Someone once said, “Simplicity is the keynote of good taste and saves a lot of time.”

An apt observation, don’t you think, which applies as much to what we eat, as it does in other areas of our lives?

At present, I’m in the process of moving from South Australia, back to the UK. We’re staying in Perth for a couple of weeks, and circumstances have again reminded me that eating a simple diet is key to maintaining good health.

Some of the simplest, healthiest foods available have to be oats, peas, beans and barley.

These foods can easily improve the nutritional value of your meals, due to their high-quality protein, mineral, and vitamin content; and they make extremely economical and delicious meals to boot!

5 simple vegetarian recipes…

#1 Nutty granola

Servings: 8½-cup servings

Ingredients
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups rolled wheat
¾ cup soy flour
½ cup chopped almonds, or other nuts
½ cup dates, chopped
1 cup water
¼ cup olive oil

Method

  1. Combine oats, wheat, and nuts in a large bowl and mix.
  2. Add dates to water to soften. Mash and mix with water. Add oil. Beat with fork until oil is emulsified.
  3. Pour over dry mixture, stir or mix with fingers until thoroughly moistened.
  4. Crumble in a thin layer on greased baking tray.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Reduce 250 F. Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until dry. Should slightly golden.

Additional tip: try adding ground flax seeds for omega-3, a variety of other dried fruits (cranberries, peach, pineapple), or seeds (pumpkin or sunflower) to increase the nutritive value.

#2 Barley bread

Ingredients
2 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups warm water
4½ cups barley flour
¼ cup soy flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Measure yeast into a small bowl. Add sugar and enough warm water to mix. Put in a warm place to rise.
  2. Put remaining water in a large mixing bowl. Add half of the flour and beat vigorously.
  3. Add sugar, salt, and oil and mix well, then add softened yeast and beat well.
  4. Add soy flour and enough barley flour to make dough that can be kneaded.
  5. Place on floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic.
  6. Shape into two round loaves on a baking tray. Make diagonal slashes in top. Let rise until double in bulk.
  7. Bake at 350 F for one hour. Cool on rack.

Additional tip: you could add a variety of seeds to this recipe for added vitamins, minerals and fibre, and extra crunch.

#3 Lentil roast

Serves: 6

Ingredients
2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup soaked chickpeas
½ cup water
½ cup Brazil nuts, chopped
11/3 teaspoons torula yeast
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sage

To cook lentils

  1. Soak 1 cup lentils in 3 cups of water for 6-8 hours.
  2. Drain water into a saucepan and bring to boil.
  3. Add lentils, and boil gently for 10 minutes.

To make lentil roast

  1. Measure lentils into a bowl, add rice, blend chickpeas with water and add to lentils and rice.
  2. Add chopped Brazil nuts and seasonings.
  3. Bake in an oiled baking dish at 350 F for 45 minutes (covered for 30 minutes, uncovered for 15 minutes.)
  4. Garnish with the sprinkling of fresh parsley.

#4 Creamy bean soup

Serves: 5 1-cup

Ingredients
2 cups cooked beans of your choice (navy, pinto etc)
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup light evaporated milk

Method

  1. Soak beans overnight. Drain, and add to boiling water (4½ cups water), heat to boiling point. Then boil gently until tender.
  2. Measure 2 cups of beans. Blend with water, onion powder, and salt.
  3. Bring to boiling point. Add evaporated milk. If too thick, thin with water.
  4. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.

Variation: use soybean concentrate, or soy cream rather than evaporated milk. Use this recipe as a base, and experiment by adding a variety of different vegetables and herbs.

#5 Carrot oatmeal cookies

Servings: 24 cookies

Ingredients
1 cup finely grated carrots
Water
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup olive oil
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup macaroon coconut
¼ cup soy flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Pack carrots lightly in a cup; add water to fill to cup mark.
  2. Combine carrots, sugar, and oil. Beat until oil is emulsified.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well and let stand 10 minutes to absorb moisture.
  4. Drop from teaspoon onto greased baking tray.
  5. Heat oven to 400 F. Place cookies in the oven and reduce heat to 350 F. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Cool on wire rack.

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