Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Asparagus Quinoa Salad

Sun-Dried Tomato & Asparagus Quinoa Salad

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Asparagus Quinoa Salad | coconutandberries.com

After making my Mini Vegan Pizza Potato Skins the other week, I had a little jarred sun-dried tomato paste left which I used to make a quick quinoa dish for lunch. I hadn’t anticipated it being that special but I loved it so much that I decided I’d have to make something similar to share with you all here.   

Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto|coconutandberries.com

Since I’d finished up all the sun-dried tomato paste and also because I wanted everyone to be able to make this recipe, I made my own sun-dried tomato pesto from scratch. I’m calling it a “pesto” rather than a “paste” as I left it a little chunkier and added some pine nuts to the mix for even more flavour and texture.

Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto|coconutandberries.com

If you can get your hands on a readymade vegan version then you could of course use that but this recipe requires only a few easy-to-find ingredients and a minute in the food processor so it’s really not much effort.

Sun dried tomatoes have such an incredible sweet, savoury flavour that this pesto adds a bit of pizzaz to anything it touches.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Asparagus Quinoa Salad | coconutandberries.com

I mixed a good few spoonfuls of the pesto into fluffy quinoa, along with some fresh vegetables, for a delicious meal that is just as good eaten immediately as it is the following day from your lunchbox! 

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Asparagus Quinoa Salad | coconutandberries.com 

I’m trying to eat as much asparagus as I can before the season’s over and it is particularly lovely in this dish but Tenderstem broccoli or French green beans would also be good options. Cherry tomatoes add little juicy pops of sweetness throughout and balance the rich flavours nicely.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Asparagus Quinoa Salad | coconutandberries.com

I especially love this quinoa Salad over a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of homemade hummus!

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Asparagus Quinoa Salad | coconutandberries.com

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Asparagus Quinoa Salad

Yield: 4 Servings (6 as a side)

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Asparagus Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C Sun-dried tomatoes, divided (dry-packed kind)
  • 1/2 C Basil (loosely-packed), divided
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Toasted pine nuts
  • 1 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
  • 3-4 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 3/4 C Quinoa
  • Couple of big handfuls of spinach
  • 1 C Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Bunch of asparagus (approx 200g), woody ends snapped off/trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Hemp seeds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Rinse the quinoa well then place in a pan over medium heat with 1 1/2 C water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Stir in the spinach then re-cover and leave for at least 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  2. Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 30 minutes while the quinoa is cooking, then drain (reserving a little water).
  3. Add 2/3 of the sun-dried tomatoes to a food processor with half the basil, the garlic, pine nuts, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Stream in the olive oil while the motor is running and process until a thick paste (leave a little texture). You can add a Tbsp or so of the tomato soaking water for a looser consistency.
  4. Steam the asparagus for 2-3 minutes then refresh in cold water and chop each stem into 2 or 3 pieces.
  5. Roughly chop the remaining sun-dried tomatoes and basil.
  6. Stir the pesto into the quinoa, followed by the asparagus, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil & lemon juice.
  7. Check for seasoning and sprinkle with hemp seeds (if desired).
http://www.coconutandberries.com/2015/05/25/sun-dried-tomato-pesto-asparagus-quinoa-salad/

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Asparagus Quinoa Salad | coconutandberries.com

What are your favourite recipes for packed lunches or to take along to picnics and BBQS? 

If you’re new to Coconut and Berries, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere!  I’m on FacebookPinterestInstagram(@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter! You can also follow Coconut and Berries with Bloglovin or Feedly.

 

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Review: Healthy Nibbles Box

Healthy Nibble Box

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Healthy snacks delivered to your door? I’m in! 

The home delivery snack box thing has definitely become popular in the last few years.  More and more of us are looking for healthier options and though they are getting more widely available, nothing beats the convenience (and fun!) of a neatly packaged box of goodies delivered straight to your door.

My Healthy Nibbles are a snack box company with 4 different box sizes, each of which can be tailored to suit dietary requirements including gluten-free, paleo, vegan and “original”. 

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I was lucky enough to give one of their vegan boxes a spin and wanted to share my thoughts with Coconut and Berries’ readers. 

Each box is available as a weekly or monthly subscription, or as a single purchase and the selection of healthy snacks from both established brands and artisan suppliers is constantly changing. I love the element of surprise with these things and because my box was all vegan and healthy I knew I’d be able to eat it all! 

 I ripped into that pretty pink tissue as fast as I could… 

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 …to reveal SO many snacks! I wasn’t anticipating quite so much and judging by the prices I’ve seen some of the individual products sold at, the Healthy Nibbles boxes seem very good value. 

There was a nice selection of familiar and unfamiliar products as well as sweet and savoury. 

Clearspring Organic: Tamari Roasted Sicilian Almonds

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I’m a big fan of Clearspring and have talked about them on the blog before. All their products are fantastic quality and their snack packs are no exception. These savoury roasted almonds are great for stashing in your handbag for an on-the-go snack or for sprinkling on salads for some crunch and protein power. 


Ombar: Coco Mylk Buttons 

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These are amazing! Doesn’t everyone love chocolate buttons?  Somehow chocolate buttons are more fun to eat than a bar and they were definitely one of my favourites growing up. Though I’m a fan of the dark dark stuff these days, I make an exception for Ombar “mylk” chocolate which is really high quality, raw, vegan and organic. It’s been a long time since I’ve had regular milk chocolate but Ombar coco mylk chocolate is possibly even creamier! I’ve tried all the bars before but not the buttons so these were a real treat. 


The Food Doctor: Savoury Roasted Soya

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I’ve been making (moderate) efforts to curb my sweet tooth lately so great-tasting savoury snacks are very welcome. These roasted soya beans from The Food Doctor are tasty, filling and seriously nutritious. I wonder if they make them in big bags..?

Nudie Snacks: Premium toasted coconut chips

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I love that coconut is getting so much attention these days.  I was way ahead of the game obviously ;)

Nudie Snacks are tapping into the coconut trend with their simple but delicious coconut chips. They’re just toasted coconut chips with a tiny bit of salt and sugar for flavour. I’ve been enjoying grabbing a handful as a snack all on their own or sprinkling them on porridge, smoothies, ice cream and even salads. 


Get Fruity: Scrumptious Strawberry

Made from oats, fruit and coconut oil, this is a nice little snack for a growling tummy at 11am. I like that this is nut-free since so many of the snack bars on the market aren’t but the bit of fat from the coconut oil helps slow digestion and keep you satisfied for longer. Get Fruity also use gluten-free oats so these bars are suitable for anyone with a gluten allergy or intolerance.


 Teapigs: Liquorice & Peppermint 

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As a big herbal tea drinker, I’ve definitely tried quite a few Teapigs teas before – but not this one.  All their teas are really high quality and made with only whole leaf tea, whole leaf herbs and whole flowers, no tea dust! The liquorice and peppermint tea was surprisingly sweet but still refreshing. 


Zendegii: Lightly Spiced Savoury Snaps

These crackers from Zendegii are pretty different to any others I’ve seen before as they’re both grain-free and nut-free. They’re made from apples, beetroot, carrot and linseeds and flavoured with chili powder and salt. I wan’t sure what to make of them and they tasted a little like the failed juice pulp crackers I’ve made in the past. Fine as something light and crunchy to dip into hummus but I wouldn’t rush out and buy them again. 


iQ: Superfood Chocolate

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Not my favourite raw chocolate but still nice. I like that this one from iQ is smoother than a lot of raw chocolates (which can be a bit grainy) and also that it’s thin and snappy. They make several flavours, including espresso, lime and orange & raspberry.


 Lovechock: Raw Chocolate Rocks – Raisin/Coconut with a pinch of Reishi

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I’ve tried a couple of Lovechock’s raw chocolate bars before and they’re definitely one of my favourites. I hadn’t seen these “rocks” before but am very happy to have discovered them! Superfood infused raw chocolate coated raisins with a dusting of shredded coconut. I need to get my hands on the Mulberry/Hemp Seed and Almond/Cinnamon flavours asap.  


 Rebel Kitchen: Chocolate Mylk

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Another product I’m very familiar with. I reviewed Rebel Kitchen’s range of kids’ mylks when they were pretty new to the scene last summer. The brand has gone from strength to strength, launched a range of larger-sized mylks in more adult flavours – chai, matcha, chocolate & coffee, and even launched in the US! The chocolate is my favourite so I was very happy to find one in my Healthy Nibbles box.  Just water, coconut milk, date nectar and raw cacao. Truly healthy and delicious. 


  Chimpanzee: Dates & Chocolate Protein Bar

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This was pretty darn tasty but I wouldn’t say it was all that “healthy”. It does contain a decent amount of protein (8.6g) and fibre (5g) but also a lot of sugar, in the form of rice syrup, dates, chocolate chips, glucose syrup and barley malt. It reminded me of a Clif bar and I think it would be probably be a good energy bar for athletes or really active people but for me it’s more of a dessert than a snack!


Planet Organic: “Energise” Coconut, Barley grass & Hemp Protein Bar

Based on dates, coconut and cashews I was expecting this to be pretty similar tasting to a lot of other snack bars but the hemp protein makes it quite a bit drier. I needed to eat it with a cup of tea! I enjoyed the hint of lime flavour and do like that it contains some extra protein and superfoods. I’m a regular in Planet Organic so I might pick up the other flavours in the range to try.


 

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Overall I was really happy with my vegan box and, even if I don’t get a weekly or monthly subscription box, a one-off box every now and again is definitely tempting. They’d make great birthday presents for fellow healthy eating friends or family too! 

Healthy Nibbles are clearly committed to their cause and not only make snack boxes for all of us to enjoy but are involved in a new SMARTvending concept, supplying vending machines stocked only with healthy, nutritionally certified, sustainable products! How amazing would it be to replace all the junk food-filled vending machines with ones filled with delicious and nutritious goodies?!

Have you tried any of the snacks in my Healthy Nibbles vegan box? Any you’d be interested in trying? 

 If you’re new to Coconut and Berries, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere!  I’m on FacebookPinterestInstagram(@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter! You can also follow Coconut and Berries with Bloglovin or Feedly.

 

[Disclosure: Healthy Nibbles sent me a free vegan snack box to sample, but, as always, all opinions are my own. I was not compensated in any other way for this post]

 

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Lemon, Ginger & Green Tea Smoothie + Optimum 9200 Blender Giveaway

Lemon, Ginger & Green Tea Smoothie

Lemon, Ginger & Green Tea Smoothie | coconutandberries.com

Happy National Vegetarian Week! This year it’s all about sharing and enjoying delicious veggie food with your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours and community. Cooking for and with other people is a great way to introduce them to vegetarian living and make it fun too! 

 

Optimum 9200 Blender

To celebrate the event I’ve got an amazing prize to give away! A super-duper high-powered Optimum 9200 Blender from Froothie

“The Optimum 9200 next generation blender is a commercial-grade super blender designed for longevity, versatility and BRAWN. Stronger, faster and more powerful than a Vitamix, the Optimum 9200 will set you up to make amazing soups, the silkiest smoothies, super smooth dips, nut butters, ice cream and more. This is the best blender you’ll ever use and the last blender you’ll ever need. Once you try it, you’ll wish you’d had it all your life. ”

A few features you’re going to love: 

  • Crushes ice in seconds
  • Easy to use, with three speeds, three timer settings and a pulse button
  • 6 blade assembly creates a vortex that will suck your ingredients down and make blending a breeze
  • Super easy to clean and maintain by simply blending water in the jug at high speed

I own an Optimum 9400 which is the model before the 9200. There’s not a lot of difference between the two but the 9200 is a little more powerful, has a digital display and an automatic blending function. Read my full review of the Optimum 9400 (and get another awesome smoothie recipe!) here.  

See the bottom of this post for details on how to enter. 

Lemon, Ginger & Green Tea Smoothie | coconutandberries.com

I’ve got quite a lot of smoothie recipes on my blog already and I love them all but this Lemon, Ginger & Green Tea Smoothie is my current favourite! It seemed fitting to share it with you today while we’re talking blenders…

Lemon, Ginger & Green Tea Smoothie | coconutandberries.com

As well as being a smoothie fanatic, I’m a herbal tea fanatic and this drink combines both!

Here, green tea comes in the form of matcha powder as it’s easier to use and stronger than brewed and cooled loose leaf/bagged green tea, and lemon and fresh ginger give it a really bright, clean flavour that makes it even more energising. I like my smoothies creamy and to sustain me through the morning so I add a dose of plant protein in the form of hemp seeds which manages both of those things. 

Lemon, Ginger & Green Tea Smoothie

Serving Size: 1 Serving (or 2 snack-size smoothies)

Lemon, Ginger & Green Tea Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 Frozen Banana OR Pear
  • 1 Large handful of kale or spinach leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp Matcha (Green tea) powder
  • 1-2" Fresh ginger
  • 3/4 C Coconut water
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Coconut nectar OR liquid sweetener of choice

Instructions

  1. Blend together all ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth and creamy.

Notes

* I don't even bother peeling my ginger as my blender just pulverises it down to nothing but if you're not using a high-powered blender you might need to peel and grate it.

http://www.coconutandberries.com/2015/05/18/lemon-ginger-green-tea-smoothie-optimum-9200-blender-giveaway/

Lemon, Ginger & Green Tea Smoothie | coconutandberries.com

UK entries only please (sorry international friends!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Optimum 9200 retails at £429 but will be on sale for £349 during National Vegetarian Week. Visit Froothie’s website for details. 

Increase your chances of winning by entering the Optimum 9200 giveaway on Facebook – simply like and share this post  to enter!

National Vegetarian Week  

Enjoy National Vegetarian Week (and this smoothie) and keep the entries coming!

If you’re new to Coconut and Berries, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere!  I’m on FacebookPinterestInstagram(@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter! You can also follow Coconut and Berries with Bloglovin or Feedly.

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Mini Vegan Pizza Potato Skins

Mini Vegan Pizza Potato Skins

Mini Vegan Pizza Potato Skins with Tahini Cheese | coconutandberries.com

If you’re following me on my social media accounts you’ll probably have heard me mention my monthly The Vegan Kind boxes. I love getting post and the arrival of my The Vegan Kind boxes is always especially exciting! The Vegan Kind is the UK’s first lifestyle box for vegans and it contains not only food and drink but vegan toiletries, cleaning products, household supplies and more.

There’s always a recipe in the box too and this month the company’s lovely founder, Karris, asked me if I could come up with a recipe to feature.

Mini Vegan Pizza Potato Skins with Tahini Cheese | coconutandberries.com

One of the products in the box this month (#TVK18), and with which I was tasked with creating a recipe, was a delicious sun dried tomato paste from The Olive Branch’s “Greek Mezze” range. It sounds pretty unassuming but I promise this stuff is really good!

It wasn’t too much of a challenge to think how to use it as it’s very versatile.  A few ideas are: mixed with roasted vegetables, pasta or grains, as a sandwich spread, stirred into hummus, and of course on pizza! 

Mini Vegan Pizza Potato Skins with Tahini Cheese | coconutandberries.com

As great as pizza is, I didn’t want to make just any old pizza. So, as we’re smack bang in the middle of new potato season here in the UK, I decided to bring them into the mix and make vegan pizza potato skins! These are so easy to make and would make the perfect party bites! 

Crispy potato shell + umami sun dried tomato paste + melty tahini cheese.  

Mini Vegan Pizza Potato Skins

Mini Vegan Pizza Potato Skins

Ingredients

  • New Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Sun-dried Tomato Paste (like Olive Branch)
  • Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Tahini Cheese (2 Tbsp Tahini, 1 1/2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast, 1/8 tsp Salt, 1/4 C Water whisked together until smooth) OR Vegan Cheese of choice, grated*
  • Chopped chives (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 220C/425F
  2. Place potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Cut each potato in half, then use a teaspoon or melon baller to carefully scoop the filling out, leaving a thin layer of potato (Save the potato flesh to make mashed potatoes!)
  4. Place the potatoes on a baking tray, skin side up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn on the grill. Fill with approx. 1 tsp of sun-dried tomato paste, then top with a drizzle of tahini cheese or grated vegan cheese.
  6. Top with 1 or 2 cherry tomato halves then place under the grill for 3-5 minutes until just beginning to brown.
  7. Sprinkle over chives, if using, and serve immediately.

Notes

*This is enough for approx. 16-20 vegan pizza potato skins

http://www.coconutandberries.com/2015/05/15/mini-vegan-pizza-potato-skins/
 

The Vegan Kind lifestyle boxes are now also available outside of the UK ! Delivery is more expensive of course but considering the value of the contents is always way more than the £10 price,  the international price is still not a bad deal at all. 

Mini Vegan Pizza Potato Skins with Tahini Cheese | coconutandberries.com

I hope you give my vegan pizza potato skins a try too! Let me know if you do and how you like them. 

If you’re new to Coconut and Berries, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere!  I’m on FacebookPinterestInstagram(@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter! You can also follow Coconut and Berries with Bloglovin or Feedly. 

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Green Hummus Crackers

 

Green Hummus Crackers | coconutandberries.com

So often in the past I’ve had grand intentions of making something creative for lunch but get busy and before I know it it’s 1pm and my stomach is growling!  I’ve decided that during the week any fancy cooking has to be done in the evening and lunch needs to be a quick and snappy business.

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I always have hummus in the fridge, as do most vegans or plant-based eaters I know. Crudités and hummus are great but they can only take you so far and personally I like a little more than that for lunch. That’s where these quick and easy Hummus Crackers come in! 

So called for 2 reasons:

1. They’re perfect with hummus.

2. They’re made from the same ingredients as hummus (!)

The miraculous ingredient that is chickpeas somehow transforms into both a creamy dip and a crunchy, crumbly cracker! 

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I didn’t actually add tahini but I did add lots of sesame seeds which are basically the same thing, plus the usual garlic, lemon, oil and salt. 

Aduna Moringa

I also added a fun new-to-me ingredient for a little health boost and fun green colour.

You’ve probably heard of and maybe tried various green superfoods available in the West like spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass, etc. but you might not have heard of moringa which is actually even more nutrient-dense than those and a rich source of iron, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Aduna’s moringa is a 100% organic, raw wholefood made from the naturally-dried leaf of the Moringa tree.

According to Aduna “The moringa tree is native to Africa and Asia and is widely considered The Miracle Tree. Drought-resistant, fast growing and perennial, every part of the tree is valuable: from the seeds that are used for purifying water, to the medicinal properties of the bark, roots and flowers and  — of course — the exceptionally nutrient-dense leaves.” 

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It doesn’t have an unpleasant taste so it’s pretty easy to incorporate into your diet. I found it slightly earthy and savoury so prefer it in sauces, soups, salads, etc. rather than in smoothies, but if you just add a couple of teaspoons it’s not very noticeable.  

Green Hummus Crackers

Yield: Approx 3-4 Servings

Green Hummus Crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Coconut OR Olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp Ground flax seed
  • 1 1/2 C (1 can ) Cooked chickpeas
  • 1/3 C Sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Moringa powder (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until you have a smooth dough. Roll the dough into a ball and use a rolling pin to roll into a very thin, even layer. Use your fingers to patch up any gaps.
  3. Score the dough into cracker shapes and bake for 30-40 minutes, until just beginning to brown.
  4. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before breaking into crackers.
http://www.coconutandberries.com/2015/05/11/green-hummus-crackers/

Green Hummus Crackers | coconutandberries.com

Aduna also produce another superfood called baobab which is rich in vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants. It also happens to be delicious! It’s a little sweet and tangy, kind of like lemon sherbets (!) and is very good in smoothies or even on porridge or yoghurt. 

As I strive to be a responsible consumer it’s also reassuring to me that Aduna is an ethical company. They work directly with producers in Africa who coordinate harvesting, collection and the highest quality standards, as well as ensuring that growers are paid a fair price. You can read more about their mission here

Aduna - Moringa & Baobab

Hope you give these crackers a go and are maybe tempted to give moringa and baobab a go!

[Disclosure: Aduna kindly sent me some of their Moringa and Baobab for review purposes, but I received no other compensation and, as always, all opinions are my own]

If you’re new to Coconut and Berries, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere!  I’m on FacebookPinterestInstagram(@coconutandberries), Google + and Twitter! You can also follow Coconut and Berries with Bloglovin or Feedly.

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