Big news and the best veggie lasagne in the world! 

​Happy new year readers! I hope your year has started off great. 
I know I have been absent for the past few months and I promise I have a good reason. Well two of them, actually. And they are humdingers! But I promise this recipe is definitely worth the wait. Oh, you want to hear the news first? OK then you impatient lot.

Well, first of all one of my dearest hobbies has turned into a little business and that has kept me a little busy recently. You see, as well as food blogging, I make scented soy candles and they have actually proved fairly popular. If you want to check them out you can do so here.

On to the second humdinger.. Well, I am excited to announce that our family is growing and in June we are welcoming our second child into the world! I wasn’t up to cooking much in the beginning but starting to feel much better now so I am ready to take over the kitchen again.

So, hope they satisfied your curiosity and now on to the recipe. A fantastic veggie-filled variation of a creamy, cheesy lasagne. It takes a bit of effort to make but come on, it’s LASAGNE. It’s worth it! Plus there’s a huge amount of veg hidden in there, so you don’t have to feel bad about eating it. This is seriously so good, I urge you to make it for someone who doesn’t usually enjoy vegetables and watch them ask for seconds!

Super veg lasagne
1 medium aubergine, sliced lengthways into thin strips resembling lasagne sheets
400g frozen spinach, slightly thawed
6 garlic cloves, finely sliced
200g lasagne sheets
200g carrots, grated
2 onions, chopped
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbs tomato puree
60g red lentils
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
100-150g cheddar cheese (use more or less to own preference)

For bechamel sauce:
50g butter
50g plain flour
1 litre semi-skimmed milk
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt to taste

First, preheat the oven to 175 degrees.
Then prepare the vegetable sauce. Add a little bit of oil in a large pan and when hot, add the grated carrots and onions. Let sweat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, then half fill the can with water and add to sauce. Add the tomato puree, the lentils, salt, pepper and herbs. At this point you can add a pinch of chilli powder too if you like a bit of spice. Let simmer until the lentils are done, about 10ish minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the garlic in a pan with a bit of oil for about 1 min. Add the spinach and increase heat to high, fry until the spinach is completely defrosted and some of the water has evaporated (it doesn’t have to be completely dry). Season with salt and pepper.

Set the vegetable sauce and spinach aside and prepare the bechamel. Add the butter to a saucepan on medium heat and wait until melted. Add the flour and fry for just about a minute, you don’t want it to brown at all but you want to cook away the raw flour taste.
Take off heat and slowly add the milk while constantly whisking. Place back on the heat and keep stirring until thickened. If there’s any lumps just use your whisk and vigorously whisk the sauce until smooth. Take off heat and season with salt and nutmeg.

Assemble the lasagne. To make it easy, here is a step by step layer guide:

First a layer of vegetable sauce in the bottom of your lasagne dish.
Follow with pasta sheets.
Then a layer of spinach
Then a thick layer of bechamel
Then the aubergines (use as lasagne sheets)
Then a layer of vegetable sauce
Then a layer of spinach
Then a layer of bechamel
Then a layer of pasta sheets
Top with a thick layer of bechamel and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

IMPORTANT:
As hard as it may be, it’s essential to let the lasagne cool in the dish after taking out of the oven. I recommend at least 15 minutes if you have the patience.

Why this rocks:

SPINACH is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, B2, K and C and iron, calcium, folate, potassium and manganese.
LENTILS are an excellent source of fibre, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Also a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B1, zinc and potassium. They help you feel fuller for longer and are a great food for weight loss! 

TOMATO is an excellent source of vitamins C, K, A and E. It is also rich in potassium, manganese, fibre, copper, folate, niacin and phosphorus. They are shown to reduce the risk of several types of cancer, lower blood pressure and be very beneficial for heart health. 

CARROT is an excellent source of vitamin A and beta-carotene. They also contain fibre, vitamins K and E, magnesium and zinc. 

AUBERGINE is a source of fibre, vitamins B1 and B6 and potassium. It is also high in minerals copper, magnesium and manganese. 

Enjoy! 

Anna x

Bulgur wheat & lentil salad 


Bulgur wheat is such a fabulous alternative to couscous and rice, it’s great in salads or served warm as a side dish. It’s also very healthy so you can enjoy it without guilt! I made this salad when I was in Finland visiting my family and they all loved it, and what’s not to love? There’s flavour upon flavour with sundried tomatoes, olives, roasted peppers and pine nuts so you won’t think you’re eating another boring salad. Don’t be fooled though, it’s super healthy too. This makes a huge portion so feel free to halve the recipe if there’s less mouths to feed. 

Bulgur wheat & lentil salad 

300g bulgur wheat, cooked according to package instructions (for extra flavour, use chicken stock instead of water) 

100g sundried tomatoes, chopped 

100g black kalamata olives, chopped 

300g roasted red peppers from a jar 

2 handfuls pine nuts or other nuts/seeds of choice 

Very large bunch of parsley, chopped 

1 clove of garlic, minced 

1 red chilli, sliced finely (deseed if you don’t want it too hot)

200g canned lentils 

2 spring onions, chopped

Handful of pomegranate seeds 

Dressing:

3 heaping tbs red pesto 

2 tbs lemon juice

Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste 

Mix all salad ingredients except pomegranate seeds in a large bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour on the salad, then toss together. 

Scatter the pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with extra parsley and pine nuts. 

Why this rocks: 

BULGUR is low in fat but high in fibre and protein. It is also rich in minerals like  magnesium, manganese and iron. 

LENTILS are an excellent source of fibre, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Also a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B1, zinc and potassium. They help you feel fuller for longer and are a great food for weight loss! 

Enjoy! 

Anna x 

Apple crumble parfait 


This is not the prettiest dessert out there but then again, neither is the real apple crumble drenched in custard. So anyway, what’s the deal with this? Lighter and MUCH easier version of the classic dessert, no baking and I even used store bought custard (naughty me!). Not that actual apple crumble is particularly hard to make of course, but to be able to make a dessert that tastes just like it, is much healthier and is served in a one glass glorious mess? YES PLEASE. This recipe makes only one serving because my husband is at work and you can’t make this in advance (Shah, if you’re reading this, don’t worry when you get home I can make one for you too) but it is easily doubled or tripled. 

Apple crumble parfait (1 serving) 

1 apple, peeled and cut into small chunks 

Half tsp cinnamon 

30g wholewheat oats 

Half tbs brown sugar (or to taste) 

120g ready made low fat custard (I used Ambrosia canned) 

Place the apple chunks and cinnamon in a small saucepan with just a little bit of water in the bottom. Heat up on medium heat until softened slightly (5ish min). 

Place the oats in a frying pan on med-high heat with the brown sugar and heat up, stirring just until toasted slightly (about 2 minutes). Start assembling the parfait by layering oats, apples and custard in the serving glass. Top with a last layer of oats. 

Why this rocks: 

APPLE is rich in fibre, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E and K, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. 

OATS are high in fibre and can help boost digestion, lower bad cholesterol and keep you feeling full for longer. 

Enjoy! 

Anna x 

Cheesy kale & jalapeño poppers


Me and kale have a bit of a love/hate relationship. I love the health benefits but I hate the taste. Are there really people out there that eat kale because it TASTES good? Let’s face it, it tastes like grass (sorry, kale fans). But prepare it in a clever way and you can easily hide it and even transform it into a delicious and healthy comfort food! Like these cheesy, spicy poppers.

Even though kale tends to get a lot of hype and attention and is sometimes regarded as overrated, there’s no denying it IS healthy. It might not be the super duper hyper healthy “fix it all” vegetable but it’s undeniably very good for you. So enjoy these poppers with a clear conscience! 

Cheesy kale & jalapeño poppers (makes 15) 

180g curly kale 

1 small onion 

Handful of jalapeño slices (more if you like it HOT, less if you don’t) 

Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste 

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

2 tbs breadcrumbs 

80g cheddar cheese, grated 

1 egg 

Preheat oven to 200. Line an oven tray with greaseproof paper. 

Place kale, onion and jalapeño in a food processor and blitz until broken up (but stop before it turns completely mushy). Transfer to a pan and stir fry on high heat until wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-8 minutes. Tip into a large bowl and add seasoning, coriander, breadcrumbs, cheese and egg. Shape into 15 poppers, place on the oven tray and bake for 20 minutes. 

Why this rocks: 

KALE contains vitamins A, K, C and B6, as well as manganese, copper, calcium, potassium and magnesium. 

Enjoy! 

Anna x 

Broccoli “meatballs” with marinara sauce


Some people say you eat with your eyes first, and if that’s really the case then spend a few minutes just eyeballing this picture. The colours are so vibrant and the green of the meatballs against the bright red of the marinara just look so stunning. But I didn’t make this recipe just because it looks good, I made it because I was sort of craving meatballs and marinara. I say sort of because here in London the weather is incredibly scorching right now and even though I wanted meatballs, I wanted something lighter and fresher. These balls are also a perfect meat free option for vegetarians! 

Now, the sauce. A classic marinara sauce, slightly adapted from an authentic Italian recipe. Absolutely genius in its simpleness (is that a word?). And absolutely genius in its health benefits. You see, although the general rule with vegetables is the less you cook them the healthier they are. But with tomatoes it’s completely opposite! Studies show when you cook your tomatoes longer, they release more heart-healthy lycopene. So marinara is real feel-good food! 

Broccoli “meatballs” with marinara sauce (makes 20 balls) 

Meatballs: 

360g broccoli florets (about 1 head) 

40g breadcrumbs

Handful of basil leaves, chopped 

1 small onion,  chopped finely 

3 garlic cloves, crushed 

1 tsp salt 

Freshly cracked pepper 

1 tbs tahini 

2 large eggs, lightly beaten 

Marinara: 

2 x 400g cans peeled tomatoes in tomato juice 

2 tbs olive oil 

6 large garlic cloves, sliced thin 

Few dried chillies 

Salt to taste 

Sprig of basil leaves 

First, to make the balls. Preheat oven to 200. Line an oven tray with greaseproof paper.Place the broccoli florets in a food processor and pulse until they resemble breadcrumbs in size. Place in a large bowl and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Form into 20 balls and place on the baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. 

The sauce: 

Place the tomatoes in a bowl and crush with your hands. Fill one of the tomato cans halfway with water. Heat the oil in a wide pan and once hot, add the garlic. Let sizzle for just a few seconds and then tip in the tomatoes and water from the can. Add the chillies, salt and sprig of basil. Now let simmer vigorously for about 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove the chillies and basil sprig and adjust salt if needed. 

Why this rocks: 

BROCCOLI is a source of vitamins C, A and K as well as folate, calcium, fibre, betacarotene and antioxidants. 

TOMATO is an excellent source of vitamins C, K, A and E. It is also rich in potassium, manganese, fibre, copper, folate, niacin and phosphorus. They are shown to reduce the risk of several types of cancer, lower blood pressure and be very beneficial for heart health. 

Enjoy! 

Anna x 

Pesto flatbreads

This recipe is a variation of Jamie Oliver’s easy flatbread recipe. I changed it slightly and added some garlic and pesto to get that POW hit of flavour! And damn are these delicious, just look at that picture and tell me you don’t want to dunk that thing in a bowl of soup (like my tomato & chilli soup) or have it with this Mediterranean lentil & fish stew

I think most cultures have some sort of flatbread in their cuisine and though this isn’t exactly like the rieska I used to have in Finland when I was growing up (which is normally made with potato!) these are wonderfully warm, flavourful and gorgeous. And not to mention SO easy to make! 

Pesto flatbreads (makes 12) 

200g self raising wholewheat flour 

150g self raising white flour 

1 tsp baking powder

300g fat free natural yogurt 

50g low fat sour cream 

3 heaping tbs pesto 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped 

Salt to taste 

To make the flatbreads, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with your hands and when dough starts to come together transfer to a floured surface to knead lightly (only until dough becomes pliable and holds together). 

Divide dough into 2 pieces and cut each piece into 6 equal size balls, making 12 altogether. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each ball into about 15cm disc and fry with NO OIL in a hot pan about 1-2min per side. Best served fresh but can also be frozen. 

Enjoy! 

Anna x 

Asian noodle salad 

There’s not much to say about a fresh but filling and incredibly tasty noodle salad. Mainly because you will be so busy eating you won’t want to waste time talking about it but the fresh, crunchy veg, perfectly cooked noodles and creamy, tangy dressing make for a perfect combination. This tastes amazing just on its own or as a side to some grilled meat. 

Asian noodle salad (about 8 servings) 

250g rice noodles 

1 red pepper, sliced thin

1 orange or yellow pepper, sliced thin

2 large spring onions, chopped 

2 large carrots, in matchsticks

1 red chilli, chopped OPTIONAL

2 tbs sesame seeds 

Dressing: 

2 tsp ginger paste

1 garlic clove, chopped finely

4 tbs rice vinegar

5 tbs sesame oil 

4 tbs peanut butter (crunchy or smooth) 

9 tbs soy sauce 

Cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions and rinse with cold water. Assemble all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. 

Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl and mix it in with the salad. Garnish with sesame seeds and spring onion. 

Why this rocks: 

PEPPERS are high in beta-carotene (especially the red variety), they also contain capsaicin, vitamins A and C, fibre and potassium. 

CARROT is an excellent source of vitamin A and beta-carotene. They also contain fibre, vitamins K and E, magnesium and zinc. 

PEANUT BUTTER contains potassium and protein. It lowers the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Also contains fibre which is good for digestion, healthy fats, magnesium to strengthen bones, vitamin E and antioxidants. 

Enjoy! 

Anna x