with my headphones on. And when I was in uni my housemates often used to walk into the kitchen to me busting a few moves and singing away.

But seriously Katy Perry makes cleaning the bathroom go so much faster and makes it so much more fun. And Taylor Swift is the perfect accompaniment to cooking. I think my neighbours must think I'm barmy as I'm often bopping and twirling away in the kitchen while I whip something up or wash the dishes.

I'm all about sharing this week. If you didn't catch Tuesday's post, I shared some more facts about me.

So, anyone else agree that music makes cooking and cleaning more fun?

Please tell me someone else does this. Someone else agree? Please.

Sweet and spicy stuffed peppers with warm Moroccan spices. They're gluten-free, vegetarian and can be made vegan | The Road to Less Cake

Hello, sweet and spicy stuffed peppers.

These are one of my favourite weeknight meals to cook. They're super simple to make and are filled with lots of flavourful ingredients - fluffy quinoa, kidney beans, juicy sultanas and crunchy flaked almonds with warm Moroccan spices like cinnamon and paprika. Nom!

The sweetness of the peppers and little bursts of sultanas works beautifully with the spices. They're not blow your head off hot, like the curried sweet potato and carrot soup, they're midly spiced to add depth and flavour. But as always, you can tailor the recipe to suit you.

Sweet and spicy stuffed peppers with warm Moroccan spices. They're gluten-free, vegetarian and can be made vegan | The Road to Less Cake

Coincidentally, this week happens to be Meat Free Week. I didn't realise this when I had planned to share the recipe for these babies this week. I've just seen a lot of people Tweeting recipes under the hashtag #MeatFreeWeek.

So, although it wasn't intentional, this my wade in for MFW.

Although I'm not meatless anymore, I still eat a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals and this is one that the hubs-to-be and I both really enjoy it. Tbh, it is probably my favourite meat-free meal at the moment.

The recipe is vegetarian but can be made both vegan and dairy-free. It's also naturally gluten and wheat free.

Sweet and spicy stuffed peppers with warm Moroccan spices. They're gluten-free, vegetarian and can be made vegan | The Road to Less Cake

If you can resist gobbling these all up by yourself and want to share them with your loved ones they serve four to eight or two really hangry monsters.

If you want them as a main meal, I'd recommend at least two per person. For lunch with a nice, big green salad on the side one would be perfect. 

They'd also be great for a party or get together with friends.We like to have friends round for movie nights and a few drinkies and I usually like to serve some food that people can grab while watching films. I've totally turned into my mother in that sense. She loves to feed people who come to our house. Everytime we have a party or a gathering at my folk's house, Mum always says she's not going to put on much food, and everytime there is always lots of food. And do you know what that means? Leftovers for lunch the next day. Yay!

Back to these delicious stuffed peppers. If your watching a movie or even sports with friends, these would be great to serve for your nearest and dearest along with some salad and dips. They'll make their tummies happy. 

And FYI the peppers are fab with a dollop of hummus on the side to dunk mouthfuls in. Trust me.  

Sweet and spicy stuffed peppers with warm Moroccan spices. They're gluten-free, vegetarian and can be made vegan | The Road to Less Cake

They may not look it, but these beauties are really filling and contain about 6g per stuffed pepper half. So if you have two for your main mean that is 12g of protein. I think that is pretty good. Don't you? Not only do they leave my best buds tingling afterwards and they leave my belly nice and satiated. Win!

I like to crumble on some tangy feta, which ups to protein intake again. The slight saltiness of the feta sets off the sweetness of the peppers and the aromatic spices. You could top with any cheese you like or if you're vegan or dairy-free (I'm dairy-free but I can tolerate a little sheep and goat milk) then forgo the cheese and just dig in.

I also like to get a bit fancy pants and sprinkle on some freshly chopped herbs on top of them. It's not essential but I think it makes them look pretty. 

Sweet and spicy stuffed peppers with warm Moroccan spices. They're gluten-free, vegetarian and can be made vegan | The Road to Less Cake

Moroccan Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Sweet and spicy stuffed peppers with warm Moroccan spices. They're gluten-free, vegetarian and can be made vegan | The Road to Less Cake
by Nikki Mitchell
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 - 40 mins
Keywords: roast lunch dinner gluten-free diary-free low-sodium nut-free oil-free soy-free vegan vegetarian wheat-free pepper, kidney beans, quinoa
Ingredients (Serves 4 - 8)
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 2 cups (approx 370g) cooked quinoa
  • 1 can (400g/14oz) tinned kidney beans in water, drained
  • 6 spring onions (aka green onions, scallions)
  • 400g (14oz) passata or tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas or raisins
  • 2 tablespoons flaked/sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cayenne pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 50g feta cheese (Optional - skip to keep recipe vegan)
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  • Chop the peppers in half, de-seed them and lay them on a baking tray.
  • Mix the cooked quinoa, drained kidney beans, spring onions, sultanas or raisins, flaked almonds, cinnamon, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic cloves together in a large bowl with the passata or chopped tomatoes.
  • Spoon the mixture evenly into the chopped peppers.
  • Crumble the feta on top. Skip this step to keep the recipe vegan.
  • Cook the peppers for 30 to 40 minutes until they start to soften and blacken.
  • Once cooked, top the peppers with chopped fresh herbs like coriander/cilantro or parsley and a crumble on a little extra feta if you fancy it.
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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

25 Facts About Me

Today I thought I'd do a bit more of a personal post. I've been dotting about here there and everywhere the last few weeks and have taken a few blog hiatuses, so I thought I'd give you a chance to get to know me a little better.

1. I had straight hair until I was about 15-16 and then it started to go curly.

2. I have bluey-grey eyes. Some days they are bright blue and others they are more grey.

3. Around 90 % of the time when I am blogging I am in my PJs or at last have PJ bottoms on. 
Case in point, I'm in my jammies now. 

4. When I was 17 I had purple hair.

5. My favourite book from my childhood is 'The Butterfly Lion' by Michael Morpurgo.

6. I'm an only child.

7. I don't follow any sports or sports teams.

8.  I met the man I'm going to marry next year when I was 17.

9. I find mythology really interesting.

10. I can roll my tongue into three to make it look like a petal.
I thought this was fairly common but it turns out it is pretty rare. 

11. My middle name is Eve. My Mum wanted to call me Eve but Dad won and they called me Nichola Eve, instead of Eve Nichola.

12. Oh, yeah, my first name is Nichola with a 'h'. Most people know me as Nikki though.

13. Chocolate fudge cake is my favourite dessert.

14. This is my favourite number.

15.  My favourite fruits are bananas, raspberries and grapes.

16. My first job was working as a waitress in a pub when I was about 15.

17. My favourite film from my childhood is 'The Last Unicorn' .

18. I have a fear of Daddy Longlegs.

19. When I was about five I wanted to be a mermaid like Ariel.

20. Now my favourite Disney princess is Belle.

21. When I was little after my parents had read me a bedtime story I used to ask them to "tell me one from your [their] mouth". This meant make one up.

22. When I'm on holiday in Spain, Greece or Italy I often get mistaken for a local.

23. I don't like going down escalators as I once had a nightmare I was going down one and then the floor opened up at the bottom and I was swallowed up.

24, I have a phobia of injections. When I have a blood test or other injection I have to lie down or I am likely to faint.

25. No matter how hard I try to like them, I hate sprouts.

Tell me something about you!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Wishlist: Workout Wear

Workout Wear Wishlist | The Road to Less Cake

There's nothing like new workout wear to make you feel buzzed and in the zone.

After being sick (read more about that here) I've been easing back into exercise with yoga, walking and going to a body balance class with my friend, and browsing and thinking about buying some new workout gear has got me feeling more energized about my workouts and made me raring to go, 

When I first joined a gym after my first year of uni, I wore baggy, shapeless tops and tracksuit pants I'd had since by PE days at school. Fast forward a few years and now I love bright, bold colours in my workout clothes. I'm into colourful capris and leggings, funky tops and I'm not one for boring black or white sports bras, all my sports bras are in jazzy colours. 

I've been looking for something cute to throw on after my workouts and I'm loving the Elite Seamless Run Top from Sweaty Betty and the Collarless Marled Cardigan from Forever 21. I think if I were to splurge it would be one of these two. 

What workout wear are you crushing on at the moment? 

Out of the 10 workout clothes about what would you buy or what do you think I should buy?

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Curried Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

I'm probably breaking all social conventions today. It's St Patrick's Day (Happy St Paddy's Day), and I probably should be sharing a green recipe, but I'm not. But look, I did use a bit of green in my photos. And I did eat a green smoothie for breakfast this morning to appease the green foodie fanatic in me.

And it's almost Spring, so I should be sharing a recipe that says, 'Hey, look the weather is getting better', and soup is more like, 'Hey, it's winter, let's wear big fluffy socks and a cosy jumper' kinda recipe.

Although Spring is showing its little face like the snowdrops and daffodils that are starting to bloom everywhere, it is still freeeeeezing in Scotland. Ok, maybe not freezing but it very very cold and I am still sleeping in my winter jammies and we've still got a snuggly throw on the bed.

A mild, aromatic curried sweet potato and carrot soup that is creamy yet dairy-free. It is vegan, gluten-free and paleo friendly | The Road to Less Cake | #soup #vegan #paleo #glutenfree #dairyfree #healthy

So I know I've taken a few blog hiatuses recently. I really haven't wanted to but life kinda got in the way. After I shared the Scotch pancakes with sultanas recipe I went back to Yorkshire for a mini-break to visit my family and friends. Then one of our friends who has been living in Australia for the last few years and is in the UK for a few weeks decided he was going to come to Scotland for a few days days to visit, which was great. The three of us had a great time. Catching up with old friends is always awesome.

Unfortunately, before we went away James' car broke down and when we got back we found out that the garage didn't know how to fix it and we've had to buy a new car.

There was one thing about James' car breaking down that benefited me and that was that he had to take my brum brum to commute to his job, so I was walking to work. Even now I've got my car back I'm still walking to work more often, which I am really enjoying. It gives me a few minutes each morning and evening to clear my head. Before I passed my driving test a couple of years ago and got my car, I used to walk almost everywhere. I need to do more of it and it has been feeling awesome to get back towards that. And I am loving leaving work and there being some daylight still left. I hate it when I go to work in the dark and leave work and it dark. Roll on sunny summer days.

Then after our car woes, to put the cherry on top of the cake, I got sick.

All I wanted was smoothies, soup and bowls of oats.

And that's how this soup came about.

A mild, aromatic curried sweet potato and carrot soup that is creamy yet dairy-free. It is vegan, gluten-free and paleo friendly | The Road to Less Cake | #soup #vegan #paleo #glutenfree #dairyfree #healthy

The weekend before the one just gone, I had my blogging schedule all down - when I was going to photograph, what recipes I was going to experiment with and even a little time to sit down and write the posts. Then on the Friday night I suddenly felt bleugh and headed up to bed for an early night.

I woke up Saturday morning with a raging fever. I was so hot (and not in the hot mess kinda way) when James sat next to me on the sofa he thought I had the heating on. But nope, that was just me. Emitting enough heat to warm a small room.

So last weekend was spent squirreled under a duvet, drinking lots of tea and Lemsip (this is not a place of judgement. It is the only thing that gets me through colds and flus and feeling kinda sane again), while watching lots of rom-coms and eating homemade soup.

A mild, aromatic curried sweet potato and carrot soup that is creamy yet dairy-free. It is vegan, gluten-free and paleo friendly | The Road to Less Cake | #soup #vegan #paleo #glutenfree #dairyfree #healthy

James was away in Edinburgh playing hockey on the Saturday, and when I stumbled into the kitchen to make myself something to eat, all I wanted to eat soup, like most sick people, but we didn't have any in the house.

Routing around the cupboards and fridge I found some sweet potatoes, carrots and an onion. I bunged them in a pan with some stock and spices and cue a delicious concoction that I just had to share.

It is soup-er for clearing a bunged up nose and making you feel good from within.

I couldn't help that pun. Terrible I know.

A mild, aromatic curried sweet potato and carrot soup that is creamy yet dairy-free. It is vegan, gluten-free and paleo friendly | The Road to Less Cake | #soup #vegan #paleo #glutenfree #dairyfree #healthy

 Something magical happens when you put sweet potato in soup. It makes soup luscious, silky, smooth and creamy, despite there being no cream in it.

This soup is flavourful and aromatic with warming spices that add depth but don't blow your head off. But if you like things on the spicy side of life feel free to add more spices or add some chillies. I'm all about tailoring your meals to suit you.

It is perfect with some homemade cornbread dunked in.

A mild, aromatic curried sweet potato and carrot soup that is creamy yet dairy-free. It is vegan, gluten-free and paleo friendly | The Road to Less Cake | #soup #vegan #paleo #glutenfree #dairyfree #healthy

Curried Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

by Nikki Mitchell
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 - 30 mins
Keywords: boil blender dinner lunch diary-free gluten-free low-sodium oil-free soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian wheat-free paleo carrots sweet potato
Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 900g (approx 2lbs) sweet potato
  • 500g carrots (approx 18 oz)
  • 1.5 to 2 litres (52 to 70 fluid oz) vegetable stock (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil (optional)
  • Fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped spring onion, toasted cumin seeds for topping. You could also add a drizzle of coconut milk or a dollop of plain/Greek yogurt on top.
  • Peel and chop the sweet potato, carrot and onion.
  • If you want to you can sweat the onions and garlic down together in a little oil.
  • If not, add the onions, garlic, sweet potato, carrots and spices to a large pan with the hot stock.
  • If you sweat the onions and garlic, add the other ingredients after the garlic and onions have softened.
  • Cook on a medium heat for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  • Once cooked, pour the soup into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Serve in a bowl or mug and top with desired toppings
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What do you like to eat when you feel sick?

Do you eat soup all year round?
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