Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Gratitude and great food

Recipe of the week...
... Vegan Gnocchi, with Pesto and Kale

Ingredients: 500g gnocchi, 100g kale, a generous handful of black pitted olives, a dozen baby plum tomatoes, a few spring onions, 200g chestnut mushrooms, most of a jar of free-from green pesto, 200g tinned chickpeas, cayenne pepper, paprika, olive oil, cracked black pepper and sea salt

Serves: 2 big platefuls of food

Time taken: Half an hour

Hi readers,

Happy Tuesday! How are you all today?

Again – but thinking about it properly this time – how are you?

Honestly, I’m a little tired. A little emotional. Quite happy with life. Worrying about at least four friends/family members. Aware I haven’t been exercising enough this last week or two. And I need to buy house warming gifts, I should have done that already. But I think I’m doing good, overall. Things are good. Yoga and decent sleep will sort me out later.

How about you, readers? If you have time, maybe give a moment’s thought to how you feel inside. And write a gratitude list? For everything you’re grateful for right now.

Here’s mine…

Hayley’s Gratitude List – 13th March

1.     First, I’m grateful for my family and their health. I’m especially grateful for this, this week, as I met my other half’s dad for the first time this weekend. Who is unwell. And it made me very appreciative of my own father bear’s health. Also, we had Mother’s Day at the weekend and social media seemed flooded with posts from people missing their mums. And remembering them and sharing photos with their mums before they passed. Mine's alive and well.

2.     Secondly, I’m grateful for my other half. It’s all very new and scary and exciting, still. But he’s lovely and I wouldn’t want to be without him. And it feels like he’s making my life infinitely better.

3.     Then, third, I’m grateful this week for my home. I cleaned it, last Friday, so it’s all tidy inside and fresh and comfortable. And my landlord fixed the boiler and my radiator, so it’s warm at now and we can have hot showers again. And it rained really hard the other night and brick wall fell over onto the house – but it didn’t break us! We’ve withstood the fall of the wall.

4.     Fourthly, I’m grateful this week for my car. She drove through puddles as big as ponds yesterday when it had been raining all day. And she put in a solid effort when we had all the snow recently. She’s keeping me warm and dry and getting me from A to B. I really should treat her to a car wash and Werthers Originals soon.

5.     Finally, number five, I’m grateful for music this week. I randomly got into Bonobo the other night and have a Bonobo playlist on the go now. Somehow, it seems equally good for waking me up in the morning while I put my make up on, and also for falling asleep to at night (on a lower volume). If you haven’t listened before – I recommend! 

What do you have to lose by thinking up a Gratitude List, readers? You never know what might come out when you consider your life as it stands. Maybe think of this as your status update to yourself?

Now though – without further ado – I’ll share with you our Recipe of the Week. This recipe, readers, is one I cooked over the weekend for a date night in with my very lovely other half. It’s a vegan recipe, based on one I found on the Veganuary website (see the original here), for a Vegan Gnocchi, with Pesto and Kale.

This recipe came about as I was excited to find Le Conserve Della Nonna Free From Green Pesto for sale at ASDA (£2 per jar). I had vegan pesto – I had to find something to do with it – and I came across this recipe online which looked to be quite straightforward. No crazy ingredients, no food processor required, no need to spend hours in the kitchen.

Fancy giving it a go? Here’s the recipe in just ten simple steps…


Recipe: Vegan Gnocchi, with Pesto and Kale

Ingredients: 500g gnocchi, 100g kale, a generous handful of black pitted olives, a dozen baby plum tomatoes, a few spring onions, 200g chestnut mushrooms, most of a jar of free-from green pesto, 200g tinned chickpeas, cayenne pepper, paprika, olive oil, cracked black pepper and sea salt


1.     Heat your oven to 200C and get all your ingredients out on the side. Begin by opening a window, turning off your phone, and pouring a drink. Maybe play some Bonobo?

2.     Then prep your chickpeas for roasting! You drain a tin of chickpeas and rinse in cold water, the pour out onto some kitchen towel and pat dry to remove as much moisture as you can.

3.     Tip the chickpeas into a bowl, add a splash of olive oil, a shake of cayenne pepper, and a shake of paprika. Mix well, pour onto a baking try and pop into the oven to roast for the next 20 mins.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Why not make too many? I used a large tin of chickpeas and then saved half my roasted chickpeas to snack on the next day – tasty!

4.     While your chickpeas roast, heat a frying pan or wok over a small flame with a generous drizzle of cooking oil. Tip your kale into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Wilt, stirring occasionally.

5.     While your kale wilts, you can be prepping your veg. Finely chop your spring onions, halve your plum tomatoes, and slice up your chestnut mushrooms.

6.     Then, save a small handful of spring onions, but otherwise add your spring onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and olives to the pan with your kale. Mix well, season with salt and pepper, and fry together for five minutes.

7.     While your veg cook, set a kettle boiling and tip your gnocchi into a large saucepan, along with a generous pinch of salt.

8.     Fill your saucepan with water and boil your gnocchi. Once cooked, drain and add your gnocchi to the frying pan, along with a large dollop of pesto.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: You’ll know your gnocchi are cooked when they float to the surface of the water in the pan – it shouldn’t take too long.

9.     Stir the contents of the pan together and cook for a few minutes, until everything is combined and has heated through. Once your chickpeas are roasted, carefully remove from the oven and switch this off.

10.  Then you can plate up! Spoon your gnocchi out between two plates or bowls, sprinkle with spring onion and roasted chickpeas, then season with cracked black pepper. And tuck in to your tasty vegan tea.


What do you think, readers? Might this gnocchi recipe take your fancy? I’m really pleased with how it came out! The veg and gnocchi were no different to normal – I didn’t prepare them any differently in order to make the dish vegan – the only change I made was to use a free-from pesto. And this tasted fine! It tasted like pesto, just the same to me.

Then I really enjoyed the addition of roasted chickpeas to top this dish. In all honesty, without any cheese grated on my pasta, I probably would have been left feeling as though something were missing from the dish. Without the chickpeas, I’d have plated this meal up considering it to be a vegan tea (i.e. it’s almost there but something’s definitely missing...)

It took no time or effort at all – chickpeas don’t cost a lot and I just popped them in the oven to roast while I prepared the gnocchi – and this provided a simple tasty way to top off our tea. They give colour and crunch, and make the dish feel finished somehow. Or, at least, I think so anyway. How about you?

Would you give this recipe a try, readers? If you do, please let me know how you get along! Did everything run smooth in the kitchen? Were the steps easy to follow? Did your tea turn out okay? Please share your stories of how you get on with this recipe, readers, and suggest any way you might adapt the dish or tackle it differently next time.

For now, I’ll leave you to your week. Have a CRACKING TIME. I’ll be on the wine with my mum…

Roast safely,


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

A sweet potato salad... and good vibes

Recipe of the week...
... Sweet Potato Tex Mex Salad

Ingredients: 600g sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 400g can black beans, 198g can sweetcorn, 2 avocados, 250g tomatoes, 1 small red onion, a handful of coriander, 1 lime, salt and pepper

Serves: 2 big platefuls of salad (or 2 sensible platefuls, and a packed lunch for tomorrow)

Time taken: 45 mins max

Hi readers,

How are you all today? Are you doing okay?? As I write, it’s a rainy Tuesday afternoon in Sheffield. The snow’s melted away and I guess it’s quite mild out. We’re all back to work, after last week’s snow drama, and the Winter Olympics have finished now. And it’s March!

I wouldn’t exactly say Spring’s sprung, readers, but things are looking up. The evenings seem to be a little lighter and the thought of running outdoors, with only a couple of layers of clothes on, isn’t filling me with dread so much anymore. Watch this space.

And I have some lovely rainbow tulips in a vase in my room – to brighten things up! And I’m cheerful, I’m having a fab time dating a boy, I’ve been having fun with the gals lately… some knitting, some wine drinking, and an afternoon tea. Things are sweet.

How are things with you, readers? Have you been enjoying life lately? And living it??

I say – get out there and feel alive! Go for it, readers. TODAY. Over the last month I’ve had a family member diagnosed with prostate cancer. Just as Stephen Fry announced he’s also being treated for prostate cancer. And now Bill Turnbull has prostate cancer, too!

It’s a scary world we live in, readers, and I might not be able to get prostate cancer, but it has made me think – life is fleeting. None of know how many days we have left. So, get out there. Go for it. Don’t hesitate – what could you squeeze out of life today, tomorrow, by the end of the month? Think BIG. And then BIGGERRR.

And eat good food. I say it in almost every blog post I write, readers, and it’s STILL important so I’m STILL saying it. Treat your body as though you love it – with kindness and nutrition. And love it, too.


This week’s recipe of the week, readers, is a vegan one I found on BBC Good Food (you can view the original here), for a Sweet Potato Tex Mex Salad. According to the beeb…

“This hearty vegan salad is 4 of your 5-a-day, rich in folate, fibre and vitamin C, plus it has lots of interesting flavours and textures”

I chose this recipe as I’m on the prowl for dishes to cook which are vegan (as the boy I’m dating is of a vegan kind), but which aren’t spicy and don’t take hours to cook. This recipe seemed to fit the bill and I haven’t cooked with sweet potato or black beans in ages, so I thought I’d give it a go! And you can too – here’s the recipe in just five simple steps…


Recipe: Sweet Potato Tex Mex Salad

Ingredients: 600g sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 400g can black beans, 198g can sweetcorn, 2 avocados, 250g tomatoes, 1 small red onion, a handful of coriander, 1 lime, salt and pepper


1.     Heat the oven to 200C and get all your ingredients out on the side. Pour a drink, play your favourite song, put your phone away for a while.

2.     First, begin by prepping your potato. Use a large knife to cut into even chunks, tip out onto a baking tray, and toss about in a tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle your potato chunks with chilli flakes, sea salt and pepper. Carefully transport into the oven to roast for half an hour until tender.

3.     While you’re waiting, you can prep your remaining salad ingredients. Start off by draining and rinsing your tinned sweetcorn and black beans. Then thinly slice your onion, roughly chop your coriander, and cut your avocados and tomatoes up into  chunks.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Squeeze the avocado with the juice of your lime now, to keep it green and stop it from browning before you serve up the salad

4.     Once the sweet potato is nearly ready, combine the remaining salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a tablespoon of oil and season well. Mix everything together well – but take care not to squash the avocado.

5.     Safely remove your sweet potato from the oven and switch this off. Divide the salad evenly between plates, or serve sharing-style, with your roasted sweet potato chunks topping it off. Tuck in!


What do you think, readers? Could this be the salad for you?? Would you consider a vegan salad? I hope my photos and the really easy-to-follow steps are encouraging you to give this recipe a try, readers!

I promise you – if you do – a tasty tea. Not too healthy, as you might expect a cheese-less, bread-less, fish-less salad to be. Not at all! I say this salad tastes fab, readers. It’s a colourful, flavoursome, filling plateful of food. Good for your insides and a treat to eat, too! You might feel really good for having eaten it the next day, and we all deserve to feel good and have a great day. Don't we?

Anyone taking this recipe on – please let me know how things go in the kitchen! Are the steps straightforward to follow? Did you enjoy the food? Would you do anything differently? Shout out!

I’ll leave off with my vegan salad propaganda now, readers, but don’t write this recipe off. Do eat well, live your week to the full, and I’ll be in touch with a fresh recipe soon.

Salad safely amigos,