Apricots

QUICK CHICKPEA TAGINE

QUICK CHICKPEA TAGINE

During my 100% raw food week I used half a bottle of olive oil, a whole cup, and about 3/4 cup coconut oil. Not something I would normally do. I am back to my low oil lifestyle now.

Last Sunday I had a sample of some lovely food from an Alkalising diet my friend is following and today another friend brought me some lemon and coconut muffins from her Ayurvedic diet. All very delicious! Yum yum! Aren’t friends who feed you the best kind?

Remember me saying I was fed up with salads last Friday? Well, it didn’t last that long. But having some cooked food has been lovely too. Especially pulses. That was one thing I really missed. I know you can have sprouted pulses on raw food diet but I just don’t like them... Sprouted seeds are yum but not sprouted chickpeas, they are not my cup of tea...

Inspired by my lunch at the Wheelwright Inn last weekend I decided to make a quick chickpea tagine for dinner tonight. Warming spices, veggies, chickpeas, tomatoes that were not getting any younger and of course some couscous. Perfect meal for this sudden change of weather. Yesterday we were enjoying gorgeous sunshine and today rain, rain and more rain. It is supposed to rain tomorrow again, I am glad to have some tagine leftovers waiting for me.

quick-chickpea-tagine

QUICK CHICKPEA TAGINE

Serves 4

ingredients
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbs tomato puree (paste)
4 tomatoes, chopped (skinned if you prefer)
2 courgettes (zucchini), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pepper (I had green), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 dried apricots, halved
1 tsp date syrup
1 tin chickpeas, drained
2 tbs parsley or coriander, chopped
1 cup of couscous

method
  1. In a large lidded saute pan heat 60ml (1/4cup) water, add the onion and garlic and saute till soft. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick.
  2. Next add the spices and tomato puree, cook for half a minute and add the tomatoes. Add some water if the mixture is starting to stick.
  3. When the tomatoes start to break down add the courgettes, peppers, apricots, date syrup and chickpeas. Add 250ml (1 cup) of water.
  4. Cook gently for 20 minutes or until the sauce is rich and thickens.
  5. Prepare the couscous. 1 cup of couscous, 1 and 1/2 cup just boiled water (or vegetable stock), cover with cling film and let sit for 5 min.
  6. Serve the tagine with couscous garnished with chopped parsley or coriander.


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KALE KOFTAS WITH SPICED TOMATO SAUCE

KALE KOFTAS WITH SPICED TOMATO SAUCE

As a parent I have an incredible urge to protect my children from all the bad things that happen it the world. On the other hand I do believe that knowledge is power. Macmillan Cancer Support have conducted a survey of 500 children aged 9-16 to find how much they knew about cancer. They found out that children in the UK are lacking cancer knowledge, for example 97% didn’t know that sunburn causes cancer, and a small number (4%) believe that a person can contract cancer from another person.

This made me conduct a survey of my own. My kids know quite a lot, they are aware that alcohol, smoking, high red meat consumption, sunburn and also obesity increase chances of contracting cancer. They can explain that cancer is caused by rogue cells dividing uncontrollably. They can also name several vegetables that offer the best protection against cancer. My son said concluded: “Of course we know quite a bit, we live with you!”

Unfortunately it is not only me sharing my acquired knowledge that makes them more informed than the average, sadly their Grandad died from cancer last summer. They, like many children today, have experienced the impact cancer can have on a person’s life. Not only children but most adults find cancer extremely frightening, but knowing what lifestyle changes can reduce our risk of getting this disease can be empowering.

You couldn’t do better than adding the fantastic kale to your diet. Kale contains isothiocyanates which induce cancer destroying enzymes and inhibitors of carcinogenesis. Unfortunately these amazing facts don’t necessarily mean kids are going to love the rather acquired taste of this green leafy vegetable. Made into koftas, however, kale is transformed into a child friendly meal. Lycopene rich spiced tomato sauce complements these koftas perfectly, enhancing the anticancer properties of this dish even further.

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KALE KOFTAS WITH SPICED TOMATO AND APRICOT SAUCE

Can be oil free.

Serves 4

ingredients

Kale Koftas
200g (1/2lb) shredded kale (tough stalks removed)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
50g (1/2cup) walnuts
60g (1/2cup) cashews
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs tahini sauce
2 Tbs gram flour
(you will need 8 skewers)

Spiced Tomato and Apricot Sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Tbs tomato puree
1 Medjol date, chopped
8 dried apricots, quartered
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tins of tomatoes

kalekoftas


method
  1. First make the koftas.
  2. If using bamboo skewers make sure you soak them in water for half an hour.
  3. Steam the kale for 5 min or until wilted. Cool the kale down.
  4. In a small frying pan heat the 2 teaspoons of oil and gently fry the onions until well caramelized. (You can saute the onions in water for oil free version, they will not get caramelized the same way though)
  5. In a food processor combine the kale, onion, garlic, walnuts, cashews, spices, lemon juice, tahini and gram flour. Process till all well combined with some texture still remaining.(I prefer to pulse the mixture so I can keep an eye on it)
  6. Divide the mixture into 8. Mold each mound of the mixture around a skewer into a kofta shape. Place onto a aluminium foil lined baking tray. Chill in a fridge for half an hour.
  7. While the koftas are resting start on your sauce.
  8. In a medium sauce pan heat 60ml (1/4cup) water and add the onions and garlic. Cook until tender.
  9. Next add the tomato puree and cook for about a minute.
  10. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer gently till ready to serve.
  11. Preheat the grill (broiler) and cook the koftas for about 3 minutes on each side.
  12. If you prefer a smooth sauce blend it in a blender.
  13. Serve the koftas (they slip of the skewer easily) with the sauce alongside some veggies and couscous.


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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.

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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.
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ENERGY BARS

ENERGY BARS

“Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates

Medical doctors are amazing, the knowledge they have to learn and retain (!), the responsibility they carry on their shoulders is immense. There is however a room for improvement. Dr Dean Ornish emphasised in one of his TED talks that you can’t only mop the floor, you also have to fix the tap. Don’t only treat symptoms, treat the cause.

Recently I watched my friend L struggling with her baby’s eczema, her son (born last September) was waking at night trying to scratch the itchy red skin, clearly suffering. She was at a breaking point, no mother wants to see their child in discomfort. Naturally she visited her GP and a dermatologist. Unfortunately their approach was using topical creams (not even emollient) and if those would not bring much relief, he was to be put on glucocorticoids. Rather scary prospect for a baby.

My friend decided to contact a naturopathic eczema specialist. Since she is breastfeeding her son, she was prescribed an exclusion diet. It is a big change, she isn’t even allowed her beloved green tea at the moment, but her baby boy’s skin is clearing up. Next step will be reintroducing foods to find the triggers. What a fantastic news! I wish her doctor was able to recommend a similar approach, it has no side effects! Actually it does, my friend feels great! she told me this way of eating is making her feel “light”. And of course there is not better feeling than seeing her beautiful son’s eczema on the retreat.

ENERGY BARS

This is perfect for “grab and go” breakfast or just a quick energy boosting snack. If you want to make this completely refined sugar free, skip the chocolate chips.
Makes 10 bars


energybars2


Ingredients
1 Tbs ground flax seeds
150g (1 and 3/4 cups) oats
50g (1/2 cup) pecans, chopped
80g (1/2 cup) dried apricots, chopped roughly into quarters
30g (1/4 cup) sunflower seeds
35g (1/4 cup) raisins
2 small bananas mashed, makes about 125ml (1/2cup)
1 Tbs date syrup
1/2 dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)

method
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. First in a small bowl add 60ml (1/4 cup) of water to the flax seeds, let stand while preparing the rest of ingredients. The mixture will become viscous somewhat reminiscent of an egg.
  3. Mix together the oats, pecans, apricots, sunflower seeds and raisins.
  4. Add the mashed bananas, date syrup and flax seed mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Line a 10x6 inch (15x25cm) baking dish with a greaseproof paper. I used a drop of water under each corner to keep it in place.
  6. Put all the mixture into your baking dish, press down firmly.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 min or until the top starts to turn golden brown.
  8. Let cool and cut into bars.



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MOROCCAN INSPIRED TAGINE OF WINTER VEGETABLES AND DRIED FRUITS



After extremely warm December the winter has finally arrived, temperatures dropped, grass has a lovely frosty hue shimmering in the wintery sunshine. It is absolutely gorgeous ! Weather like this is perfect for something warming, comforting, something that will fill your house up with irresistible aroma. What can be better than winter veggies, warming spices, rich sauce slowly simmering on the stove...I am using up some of my dried fruit stash, chickpeas (again), the other half of squash leftover from making the hummus and lots of different spices from my spice cupboard. It may not be North African weather here, but the gorgeous smells sure do evoke a Moroccan souk.

tagine

MOROCCAN INSPIRED TAGINE OF WINTER VEGETABLES AND DRIED FRUITS

The quantities of individual vegetables depend on what is in your veg drawer, my butternut squash made about half of the mix, purely because I wanted the use it all up. This dish will freeze and reheat well. You can use mild or hot paprika whatever you prefer, I went for the mild version making the dish more kid friendly. Preferably do not use smoked paprika for this dish.

Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice mix, each mix is slightly different as traditionally this is a special mix from each individual spice shop. I love mine to contain rose buds to lend the dish lovely but not overpowering fragrance.If you cant find ras el hanout, use any Moroccan spice mix or omit all together.

When preparing parsnips it is a good idea to cut out the middle core.

Serves 4 hungry people

ingredients
900g mix of carrot, parsnip and butternut squash, cut into large chunks, about 11/2 inches (4cm)
1 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika (sweet or hot)
2 tsp ras el hanout or moroccan spice mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 heaped Tbs tomato paste
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of chickpeas
100g dried apricots
100g dried prunes
2 Tbs honey or dark agave syrup
2 1/2 c (725ml) vegetable stock
1 cup of barley couscous

method
  1. In a large pan on medium heat saute the onions in the olive oil till soft about 10min. Add the garlic and cook for further 1 min.
  2. Add all your spices, stir into the onions. Tumble in all your vegetables and quickly stir in to coat with the spices.
  3. Next add the tomato paste, let the cook about 30sec before adding the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, dried fruits, agave (or honey) and the vegetable stock.
  4. Bring to boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for about 1 hour, or till all the vegetables are tender and sauce is thick and rich. Season with salt if needed.
  5. Cook the couscous according to package instructions.
  6. Serve the tagine with couscous.

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