This weeks my day on a plate comes from Megan Young the face behind Veggies and Me. Megan is a professional photographer based in Sydney.
I have been cooking since I can remember and a vegetarian almost as long. I was working in my aunt and cousin's restaurant by the age of 12 and spent many a summer holiday from school elbow deep in veg prep in kitchens around Hobart. Growing up in beautiful Tasmania, Australia, surrounded by nature, I couldn’t help but have a well-developed appreciation for fresh, wholesome and local produce. Over the years this love of fresh produce has awakened my interest in nutrition. I am currently studying nutrition and never cease to be amazed by the power of food. So without further ado lets get into Megs Day On A Plate.
I start my day by blitzing some soaked almonds in my Vitamix to make almond milk. I then stick on the coffee machine and make breakfast for myself and my family. My morning coffee with homemade almond milk is one of my daily highlights.
During the week I usually have a big bowl of fruit with a mixture of nuts and seeds or avocado on sourdough toast.
When there is a bit more time, on the weekend, we sit down to a breakfast like almond pulp pancakes topped with fresh fruit and drizzled with maple syrup. With a baby it can be hard to get breakfast yourself. By the time you get your family fed and ready for the day it can be lunch time and you are still in your PJs. I really love breakfast and now that my baby is getting older I do make the time to eat breakfast at the same time as her and enjoy my coffee without rushing.
I don’t often get time for morning or afternoon tea but I love to have some sweet baking fresh out of the oven for any guests that drop by. I make banana bread regularly in many healthy variations. I typically use gluten free flour, coconut oil instead of butter, ground flaxseeds as an egg replacement and sweeten the loaf with dates or maple syrup.
Black bean brownies are also one of our family favorites. This recipe is so nutritious and is a real talking point as it is hard to believe a recipe as delicious as this is protein packed with black beans.
One of my all time favourite health food books is Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. Two of the rules I most identify with are: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” and “Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” I like to live by these rules as much as possible and don’t feel guilty about eating lovely home baked cakes and slices made without refined sugar and with all wholesome ingredients.
Lunch is often a salad thrown together using left over veggies (from the night before) or something like my cold quinoa salad bursting with greens, slices or pear and hazel nuts.
As a rule I try to include a good quantity of beans or legumes with a massive amount of greens for any lunch. Beans and legumes can be quite high in carbohydrates, which are best eaten earlier in the day if you, like me, are always conscious of keeping your weight down.
Wholemeal pita bread stuffed with salad, hummus and home made falafel is one of the yummiest lunches I have had recently.
Afternoons are usually my opportunity to get some exercise, most often outside, in the fresh air. A walk in the sunshine is good for your fitness, good for the soul and is a good way for my baby and I to get out of the house and into the world.
Dinner has got to be something quick and veggie packed at our house. I will usually create a huge warm salad with roast veggies or herby veggie fritters.
Both can be made in stages, in between naps, play time and quickly assembled ready for the table after my baby has gone to bed.
I take my meal inspiration from whatever arrives in my veggie box in combination with my panty which is full of grains, seeds, legumes, beans, dried herbs and spices.
When the dishes are done, the house is quiet and it is time to relax my husband and I love a bowl of fresh fruit topped with seeds, nuts and cocoa nibs or some high quality dark chocolate with a glass of red wine. I try to stick to dairy free dark chocolate with 4 or less ingredients.
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold filtered water at least twice their volume. Set aside to soak overnight.
The next day drain the chickpeas thoroughly.
Add the chickpeas to your food processor with the diced onion, crushed garlic, chopped preserved lemon, chopped parsley and coriander.
Blitz gradually in your food processor using the pulse setting. You want the consistency to resemble fine breadcrumbs and not to be mushy or pasty.
Once processed turn out into a bowl and add the spices, baking powder, salt and flour and mix well by hand.
Cover the mixture and leave in the fridge for an hour or until ready to use.
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degC.
Line a baking tray with greased baking paper.
Press 1-2 tbsp of the mixture into the palm of your hand and make a small ball, pressing together well to prevent them breaking apart.
Roll lightly in the toasted sesame seeds and place on the baking tray.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each ball with a small amount of olive oil.
Bake for 30-40min or until crispy on the outside and hot and soft on the inside.
Serve in a Pita with salad and baba ganoush, or as part of a salad.
Makes 16-20 balls.