Harissa and Red Lentil Soup


This soup is adapted from the The Hairy Dieters Go Veggie cookbook by Si King and Dave Myers, found here:

The harissa paste recipe is adapted from the recipe by The Minimalist Baker, found here:

Quick to prepare, tasty and nutritious.  Harissa brings warm spiciness to any meal, and you can adapt the amount you want to add dependent on the amount of heat you like. I added diced butternut squash for an extra antioxidant boost!

Prep 10 minutes.  Cook 30 minutes


1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp fine chopped coriander stems

1-2 tbsp harissa paste (see recipe below – can be shop bought)

200g red lentils, rinsed

1 litre vegetable stock

400g can of tomatoes

Squeeze of lemon

1/2 tsp coconut sugar (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper


Zest of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Coriander leaves, finely chopped

HOMEMADE HARISSA PASTE: Toast the dry spices in a dry frying pan until aromatic then put all ingredients in a blender and blend.  Keep extra in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for longer.  You may need to add a little water to aid with blending.

  • 10 dried birdseye chillis 
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes (optional – I used dried ones but you can use ones from a jar).
  • 1 tbsp dulse (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook it over a gentle heat until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the coriander stems and the harissa paste.
  2. Add the lentils and stir until they are coated with the paste, then pour over the stock and season with salt and pepper.  
  3. Bring the stock to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes (and coconut sugar if adding) and simmer for another 10 minutes. 
  4. Stir and check the consistency of the soup – add a splash more water if it seems too thick.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a squeeze of lemon to taste.
  5. To make the gremolata, finely chop the lemon zest, garlic and coriander together until well combined.
  6. Blend the soup if you want it smooth – the lentils will have broken down enough to thicken it, but there will still be some texture from the onions and tomatoes.  Serve with the gremolata spooned over the top.

Tip:  Add roasted or pureed butternut squash or sweet potato to the soup for enriched flavour and nutrition.

Healthy Vegan Carrot/Celebration Cake

I developed this cake recipe for my daughter who has many issues reacting to foods, and my clients love it too. It’s great because you can eat it without guilt – it’s dairy free, egg free, gluten free and vegan. If you make it, let me know your thoughts.

This cake isn’t the crisp white that people may be used to with a celebration cake, but then it isn’t full of processed sugar either. I like the rustic look of the icing, and it looks especially pretty when decorated with fresh fruit.  If you just want to eat it as a wholesome but plain carrot cake, make it without the icing, and if you want something extra special for an occasion, double up the recipe.  This cake freezes beautifully without the icing, so you could make one half in advance and make the second half of the cake on another  day.  You can ice the cake while frozen and allow to defrost once the icing is in place.

For the carrot cake:

  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 and 1/3 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 medium/large bananas
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 1 orange (zested and juiced)
  • 1 cup ground walnuts (grind in coffee grinder or food processor)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 cups water

For the icing:

  • 200g dates (soaked in warm water for 30 minutes)
  • Fat from a can of coconut milk (you will need to leave in the fridge overnight so the fat solidifies at the top)
  • Juice of one lemon (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade (fan oven). 180 degrees without a fan.
  • Grease 1 10” cake tin or 2 7” cake tins, and line the bottoms with greaseproof baking paper.
  • Blend banana, oil, dates, vanilla, maple syrup, orange juice, lemon juice, zest and 1 cup of water (in a blender or food processor). 
  • Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a mixing bowl.
  • Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then add the walnuts and carrots.
  • Allow to stand for a minute or so, and if the mixture is too dry, add more water, a little at a time.  Remember to not over-beat.
  • Put into the cake pans (I prefer the larger 10 inch pan).  For this larger cake bake for 45-50 minutes before testing. If a toothpick is inserted and doesn’t come out clean, cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  • If using the 7” trays, cook for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • All the cakes to cool on a cooling rack
  • For the icing, blend the dates, coconut milk fat and lemon juice.
  • Once the cake is cooled, decorate with the icing.  You have a few options here:
  1. For the 10 inch cake – simply put the icing on the top and sides, or slice the cake horizontally down the middle and ice the middle of the cake as well as the top and sides.
  2. For the 7 inch cake – ice the top of one cake, then sit the other on top, then ice the top of the second cake and the sides.
  3. For a bigger (celebration) cake, double up on the 10 inch cake recipe (and the frosting recipe), then decorate as for the 7 inch cakes.

You will have plenty of icing left over, and this can used as be a nice dip for apple or pear slices.

NB. You may want to use other gluten free or wholegrain flours, but please be aware that the liquid ratio may change.  Buckwheat tends to soak up quite a lot of water and become quite thick.


WARNING: gluten free eaters keep this a secret as your non-gluten free pastry-loving partner and friends will eat your left overs when you’re not looking.  I speak from BITTER experience.

Ever wanted to have your GLUTEN FREE pie and eat it? Have you been looking for a pastry recipe that only contains a few ingredients, and DOESN’T include a load of binders and additives?

Well here it is!

This pastry is adapted from a Hairy Dieters recipe in their GO VEGGIE cookbook. It is delicious and counts towards your daily vegetables (if using sweet potato or parsnips – yes, I know that seems weird, but try it and see) and is more nutrient dense (the buckwheat is a complete protein).  Also, although I don’t advocate using great quantities of oil, the coconut oil used also has nutritional benefits.  At Christmas time, I used this recipe (with the parsnips) to make mince-pies, and everyone enjoyed them. We all need a little comfort sometimes. Go on, treat yourself!


  • 275g floury potatoes such as Maris Piper or King Edwards, or parsnips, or sweet potatoes
  • 40g coconut oil
  • 80g gluten free buckwheat flour
  • 1-2 tbsp plant milk (if using potatoes, otherwise you may not need this extra milk)
  • Pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6

First make some mash.  Peel the potatoes/parsnips, and cut them into chunks of about 3 cm.  I prefer to steam them to retain more nutrients, but you can boil them for about 10-15 minutes or until very tender.  Drain the potatoes, then leave them to dry out.  The drier they are the better.  Mash until smooth (I use a food processor) without any oil or liquid, then leave to cool.

To make the pastry, rub the coconut oil into the buckwheat flour in a bowl, then add 200g of the cooled mash (if using white potatoes add a tablespoon of plant milk) and season with a touch of salt.  Work everything together into a dough, handling it as lightly as possible (I do all of this in a food processor using  the dough making attachment, but it is fine to do it by hand).  If it’s too dry, add more milk, but only a teaspoon at a time.

When you have a smooth dough, roll it into a ball, cover with cling film and chill for at least half an hour before using.


  • 2 quantities of potato pastry
  • 50mls coconut milk from a tin
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • A filling of your choice


Mix together the coconut milk and turmeric and leave the mixture to one side.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a circle with a 12-13cm diameter (about the size of a saucer).  Use plenty of buckwheat flour on the worktop surface and the rolling pin to stop the pastry sticking while you are working it.

Take a circle of pastry and place a tablespoon of filling in a line along the middle of the circle, leaving a gap along the edge of the pastry.  Brush the exposed edge of the pastry with the turmeric milk mixture, then bring the two halves together and seal, crimping the edges, Cornish-pasty style.  Repeat to make all the pasties, then brush with the turmeric milk, and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake the pasties in the oven for about 45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.  Transfer the pasties to a cooling rack to cool down so the underside of the pastry does not go soggy.  Nice hot or cold.

Hope you enjoy, and leave me a comment to let me know what you think.

Sweet Potato, Lentil & Harissa Soup


So this was so easy. I made it yesterday from some leftover baked sweet potatoes I had in the fridge. Sweet, spicy and full of protein and fibre, this soup hits the spot on a cold winter’s day. I served it with a buckwheat flatbread, which is perfect for those who are gluten free, and topped it with lots of white pepper and chilli flakes, for an extra hit. 

(This soup makes 6-8 generous servings, and is perfect for freezing).

– 200g red lentils (boiled in water until soft, then drained)
– 3 medium-large sweet potatoes (baked, then peeled and chopped into small pieces)
– 3 onions (chopped)
– 6 cloves garlic (crushed)
– 1 vegetable stock cube
– 1 tbsp onion granules
– Harissa paste (to taste – I like a lot)
– 2 tins tomatoes
– 1 heaped tablespoon tahini
– Salt, pepper and chilli to taste
– 1 tbsp olive oil

– Gently fry the onions and garlic until soft.
– Add the sweet potato and mix.
– Crumble over the vegetable stock cube and onion granules, then mix in the harissa paste.
– Stir all ingredients together, then add the tinned tomatoes, tahini and two tins full of water.
– Heat until gently bubbling, then blend with a hand blender. Add more water to get to the thickness you prefer.
– Add lentils, then season to suit your taste.
– Gently heat to the preferred temperature.
– Serve with a buckwheat flatbread (see recipe below).

Buckwheat Flatbread

I got this recipe from the Doves Farm website originally  The wraps are delicious as they are, or you can add garlic or other herbs or spices to them them.   My particular favourite is to  use them as a wrap around red pepper hummus, falafels, sriracha and a big handful of spinach, rocket or romaine.  The batter, once made, keeps well in the fridge for up to five days, and can be used as and when you need it.  I tend to make up a wrap, fill it, then roll it up in greaseproof paper to take to work with me.  If you cook them for quite a long time they become quite chewy, even crisp. I like them in this form to scoop up hummus or other dips, or I even eat them with curry or chilli.  Yum.

Both my daughter and I are gluten intolerant, so if this is the case with you (or particularly if you are coeliac) it is important to use the gluten free version of buckwheat.  Whilst technically a gluten-free seed, buckwheat is often contaminated by gluten free grains when being grown or in the production line.  



  1. Measure the water into a jug.
  2. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Add a little of the water and stir to make a smooth paste.
  4. Add the remaining water and oil and leave the mixture to stand for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Heat a little oil in a frying pan until it is nice and hot.
  6. Stir the batter then spoon some into the pan, smoothing it out to form a circle 15cm/6” in diameter.
  7. Cook over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes as the surface starts to change colour and the edges start to lift.
  8. Turn the flatbread over and cook the other side.
  9. Remove the cooked flatbread to a plate and cover with foil to stop it drying out.
  10. Best eaten on the day of making.

EquipmentFrying pan

Cooking time2-3 minutes

I hope you try to make these and enjoy them.  If you do, please let me know, and if you make any successful adjustments to the recipe, I’d love to hear all about them.