In between complaining about the cold and longing for summer salads, I sometimes remember that winter is one of the best times to get creative with your meals, and that ‘winter’ and ‘salads’ are not mutually exclusive. In fact, winter salads have become one of my recent go-to dishes. They take full advantage of unique seasonal produce and flavours, delivering a hearty meal that combines the health benefits of eating an abundance of fruits and veggies with the warmth we expect from winter cuisine.
Salads like this one display how healthy eating has to be neither difficult, nor boring and insubstantial even for an appetite as grand as my own (lol), provided you do your research and look beyond how salads are portrayed in popular culture. The key to making them filling usually involves adding a starchy base, such as potatoes in this recipe, and/or a protein. Tofu has to be one of my favourite protein sources for salads because not only can you cook it in such a wide variety of ways, but it also adds a chewier texture to accompany the overall ‘crunch’ of the dish. And if you aren’t a fan of tofu? No problem. Simply emit it or replace with a protein of your choice, such as black beans, lentils, tempeh… The possibilities are really quite endless.
The recipe whatismaria.com brings to you today (since when have I started talking in third person?!) is luxurious as both a main dish and a side. The subtly sweet, velvety flavour of the aubergines harmonises with the ‘crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside’ potatoes which in turn decorate your home in an aroma you will wish to retain for as long as possible (provided you don’t burn them, that is). Serve this straight away, or if meal prep is your cup of tea – store in the fridge for a quick, nourishing pacelunch.
Recently, a week or so of sub-zero temperatures and even a few snowflakes that melted before their collision with the ground gave way to milder temperatures, rendering anything that is not a steaming bowl of oatmeal or soup somewhat socially acceptable. Hence, I will be eating plenty of winter salads over the upcoming weeks. Let me know in the comments if you give this one a go, and whether you like to eat salads in winter too or prefer to keep them reserved for the summer!
Potato and Aubergine Winter Salad With Tofu
Luxurious and full of seasonal flavours, this salad is ideal as a comforting main course or a side. Serve straight away or keep refrigerated.
- 750g new potatoes, chopped into quarters
- 1 small aubergine, chopped into thin circles
- 1/2 block firm tofu (around 200g)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup purple cabbage, chopped
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 1/2 cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- soy yoghurt, to serve
- Preheat an oven to 20 degrees C / 392 F. Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until soft.
- Meanwhile, chop the tofu into bite-sized pieces and toss together in a bowl with the ketchup, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 tbsp soy sauce and the lemon juice. Leave to stand aside.
- Drain the potatoes and wash with cold water. Cover a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper, and lay out the potatoes, sprinkling with the turmeric, the dried rosemary, the remaining paprika and 1 tbsp olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, until crispy on the outside.
- Cover a separate baking tray with a sheet of baking paper, and lay out the aubergine slices. Drizzle with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp olive oil, the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat some cooking spray in a non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry for around 10 minutes, stirring at frequent intervals, until firm and slightly crispy.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, the tofu, the cabbage, the spinach leaves, the cucumber, the cherry tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt if desired. Serve with the roasted aubergine slices and a few tablespoons of soy yoghurt.
Lots of love, Maria ♡
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Do you ever come across those ridiculously photogenic oatmeal bowls topped with exotic fruit sourced from the soils of Narnia on Instagram and sigh with jealousy? After all, given the popularity of oatmeal/porridge as a breakfast option, what percentage of the general population actually has the time to create a Louvre-worthy masterpiece before jumping into their daily routine?
Well, first of all, let us quickly address the question of Instagram vs. reality (something that will doubtlessly necessitate a blog post of its own in the future). For many people, myself included, food styling is a creative outlet, and those pretty bowls are tailored entirely towards their respective Instagram feed as opposed to being a realistic representation of what their creators eat 90% of the time. Sometimes, I will make a bowl of oatmeal whenever my schedule allows (mostly in the late afternoon), photograph it for Instagram and store it in the fridge to be eaten the next morning. In other words, if I have to make porridge right before my six a.m. shift, only a very large sum of money could induce me to post the un-photogenic but nonetheless delicious outcome on social media.
Moreover, spicing up your oatmeal does not have to require enormous amounts of effort and culinary/artistic talent. You can make it as pretty or as ugly as you like, and adjust it in accordance with your individual preferences (this may be something that oatmeal and bullet journals have in common?!). After receiving positive feedback on my step-by-step Buddha bowl guide, I decided to build a guide to oatmeal on the same principle for anyone who wants to go beyond microwave oats in terms of both taste and nutritional value. As always, feel free to skip any of the steps I outline below and/or add anything else – after all, it is your life, your oatmeal, and no one can tell you what to do!
1. Pick a milk Continue reading “How To Make a Perfect Oatmeal Bowl”
Before we jump into my obligatory ramble about the recipe, I would first of all like to wish you all an outstanding 2018. May you achieve everything you wish to achieve, finally live up to your New Year’s resolutions. May all of your dreams and intentions come true. And if they don’t? Well, any experience whether successful or unsuccessful, is worth learning from. You still have your entire life ahead of you. My 2017 was a year characterised by uncertainty and interminable ups and downs: I experienced some brilliant moments, many lows and had to make a few life-changing decisions. I learnt a lot not only about myself, but also the world around me and how I fit into it. Regardless of what it may be, I cannot wait for anything 2018 shall bring forth.
Anyway, as I am writing up this blog post I am totally dreaming of the celebratory meal we had last night. As you may or may not know, I grew up in Russia, and while Russian people do not celebrate Christmas, they have a strong New Year’s Eve tradition and much like Christmas it is a time for spending time with family, giving gifts, eating copious amounts of food (I am talking to the extent that at times, there isn’t enough room on the table for people to actually set down their plates). There is even a Russian Santa (‘Ded Moroz’), but he wears blue as opposed to red. And in general, food happens to be an enormous part of Russian culture: for example, if someone visits your home and you hadn’t prepared a three course meal for their arrival and brewed several cups worth of tea, you become the definition of impertinent. Continue reading “Russian Pirozhki With Two Potato Fillings (Vegan)”
I don’t know about you, but to me, toast will always be a classic, either as a snack or a full on meal. There are endless possibilities when it comes to toppings, and there is just something fundamentally cosy about a hearty slice of bread on a cold morning – essentially the only thing that can make crawl out from under my blankets (although, that probably my fault for sleeping with the window open, but I cannot deal with a stuffy room, at all).
I spent this weekend trying out new recipes, one of which was supposed to be a vegan version of a Russian classic – pelmeni, or boiled dumplings with mushrooms and peas. It failed. Badly. Not gonna lie, I wept a bit because it’s always a shame when you come up with a fantastic idea, but the expectations do not accord with reality and it quite literally falls apart before your eyes. After feeling sorry for myself and having something like an existential crisis, I decided to see the whole situation as a sign to make something that’s a lot simpler but definitely not inferior in terms of quality. After all, I am all about making vegan recipes accessible and easy to incorporate into any lifestyle, and toast couldn’t come closer to these parameters – it requires minimal preparation, can be eaten for any meal (although, does anyone else find it strange that we allocate certain foods to certain times of day?! this rule should apply to any food) and is perfect for lunch/bento boxes.
Continue reading “Three Vegan and Healthy Toast Ideas”
I know I’m on a roll with these recipe posts recently, and I think that’s because I’m hungry pretty much all the time. Paired with insubstantial sleep, that’s the main effect the cold has on me. So, I cannot think of a better excuse to whip out my creative side, put my appetite to good use and try out a bunch of new recipes.
With starting a new job recently, I have been busier than usual (hence, I do apologise for any delay in comment responses!) which always brings the need for super simple meals I can create up in fifteen or so minutes without compromising taste. Oatmeal falls into this category for sure – no matter how much I eat oats, I never get bored of them. Moreover, they are ideal for storing in the fridge in time for breakfast and giving yourself a few extra minutes in bed! Continue reading “Two Quick, Easy and Vegan Oatmeal Recipes”
I am not entirely sure whether calling these ‘brownies’ is appropriate due to the noticeable layer of pumpkin, but the name seemed more concise than ‘big dessert thing with a dark chocolate and a pumpkin layer’. Brownies is close enough.
Anyway, after a stressful week full of job interviews (because unfortunately, gap year travels cannot be funded from the magic money tree), finally finding myself a job and undergoing two days of intensive, last-minute training, I couldn’t think of a better way to unwind than with some baking. Every bureaucratic, grown-up responsibility has to be compensated with something that benefits the soul as well as the mind/my bank account. Moreover, our home severely lacks autumnal decorations, and I wanted to bring in a bit of seasonal spirit with the warming smell of pumpkin and cinnamon.
The result, for sure, was not disappointing. If you have a few cans of pumpkin laying around in your cupboards, there is no better way to use them up than through either brownies or baked oatmeal, and I decided to go for the former.
Continue reading “Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Brownies”
In my opinion, nothing can beat a stack of pancakes on Sunday morning. Or on any day of the week, at any time (midnight snack anyone?). Vegan pancakes is the sort of meal I could eat for the rest of my life and not get bored because ‘YUM’ is the only word that can accurately summarise them.
And I am not just being biased because I had to make these twice due to poor lighting earlier in the week: the struggles of trying to blog about food as it gets darker! My mum even said the unthinkable: ‘why don’t you just use artificial lighting?’ What a great idea: I love it when my food looks mustard-yellow rather than this lovely mixture of golden and blue and pink.
I brought apple sauce from my local health food store the other day (and five other things, when I only walked in with the intention of stocking up on protein powder) and founds it works wonders in creating the fluffiest, Autumn-inspired pancakes – and from this day onwards, all of my food has to have a hint of Autumn as a way of making myself embrace this season. Otherwise the Summer nostalgia will never go away.
These pancakes are super fluffy, vegan, low in fat (nothing wrong with fat at all, but I know some people prefer ‘lighter’ options) and that chocolate-cashew sauce should be on everyone’s bucket list. Not gonna lie, I ate most of it before the pancakes had finished cooking! Try it, and don’t forget to thank me later 😉
Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes with a Chocolate Cashew Sauce
Fall-inspired apple and cinnamon pancakes with a delicious chocolate-cashew sauce. Healthy, vegan and super fluffy.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the wet and dry pancake ingredients and set aside for around five minutes. Meanwhile, heat some cooking spray or coconut oil in a large frying pan – make sure it is nice and hot before you start making the pancakes.
- Spoon mixture into pancakes shapes: make sure they are not too thin. I find that slightly under 1/4 cup of the pancake mix per pancake works best. Carefully flip when bubbles start to form on the surface and the edges are looking crispy.
- To make the sauce, simply whisk together the cashew butter, cashew milk, agave nectar and cacao powder in a small bowl.
- Serve immediately with some fresh fruit and shredded coconut.
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