Vegan Chilli (GF, SF, Low-Fat!)

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep & Cooking time: 70 minutes

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-vitamins, Vitamin C, protein, fibre, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, no added sugars and is low in fats! 

Chilli is so versatile and it’ s something that the whole family can enjoy. Its a one-pot wonder containing so many wholesome flavours, nutrients and textures; ours is packed full of vegetables, legumes, pulses and a grain! It can be served with rice, a jacket potato or even a delicious multi-grain bread roll.

We sincerely encourage everyone to try and make their own; tinned and processed versions are really not that nice and can be high in sugar, salts and/or fats! Ours has a ‘mild’ chilli taste, but feel free to make it as hot as you like! It can be fairly inexpensive to make if you stick to a few basic ingredients and spices; some of these ingredients can be purchased in ethnic food stores for less than mainstream prices.

You will notice that this recipe also contains cinnamon! This spice is awesome and it really helps make this dish! If your unsure, add a little at first and see how you go!


Quick facts:

Do you love cinnamon? We do! Trying experimenting and adding it to different recipes. Various studies have shown that cinnamon can have a modest effect on stabilising our blood glucose levels and others that suggest that it can help lower our blood lipids too; although the specifics are not 100% conclusive. None the less, it can add a whole other dimension to your meal/recipe! 

One serving contains approximately all of your 5-A-Day needs! …But this doesn’t mean that you can’t eat even more throughout the day! 10-A-Day anyone?!


Fresh and vibrant!




 NB: We used dried black beans (*soaked overnight for 12 hours and then boiled/simmered for 1.5 hours) before adding them to this recipe. 



Nutritional info for chilli:

NB: One serving contains approximately 195% of your RDA for Vitamin C!




Peel and dice the onion and the garlic. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and roughly shop the bell pepper. Wash, trim the ends, peel and dice the carrot. Wash, trim the ends and dice the celery. Wash, dry and slice the mushrooms. Break the green beans into halves.



Meanwhile, place a large, non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil.

NB: We used ‘4 sprays’.




Add the onion and garlic. Stir and gently fry for 1-2 minutes, or until softened.



Add the bell pepper, carrot, celery and mushrooms. Stir together. Gently fry for 3-5 minutes or until softened.

NB: We used an additional ‘2 sprays’ of low-fat cooking oil.




Add the tomatoes, chilli powder, cinnamon, cumin, dried coriander, cumin seeds, onion powder and tomato purée. Season it with some salt and pepper to taste. Stir together. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 6 minutes, or until the tomatoes have  broken down slightly.



 Add the stock, quinoa and lentils. Bring back to the boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the quinoa and lentils are cooked/tender.

At about 12 minutes in it really smelt delicious! 😀




Add the green beans, sweet corn, kidney and black beans. Stir together. Simmer for a further 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

So many lovely veggies!




In the meantime, prepare a slurry. Place the corn flour into a small dish. Add equals parts water. Whisk together until dissolved.

NB: Give the mixture a quick whisk again before adding it into the chilli.



 Chop the coriander (leaves and stems).

This  coriander came straight out of our freezer stash!



 Add the coriander to the chilli.



Whilst continuously stirring, pour in the slurry. Stir until thickened; approximately 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.



Serve warm. Ladle into a serving bowl…..



 Serve with rice, a small baked potato or bread roll if desired….

NB: Just be mindful of portion sizes! We served ours with some brown basmati rice.



Top with soya yoghurt, avocado, radishes, spring onion, herbs or anything else (if desired).

This is one we made last year! 🙂






Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container; consume within 3-5 days. Alternatively, place in a resealable container(s), freeze and consume within 1-2 months; defrost before use.

This is perfect for another 2 meals!




If preferred…

  • Use any variation of veggies! Try kale, spinach, aubergine, squash, sweet potato or courgettes!
  • Experiment with the spice blend! Add as little or as much as desired; try using fresh chillies, or turmeric, or maybe even some basic curry powder.
  • Vary your beans! Try haricot(navy), pinto or soya beans, or maybe some black-eyed peas or chickpeas!
  • Reduce the legumes and use some rehydrated soya mince instead; non-vegans can try using some Quorn, turkey breast mince or an extra lean beef mince.

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup (V, GF, Low-Fat!)

Healthy Recipes

Prep: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 5-8 hours

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, protein, fibre, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, no added sugars and is low in fats!

This is a nutritious and hearty recipe. Soup is great for winter, perfect for keeping your food costs down (just use seasonal and/or frozen vegetables and/or dried pulses/legumes) and is ideal for those that do not have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen; leftovers can easily be stored and reheated!

Quick facts:

We’ve read that Minestrone means ‘the big soup’ in Italian. Its a substantial dish consisting of vegetables and beans (occasionally meat), with either rice or pasta; the recipe varies in most households but it’s loved all the same! 

It’s ideal to have recipes in a slow cooking format. Slow cooking is great for when you have to serve people in large quantities, saving on electricity costs and reclaiming some of your valuable time! Prep the vegetables the night before and store them in a container full of cold water (so they do not dry out); place your ingredients in the slow cooker before you go off to work! 

*Based on 10 servings, one serving provides you with approximately 4 of your 5-A-DAY! 



+++++++++++++++++++++++++Step 1:
+++++++++++++++++++++++++180g     Dried Butter Beans (soaked overnight)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++300g     Celery
+++++++++++++++++++++++++250g     White onion
+++++++++++++++++++++++++450g     Baking potato
+++++++++++++++++++++++++280g      Carrot
+++++++++++++++++++++++++140g      Red Bell pepper
+++++++++++++++++++++++++16g        Garlic cloves
+++++++++++++++++++++++++200g     Frozen green beans
+++++++++++++++++++++++++20g        Fresh parsley
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1600g   Tinned plum tomatoes (no added salt/sugar)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++2g          Herbs De Provence
+++++++++++++++++++++++++2g          Dried Oregano
+++++++++++++++++++++++++              Salt & ground black pepper
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1.5L      Vegetable stock (low-sodium, DF, GF)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++Step 2:
+++++++++++++++++++++++++200g      GF Fusilli
+++++++++++++++++++++++++120g      Frozen sweet corn
+++++++++++++++++++++++++160g      Frozen spinach



Nutritional info:

  *This recipe provides approximately: 140% of your RDA for Vitamin C and 200% of your RDA for Vitamin A/ serving!




Prepare the dried beans according to the packet instructions. Drain.

NB: Our beans were soaked overnight for 12 hours.



Wash, trim the ends and slice the celery. Peel and chop the onion. Wash, peel and dice the potato. Wash, peel, trim the ends and then dice the carrot. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and then finely chop the bell pepper. Peel and mince the garlic.



Snap the green beans into bite-sized pieces. Wash, dry and roughly chop the parsley.

We used parsley straight out of our freezer. 🙂



Place the tomatoes into the slow cooker…

NB: Go the frugal route and buy ‘whole’ tin tomatoes like us…then just quickly chop them up in the slow cooker. 🙂



then the dried beans…..



…followed by the celery, onion, potato, carrot, bell pepper, garlic and green beans.



Add the parsley, Herbs De Provence. Season it to taste with some salt and pepper.



Pour in the ‘boiling hot’ stock. Give it a stir.



Cover with a lid. Place on a medium or low heat setting; 5-6 hours or 7-8 hours respectively.



For the second phase of this recipe, cook your pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain.

NB: We cooked ours for slightly less than the packet asked for… to help keep its integrity when its added to the soup! We find that GF doesn’t always hold its shape in soups!



Defrost the corn and spinach before adding it to the soup.

Still frozen at this point!



Drain off any excess water.



Add the cooked pasta, corn and spinach 30 minutes before the end of cooking.



Stir through. Cover with the lid.



Alternatively, cook your remaining vegetables and pasta; add them to the soup when it has finished cooking.



When it was finished, ours went straight into this plastic container.

Ready for many delicious lunches!



Alternatively, ladle into a soup bowl and serve warm.

NB: This represents one, re-heated portion of  the soup! We garnished ours with a few pieces of fresh parsley. 🙂


 Place any leftovers into a resealable container and refrigerate; consume within 3-5 days. Alternatively, place the container(s) into the freezer and use within 2-3 months; defrost before use.




If preferred…

  • Stick with your favourite and/or seasonal veggies!
  • Adapt the herbs and choice of legumes to your taste. Non-vegans can try adding a little cheese and/or using a different stock/flavouring if desired.
  • Try using wild rice or lentils instead of pasta!
  • Use a spelt, wholemeal or spinach/wheat-based pasta if gluten is not a concern to you.

NB: If you prefer to add dried pasta to the recipe (at the start of the cooking process), adjust the liquid levels accordingly.

  • If you are not used to eating this quantity of fibre, reduce the quantities of vegetables slightly!

Slow Cooker Vegan Stew With GF Dumplings

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep: 35-45 minutes
Cooking time: 7-8 Hours

This recipe was adapted from: Better Homes & Gardens

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C & E, protein, fibre, potassium, calcium, iron and is low in saturated fats!

It may just be another ‘vegetable stew’ recipe to some, but I found it very satisfying, easy on my wallet and nutritious! Luckily just like any other slow cooker recipe, you only have to throw it all together and forget about it for 7 hours!  






Wash, dry and slice the mushrooms. Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and chop the onion. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and finely chop the bell pepper.


Add the tomatoes, stock, herbs, bay leaf and water to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.



Drain and wash the beans.


Add the mushrooms, garlic, onion, bell pepper and beans into the slow cooker. Mix together.


Peel, trim the ends, de-seed and chop the squash into bite-sized pieces.

I prepare the squash in this sequence because I always get sick of chopping after the third vegetable!


Add the squash into the slow cooker. Season it with some salt and pepper to taste. Mix together; press gently to submerge the vegetables into the liquid.


Turn the slow cooker onto a low heating setting. Cook for approximately 7 hours.

NB: Just in case you are wondering- its not dust! I made bread before this recipe and had a bit of a ‘flour incident’! More importantly- every time you open the slow cooker, you’ll add approx. an extra 15 minutes cooking time onto the recipe.


Right before the time has expired, make the dumplings.

NB: My parsley came straight from the freezer.


Wash and chop the parsley.


Place the cashews into a food processor. Blend until they are fine powder.


Place the flour, corn flour, baking powder and cashews into a large mixing bowl. Season it with some salt to taste. Mix together.


Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.


Add the parsley, milk and oil into the centre. Mix together with a fork (until it’s ‘crumbly’ like an ‘apple crumble’ or a pastry mixture).


Combine the mixture with your hands.


Knead together into a ball.

NB: It’s wasn’t  proper kneading, more like squishing and gathering!


Roll the mixture between your hands to form a ball/dumpling; make 12 dumplings.


Add the green beans and paprika into the slow cooker. Mix together.

NB: You do not have to defrost the beans before adding them.


Gently place the dumplings into the stew. Press down on them gently, until they are  approximately half to three-quarters submerged.


Cover. Turn the heat setting up to high. Cook for a further 30-50 minutes, or until the dumplings are cooked.


Turn off the heat. Allow it to cool down slightly. Taste and season as necessary. Remove the bay leaf with a spoon before serving (if possible).


Serve warm. Ladle into a large soup bowl.

NB: This bowl contains one portion (based on the recipe serving 4 people).


Refrigerate in an air tight container and use within 3-4 days. Alternatively, freeze some portions in separate containers; use within one month.


NB: Place the stew and the dumplings into two separate containers, otherwise the dumplings will try and absorb as much liquid as possible overnight and disintegrate on contact! 😦


If preferred…

  • Try using your favourite type of white bean instead of kidney beans; dry or tinned.
  • Experiment with the vegetable/herb combinations; use fresh or frozen vegetables.
  • I would recommend trying to make these dumplings with some (melted) low-fat soya margarine instead of oil; I think the cornflour will take to it a bit better. NB: Like all GF baked goods, they come out a bit ‘drier’ than standard versions.
  • If you are not vegan, try making the dumplings with some grated low-fat cheese and/or milk instead of nuts and DF milk.

Plant-Based Proteins: It Really Isn’t A Mystery!

Diet & Weight Loss

Protein is essential, regardless of the type of lifestyle or diet we follow; it’s an important building block of life. Our digestion processes breaks down protein into amino acids that enables our bodies to perform a wide range of functions, such as: cell growth and repair, managing our metabolism and body processes (making hormones and enzymes) and also forming parts of our organs, muscles, bones, collagen, connective tissues, skin, nails and hair.


Besides the above, it can offer a high satiety level and depending on the source, comes bundled with a range of macro and micro nutrients, including: fibre, B-vitamins (niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and B6), Vitamin E, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids.


Every protein molecule consists of a chain of amino acids. There are many types of amino acids, but our body can only produce 11 ‘important’ amino acids that are used to make up proteins within our bodies. There are 10 essential amino acids that must be derived from protein-rich foods; good, quality protein sources (in adequate amounts) are essential as the body does not ‘store’ protein and therefore needs a regular supply from our diet.



If you have already decided to take the plunge and try a vegan lifestyle, even on a ‘flexi’ basis, I’m sure your more than aware of where your dietary protein is coming from.

It is one of the most common questions vegans or vegetarians get asked “where does your protein come from?”

Typical ‘westernised diets’ obtain protein from: meats, eggs, dairy, poultry and fish. These can all can be good sources of protein, but some of these foods are not ideal if we are watching our cholesterol, prefer to have alternative dietary choices or want to follow a vegan lifestyle! Good sources of plant protein include: nuts, seeds, pulses, beans and soya products; there is also some in grains.



Our Daily Protein Needs

For a ‘typical’ man or woman, the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for protein is:

0.75g Of Protein/Kg of Body weight (BW)/Day

For example….

  • A 70kg man needs 52.3g protein/D
  • A 58kg woman needs 43.5g protein/D

The average UK daily protein intake is: 88g for men and 64g for women. So it’s obvious that the current consumption is beyond the current recommendations.

NB: There is approximately 30g of protein in 100g of roasted chicken breast. So if you are having protein (from animal sources) at every meal in addition to grains etc, you can see how it quickly adds up!



Protein Combining

Various plant proteins are not considered ‘complete’ because they lack one or more essential amino acids, however they can be ‘combined’ as part of a meal, e.g. eating a grain and a legume. This is ‘protein combining’ which can result in a higher biological value of the food and provide complete proteins.

With any type of diet, it’s a good idea to look into how to make these ‘complete proteins’ (See Table 1);  the UK Vegetarian Society also gives a nice explanation.


Protein Combining: Meal Examples


Some of the major contenders for plant-based proteins…


Common & Nutritious Plant Protein Sources

Here’s a nutritional breakdown for some plant protein sources….


Nutritional Info: Protein From Plant-Based Foods

*Sources: 1,2,3


For example: If I consumed porridge made with 40g of oats, 15g of almonds, 10g of flax seed, 250ml soya milk and some berries, along with 2 standard fresh apricots, a 250g potato with 200g of baked beans and a small, a low-fat stir-fry with 150g tofu, a vegetable mixture (inclusive of dark leafy greens) on top of 65g of brown rice, I would be more than meeting my daily protein needs (it provides approx. 55g of protein); let alone whatever other fruits, vegetables or nuts/seeds/grains I decided to eat!


Photo by: nalm fadll Flickr

Photo by: nalm fadll Flickr

So let’s not let the food industry or anyone else dictate our dietary choices, because that’s what we have- choices.

Nature has so much to offer us, and there is such an assortment and amalgamation of cuisines… that I have to wonder why would anyone want to stick to a ‘typical westernised meal’ of meat and two vegetables anyway?


Whether you are trying to save money, are struggling financially, have decided to make some positive lifestyle changes to your health, or maybe even have a new ethical stance on animal welfare… rest assured, plant-based proteins are nutritious, varied and relatively cheap to buy; especially beans and lentils in their dried varieties.


We do not have to consume over-priced whey protein powders, meat, poultry, fish or any other animal products to meet our daily protein needs. With a carefully planned plant-based diet, we can reap the benefits of ‘complete nutrition’ and improve overall health. Whilst a high protein diet on its own is unlikely to cause you ill-health, if the source of the protein is from animal products high in fat, then your overall diet is probably unhealthy; if coupled with unhealthy lifestyle choices it can increase the risk of heart diseases, bowel cancer, stroke and possibly osteoporosis.


If you are unsure of where to start, there are lots of resources available…

  • The Vegan society
  • The Vegetarian society
  • BBC Foods (they have a decent supply of recipes that you can adjust to your personal preference)
  • An endless list of blogs that have personal recommendations of recipes and/or plant-based cook books.



Photo by: Jena Jezy Flickr

Photo by: Jena Jezy Flickr

Don’t let all the chopping and meal planning discourage you, it comes with the territory and it’s essential to make sure your plant-based diet is ‘nutritionally sound’; like a lot of things in life, the best things take a little patience and perseverance but are worth it in the end.


Happy plant-based cooking everyone! 🙂


Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: qual dieta Flickr


1. USDA Database
2. Foods Standards Agency (2002) McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, Sixth summary edition. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemisty
3. Foods Standards Agency (2002) Food Portion Sizes, 3rd Revised edition edition. London:TSO