May 2012

The Diamond Jubilee/Coronation Chickpea Sald

Jubilee-Banner

THE DIAMOND JUBILEE/CORONATION CHICKPEA SALAD

The whole of UK will be enjoying an extended four day weekend to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen’s coronation took place on 2nd June 1953 (she came to throne in February of the previous year). Sixty years on the throne deserve a recognition, many celebrations are planned including street parties all around the country. And of course we celebrate best with some great food (and drink) in hand.

Probably the most famous dish, from the two Coronation Banquets in 1953, is the Coronation Chicken. The recipe was created by Constance Spry and Rosemary Huyme. Constance suggested to make curried creamy chicken and Rosemary (the chef) executed the idea. For months now Coronation Chicken inspired dishes have been on the shelves of supermarkets, you can choose from the traditional chicken, veggie rice version or a Coronation dip. There even is a coronation ice-cream in an ice-cream shop in London.

I felt inspired and created my own plant based version of the famous dish. As in the original version I used a curry powder. When I made curries I blend my own spices but the generic curry powder taste is what makes this recipe traditional as that is what they would use in 1953. Just make sure you use a good quality one, I get mine in an Asian shop. You can also use a good curry paste.

The original version is mayo heavy and I didn’t want to just open a jar and replace the regular mayo with a vegan one. Therefore a tofu/cashew dressing was born, the quantities given make more than you will need but it tastes great and you will find other uses (great with new potatoes). The salad ingredients can be easily doubled to make enough to feed a crowd, it makes a great potluck dish.

Here is to the Queen who just keeps going with seemingly boundless energy through the ups and downs she has encountered in the 60 years on the throne. I will be raising a glass of Pimm’s to her health.

IMG_2465

CORONATION CHICKPEA SALAD
salad:
1/3 cup (60g) wild rice
1/2 Tbs rapeseed (canola) oil
1 small to medium red onion, finely diced
2 tsp mild curry powder
1 Tbs tomato puree
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
2 Tbs water
2 Tbs raisins
6 dried apricots, cut into roughly raisin size
4 spring onions, white part only, finely sliced
handful of toasted flaked almonds
handful of fresh coriander chopped

the dressing:
1/2 cup (60ml) water
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 pack of Mori-Nu silken tofu (about 170g - 6oz)
1 heaped Tbs mango chutney
good pinch of saffron
2 Tbs lemon juice
pinch of salt

method:

  1. First cook the rice in 1 and 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30min. Drain and cool down. Set aside.
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil, gently saute the onion until tender but do not brown, about 10 min.
  3. Add the curry powder and cook for 30 seconds. Next add the tomato puree. Stir together.
  4. Add the chickpeas and 2 Tbs of water to the frying pan. Season with salt. Cook gently until the water is evaporated and the chickpeas are coated with thick curry paste. Let the chickpeas cool down.
  5. When the rice and chickpeas have cooled down place them into a bowl and add the rest of the salad ingredients.
  6. To make the dressing blend all the ingredients in a blender till smooth. Pour some of the dressing over the salad, mix well. The salad should be very creamy. You can overdo the dressing a bit, it thickens in the fridge. Chill.
  7. Decorate with some almonds and coriander. Enjoy.
0 Comments

MANGO ICE LOLLIES

MANGO ICE LOLLIES

Georgia Davis has become a media celebrity, over the last few days there has been more written about her than s Kim Kardashian or Simon Cowell. Georgia has become a household name due to her size and the 8 hour operation to get her from her bedroom to the hospital. This included 40 people, breaking down walls, impromptu ramp, crane... Reports differ on how much Georgia weighs, nobody knows for sure, but it is anywhere from 56-68st (784-952lb).

Georgia has not had it easy, she lost her father when she was 5 to heart attack, her mother has been suffering from heart desease and arthritis, she is also obese. Georgia has been her mother’s carer since age 10.

Several years back she lost half her body weight in a weight loss camp in America but on her returned she encountered no support. Not from her mother, not from her social workers or her doctors. She was left alone, surrounded by what she knew. Now she is in a hospital with reported multiple organ failure.

As a mother I feel heartbroken for this beautiful girl, who has not been allowed to blossom, to have a boyfriend, to go out shopping with her friends, to have a life. She has instead been smothered by a 13000 calorie a day diet provided by her mother who just doesn’t know better. I know her mum loves her but at the same time I cannot understand how she could allow it to go this far.

Many people think she should have been taken away from her mother but I think that Georgia would have only been heartbroken. The whole family should have been given support, education and opportunities. As it stands Georgia has got the label of Britain’s fattest teenager but she is not alone. The statistics are staggering, in Wales (Georgia’s home) according to walesonline.co.uk, the prediction is that 89% of adults will be obese by 2019!

My heart breaks for children like Georgia who are victims of a vicious circle of cheap calorie dense unhealthy addictive food, no hope and help. This is a problem that will take generations to fix, but we have to start now before more children are taken to hospital with fatty liver, diabetes Type 2, damaged hearts, organ failure and cancer.

We have to start education lead by people educated in nutrition, not by those who are sponsored by junk food producers. Unfortunately it seems to be a loosing battle. We live in a world where McDonalds pay musicians for mentioning them in their songs, where the same company promises gifts and incentives to bloggers who will write positively about them. Golden Arches are also recruiting people to take part in a new trial, for payment of $3500 these people will be asked to eat fast food only for 3 months. We all know what it did to Morgan Spurlock (Supersize me) in one month only...

I hope that Georgia will receive a lifeline and beat the food addiction for good and have the life she so desperately wants and deserve.


mangoicelollies

MANGO ICE LOLLIES
If your mango is sweet you won’t be needing to use the agave.

Makes 5 small ice lollies

ingredients
2 ripe medium mangos
1 lime, zest and juice
1 Tbs of agave syrup (optional)

Cut the cheeks of the mango, score inside, turn cheeks inside out and cut away the flesh. Cut away any remaining flesh from the stone.
Place mango into a food processor together with the lime juice and agave if using. Process till smooth.
Stir in the zest.
Pour into small ice lolly molds and freeze.
To remove from the mold stand for 10-20seconds in warm water and gently remove.



0 Comments

SPINACH SWAMP BURGERS

VegFest 2012 - SPINACH SWAMP BURGERS

We had another scorching day, perfect weather for hanging out at the harbour and eating some yummy vegan treats. Annual VegFest came to town and as usual didn’t disappoint. We tried loads of great food. Tested some natural cosmetics. Ended up with a bag full treasures, and one melted raw chocolate bar that was in the VegFest goodie bag. It has found a sanctuary in the fridge before it meets an untimely end...

How excited I was to meet and have a chat with the fabulous Jackie Kearney, who made it, despite being a vegetarian, into the last four of Masterchef 2011. We all fell in love with her bubbly personality and her Asian inspired veggie food. I was very disappointed when she didn’t make it to the top. After lunching on her fabulous Jungle curry I am even more convinced that she should have won... It tasted great. Check out her recipes and appearances on her website:
http://www.thehungrygecko.com

After all the smoothies, bubble teas, raw bar, vegan sausages and cheeses, chocolates and ice-creams, my kids got soaking wet at the Millenium square in the water feature. Apart from crushing my sunglasses by sitting on them this was a fantastic family day out. Bring on the next VegFest.

For dinner we had lentil and spinach burger served in a pitta bread. Accompanied with some delicious Reggae Reggae mild sauce, avocados, tomatoes, red onions and salad leaves. Chickpea salad on the side, this was a perfect al fresco dinner. I have to warn you these burgers don’t look pretty, they are swamp green (hence the name) before cooking. After cooking they turn slightly muddy brown, not much of an improvement. They taste good and that is what counts. They are also packed with iron and protein.

Make sure you season this burger well, the spinach needs it. Cook them straight away as the spinach will leak more water and a wet burger means sticky burger... I used some vital wheat gluten in the recipe, I like the texture it gives but you can use gram flour if you don’t have any on hand.

spinachburger

SPINACH SWAMP BURGERS

The spinach: I was convinced I had fresh spinach but sadly that wasn’t true. Luckily there was some frozen one, perfect for this recipe. The 200g when defrosted and squeezed out of water yielded 1 cup. To get the same amount from fresh you will need about 1lb.

We had Reggae Reggae mild sauce with our burgers, simply because we are addicted, but any great sauce will work, even the humble ketchup.

ingredients
200g (1 cup) Puy lentils
200g frozen spinach (or use fresh, see above)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup (packed) parsley
1 heaped Tbs tomato puree
2 tsp of cumin
4 spring onions, white parts only
salt and pepper
3 Tbs of water
3 Tbs of vital wheat gluten
(if you don’t have the wheat gluten use 3Tbs of gram flour minus the water)
salt and pepper to taste

spinachburger2

method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. First cook the lentils in plenty of water until they are soft, about 25min.
  3. Next prepare the spinach. If using frozen just defrost and squeeze all the water out. If using fresh wilt the spinach in a hot wok or frying pan and also squeeze the water out.
  4. In a food processor process the lentils, spinach, garlic, parsley, tomato puree, cumin and spring onion until it all comes together. Season.
  5. Place the mixture into a mixing bowl, add the vital wheat gluten and water. Using your hands mix thoroughly, you will see strings appearing within the mixture resembling stringy cheese. (If you are using the gram flour just mix thoroughly)
  6. Mould the mixture into 6 burgers.
  7. Place the burgers onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  8. Bake for 30min turning halfway through the baking time.
  9. Serve in warmed round pitta breads with variety of toppings.

0 Comments

MORE FRUIT AND VEG Part 5: Desserts - FRUIT KEBABS WITH COCONUT DIP

MORE FRUIT AND VEG Part 5: Dessert
FRUIT KEBABS WITH COCONUT DIP

The best for last. Desserts. Not much room for veggies here. Fruit is the star. Lately fruit has been vilified by many. Fruit is largely excluded from the low carb high protein diets due to their high carbohydrate content. Too much fruit, some say, hampers your weight loss. Yes fruits are high in sugar but that is what makes them so utterly irresistible. It is sugar packaged by nature not a processing plan. Of course you are also getting loads of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Our ancestors surely found fruit the easiest food to gather.

I cannot imagine world without fruit, it is my favourite snack and makes a perfect dessert. Great fresh fruit salad is an incredible treat, of course the fruit must be its flavoursome best. When I was a child every June my grandmother went to search for first cherries, she tied them into mini bunches with a string and presented these ruby red bouquets to the family. It was a yearly ritual, we knew summer was in attendance.

Yes I am a fruitaholic, but I am not the only one. Dr Douglas Graham has based his 80/10/10 diet on fruit. Yes he recommends 80% of person’s daily food intake consumed in the form of fruit. My sport hero and compatriot Martina Navratilova certainly agrees. Even if I wouldn’t take up this diet full time I would never say no to an all fruit binge especially in this hot weather.

Plant based diet doesn’t mean that your only dessert option will be just fresh fruit, of course there is so much more to choose from. Raw desserts are my favourite, they are incredibly inventive and satisfying. From raw ice-creams, to tarts and cheesecakes you just can’t go wrong. You don’t have to give up baked desserts either, it is easy to substitute eggs, milk and butter, to make fab muffins and cakes. Just search for black bean brownies on the internet and you may be surprised how many recipes pop up. You can eat your way toward your 10-a-day with some yummy sweet treats.

My recipe today is fruit based, cut up and put on skewers kebab style makes it fun to eat, especially for those kids who may find fruit boring (how could they???). I made a simple coconut and cashew dip to make it a bit more special.

fruitkebabs

FRUIT KEBABS WITH COCONUT DIP

ingredients
Fruit of your choice
to make 8 kebabs I used:
1 large punnet of strawberries
half a pineapple
2 large bananas
1 kiwi (for a special request kebab...)
the dip
3/4 cup (185ml) water
1 cup cashews
1-2 Tbs coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup (50g) unsweetened dessicated coconut
1 Tbs toasted coconut to decorate (just toast your dessicated coconut in a dry frying pan till golden)

method
  1. Cut up your fruit and thread on skewers.
  2. In a blender process the cashews, sugar and water till smooth. Add more water if too thick.
  3. Add the coconut and whizz up quickly just to stir through.
  4. Serve kebabs with the dip on the side.
0 Comments

MORE FRUIT AND VEG Part 4: Mains - BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND BARLEY BARLOTTO

MORE FRUIT AND VEG
Part 4: Mains
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND BARLEY BARLOTTO

Main meal of the day, whether you have it at midday or evening, is a great opportunity to load up on some veggies and fruit too. I aim is to get around 10 (preferably more) portions every day. My evening meal is the last opportunity to meat my quota. There are so many ways to get plenty of veg into your meals. Soups and stews can easily add up to several portions without even trying. Experiment with curries, veggie burgers or loafs, roasted veggies mixed with grains and pastas, chips (fries) made out of roots, and of coarse don’t forget the greens they are great in just about any dish. A big salad on the side and something fruity for dessert; it is hard not to get all the fruit and veg you need on a plant based diet.

It wasn’t always this plant strong. I grew up eating the normal Czech diet, which is rich in meat and potatoes with veggies taking on a rather insignificant role. However we had quite a few vegetable based dishes too. There is a great array of vegetable dishes in the Czech culinary tradition. Unfortunately these are usually considered too simple to be served to guests. Simple very often means very delicious.

There was a time when I wanted to get away from the usual and explore the food my grandmother grew up with. I loved the discovery and she loved the memories these dishes brought to her. She grew up on largely meatless diet, her family could only afford to have meat once a week. She gave me a superb grounding in vegetarian cooking without even realising it. She showed me how easy it is to use veggies or grains as a base of a dish. She always made a simple salad, or just cut up raw veggies on the side. Her food was fantastic every time even if it consisted of only few ingredients that many would find uninspiring. I am sure she would enjoy my butternut squash barlotto.


BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND BARLEY BARLOTTO

This is creamy like an Italian risotto without the cheese and butter. You can just serve a whole bowl of it or as I did top some large roasted portobello mushrooms with it. Looks impressive enough to serve at a dinner party.

I considered adding some nutritional yeast flakes to the cashew sauce but decided against it because I didn’t want anything to overpower the gorgeous butternut squash flavour. You can add 2 Tbs if you wish.

Green salad on the side is a must, rocket works great with the sweet squash.

Serves 4-6 (or 8 if used as a stuffed mushroom starter )


barlotto2

ingredients
200g (1 cup) barley
1 medium butternut squash
1 Tbs olive oil separated (2 x 1/2 Tbs)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
8 sage leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 (70g) cup cashews
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup roasted butternut squash
salt + pepper

method
  1. If you can soak the barley overnight or at least for several hours. Drain.
  2. Cook the barley in plenty of vegetable stock or seasoned water for 15-20 min. If not soaked the barley will take roughly twice as long. Test it, it should be swell up, be soft with bit of a resistance. It kind of pops between your teeth, but shouldn’t be hard. Drain and set aside. This can be done while ahead.
  3. Peel your butternut squash, cut into bite size pieces. Place onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and coat with 1/2 tbs of olive oil. Roast till cooked through and starting to caramelise around the edges. Set aside.
  4. In a large saute pan with high edges heat the other 1/2 of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and gently saute till soft. Add the sage and cook for about 1 minute.
  5. While your onions are sauteing, place 1 cup (250ml) of the butternut squash, 1/2 cup of cashews and 1 and 1/2 cup of water in a blender. Process till smooth.
  6. When onions are soft, add the barley and rest of the butternut squash to the saute pan. Stir together and heat through, you can add some water if the barley starts sticking.
  7. Add the cashew nut sauce to the barley mixture, stir through and heat up together. You are aiming for creamy but not too soupy texture. Season and serve.
0 Comments

MORE FRUIT AND VEG Part 3: Salads - WATERCRESS, FENNEL AND ORANGE SALAD Part 2: Salads

MORE FRUIT AND VEG
Part 2: Salads
WATERCRESS, FENNEL AND ORANGE SALAD

There is no denying that salad is the most obvious way of getting some veggies and fruit in your diet. Unfortunately there is this idea of utter torture associated with salads. In many people’s minds dieting equals torture and dieting equals salads.

There are some horrid salads out there, the other day I was served such a salad, alongside my veggie burger in a restaurant. It consisted of big pieces of ice berg lettuce, thickly sliced white onion and one thick slice of tomato...That was it. I was not impressed and will not be visiting that restaurant again.

Growing up in Czech Republic the salad option was very limited when I was a child (things have improved now...), we had a cucumber salad, lettuce salad, tomato salad usually dressed with vinegar/water/salt/sugar or kefir. There were also lots of mayonnaise heavy salads and my Dad still likes to dress his veggies that way. Nostalgically I still make the sweet and sour cucumber salad but I have widened my horizons substantially.

Talking about progress I remember when my grandma returned from visiting her brother once, his daughter married a Frenchman and influenced (somewhat) my aunt’s salad preparation. My grandmother was horrified when she saw my aunt placing lettuce leaves into a tea towel and swinging the bundle furiously over her head like a lasso, creating an impromptu salad spinner. Also the shock horror when she dressed it with oil, mustard and vinegar!!! My granny was not impressed...I was intrigued.

I admit not all salads I make are an amazing culinary experience, sometimes I just pile lettuce leaves on my plate alongside a portion of my main dish. I am happy with that. Great sweet lettuce doesn’t even need dressing on it at times. Other times I want something a bit more exciting. Something that will wake up my taste buds. Like this watercress, fennel and orange salad.

WATERCRESS, FENNEL AND ORANGE SALAD
If yo want to make this salad ahead keep the watercress separate from the rest and combine just before serving. The orange juice will cause the delicate watercress leaves to wilt quite quickly.

ingredients
1 medium fennel
1 half of a medium red onion
1 pack of watercress, any thick stalks removed
3 oranges
1 Tbs olive oil

watercressorangesalad

method
  1. First, prepare your fennel, remove the thick outer layer, cut the bulb in half and cut out the hard core at the base. Slice the fennel as thinly as you can, I used my mandolin for that job.
  2. Slice the onion in the same fashion.
  3. Using a sharp knife ( a large bread knife works great too) to remove the orange peel and pith of 2 oranges. You can either segment the orange, or just cut into pieces. My orange segments looked rather small so I decided to cut the orange up, segmenting just wouldn’t work.
  4. To make the dressing juice the third orange (mine was small, you may only need half an orange if it is large), add salt pepper and the spoon of olive oil. Stir well.
  5. Combine the watercress, onion, oranges and fennel together, dress with the dressing and serve.
0 Comments

BROWN RICE WITH BEANS, PEAS AND SWEETCORN

BROWN RICE WITH BEANS, PEAS AND SWEETCORN

This week every paper in the country ran a story about statins. The headlines announced that everybody over the age of 50 should be taking the cholesterol lowering drugs statins. According to BBC there are currently between 6-7million people in the UK taking statins every day. That means roughly 10%, about 1 in 10. According to the new recommendations this number would go even higher.

Statins save lives, there is no doubt about that, mainly in people who had already suffered a heart attack or have other cardiovascular problems or can’t lower their cholesterol sufficiently with diet and lifestyle change. However giving statins to people within the low risk category scares me.The problem with statins is the same as with all drugs, they come with side effects. I read that some 28% quit taking them because of the side effects. Just looking at the comments (that follow the recent stain articles online), from people who have had bad experiences with statins. How about memory loss, severe pain in joints and muscles, muscle wastage, depression, kidney and liver problems, lack of appetite, sickness, apathy, night sweats, sexual disfunction... On top of this they also raise the risk of Type-2 diabetes (which is out of control so no need to push the numbers any higher).

It worries me that anybody would even entertain the idea of giving a certain drug to everyone over certain age. I want to be prescribed medicine if I really need it. I try to avoid taking medicine if I can help it I won’t even take a pain killer for a headache; water and rest usually helps. I don’t want to be made into a patient if I am not ill. We wouldn’t be taking daily antibiotics just in case we might catch a bacterial infection sometimes in the next few years... Let’s give statins to the people who do need them, and who will benefit, but let’s put more effort into education people and help everybody lead a healthier lifestyles.

Cholesterol can be easy to control with a plant based diet. There are countless success stories, just look up Dr Fuhrman, Dr McDougal, Dr Barnard, Forks over Knives, Engine 2 Diet and many others. To quote Dr Margaret McCartney (I will be reviewing her book Patient Paradox soon) on statins: “ These tablets save lives - but the life they save will probably not be yours.”


BROWN RICE WITH BEANS, PEAS AND SWEETCORN

This made a huge batch, perfect if you are feeding lots of people. You can serve it as a side dish or it is satisfying as a main with some green leafy veggies or salad on the side.

I made the leftovers into spicy fried rice, I say fried but I used a bit of water in the frying pan and some chilli sauce and a splash of tamari. Delicious.

The brown rice I used was my favourite Thai Jasmine rice that I get in my local Oriental supermarket, but any brown rice will be great. Just follow the cooking time on the packet.

Serves 6-8



brownriceandbeans

ingredients
1 1/2 brown rice of your choice
3 cups of stock (or water)
1/2 Tbs olive oil or 60ml (1/4cup) of water
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp Hungarian paprika (sweet or hot)
1 tin of red kidney beans, drained
1 cup of sweetcorn kernels (I used frozen)
1/2 cup of peas (I used frozen)
125ml (1/2 cup) vegetable stock

method
  1. Cook the rice in the 3 cups of stock according to instructions, set aside.
  2. In a large saute pan heat the oil or 60ml of water, add the onion and garlic and gook till softened.
  3. Add the spices, kidney beans and sweetcorn. Add the 125ml of vegetable stock, cook on medium until most of the stock is gone. This softens the beans and gives them lovely flavour.
  4. Next add the peas and the rice and heat through.
  5. Serve.
0 Comments

MORE FRUIT AND VEG Part 2: Snacks - “CHEESY” COURGETTE DIP

MORE FRUIT AND VEG
Part 2: Snacks
“CHEESY” COURGETTE DIP

Have you noticed how snacking can creep up on you? After a long day, you get home, feeling slightly peckish or just outright starving, dinner won’t be ready anytime soon or you may be waiting for the rest of the family to come home for dinner. What do you do? Open the fridge or cupboards and scoff anything in your sight. That’s when we are most likely to eat to wrong stuff. Potato crisps, cakes, biscuits, chocolates...

Many times I heard my friends saying how they make themselves a cup of tea, open a packed of biscuits and just keep going. One is never enough. My solution is not to buy any biscuits in the first place but that will keep you feeling peckish. Keep in mind that 1 biscuit averages around 75cal and gives your body no nourishment whatsoever. Only cravings and unhealthy sugar spikes.

Why not snack healthily and work towards your fruit and veg quota while doing so? The obvious and easiest way is to have some fruit around, just grab and go. Cut up veggies are another easy option. With a little bit of planning you can make fruit and veggies even more sexy.

One of our favourites is keeping grapes in ziplock bags in a freezer. I buy a huge box in Costco, take them off their stalks and freeze them in batches. My son says they are better than sweets. Freezing intensifies the flavour and since they are frozen you will take a while eating them. Perfect when watching a movie.

Some of our snack staples include kale chips, dehydrator apple or banana crisps, Medjool dates, raw “balls” and bars, hummus with carrot sticks or linseed crackers (or good quality, sometimes homemade tortilla chips) with homemade guacamole (have you noticed shop bought one has double cream in it?!!!) or good salsa.

My snack recipe is courgette dip, it is raw and incredibly versatile, the pine nuts give it a cheesy texture, reminiscent of ricotta. You can use it as a dip, spread, or even stir it into your pasta “pesto” style. And of course it counts towards your 5(or 10)-a-day.


“CHEESY” COURGETTE DIP

courgettedipdetail

This dip will keep for a couple of days in the fridge, if you are making it ahead use 2 Tbs of lemon juice. When stored the lemon juice looses some of its power.

Makes about 1 cup

ingredients:
2 young crisp courgettes (zucchini)
70g (1/2 cup) pinenuts
1 small garlic clove
1 cup basil leaves, packed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
salt to taste

courgettedip

method:
  1. Grate your courgettes coarsely, mix in 1 tsp of salt. Place the courgettes in a collander that is set over a bowl. Put a small plate on top of the courgettes and place some full tins on top to weigh it all down. Leave for about half an hour.
  2. Place your courgettes in a cheese cloth (clean tea towel or a good quality paper towel will do the job), squeeze as much of the water out as you can. You don’t want a watery dip.
  3. In a high speed blender or a food processor combine all ingredients and process until the desired texture (see picture)
  4. Garnish with basil leaves and pinenuts and serve with vegetable crudites or crackers (preferably raw).
0 Comments

NOT SO CORNISH PASTY

pasty-banner

NOT SO CORNISH PASTY


Around the world people love cooking various ingredients in pastry cases very often formed into half moon shapes. Think of Cornish pasties, calzone in Italy, empanadas in Latin America, pierogi in Poland or gyoza dumplings in Japan. They are all different but the philosophy is the same. Roll a dough into a circle, fill with yummy filling and bake, boil or steam.

My husband’s family comes from Cornwall, the home of the world famous Cornish pasty, the, local speciality that dates back centuries. Any Brit will tell you that pasties were the perfect  “packed lunch” for the Cornish tin miners. Easily portable, the flaky pastry case was stuffed with beef, swede (in Cornwall called turnip), onion and potatoes. Apart from salt and pepper that was it. Sometimes one corner of the pasty encased a portion of stewed apple for dessert. 

Cornish people are very protective of their pasty, even down to the crimping of the edges. There is only one right way to do it and they will snigger at any rogue attempts. My husband’s grandmother made pasties at home. I had her pasty once, with vegetarian filling, only to discover years later that the pastry was made with lard :( This might have been the only animal product I had since going vegetarian... 

My pasty is not like the traditional one. The pastry is different, of course I don’t use lard but I also keep away from any vegetable shortenings that would make a credible replacement. Therefore I have decided to use a yeast dough, slightly crossing over the the calzone territory. Yes the texture is different, but it went down really well with the family. 

The filling of course is rather different too, no beef here, instead we have luscious combination of sweet potatoes, mushrooms and spinach, gorgeous healthy vegetables, and in keeping with Cornish pasty seasoned with lots of pepper.

The plan is to serve it to my mum-in-law next time she comes for a visit, I will dodge the comments about my lack of crimping but hopefully she will enjoy my take on the food she grew up with. 



NOT SO CORNISH PASTY

ingredients

the dough

1 cup of warm water
1 Tbs of olive oil, plus more for the rising of the dough
1 tsp of agave syrup 
1 sachet of instant (or fast acting) yeast
150g (1 cup) of fine wholewheat flour 
225 g (1 and 1/2 cups) of wholewheat spelt flour
salt

the filling 

2 medium large sweet potatoes (roughly 600g, just under 1 and half lb)
1 Tbs olive oil (separated)
3 large portobello mushrooms
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
200g (about half a lb) baby spinach
salt and lots of pepper to taste

IMG_2166

method

  1. First make the dough for the pasty.

  2. In a large bowl mix the warm water (just hand warm, not boiling hot) with the agave syrup, olive oil and yeast. Stir. Let it stand for 10min to get the yeast activated, the mixture should start to bubble up.

  3. Next start mixing in the flour. Don’t add all the flour at once, each flour is different and can yield different results at different quantities. After about 1 and half cups add 1 tsp of salt, get your hands in, mix, adding more flour until you get soft pliable dough, not dry or stiff. You are making a basic bread dough.

  4. Invert the dough on a floured surface and knead for at least 5 min until you get a smooth ball of dough. Add more flour if dough is sticking to your surface too much.

  5. Rub a little bit of olive oil all over your ball of dough, place in a large bowl, cover with cling film and let rest in a warm place for about 1 hr or until it has doubled in size.

  6. Preheat your oven to 200C.

  7. While your dough is rising, peel your sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch dice, place in a roasting dish lined with some baking paper. Add 1/2 Tbs of olive oil making sure all pieces are coated. Roast in a the oven for about 25 min or until the potatoes are cooked through and  caramelized along the edges.

  8. In a large frying pan, heat another half a Tbs of olive oil. Add the onion and cook for about 5 min or until soft. 

  9. Add the garlic in and cook for further minute.

  10. Cut the mushrooms into 1 cm pieces and add to the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 min or until mushrooms are soft. Don’t forget to season everything.

  11.  Next add in the spinach, cook until it is just wilted (about 1 min). 

  12. Place the vegetables into a bowl together with the roasted sweet potatoes. 

  13. Mix all the vegetables together, breaking some of the potatoes as you go. Season with plenty of pepper. Set aside.

  14.  When your dough has risen, invert it onto a floured surface and knead for about 2 min.

  15. Divide the dough into 4 (this makes large, calzone size pasties) or 8 pieces (for smaller pasties - perfect for picnic).

  16. Make sure to divide your vegetable mixture accordingly. 

  17. Roll each piece of the dough into a large circle (the dough should be quite thin, think pizza), place the filling on one half of the circle leaving about 1/2inch border. Fold the other half over trying not to make any holes. Press the edges down with a fork.

  18. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the pasties on top. Bake for about 25 minutes in a 200C oven or till the pasties are lightly brown and sound hollow when you tap on the pastry.

  19.  Enjoy!



IMG_0061

0 Comments

MORE FRUIT AND VEG, Part one:Smoothies and Juices - BEETROOT AND SPRING GREEN SMOOTHIE

MORE FRUIT AND VEG
Part One: Smoothies and juices
BEETROOT AND SPRING GREEN SMOOTHIE

Sad sad numbers, only 1 in 5 people in UK get their 5-a-day! The latest polls have shown that here, in the UK, people are still not getting the recommended minimum. Have a look at the article that was published on BBC website today. It is a rather depressing read.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18032209

We all know that 5-a-day is not enough we should be getting closer or rather above 10. Daunting? I don’t thinks so. If you do little bit of planning ahead it is very easy. I find that a rough meal plan helps, being stocked up with great produce and having plenty of yummy recipes.

Making healthy juices and smoothies can easily become a daily routine. Juicing takes a while, so a bit more planning needs to be in place, getting up half an hour may seem a bit difficult for most people but it is well worth it. Juices are a fantastic way to start a day. They are refreshing, cleansing, wake you up and energise you for the day. Juicing removes the fibre but you do get all the minerals and vitamins. To make the best out of your juices add plenty of green veggies like kale, spinach, celery or cucumber.

Smoothies are much quicker, they can easily be a meal replacer, they do fill you up. I find them the easiest tool for getting kids eat (or rather drink) their fruit and veg. My daughter won’t touch pineapple, papaya, spring greens, avocado, cabbage.... but she will happily drink them in a smoothie. We always play: ”guess what’s in the smoothie today” game. Lots of great healthy things can be added to your smoothie: linseeds, macca powder, goji berries, hemp seeds, nut milks....You can easily get your 5-a-day in a large glass of smoothie.

In my opinion you should drink your juice or smoothie as soon as you make them ( I am talking within 15 min) as they do start loosing their vitamins rather quickly due to oxidasation. There are different opinions whether to keep juices or smoothies, but form my experience they always taste and look their best when made fresh. If you do want to keep any for later, fill up a glass jar all the way to the top and secure with a lid, the least contact with the air the better.

Here is the smoothie I made today for my midday snack:


beetrootsmoothie

BEETROOT AND SPRING GREEN SMOOTHIE

If you don’t have a high speed blender you may have to chop the beetroot and orange into smaller pieces. The flavour the macca root gives this smoothie reminds me of vanilla. You could think you are having a dessert.

Makes 2 large smoothies

ingredients
1 small raw beetroot
couple handfuls of spring greens (collards)
2 handfuls of red grapes
1 orange
1 cup of coconut water (or plain water)
1 Tbs ground flax seeds
1 tsp macca root powder (optional)
1 small piece of ginger (about 0.5cm slice)
handful of ice cubes

method
  1. First scrub the beetroot clean and cut of the root end. You can peel it, I kept the skin on.
  2. Remove the hard stems of the spring greens, and tear them into pieces. I had 2 massive leaves.
  3. Peel the orange but keep the white pith on. I use a swivel peeler to do this, only works on fresh oranges.
  4. Put all your ingredients into your blender and process until smooth.
  5. Add more water if the smoothie is too thick.

0 Comments

CZECH STYLE CABBAGE AND APPLE SALAD

CZECH STYLE CABBAGE AND APPLE SALAD

There is something very exciting about eating seasonal produce. It is so exciting to get first asparagus, spring/summer greens (collards) or green pointy cabbage (also known as hispi). I have grown up eating lots of cabbage, mostly braised sweet and sour style, or fermented (sauerkraut) but than Czech restaurants came up with the idea of serving cabbage salads as a side to pretty much anything. Cost effective but very delicious. I am not sure how this craze started but these salads spread like garden weeds, even now lots of Czech restaurants will adorn your plate with one or two different cabbage salads. Usually one is made with white cabbage the other one with red.

I have always wanted to recreate a good cabbage salad and finally cracked it. The sweet and crisp cabbage, juicy apple, spring onion for a bite. Simple yet tasty, quite frankly you can’t go wrong with cabbage/apple combo. The best thing is this salad is even better the next day, the cabbage collapses a little, soaks up the dressing. I find myself a new favourite.

The key is to slice the cabbage finely, I used a sharp knife because I wanted nice long pieces. Food processor with slicing (not shredding ) attachment will do the job. The apples were professionally cut by my son. I sliced them into thin discs and he proceeded in cutting them into matchsticks. If you have a hard time finding the pointy (hispi) cabbage use regular white cabbage or even red cabbage, they will work great in this salad.
applecabbagesalads

CZECH STYLE CABBAGE AND APPLE SALAD
This salad will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.

Serves 4-6 as a side salad or a part of a buffet style meal

ingredients
220g (1/2lb) spring pointy (hispi) cabbage, thinly shredded
2 juicy eating apples, cut into thin matchsticks
2 spring onions, white parts only, finely chopped
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs sweet freedom syrup (or agave)
salt

method
Just mix all ingredients together, let sit for at least half an hour. Serve.

0 Comments

RAW BANANA AND BRAZIL NUT COOKIES

RAW BANANA AND BRAZIL NUT COOKIES

Weight Watchers are coming to our high street. With shops in the USA, Australia and China, we shouldn’t be surprised that UK, the fattest nation in Europe, would be next. Honestly I really want to like this idea, having accessible shops for anyone to pop in for a one to one consultation, get weighed, be advised, buy their low calorie lunch. I am not sure how much WW will charge but they are a multi-billion business so I am sure sound financial forecasts are in place to make this a monetary success.

We all know if you eat less and move more weight loss should follow. It is not a rocket science. Last September a study came out claiming that weigh-loss courses such as Weight Watchers were more effective than the national standard care weight loss. Sounds good right? The participants who took part in a year long study were either assigned WW program or the standard care weight loss program. Those on WW lost on average 5.06kg as opposed to the 2.25kg on standard care.

Any weight loss is a good thing, however to me 5.06kg in a year is a rather small number, especially if you have a lot of weight to loose. At the raw food seminar I met a man in his 60’s who lost about 20lb in 4 months of his raw food journey and he is feeling fantastic. Plant based diets (raw or not) have a great record in helping people loose weight without feeling hungry whilst ensuring superior nutrition.

There are many people who loose loads of weight on programs like WW and that is a good thing. The one element that really worries me is the low fat meals that Weight Watchers are selling. They may be low calorie low fat but far from healthy. They may remove the fat but add lots of other stuff (I so want to say c..p) that in no way should be part of a healthy diet. Here I present to you Heinz Weight Watchers Banoffee Dessert:

Water, Toffee Sauce (12%, Glucose Syrup, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Dextrose, Condensed Skimmed Milk, Invert Sugar, Water, Butter, Stabiliser - Pectin, Emulsifier - Polysorbate 60, Flavouring), Sugar, Skimmed Milk Powder, Banana Puree (6%), Wheat Flour, Glucose Powder, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Vegetable Oil, Inulin, Whey Powder, Brown Sugar, Curls (1%, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Whey Powder, Cocoa Mass, Emulsifier - Soya Lecithin, Flavouring, Colour - Paprika Extract), White Chocolate (1%, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Whey Powder, Milk Sugar, Emulsifier - Soya Lecithin, Flavouring), Pork Gelatine, Stabilisers - Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Sodium Alginate, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Dextrose, Sorbitol Syrup, Egg Powder, Fructose Syrup, Barley Starch, Modified Potato Starch, Egg Albumen, Caramelised Sugar Syrup, Flavourings, Dried Glucose Syrup, Colours - Curcumin, Paprika Extract.

Do you really want to eat that??? Or how about some of my raw banana cookies minus the added rubbish.

RAW BANANA AND BRAZIL NUT COOKIES
I have used my dehydrator to make the cookies, if you don’t have one you can use your fan oven, turn it to the lowest setting, keep the door open and bake for about 2 hrs, just keep checking on them. These cookies will not be classed RAW but still delicious.

To make the orange powder: Peel an orange using a swivel peeler, taking only the zest off, none of the white piths. Dehydrate at about 125F for about 2-3 hrs until dried enough to make a powder easily. Store in an airtight container. You can also use fresh orange peel in the cookies or replace with dried ginger.

Makes 14

brazilcookies2

ingredients
130g (1 cup) Brazil nuts
60g (1/2 cup) raisins
1 tsp orange powder (or 1 tsp dried ginger)
2 medium bananas
1 Tbs sweet freedom syrup (or agave)

method
  1. Place the Brazil nuts in a small bowl of a food processor. Process till quite fine with some bigger pieces for nutty texture.
  2. Add raisins, orange powder, bananas and agave to the food processor.
  3. Process till the mixture starts coming together.
  4. Using a American tablespoon measure, place mounds of mixture on top of a dehydrator Teflex sheet.
  5. Dehydrate for 1 hr at 145F.
  6. Turn the dehydrator to 125F and dehydrate for further 3-4 hrs. Turn the cookies over and place on a dehydrator sheet without the Teflex sheet after 1 hr.
  7. The cookies are done when they feel quite dry on both sides. They will still be moist inside, if you want crunchier cookies dehydrate for another hour.

0 Comments

RAW FREEDOM

RAW FREEDOM

There is no doubt that eating as nature intended is good for us. We all know that including more fruit and veggies in our diet is the key to good health. Eating the majority your fruit and veggies raw can further amplify their magic health giving powers. I have been trying to incorporate more raw foods into my daily menus. I love green smoothies and raw desserts, make my raw crackers, but I still wanted to know more. The obvious solution? A raw food seminar!

Saskia (Raw Freedom, the wonderful raw food coach) runs her classes from her house. Not only you will find out about why and how to eat raw, you will also have plenty to taste. Wonderful raw lunch is included and rest assure she makes sure you leave with a tummy full of delicious raw goodness. I wanted inspiration and that is what I got. As you may know I already use cashews to make creamy cheesy sauces, but having raw courgette “pasta” with it was a new discovery ( I need to invest in a spiraliser). All the food was amazing from the guacamole mushrooms to the zingy purple salad. And if you think that you will lose out on your favourites when eating raw there was a cheesy tart and 4 different amazing raw ice-creams.

The best thing about Saskia was her infectious enthusiasm for raw food and her enviable vitality. She is not trying to persuade anyone to become 100% raw, that would be daunting, she inspires you to have a go and discover what raw food can do for you (less wrinkles anyone?). If you need a bigger push and support she offers one to one coaching, which is tailored to your individual needs.

I have several raw cookbooks and when I look at the recipes they seem very daunting. Long lists of ingredients, some of which are extremely difficult to find in my immediate area and too many steps to get through. I love my cooking but those kind of recipes make me give up before I start. Saskia’s recipes are nothing like that, they are easy and very doable. I left very inspired, raw chocolate ice-cream in the freezer, I feel poised to embark on the quest of including more interesting raw foods in my family’s diet.

To get inspired and well fed check out Saskia’s website, go to her next seminar or book one to one coaching. I am sure you will feel amazing.

http://www.rawfreedom.co.uk/#

To inspire you even further here is a couple of Saskia’s recipes (with her permission) that I just had to make for my family today.

Saskia's-fruit

GINGER & MINT FRUIT SALAD WITH CASHEW CREAM

Saskia presented this as a special treat for breakfast, I think it would make a perfect dinner party dessert!

Serves 1

Make a delicious fruit salad for one from a selection of the following fruit:
banana, papaya, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, mango, grapes, nectarine, dates, pineapple, orange, apple, plums...

Add:
4 mint leaves, chopped
1/4 inch ginger, finely chopped or grated

cream
handful of cashew nuts
1 orange, juiced
2 Medjool dates

Blend the nuts with the orange juice and dates, adding water if necessary to get the right consistency. Pour over you fruit salad and indulge.

Saskia's-soup


SPINACH SOUP

Watch Saskia making this recipe on her website.

Makes 1 large or 2 small bowls of soup

3 handfuls young spinach
1 avocado
1 spring onion, white part only
1 cm ginger
1/2 tsp mineral salt (pink Himalayan salt)
1/2 water

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

To make the soup warm, use 1/4 pint boiling water mixing with 1/4 pint cold water to make the 1/2 pint water in the recipe.
0 Comments

CARROT, DATE AND TAMARIND CHUTNEY

CARROT, DATE AND TAMARIND CHUTNEY

I have a confession to make, two days ago I slipped, I succumbed to the lure of a very evil Danish. I could blame it on my friend who encouraged me with: “Go on have one”, but I only have myself to blame. If it was the best Danish I ever had I could forgive myself bit more easily. I hated it, it tasted greasy, too sweet and left me feeling disappointed and guilty.

Is this what having a fling with an ex-boyfriend feels like? You know the guy who treated you bad and somehow you succumb to his charm and it turns out he still is a jerk only to make you feel even worse. No I have never had a fling with an ex or an emotional attachment to Danishes or other pastries but I have realised that some things are best left in the past.

Many vegetarians have returned to eating meat after having
the one alluring bacon sandwich (never my thing). Derailments happen but that doesn’t mean you have to throw away all your hard work. Just live and learn, and forgive yourself. I learned that the Danish didn’t taste the way I thought it would. As I said in one of my blogs before, things you used to eat start tasting too sweet, greasy, heavy and rich after you change your diet for the better. That is a good thing, because it is likely to mean that you will start craving healthy vibrant food that will leave you feeling great.

If you need something sweet there are always dates. In my today’s recipe I used them as a sweetener in a quick chutney (meaning no jars, storing and maturing...). Believe me it is perfect with many things. Imagine falafels in a pitta bread, veggie burger, sausages, in a wrap with cauliflower and potato curry, maybe even just on its own or in a hummus sandwich. The possibilities are endless.

carrotchutney

CARROT, DATE AND TAMARIND CHUTNEY

ingredients
2 very large carrots (roughly 250g, about 9oz), grated
2 tsp grated ginger
4 Medjol dates, stones removed and chopped
1 tsp prepared tamarind paste
1 Scotch bonnet pepper (habanero), left whole, pierced with a knife
2/3 cups fresh apple juice (shop bought not from concentrate is fine)
2/3 cups water
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1 Tbs sweet freedom syrup (or agave, maple syrup)
handful of raisins

method
  1. In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients except the raisins.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45min. Remove the scotch bonnet pepper after half and hour. (Leave it in if you want a spicier chutney.)
  3. Add the raisins and simmer for further 15 min until the carrots are soft, dates have melted into the chutney and pretty much all the liquid is gone.
  4. Keep the chutney in a fridge for a few days.
0 Comments