Sunday 27 May 2018

Happy Pear twins: How to eat healthy while on the go

David and Stephen Flynn are known as much for their handstands and sunrise swims as their vegan cooking. Here, Orla Neligan joins them for a summer picnic to find out how to live a truly joyous life

The Happy Pear: Dave and Steve Flynn at their restaurant in Clondalkin. Photo ©Fran Veale
The Happy Pear: Dave and Steve Flynn at their restaurant in Clondalkin. Photo ©Fran Veale

Orla Neligan

It's easy if you know how!

Top tips: Healthy Eating on the road

When travelling, healthy options can be hard to find and you won't always have time to search for them. However, it's actually pretty easy to keep on track with your healthy eating lifestyle if you just think ahead.

We travel a lot these days, and often the journeys are lengthy, as we're called to London or to the other side of the country for talks, demos and book signings. It's something we enjoy, but it requires a bit of planning as far as us two food monsters are concerned.

When we travel we always bring a food bag. That way we can eat healthily on the move. Generally we pack fresh fruit, wholegrain crackers, hummus, pesto, avocados, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

The Happy Pear: Dave and Steve Flynn at their restaurant in Clondalkin. Photo ©Fran Veale
The Happy Pear: Dave and Steve Flynn at their restaurant in Clondalkin. Photo ©Fran Veale

We often leave early to catch flights to London, and sometimes joke that people would think we have food hang-ups given the amount of stuff we bring. But by the end of the day generally we wish we had brought more! More is always better when it comes to the amount of provisions you carry - a well stocked food bag lessens the potential for resorting to the fast food counter or vending machine when the munchies call. It also allows for delays. And being well-fed heads off any travel-induced rage.

Even for family holidays, we always bring basic provisions with us like oats, snacks, spices, and some of the kids' favourites that we might not find en route or at our destination. It's amazing the power that a food bag can have when it comes to ending tantrums and sibling squabbles!

When we make up these bags we are a bit conscious of how neurotic we might look, but it's actually about practicality and convenience. This way we have a no-fuss way of making sure we eat the way we want to eat and don't waste time looking for suitable food when we're on the move.

‘HOT DOGS’

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'Hot Dogs'. Photo: Alistair Richardson
 

This is a good one — we got the chefs in our main kitchen to try them, and their verdict was that they were super tasty and very close to the real deal. These freeze really well and keep for about three days in the fridge too. Simply heat up in a pan for 2 minutes each side (defrosting them first, if frozen), until golden.

Makes 6-8 hot dogs. 65 minutes.

Ingredients

1 medium onion

4 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp oil, plus extra for frying

150g tinned butter beans

150ml vegetable stock/water

2½ tbsp tamari/soy sauce

50g tomato purée

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp Dijon mustard/wholegrain mustard

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp sea salt

125g vital wheat gluten (from health food stores)

30g porridge oats

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp ground flax seeds/ground chia seeds

To serve:

6–8 small baguettes or hot dog rolls

Vegan mayo

Sweet chilli ketchup

Mustard

Kimchi

Method

1. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Put the oil into a small pan on a high heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Transfer the onion mixture to a food processor.

2. Drain and rinse the beans and add to the processor along with the vegetable stock, tamari, tomato purée, smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, mustard, black pepper and salt. Blend until smooth.

3. Put the vital wheat gluten into a large mixing bowl along with the oats, nutritional yeast and ground flax seeds, and mix well. Add the contents of the food processor to the bowl and stir until combined. If it seems too dry to come together, add another tablespoon or two of vegetable stock. Knead by hand in the bowl for about 2 minutes, until it all combines into a lovely well formed ball.

4. Set up a steamer over a pot of water and bring the water to the boil.

5. In the meantime, cut 6–8 pieces of tin foil or baking parchment, each about double the length and width of a regular hot dog. Divide the mixture into 6 or 8 equal pieces. Place a piece of foil or parchment on the counter. Roll a piece of hot dog mix between the palms of your hands until it’s about the size and shape of a hot dog. Place it on the foil or paper and roll it up, pressing lightly with your hands, to give it an even shape, then fold or twist the ends closed. Repeat with the remaining mix to form 6–8 vegan hot dogs!

6. Place all the hot dogs in the top of the steamer, cover, and steam for about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before unwrapping. If you want to keep your hot dogs to eat at a later time, store them in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

7. To cook, simply put 2 tbsp of oil into a non-stick frying pan on a high heat, place your hot dogs in the pan and cook, turning them constantly, till they golden up and start to smell delicious.

8. Serve in a baguette or hot dog roll, with some vegan mayo, sweet chilli ketchup, mustard and kimchi (or any other type of pickles).

 

ULTIMATE FIFTEEN-MINUTE ‘BURGER’

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Ultimate 15 minute 'burger'. Photo: Alistair Richardson
 

Quick, easy to make, super-tasty, moreish — we are aware that’s quite a promise, but these burgers will deliver! It’s hard to get good quality breadcrumbs, so we usually make our own by putting a few slices of decent bread into the food processor for a few minutes until they turn to crumbs. It is really worth seeking out the nutritional yeast, as it gives a nice distinct flavour, and a couple of slices of vegan cheese, while not essential, takes these burgers to the next level.

Makes 3 burgers. 15 minutes.

Ingredients

1 x 400g tin of kidney/black beans

1 red onion

2 cloves of garlic

150g oyster mushrooms (or any other mushrooms)

3 tbsp oil

3 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

100g breadcrumbs

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

To serve:

Hummus/vegan mayo

Sweet chilli ketchup/pesto

A couple of slices of vegan cheese (optional)

Lettuce leaves

Tomato slices

Red onion slices

Ripe avocado slices

Method

1. Drain and rinse the beans. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Chop the mushrooms very finely.

2. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a frying pan on a high heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further minute. Now add the tamari, and fry for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

3. Put the breadcrumbs, beans and nutritional yeast into a bowl and mix well. Add the mushroom mixture to the same bowl and mix. Leave to cool for a minute, then use your hands or a wooden spoon to mash and mix everything together. Shape this mixture into 3 burger-shaped patties, making sure to really compress them so as to remove as much moisture as possible.

4. The patties are now ready to cook. We usually fry them in the pan in the remaining tablespoon of oil for 2 minutes on each side, until they go golden. You can also bake them in the oven at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 10 minutes, or throw them on the barbecue.

5. Serve in toasted burger buns with hummus/mayo on the bottom of the bun, sweet chilli ketchup/pesto on the top and any of the other topping options you fancy.

 

SUMMER FRUIT BAKEWELL TART

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Bakewell tart. Photo: Alistair Richardson
 

This is a wonderful traditional summer fruit dessert, with shortcrust pastry, a jammy fruit layer and a wonderful delicate almond layer, known as frangipane. For a gluten-free option, just replace the white flour with buckwheat or gluten-free flour.

Makes 10-12 slices. 60 minutes. 

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry:

150g white flour/buckwheat flour

75g cold coconut oil

A pinch of sea salt

3–4 tbsp cold water

For the frangipane:

1½ tbsp ground flax seeds

4 tbsp water

130g cold coconut oil

155g ground almonds

140ml maple syrup

1¼ tsp baking powder

For the jam/fruit layer:

250g fresh raspberries/strawberries

4 tbsp water

100ml maple syrup

2 tbsp chia seeds

To decorate:

50g flaked almonds

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Start by making the pastry. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl. Finely chop the coconut oil and add to the bowl with the salt, then massage with your fingers until the coconut oil has mixed with the flour to form a breadcrumb-like texture with no lumps — about 3 minutes.

3. Add 3 tablespoons of water, and press the mixture together into a firm ball. Add another tablespoon of water if it’s not sticking together yet. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and put it into the fridge for 5 minutes to firm up.

4. Lightly coat your hands with flour. Shape the dough into a disc about the size of the springform tin base, and press firmly into the bottom of the tin so that it makes a layer about ƒcm thick that evenly covers the whole base, but not the sides.

5. Pop the cake tin into the preheated oven for 10 minutes to blind bake (no need for baking paper and dried beans). Take it out of the oven and place on a rack to cool, leaving the oven turned on.

6. Next, make your frangipane mixture. Put the ground flax seeds and water into a bowl, mix well together and set aside until you have an egg-like consistency. Melt the coconut oil in a small pot over a high heat. Once melted, transfer to a mixing bowl, add the ground almonds, maple syrup, baking powder and the flax egg, and mix until everything is well combined.

7. To make your strawberry or raspberry jam, chop the strawberries finely (no need to chop if using raspberries) and put the fruit into a medium-size pot along with the water. Cook over a medium heat until the fruit starts to break down, which should take a couple of minutes. Add the maple syrup and chia seeds, bring to the boil, then simmer for 6–8 minutes to reduce and thicken. Stir regularly to prevent the jam burning or sticking to the bottom. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool and firm up.

8. Cover the cooled base with all the jam. Next, gently spoon the frangipane mixture on top of the jam layer, making sure to cover it all. If any pink or red colour from the fruit comes through the frangipane layer, that’s fine — this will make it look more authentic once it’s baked. Sprinkle on a layer of flaked almonds.

9. Pop the tart back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Once baked, take out and leave to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing and devouring!

 

‘CHICK’N’ NUGGETS

We came up with more than 10 different versions of these one afternoon, trying to get the right texture and bite while keeping the recipe easy and quick to make. We reckon we got it right with this recipe — let us know what you think!

Makes 10-15 nuggets, 25 minutes.

Ingredients

For the nuggets:

100g cashew nuts

50g oat flakes

6–10 tbsp water

30g vital wheat gluten (from health stores)

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp sea salt

2 tbsp sunflower oil

A pinch of freshly ground black pepper

For the coating:

100g breadcrumbs

¼ tsp ground turmeric

Non-dairy milk, to help coat with the breadcrumbs

For frying:

2 tbsp sunflower oil

Method

1. Soak the cashew nuts in boiling water, leave to sit for 10 minutes, then drain.

2. Put your oat flakes into a blender and blend for 30 seconds till they form a flour-like powder. Transfer the blended oat flakes to a food processor and add all the remaining nugget ingredients, starting with the water and remembering to include the drained cashew nuts. Whiz until it all starts to come together into a dough (about 30 seconds). If you think it needs more moisture, add an extra couple of tablespoons of water.

3. Remove the dough from the blender, bring it all together with your hands and start forming it into small nugget shapes.

4. In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs and turmeric for the coating. Put some milk into a second bowl and dip the nuggets in this before rolling each one in the coating, making sure they are well covered.

5. Put a wide-bottomed non-stick pan on a high heat. Once warm, pour in 2 tablespoons of oil and add the nuggets in batches that will fit your pan without crowding it. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until they are golden and starting to brown. Alternatively, you can bake them in a preheated oven on a baking tray at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 10 minutes on each side.

6. These are great served with hummus, sweet chilli ketchup or kimchi on the side. You could also stuff them inside a toasted pitta with hummus and slices of tomato, some vegan mayo and kimchi. Yum!

Irish Independent

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