Posts tagged beans
My favourite 'meat'ball and chunky tomato sauce recipe! (plus the Raw Retreat experience. no. 2)
Recipe: vegan Meat Balls

Last weekend saw the second Raw Retreat Experience take place... and it was just as epic as the first!  

The moment I walked through the front door of the hall, I breathed a sigh of relief and all my worries fell away. The weekend was ours. The energy of the simple unassuming village hall in the quirt Derbyshire countryside is incredible! Half of the participants had also been to the first retreat, and as they came through the door I heard a couple of them say "it feels like coming home". It did indeed.

As it says in the details, the Raw Retreat weekend is stripped back experience to remove luxury and create an environment for deeper connection with your inner spirit. As we arrived we each set up our beds and got cosy for the evening. There is a wonderful childlike sense of having a 'camp out' throughout the retreat, even when people have a little snooze during the day, or take time to zone out and meditate, there is a special energy about it all taking place in the same environment where someone maybe reading, eating or crafting just a few meters away. 

The focus throughout is on connecting with our senses... through food, movement, nature, crafting, conversation, space and stillness to go within.

Some of the tribe shared with wonderful words about the experience and it makes me heart smile, I can't wait to create more retreats for more deep connection...

"It felt like coming home, space to BE!"

I have learned loads about myself, I met wonderful people that feel the same as me inside. This is the closest I get outside 'recovery' in connection with feelings, emotions and understanding".

"Lovely vegan food, lots of walking, lots of talking and brilliant company."

My friend Dionne at Manabika yoga led us through energising morning yoga practices and a yoga nidra bedtime session on the first evening.  Then there was the food.... wonderful food (if I do say so myself, ha!) Thought the focus was not on raw food (just healthy vegan food) Dionne also created a masterpiece of a raw cake... recipe to come soon.  One of my favourite recipes are my 'meatless meatballs'.... I can't believe I haven't shared them on my blog before (I even had to double check!) as they've been a favourite at both Lanzarote retreats and both Raw Retreats!

They are so versatile, can be rolled into balls or pressed into larger burger style patties, they can be made with beans or mushrooms or a combination. They also freeze well- so I always make a big batch!  Seriously- what's not to love?

The recipe for the 'no-meat' balls and my chunky tomato sauce is below, but first I want to share with you the energy of the retreat in photos. I plan to run 3 or 4 of these retreats a year so keep your eyes on the main info page for the latest dates!

The wonderful raw cake... mmmmmm!

The wonderful raw cake... mmmmmm!

Here we all are in our PJ's and onesies... having just woken up, drinking mugs of hot lemon and ginger water before morning yoga! ha ha

Here we all are in our PJ's and onesies... having just woken up, drinking mugs of hot lemon and ginger water before morning yoga! ha ha

Recipe: 'Meat' balls

Makes approx. 30 balls (they freeze well but you can halve the quantities if preferred)


  • 3 cups cooked beans* (mix of red and black or just one type)

  • 1 cups sunflower seeds (approx 350g) soaked and drained

  • 1 cup oats

  • ¼ cup flax seed

  • 2 small red onions

  • ¾ cup sun dried tomatoes

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • 1 heaped tsp mixed herbs

  • 1 lemon- juice

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • Approx. ¼ cup soy sauce

* Note: I used beans as one of the participants on the retreat had a mushroom allergy, but I have also used mushrooms instead of beans (arguably even more authentic!) pulsed in a the food processor to get a 'mince' style texture. Pat with kitchen towel to take as much of the moisture out to prevent wet balls.


Pulse beans in a processor until you have a loosely blended mixture. Set aside.

Pulse remaining ingredients together until you have a smooth but still chunky mixture. In a large bowl add the mushrooms and mix through well.

Roll the mixture into meat ball size balls and place in a lined baking sheet. Bake at 180C for 25 - 30 minutes until crispy and golden. (also great eaten cold)

Serving options: spaghetti (or courgetti) and tomato sauce, pasta, quinoa, topping for a salad or in a wrap. Also make great burgers.

Recipe: vegan Meat Balls

Recipe: Chunky Tomato sauce

Makes approx. 3 cups worth


  • 1 tsp oil

  • 1 small onion sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves crushed

  • 1 tsp Italian herbs (fresh basil optional)

  • 2 tbs cup tomato puree

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes

  • 1 carrot finely grated

  • approx. 4 dried apricots - chopped

  • 250ml vegetable stock


Heat oil, onion, garlic and spices for a few minutes, then add the puree and cook for another couple of minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.

Recipe: vegan Meat Balls

There photos above are of the 'bean' version as served on the retreat, below are a couple of photos I had taken previously when I made the 'mushroom' version as balls and burgers at home. The result is darker (and more meaty looking?) I love both options. Just be aware that the mushroom version can become a little too wet if the mushroom mix has a lot of moisture once chopped up and isn't pressed/patted dry.

Let me know if you make them and how you serve them... I'd love to hear!  Tag me @johodson on Instagram ;-)

Recipe: vegan burgers
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Spicy peanut and broccoli... with a high protein twist!

Let me tell you right now how much I love this spaghetti! Don't get me wrong I love black beans in their natural form, it's just that sometimes I get a little bit 'beaned out' and I want to get my protein hit in other ways.

Plus it looks super cool :-)

This simple 10 minutes dish ramps up the protein count to crazy numbers. We talking up 40g per serving (depending on your serving size obviously-mine was quite large). Black beans, broccoli and peanut butter all combined in one easy dish. It's a no-brainer for those looking to increase their protein count on a plant based diet. And for that matter it's great for those looking for a high protein and/or low carb meal in general. I don't accurately measure the ingredients when I make this dish so the measurement below are estimates- you don't need to be too accurate- it's more the concept! You could of course add other veggies too, this is really stripped back to basics.

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For the last few months I've actually struggled to get hold of this pasta (they do other bean pasta types in their range too), however I recently went to a vegan food show in London and spoke to the supplier who said they'd had some issues with the EU allergy labelling regulations, but all was now sorted now it should be back in UK stores within the next few weeks… Yeah!! I assume the same is available worldwide whether it be this brand or another similar version.

The only ingredient is black beans, ok I appreciate it is processed to a certain degree since it has been made into a spaghetti style product, but considering its pure ingredient profile and variety it can bring to my meals I'm totally cool with that as an alternative to beans or other types of pasta once in a while.


So tell me, what's your favourite go-to high protein vegan meal?

Have you tried bean pasta yet?

P.s this post isn't sponsored in anyway... I just love the bean pasta ;-)

Recipe: Black beans spaghetti with broccoli and spicy peanut drizzle

Serves 1 hungry person! (me after an intense workout)


  • 1 small head of broccoli- chopped
  • 1 cup/2 handfuls of bean spaghetti
  • sauce- 2 tbs peanut butter, 1/2 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp hot sauce, 3 tbs boiling water


Steam the chopped broccoli florets for 5-8 minutes until cooked to your preference. 

Meanwhile boil the bean spaghetti for 5 minutes according to pack instructions.

Serve the spaghetti and pile the broccoli on top. 

Mix the sauce ingredients together and drizzle over the top. Sprinkle with extra chilli flakes if you fancy.

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Dressed up bean salad (that will last you all week!)

I've been meaning to get this recipe up on the blog for you for ages!!

I made this salad quite a few weeks ago and have since recreated it in numerous guises depending on what beans I had to hand, peas also work well. I love the fact I can simply make up a big batch (i'm talking tripling the recipe to fill a huge tub) and then eating for lunch, or dinner or as a side dish or simply to grab a spoonful when i'm in need of 'a little something' that could otherwise have turned into grabbing a cookie (yeah, you know that feeling too!)

This is most definitely my salad of the summer and so I happy when I came upon the original version (noted below) which also had a hummus accompaniment (I was being lazy with that part but by all means add it too!)  This dressing is also beautifully balanced, lovely and light with a little kick from the red chilli pepper flakes. I'm enjoying using sun dried tomato paste with my meals the moment too, but you could substitute regular tomato paste.

Tell me, what are you favourite go-to summer dishes?

Recipe: Dressed up bean salad 

Recipe adapted from this recipe by Cookie and Kate


  • 3 cups cooked kidney beans
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas or cannelli beans
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 stalks celery- chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint


  • 2 tbs sundried tomato paste
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ tsp teaspoon salt
  • ½ tsp red chilli pepper flakes (less or omit of preferred)


In a serving bowl, combine the prepared kidney beans, chickpeas, onion, celery, tomato, cucumber, parsley and mint.

Make the  dressing: Mix all ingredients together and pour dressing over the bean and vegetable mixture and toss thoroughly. Serve immediately for the most flavour, or let it marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for a couple of hours or longer.

Notes: I kept this in the fridge for 4 days and enjoyed it both warmed and cold. Different beans can be used- whatever you have to hand.

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Green bean & tomato salad
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We've been using the last of the home grown baby tomatoes around here, and though the seasonal beans from the garden may have already passed on by for the summer, I just wanted to share this dish with you as we ate some beans last night and it reminded me of this simple recipe. You can still buy green beans in the shops- they just might not be so local.

Once again, this dish is a simple reminded of the power of garlic, tomatoes and herbs- three perfect complimentary flavours.  I made this dish as a light lunch, but as noted below, just add some rice or quinoa and you have a heartier main meal too.

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Recipe: Green bean salad

Serves 2 (as a light meal)


  • 1 generous cup sliced green beans
  • 1 red onion- thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup tinned tomatoes
  • large handful of cherry tomatoes- halved
  • 1 cup packed spinach
  • sprinkle of fresh rosemary or basil
  • Optional: quinoa/rice*


Prepare the green beans and steam them (or boil if preferred) for approx 5 minutes until softened with a slightly bite.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan/wok saute the sliced onion with the garlic and a splash of oil for 3-4 minutes, ad the tinned tomatoes, the fresh tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes, adding the spinach for a final couple of minutes to wilt through.

Serve the ‘base’ onto a plate and without washing the pan add the beans and fresh herbs and mix round briefly to coat with the remaining ‘juices’. Add the beans to the top and dress with salt and pepper to taste.

• Note add cooked rice on quinoa to the centre of the base mix if desired for a heartier meal.


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Pulsin' Mexican corn soup

The autumn weather is closing in… Chilly mornings and early sunsets. 

The upside is that soups and stews are now on the cards again. Yay!

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The downside is that I'm now having to use my lamp to photograph my dinners again, it's easy to take for granted the summer sunlight during long summer days when the light stays bright till well past eight and photo shoots of dinners are quick and simple. Not so much when winter draws in- more organisation and better technique is required… well at least to me as I'm still very much a novice when it comes to artificial light photography. Maybe this will be the season I actually put some extra effort into learning the skills!

I actually thought I was going to be lucky and catch the daylight on this one, but there is always that fine balance between daylight, dusk in dark that only last about 10 minutes and yes on this occasion I ended up being just that 10 minutes too late. 

The photos aren't that bad in actual fact, the shadows are bit too harsh but the dish itself still looks the part and it certainly tastes the part. This was an amazing combination of mixed beans, roasted peppers and fresh corn on the cob. You can use any beans you wish. I had planned to use with kidney beans but realised I had none so subbed these for black beans at the last minute. Anything goes!

I also made this soup in aid of SouperSeptember, I saw a link on twitter in which donations, recipes and soup kitchens were being sent in and set up in aid of Broadway Homelessness and Support.

So this is my little offering.

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Recipe: Pulsin' mexican corn soup


  • 1 large onion- sliced
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds and ½ tsp chilli powder (or a sliced chili)
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 3 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can tomatoes (400g)
  • Handful of fresh oregano
  • 1 can black beans (400g)
  • 1 can red kidney beans (400g)
  • 2 peppers- cut into chunky strips
  • 4 corn on the cob (or add loose corn to the soup itself)


Sauté the onion with the spices in a dash of oil in a large pan for 4-5 minutes until softening. Add the lentils, tomatoes  and veg stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, add one can of the beans and simmer for a further 5 minutes.  Add the oregano, remove the pan from the heat and blend until fairly smooth.

Meanwhile lightly coat the strips of pepper in oil and bake or grill until soft and slightly charred, sprinkle with spices (I used a little sumac) if desired.  Boil the corn cobs (if using.)

Once the soup is blended add the remaining can of beans* and simmer to warm through. Add the loose corn here also if using.

Serve and add the corn to the side. Add extra oregano leaves if desired.

*blend one can of beans and leave one can whole- depending on which beans you want to be ‘visible’ and preferred colour of soup base.

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Peas & beans noodle soup- 5 minutes!

There is nothing I love more than 5-minute meal!

... Actually I change my mind, there's nothing a love more than a 5-minute dessert but let's not get distracted... here we're talking five minute meals of the savoury variety! (Note: sometimes I do have a dessert as a meal)

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I love a good dip with raw veggies, and I'm often to be found whipping up a batch at a moments notice. Now I've discovered that with just an extra couple of minutes work you have yourself a bowl of thick hot luxurious soup! The day after taking these photos I made the soup again (more dip leftovers) and added turmeric (to heal my sore gym muscles), and spinach. Its a 'throw in whatever you fancy' deal.

Yay for five minutes!

Yay for plant protein power!

Yay for warming soups and noodles!

Just so you know the soup came about as I made ridiculously large batch of the dip (for a gathering I'd overestimated) and figured I wouldn't get through fast enough just as a dip, so why not make a double batch and have it both ways. 

For extra inspiration see the posts below for ways I've used the dip.


Stuffed pancake stack

Stuffed pancake stack

Christmas tree flatbreads

Christmas tree flatbreads

Recipe: peas and beans soup

Makes 1 bowl of dip and 2-3 servings of soup (depending on thickness and mix-ins)


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas (thawed)
  • 1 cup cooked/canned white beans
  • A few green jalapeno peppers (optional)
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ red onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbs coriander or mint (i added fresh mint this time at the end)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Extras to make into soup: 

  • 1 cup boiling water 
  • approx. 1/2 cup or more quick cook GF noodles (I used buckwheat)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric (optional) 
  • 1 cup spinach (optional) 


Pour the boiling water in a smallish pan and add the noodles and turmeric, simmer for the required time till cooked (mine took 3 minutes)

Meanwhile, blend all the dip ingredients in food processor until fairly smooth.  Add to the water and cooked noodles and mix to heat through- add a little more boiling water to reach desired thickness. Mix through the spinach for a minute until wilted and garnish with fresh mint, salt and pepper to serve.


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Battenberg Cake…with a difference

So this month’s Daring Bakers challenge is….Battenberg cake.

Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

Battenburg- the classic chequered sponge cake, sandwiched together with jam and all wrapped up in a marzipan jacket!

Marzipan is a tricky one, the traditional version is full of powdered sugar and although it's generally vegan I still have difficulty in endorsing such a sugary treat here on my blog! I have been trying to suss out a sugar free marzipan for quite some time now, with some degree of success here in my Christmas Stollen and my the toppings for the super-cute Christmas puds.

But when it comes to a rollable marzipan I have not yet had a breakthrough!

However this challenge allowed us to push the boundaries beyond a traditional Battenberg as long as we held true to the chequered sponge concept with a sweet covering whether it be marzipan, fondant or chocolate. So, one idea came to my mind straight away….

….the ‘world’s healthiest chocolate fudge’!

I had tried rolling the fudge dough previously to make these hearts and it worked really well, so I figured it could also work really well as the Battenberg covering.  That then just left the sponge and the flavours to choose. I opted for a plain vanilla sponge alongside a raspberry sponge (although it has taken on more of a brown tinge in the photos), that allowed me to use sugar-free raspberry jam as the sole sweetener in the raspberry sponge.  I opted to try my ‘easiest ever gluten free sponge’ recipe as the basis for this cake as i really wanted to go gluten free for this recipe.

In hindsight I wish I’d gone for a different sponge recipe, as whilst that simple sponge works well as a small super-simple mug cake, it just didn’t really do it for me as larger oven baked sponge. There was nothing drastically wrong with it, I just felt it could have been a lot more delicate with a lighter crumb. I also wish now that I’d rolled the fudge wrap a little thinner before wrapping the sponge slices.

The overall concept was a great success and the chocolate fudge coating worked a treat (particularly if I’d rolled it more finely), however after eating a slice with the sponge, I got the feeling that the sponge was not doing the cake justice. So what did I decide to do?  Peel the fudge off and reform it into fudge balls of course. Mmmm…much better!

Try this frosting…go on give it a go! It is so easy to form and model that you can cut it into rounds, bars, roll it out as an icing layer or even turn it into a soft piped healthy frosting as I did here with thes cupcakes.

I will give the Battenberg another go with an alternative sponge recipe at some point soon. This fudge frosting is so versatile that I want to give it a proper chance to do my Battenberg proud!

This link takes you to the original Daring Bakers Challenge notes with  plenty of alternate recipes for battenberg to try.

Recipe: Healthy Battenberg Cake

Makes 1 approx. 7” long cake

Ingredients: chocolate fudge frosting

  • ½  can black beans- rinsed and drained
  • 1 mashed banana
  • ½ cup cocoa powder (or raw cacoa powder)
  • 1/3 cup dates
  • ¼ cup cranberries
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½  tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp stevia
  • ½ cup ground oats
  • 2 tbs ground flax
  • 2 tbs chia seeds


Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth pliable dough is formed. The dough should be fairly tacky but not sticky and should easy to handle.

Roll out the dough on a sheet of parchment or similar for easily handling. Roll to achieve desired thickness and then, using thr parchment to assist, carefully drape across the jam coated sponge to create the finish Battenberg.

Ingredients: simple vanilla sponge

  • ½ cup buckwheat flour (or other GF grain)
  • 3 tbs ground almonds
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup plain soy yoghurt (or regular)
  • 2 tbs agave (for vanilla version)
  • 2 tbs sugar free raspberry jam (for raspberry version)


Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and then add wet ingredients (other than agave and jam) and mix together well.  

Divide the mixture between two bowls and then add the agave and jam to a bowl each.  Note: to achieve a deeper red/pink colour you may need to add a few drops of food colouring.

You will now have two different coloured/flavoured mixtures. Spoon each into a 7” square  baking tin divided down the centre with parchment paper and foil to prevent the batters mixing (foil helps make a more ridged central partition).

Bake in  pre-heated oven  at 180C for approx. 15 mins until very lightly golden.

Assembling the Battenberg: 

Cut the slices of sponge into neat squares and arrange in a larger square with each flavour on the diagonal. Paint each edge with slightly runny sugar-free raspberry jam and then firmly wrap the chocolate fudge frosting around the entire cake, ensuring an overlap to seal.

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Spicy red pepper risotto

A few weeks ago a friend informed me that she had a vegetarian and wheat free guest coming for dinner….’what should she cook?’

Looking back through my recipes I realised that I had a shortage of substantial main meals since many of my recipes are healthy sweet treats or those that are savouries are snacks, sides or lighter bites.

However my winning recipe and the one I recommended to my friend is my sweet potato chickpea curry

….one of the first meals I ever made when transitioning to the vegan lifestyle, and still one of my favourite go-to recipes even now. Even the meat-eaters love this dish. 

Mmmmm...sweet potato curry!

I have also had a similar discussion in recent days with my dad who has been struggling to break out of a vegan food rut and bring some simple but interesting protein rich meals back into his diet. Getting a healthy balanced vegan diet does require a little effort to make sure you hit the nutritional quota…but luckily I love the challenge and so was all the more up for getting a variety of substantial main meals on the table.

So, in order to address this balance I will hopefully be adding a few more ‘main meals’ to the recipe collection in coming days and weeks. Meals that are both vegan and gluten free but most importantly should satisfy even the hardcore meat-eaters in your life! There will still be plenty of sweets as well!

Here is a little recap of some of my other ‘main meal’ dishes so far, you can find them all under my newly organised recipe collection- see this link.

For today I wanted to get the ball rolling with a simple one-pot dish, perfect for both the summer or winter months.

Serve a smaller portion with a large side salad in summer, or a larger heartier portion to warm you through during the winter months. This spicy red pepper risotto had a kick to it, so feel free to go easy on the spices if you prefer!

In addition I used red palm oil to create a rich deep yellow, but this is in no way essential.

Recipe: Spicy red pepper risotto

Serves 3-4


  • 1tbs red palm oil (for orange colour) or use coconut oil or olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • (crushed)
  • 1 red or white onion-finely chopped
  • 2 red peppers- cut into slices
  • A pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp parika
  • ¼ tsp turmeric (optional- if you want a yellow colour without the red palm oil)
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes (add more or less to taste)
  • 1 1/3 cup risotto rice
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine (or more stock)
  • 1 can red kidney beans


In a deep saucepan, fry onions, peppers, garlic, and spices in oil for about 5 mins.

Add the rice and mix through for 1 minute.

Add the wine and vegetable stock a little at a time over the space of 5 minutes and then simmer for a further 15 mins stirring occasionally so rice does not stick.

Add the beans about 5 minutes before the end. It is ready when most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice has a slight bite.

Freeze left over portions in individual bags.

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