Growing up I was always told to “eat my greens” by my mum. She was a big one for making sure that I had plenty of vegetables and fruits on my plate so broccoli and cauliflower were staples in my diet as well as a wide range of vegetables - as you can tell I’ve always been a big fan of eating plants. So when I went vegan I didn’t have any problems with giving up meat and fish - they weren’t a big part of my diet anyway - but giving up cheese was a different matter. In fact, It was a catastrophe!
It’s a common fear for people when they think about going vegan - the most commonly heard phrase is “but how do you cope without cheese?!” I used to put cheese on EVERYTHING - pasta, salads, soup you name it - and since becoming vegan I have struggled to find a good cheese substitute which has made me think about how I can improve the taste of my food without it. And then it came to me - seeds and spices! Being from Italy I’m not used to using spices like curry, cumin, turmeric and paprika but they’ve become a staple in my new diet. Now that’s not to say I’m an expert, but I’m enjoying cooking and experimenting with them whilst discovering new ways of cooking.
So to continue with my experiment I’ve been throwing different seeds, nuts and spices into a hot pan and coming up with some lovely recipes to spice up your snacks or add to a dish. Here are my final 6 mixes for you to recreate - I love storing them in recycled glass mason jars to keep them preserved for longer. Add them to your morning yoghurt, soup, salads or even throw them in your bag for an on the go snack.
Not only are they tasty but nuts and seeds have so many health benefits - they contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, plant stanols and antioxidants including vitamin E. They’re so important to include in our diets as they can even help lower cholesterol.
All of the below seed and nut mixes can be made the same way using the methods below. Why not try creating your own mix and share them with me by using @leles_london and #LelesRecipes
Add a tablespoon of oil to a frying pan and coat the pan in it then wipe off the excess
You want the pan to be oiled but not greasy
Put the frying pan on the heat and make sure it gets piping hot
Add one ingredient at a time to the pan
Roast them together until they’re golden brown
Eat them straight away sprinkled on salad or let them cool down and store them in a mason jar for later
THE RECIPE MIXES
MUSTARD SEED MIX
This one is my husbands favourite, he’ll literally eat them out of the jar! They’re great as a nibble if you’re having guests over or delicious when added to a stew - the cashews get softer when cooked into tomato stew dishes.
ALMOND NUT MIX
I love sprinkling this over a dish of boiled asparagus with a touch of lemon juice but it’s equally at home sprinkled on yogurt in the morning with some fresh blueberries.
A handful of almond nuts
A handful of chia seeds
A splash of maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
PISTACHIO NUT MIX
The pistachios in this mixture are super crunchy and add a great texture to vegetables as well as - bear with me on this one - ice cream! The bitterness of the cocoa nibs make a lovely contrast with the ice cream.
FLAX SEED MIX
This is a great little mixture to add to salads - the crunchiness goes well with anything but i particularly like it with quinoa and spinach.
And don't forget the most important thing; add a little love to all your recipes - it's the most important ingredient.