gluten free

GLUTEN FREE VEGAN PANCAKES X2

GLUTEN FREE VEGAN PANCAKES X2

Most days I am too busy to make a special breakfast for kids but I do make up for it in the weekend. They both love pancakes and don’t even notice that I am using gluten free flour to make them. There is always the obligatory maple syrup but also various fruit. The favourites are bananas, strawberries and blueberries.

Recently I created two recipes for pancakes. One was made out of the necessity to use up two large overripe bananas. The two recipes differ in texture. The banana pancake is softer and fluffier. The other has a bit more firm texture and will work wonderfully with blueberries added to the batter. Unlike the banana ones the batter can be made en evening in advance ready for the morning. The banana batter would go unappetising grey colour…

They make a lovely quick dessert too. You can serve them with caramelised bananas deglazed with rum for a grown up flavour. Or with a chocolate syrup and some vegan vanilla ice cream.

My kids liked both versions. I don’t think they had a firm favourite and since my daughter hates bananas with a passion I may be making the banana ones bit more often. PS: Mother in law tested too :)

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GLUTEN FREE VEGAN PANCAKES

ingredients
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup gluten free flour (I used Dove’s organics)
2 tsp gluten free baking powder (I used Dove’s)
1 flax egg
1 and 3/4 cup non dairy milk ( I used almond)
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs of coconut oil for frying

method
  • First prepare the flax egg by combining 1 tbs of ground flax and 3 tbs of water. Let sit for 5 min to form a gel like texture.
  • Combine the two flours and baking powder, mix together.
  • Add the milk, flax egg and maple syrup.
  • In a large non-stick (I use Green Pan) heat up tsp of the coconut oil.
  • Drop large tablespoons of batter in the oil. Turn when bubbles start to form on surface.
  • Repeat with rest of the batter, adding a little of bit of the coconut oil when needed.

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GLUTEN FREE VEGAN BANANA PANCAKES

ingredients
2 large overripe bananas
1 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 cup almond milk
1 tbs coconut oil for frying

  • Mash the bananas well.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
  • In a large non-stick (I use Green Pan) heat up tsp of the coconut oil.
  • Drop large tablespoons of batter in the oil. Turn when bubbles start to form on surface.
  • Repeat with rest of the batter, adding a little of bit of the coconut oil when needed.

the banana ones
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POTATO AND COURGETTE FRITTERS

POTATO AND COURGETTE FRITTERS


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This is my take on the very popular potato and courgette fritters. The recipe is close to my heart, based on the very traditional potato “pancakes” that my grandmother used to make. She would make stacks of them, sometimes using 5 kg of potatoes in one go. I still remember the endless grating (we did it by hand as using food processor would result in coarser texture)…. She used to fry them in a rather awful hydrogenated fat. But they did taste delicious. We ate them without anything, just stacks and stacks of potato pancakes. Delicious!!!

Courgette fritters is what I always order at The Terrace Cafe in Seaton, Devon. As I don’t do a lot of frying these days this is a real treat. Adding courgettes to the potato makes the pancakes more fragile and they will more likely fall apart. To prevent this you must squeeze as much water out of the courgette and potato mix. Use floury potatoes they will have more starch to help them stick together. You may have to add more buckwheat flour if the mixture looks too wet. Make sure you cook them as soon as you make the mix, leaving it stand will make the mixture wet again.

Enjoy with a lovely green salad, maybe a bit of sweet chilli sauce if you wish and a scoop of hummus on the side to make it a complete meal. They do taste delicious at room temperature making them perfect picnic food or take to work lunch.


beautiful mint from my garden
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POTATO AND COURGETTE FRITTERS
Makes 10 fritters (serves 2 -3 with a salad, or 6 as a part of mezze)

2 medium courgettes
2 large potatoes (about 600g)
Flax egg (1 tbs ground flax + 3 Tbs water)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tbs of fresh mint leaves
2 Tbs of fresh chives
1/4 cup (30g) buckwheat flour, or more if needed
salt and pepper to taste
Rice bran oil or coconut oil for frying

mixture before adding the flax egg and buckwheat flour
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  • Make the flax egg by mixing the flax seed and water. Let sit at least 5 min or till it becomes thick and gloopy.
  • Finely grate the courgette and potato. Place in a tea towel in squeeze all excess water.
  • Chop the mint and chives finely and add to the potato and courgette mix together with the flax egg and buckwheat flour. You may need to add more buckwheat flour if the mixture is too wet.
  • In a non stick pan (I use Green Pans) heat tiny bit of oil. Place about 1/2 cup of mixture into the oil, flatten and shape into a fritter. Cook on a medium heat till golden brown on both sides and cooked through.
  • Serve with a salad.

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SPICY CARROT SOUP

SPICY CARROT SOUP

Most of my lunches start by opening the fridge and the pantry in hope I will get inspired. Rarely I have a plan. My only aim is tasty quick nutritious food. This method is not dissimilar to cooking lunches with my great grandma during summer holidays when I was a child. We would go into the garden, pick fresh veggies and herbs, sometimes we picked mushrooms from the nearby woods and make a lunch. Every day we had a vegetable soup to start with. These days I am not picking my vegetables fresh from my garden ( I wish I could) but the process is still the same.

Today I had far too many sad looking carrots hanging around. Therefore making carrot soup seemed like a good idea. In my opinion a good carrot soup needs some spice or it will taste too much like cooked carrots. I know this may sound a bit strange but cooked carrots bring back rather unpleasant memory or primary school when I was forced to eat overcooked carrots for school lunch with disastrous results….Adding ginger, garlic and chilli allows me to enjoy the benefits of cooked carrots without the bad memories.

When it comes to carrots I prefer eating them raw. We are not however very good at chewing them efficiently enough to break down the cell walls to receive the maximum benefit from beta carotene. Cooking carrots makes beta carotene more available to the body. The conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A (preformed only available from animal products) is more efficient with a bit of fat added. Therefore adding the teaspoon of coconut oil as suggested in the recipe may aid this process. Alternatively you could sprinkle the soup with some hemp seeds before serving.
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SPICY CARROT SOUP
Oil free if coconut oil not used.

1tsp coconut oil or 60 mil (1/4 cup) water
1 onion
1 tbs minced ginger
2 large cloves of garlic
1 chilli pepper
5 medium to large carrots, sliced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
2 medium tomatoes,
1 litre, (4 cups) light vegetable stock
Coriander (cilantro) leaves for garnish

  • In a medium size saucepan heat the coconut oil or water, add onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and cook gently for 5 minutes.
  • Next add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 30minutes.
  • Blend with a stick blender or in a stand up blender.
  • Garnish with some fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves. Enjoy.



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NHS, BREASTFEEDING AND LIFESTYLE DISEASE COSTS / RECIPE: ROOT VEGETABLE AND LENTIL BAKE

NHS, BREASTFEEDING AND LIFESTYLE DISEASE COSTS / RECIPE: ROOT VEGETABLE AND LENTIL BAKE

Last Friday, NHS announced, that £40million could be save if mothers would breastfeed their babies for longer. This is based on the reduction cost of treatment of conditions such as middle ear infection, gastroenteritis or lower respiratory infections, and necrotising enterocolitis. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing the above conditions. Of course there are many other benefits of breastfeeding and I whole heartedly support any initiative that would help mothers to successfully breastfeed their babies for longer. Investing into breastfeeding coaches that will have a calm and patient approach as opposed to overstretched midwives would be a great start.

Judging from comments on this article this news has not been received very well by a lot of mums. The most vocal are the mums who wanted to breastfeed, tried their best but for variety of reasons were not successful. They feel attacked. A lot of them already blame themselves for this “failure” and don’t need to be told they might be responsible for NHS loosing vast amounts of money. Motherhood can play with our minds, we tend to blame ourselves for any shortcomings, we think we are not good enough at this mum thing….I still blame myself for not breastfeeding my daughter as long as I did my son (by couple of months….). Or for weaning my son a bit too early (on advice of a health visitor and guidelines at that particular time).

No surprise mums are angry especially when we compare the £40million loss to other NHS statistics. In 2007 the estimated cost of the treatment of overweight and obesity related conditions in England (only) was £4.2 billion, the indirect cost (such as reduced productivity) was estimated between £2.6 billion and £15.6billion. A 2013 Telegraph article noted the cost of diseases caused by poor diet and sedentary lifestyle was more than £6billion. The cost of treatment of alcohol related harm in 2010-11 in England was £3.5billion a year. And finally the cost to the NHS in England of treating diseases caused by smoking in 2014 was £2 billion. These are pretty hefty sums for conditions we could and should prevent. In my view that’s where the real focus needs to be.

http://www.noo.org.uk/NOO_about_obesity/economics
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/12December/Pages/More-breastfeeding-would-save-NHS-millions.aspx
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/laura-donnelly/10174593/Obesity-bankrupting-the-NHS-warns-peer.html
http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_121.pdf
http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/alcohol2012-13.pdf


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ROOT VEGETABLE AND LENTIL BAKE
This is a very autumnal root vegetable bake, you can alter the flavour by choosing your favourite seasoning mix such as curry, Moroccon mix or Cajun.

1 cup (200g) red lentils
2 bay leaves
2 medium parsnips
2 large carrots
1 large red pepper
oil spray (optional)
2 leeks
1/4c (60ml) water
2 tbs Hungarian spice mix (or any other spice mix)
1 tbs tahini
1/2 cup (60g) ground almonds
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Cook the lentils in 3 cups (750ml) water with the bay leaves for 15 min or till soft. Drain and set aside.
  • Cut the parsnips, carrots and red pepper into bite size chunks, tip into a roasting dish, lightly spray with oil (I use rice bran) and roast in 200C oven for 40min or till soft and caramelized. Stir half way through.
  • Slice and wash the leeks, saute in 1/4 cup (60 ml) together with seasoning mix till softened.
  • Place the roasted vegetabels and seasoned leeks into a food processor and pulse till combined, well chopped but not too mushy. Place into a large bowl.
  • Add the lentils, tahini and almonds to the vegetables. Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spread into a square baking dish and bake at 180C till golden brown on top.
  • Serve with gravy or cranberry sauce.
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BANANA DATE PECAN PUDDING SQUARES

BANANA DATE PECAN PUDDING SQUARES

Overripe bananas in the fruit bowl mean only one thing: cake time!!! As my kids both don’t like bananas (other than in a smoothie) this happens often. I love baking with bananas, they are a great substitute for butter or oil in a recipe and add sweetness without the need for added sugar.

Athletes often snack on bananas, they are a great source of low glycemic carbohydrate. They do however offer more than being an efficient pick me up. As a rich source of potassium they can help lower blood pressure. They also contain plant sterols, theses can block the absorption of dietary cholesterol thus could be helpful in keeping our cholesterol levels healthy. Bananas are a good source of fibre which, of course, helps to regulate our digestion i.e. keeping things moving. FOS (fruictooligosacharides) is another component of bananas, FOS is metabolised by bacteria, helping us keep our friendly microbiome healthy. Interestingly per weight, banana has more vitamin C than a peach! Who knew??!!

My banana date pecan pudding squares have the texture of Jamaican sweet potato pudding (hence the name). If you are looking for a texture of a cake than walk away now. If you like stodgy, you should enjoy these. I will admit that my kids are not keen but I have eating half of it already…No gluten, no refined sugar, no eggs, no oil or dairy. And they will keep moist, can’t tell you how long as they do not seem to last beyond the second day….

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BANANA DATE PECAN PUDDING SQUARES
makes 15 squares

ingredients
1 flax egg (see below)
1 cup dates
1 cup almond milk
3 overripe medium bananas
1 cup gluten free oat flour (I blitzed oats in a blender)
1/2 cup gluten free flour (I used Dove)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

method
  • First, prepare the flax egg by combining 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit till needed.
  • In a blender process the dates and almond milk till fairly smooth (few chunks are ok). If you don’t have a high speed blender you can soften the dates by soaking them in the milk first (at least 30min).
  • In a large bowl mash the bananas, than add the flours, date milk and flax add. Whisk till well combined.
  • Finally stir in the pecans.
  • Pour the batter into a 15cm x 25cm (6 x 12 inch) baking dish that has been lined with a nonstick paper.
  • Bake at 180C for 30 - 35 min to till set.


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CAULIFLOWER TABBOULEH

CAULIFLOWER TABBOULEH

We have had glorious weather last weekend, apparently the UK is warmer than Spain! It was wonderful to be able to have lunch outside in the garden for a change. Yesterday we went to the garden centre and got some seeds and plants for our garden. Red and yellow currants, red and golden raspberries are in the ground, herbs in pots and flower seeds scattered. I hope the plants will survive our rather enthusiastic dog who has been digging holes all over the garden. Fingers crossed.

With the weather warming up there will be more salads and raw dishes appearing on our table. I though I would continue with the cauliflower theme from my last post and use this undervalued vegetable in another raw recipe, a herby cauliflower tabbouleh.

I love Mediterranean mezze (or bits and bobs as my daughter calls it) style eating. Many plates with gorgeous dishes, simple yet very flavoursome. Hummous, salads, olives, flat breads... Tabbouleh made from cauliflower is a perfect dish for a mezze spread. And if you are following a gluten free diet this is the recipe for you.

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CAULIFLOWER TABBOULEH

ingredients
1 small cauliflower
1 large tomato (or 2 if you prefer)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3-4 cups of herbs (parsley, coriander and/or mint)
1 tbs olive oil
juice of 1-2 lemons (depends how lemony you like it)
salt and pepper to season

method
  1. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Place these into a food processor fitted with a blade, and pulse till the cauliflower is chopped small enough, resembling bulgur wheat. Place it a large bowl.
  2. Next finely chopped the tomato, I like to remove the seeds. You can do this in the food processor.
  3. Add the finely chopped onion.
  4. Next chop the herbs, I like to leave some of the herbs in larger pieces. Add to the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.


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SWEET AND SOUR CAULIFLOWER PICKLE

SWEET AND SOUR CAULIFLOWER PICKLE

Cauliflower maybe one of the most underused vegetables around. In the UK it is usually prepared a side dish for a Sunday roast, and almost always smothered with cheese sauce. You may be able to find it in a vegetable curry in an Indian restaurant. Even in the vast number of my cookery books, cauliflower hardly features in 1 or 2 recipes per book.

This is a shame, as cauliflower is such an incredibly nutritious vegetable. This is hardly surprising as it is a close cousin to the more popular broccoli. Cauliflower has been link to cancer prevention, especially bladder, breast, colon, prostate and ovarian. Cauliflower, like all cruciferous vegetables, will boost your liver detoxification process helping to clear excess hormones or toxins out of your body. It contains many antioxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene, querceting, rutin, kaempferol to name a few, these help to reduce oxidative stress. Cauliflower also contains anti-inflammatory nutrients that make it incredibly useful in maintaining our cardiovascular health. Sulphoraphane in cauliflower has been shown to help prevent overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori in your stomach.

I love raw cauliflower, I find myself stealing florets from my fridge for a snack but my very favourite part is inside of the stalk, a treat for the chef. Cauliflower pairs up beautifully with sweet and sour flavours and as I love anything pickled I came up with the following recipe. If you want to it on the day of preparation it will be more a salad, but leave it in the fridge overnight (or even 2 days) and you get a lovely pickled cauliflower, as is soaks up the sweet vinegar dressing.


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SWEET AND SOUR CAULIFLOWER PICKLE

ingredients
1 tbs coconut sugar
3 Tbs cider vinegar
1 half red chilli, finely chopped
2 cups small cauliflower florets
2 small onions
2 small red onions
4-6 large green olives, sliced
2 tbs raisins or sultanas
1 tbs capuchin capers
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbs parsley

method
  1. In a medium size bowl combine the coconut sugar and cider vinegar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add in the finely chopped chilli.
  2. Slice the onions as thinly as you can into rounds. Add to the bowl together with cauliflower, olives, raisins, capers and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Chill for at least couple of hours or up to 2 days. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
  4. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.

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MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP

MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP

My cupboard is always full of spices, that way I can always create a dish with influences from different cuisines. Sometimes I buy pre-mixed concoctions but I do love creating my own blends. They may not be authentic but it is all about the taste.

Last weekend we had a Moroccan feast so perhaps that’s why I reached for Moroccan spices again to make this lentil and spinach soup. It was thick, chunky and filling, just the thing one needs after a long dog walk through mist and fog. I though it could have done with a bit more chilli. Mind you I always have a handy chilli flake grinder or a bottle of chilli sauce within my reach...

This is a great soup for batch cooking, just double the quantities and keep some in the freezer for those “can’t be bother to cook” days. And if you want to shorten the preparation a bit more look out for Moroccan spice mixes such as Ras El Hanout in your spice isle.

I had about a cup of the soup left over for today, due to the lentils it thickened considerably overnight in the fridge. I considered pouring the leftovers over a baked sweet potatoes but had no patience to wait an hour for it to bake... I opted for sauteing some mushrooms, cooked couple handfuls of brown rice pasta and mixed it all together with the leftover soup and few squirts of ketchup. It turned out to be a very yummy lunch for one.


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MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP
Serves 3-4

ingredients
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped into fine dice
1 stick of celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp harrisa paste (depending on how spicy you like your soup)
1 tin of tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) red lentils
3-4 cups of vegetables stocks
100g spinach

method
  1. In a large soup pot heat 1/3cup (60ml ) water (or 1 tbs oil) and saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic till soften, add more water if the vegetables are starting to stick.
  2. Add the spices and cook for about 30seconds.
  3. Next add the harrisa paste and tomatoes and cook for couple of minutes.
  4. Add the lentils and vegetable stock and cook for 20min or until the lentils are soft, nearly falling apart and the soup is thick.
  5. Add the spinach leaves and let them wilt into the soup, this will take about a minute.

Leftover magic
leftover-bolognaise

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BANANA COCONUT FLAPJACKS

BANANA COCONUT FLAPJACKS

Sugar has been getting a lot of bad press lately. And I will say rightly so. We do eat far too much and many of us don’t realize all the hidden sugars in processed foods. However I hate when a banana is being compared with coca cola or fruit smoothie with a glazed doughnut for sugar content.

Unlike cola banana has fibre, potassium, protein, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium,manganeses, folate and it even has a small amount omega fats in the right proportion. And yes a medium banana has 27.5g sugar. One can of cola has 33g of sugar and that’s pretty much it.... I know which one I would choose to eat.

Breast milk tastes sweet and maybe that’s why, from a very young age, we have an affinity for sweet taste. I notice my craving for sweet treats goes up when I am doing intense studying. Around 3pm every college weekend, there are serious calls for chocolate and if you happen to have a bar in your bag you score a lot of points with fellow students.

Last week I spend revising for an exam and even it involved a lot of sitting my need for food went way up. Brain needed fuel. Three overripe bananas in the fruit bowl and half an hour later I had these rather yummy banana coconut flapjacks. Yummy squidgy energy giving bars.

My daughter hates raisins or indeed any dried fruit apart from mango, so I opted for chocolate chips (not that I had to convince myself too much). If you are feeling more virtuous swap them for whatever dried fruit you fancy or just double the amount of nuts.

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BANANA COCONUT FLAPJACKS
Makes 12 bars

ingredients
3 very ripe medium bananas
3 Tbs coconut oil, melted
135g (1 1/2cups) porridge oats (gluten free for a gluten free version)
90g (1cup ) coconut flour
45g (1/2 cups) plain chocolate chips
45g (1/2 cups ) walnut pieces

method
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. First line a 10x6 inch (15x25cm) baking form with baking paper.
  3. In a large bowl mash the bananas. Add in the melted coconut oil, porridge oats and coconut flour. Mix well
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  5. Tip the mixture into your prepared baking form, press down with a spoon and bake for 30min or until golden brown.


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AVOCADO, BANANA AND SPIRULINA SMOOTHIE

AVOCADO, BANANA AND SPIRULINA SMOOTHIE

Admittedly I am not a morning person. I don’t have a trouble waking up, even on weekends I tend to be the first one up leisurely checking up the latest news on my iphone. However I am not an early breakfast person. To be honest on a school day, when I am making kids breakfast, packed lunches and making sure my daughter (who would rather be dancing) gets dressed and brushes her hair and teeth, my breakfast is the last thing on my mind.

That’s why I think breakfast smoothies are so fabulous especially when you are on the run, they get you going and can provide lots of nutrition to start the day. No need to grab a sugary cereal bar, smoothie takes just a minute or two. I usually just chuck in whatever I find in the fridge and freezer. I keep my freezer stocked up. There are lots of frozen berries, mangos and bananas. There is also frozen kale and spinach in case I don’t have any fresh. Of course my fridge is full of fresh veggies and fruit bowl is always stocked up too. Not all my smoothies look and taste great or would look great on a photograph (like those that turned mud brown or unappetising dark grey). There were a few that I drank just because I new there are good for me but took no great pleasure in doing so...

Friday evening our friends came over for a veggie curry feast, we had 4 curries, rice, naan breads, chilli nuts... and my friend (as she always does) bought a few cocktails. Morning after a blow out like that a smoothie is the best way to start the say. I have to say this avocado, banana and spirulina smoothie made with coconut water really hit the spot. Not only it kept me full till lunch but also gave me the energy for some needed revision.

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AVOCADO, BANANA AND SPIRULINA SMOOTHIE
Makes 1 large glass

1 very small avocado (or half a medium one)
1 banana
1 date (optional)
1 heaped tsp organic spirulina (chlorela, or any mixed green powder)
1 cup (or more if needed) of coconut water
handful of ice

1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth, add more coconut water if too thick. Serve immediately.
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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY/ LAYERED RASPBERRY RICE PUDDING

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY/ LAYERED RASPBERRY RICE PUDDING

Valentine’s day. Every recipe blog has a chocolate recipe. Sadly I have none in the house. I KNOW, NO CHOCOLATE!!! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??? At least I have frozen raspberries. Red fruits go with Valentine’s nearly as much as red roses and CHOCOLATE.

I had something tall (a glass), creamy with raspberry ripple in my head. I thought a rice pudding would do nicely. My husband loves rice pudding. However, as I started to layer it, he told me he doesn’t like his rice pudding with fruit... hm I guess this could be bit of a failure, especially since I put apple juice into the cooking liquid. Yes he wasn't impressed. I guess I will have to come up with another Valentine’s recipe for him...

Luckily my son does enjoy fruit with his rice pudding. If he had a tongue like a giraffe he would have licked the glass clean. Therefore if you like fruit with your rice pudding than this is a recipe for you, if not you could make my chocolate pot I made couple years ago.

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LAYERED RASPBERRY RICE PUDDING

ingredients
1/2 cup (100g) arborio rice
1/2 cup apple juice
2 cups almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs coconut nectar sugar

2 cup raspberries, I used frozen
2 tsp coconut sugar
1tbs water

  1. In a medium saucepan combine rice, apple juice, almond milk, vanilla extract and coconut nectar sugar.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30min until the rice is very soft and sauce is thick. Stir occasionally.
  3. To make the raspberry layer in a small sauce pan heat the raspberries with coconut nectar sugar and one tablespoon of water. Cook until the raspberries collapse into a thick chunky sauce (I do like the seeds in but you can strain the sauce).
  4. In a tall glass layer the creamy rice with raspberries, finishing the glass with the raspberry layer.

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KUMQUAT AND RAW CACAO TRUFFLES


KUMQUAT AND RAW CACAO TRUFFLES

Did you know there are videos online explaining how to eat a kumquat? Unlike other citrus fruits kumquats are usually eaten whole with the peel (you should spit out the pips). The inside flesh is rather sour whilst the peel is much sweeter. Eating the whole fruit should balance the flavours together.

These mini “oranges” pack a nutritional punch. From antioxidants like zea-xanthin and lutein to essential oils like limonene or a-bergamotene. Of course they are rich in Vitamin C but also have good levels of B vitamins.

I though they would pair up beautifully with some raw cacao and nuts in yet more truffles. I know I just posted a recipe for very simple basic chocolate truffles but I believe that one can never have enough chocolate recipes.

I have tested these on the family and I am afraid they weren’t too happy about me ruining the chocolate truffles with “orange”. However they were hit with a lot of friends. If you do like the classic orange - chocolate combo this is a recipe for you.

kumquats

KUMQUAT AND RAW CACAO TRUFFLES
Makes 16-18

ingredients
1 cup almonds
2TBS flaxseed, ground
1/2 cup coconut flour
8 kumquats
6-8 Mejdol dates, pitted

method
  1. Using a food processor process the almonds into coarse powder. Add the flaxseed, cacao, coconut flour and pulse to mix.
  2. Quarter the kumquats and remove any pips (there can be quite a few). Put into the food processor with 6 dates.
  3. Process till the mixture comes together, you may need to add extra Medjol dates. You should get a pliable sticky mixture that is easy to roll into truffles.
  4. Make walnut shape truffles, you should get 16-18 pieces.
  5. Refrigerate to firm up the truffles. Enjoy!

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RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

My cookbook library comprises several hundred titles. I will have to estimate (some are still in the garage in boxes since our May house move) but it could be somewhere between 500-600 hundred titles. I love looking through recipes, getting inspired but I am rather bad at actually following recipes. I keep telling myself I should plan better and maybe make couple of recipes a week from one of the many amazing books I own.

Last weekend I picked up
Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen, a book my husband brought for me from San Francisco. I was amazed to find a recipe that I had all the ingredients for. I made Ani’s garden pate and tested in on our friends who were coming for drinks and nibbles. Who would have thought that something made of celery and carrots could taste this good. I added some coriander and splash of tamari, because I simply can’t help myself. This will definitely be a mainstay in my repertoire. Yum!

Ani's Garden pate
Garden-pate

Another dish I made for nibbles were raw chocolate truffles. These were of my own recipe. I admit I have been craving chocolate and these really hit the spot. We made them disappear rather quickly. They are incredibly easy (just 4 ingredients) and have the potential to keep in the fridge for about a week but I doubt they will last more than couple days. I have been commissioned (by my son) to make more -
FAST.

raw-chocolate-truffles

RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
You may need more or less Medjol dates, this depends on their size and moisture. Mine were on the dry side and I had to add a few more than the recipe states. Simply keep adding dates and test if the mixture stick together when pressed.

ingredients
1 cup of almonds
1 cup of walnuts
6-8 Medjol dates, pitted
3 level Tbs of raw cacao powder

method
  1. Using a food processor, process the almonds and walnuts into coarse powder (you want few coarse bits to add texture).
  2. Next add cacao and enough dates to achieve the desired texture. The mixture should be moist and easily pressed together to roll a ball.
  3. Roll balls size of a walnut, you should get about 16-20 truffles out of this mixture.
  4. Refrigerate (this will firm the truffles up) and nibble when you fancy something sweet.

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SPICY BLACK EYED PEA STEW WITH KALE

SPICY BLACK EYED PEA STEW WITH KALE

My friend J is very religious about her kale smoothies, she has been having one every morning for a while now. This is of course a fabulous was to start a day. Last weekend she brought her smoothie to our college. On Sunday she didn’t quite manage to drink it all and by the end of the day it oxidised and resembled a very unpleasant stool sample (sorry - nutritionist joke...). It was a long day so anything to amuse ourselves with...

There is no doubt kale is the queen of vegetables and everyone should be enjoying it if not daily at least weekly. The message is finally getting through, according to an article in the Guardian supermarkets (M&S and Waitrose) are recording increase in sales of the super vegetable. Celebrities and celebrity chefs are finally promoting something worth promoting. Kale is nothing new, apparently it used to be one of the most popular vegetables is Europe before the war. Another thing we can learn from our ancestors.
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/05/celebrity-endorsements-kale-cool

No celebrity chef has to convince me, I love it. But what is the best way to eat your kale? Raw or cooked? I alternate between kale salads, smoothies, chips and cooked kale. Kale possesses immune system boosting properties, cooked or raw. Interestingly a 2011 study has shown that cooked"to death" kale (we are talking boiled for 30min) showed more immunostimulatory effects than the raw. No matter how you like your kale, it will do your body good. I love adding it into most of my vegetable stews, like the black eyed pea one I am sharing today.

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/kale-and-the-immune-system/

SPICY BLACK EYED PEA STEW WITH KALE

Serves 4

ingredients
1 onion, diced
1 celery, sliced thinly
1 carrot, diced into small dice
2 red peppers, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried oregano (1 tbs fresh)
1 tsp dried thyme (2 tsp fresh)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle in adobo sauce
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 tin tomatos
2 tins black eyed peas, rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock
4 cups of kale without stalks

black-eyed-pea-kale

method

  1. In a large saute pan (with lid) heat about 125ml (1/2 cup) water. Ass the vegetables and cook till softened and most of the water is cooked out.
  2. Add the spices, chipotle and tomato paste. Cook for about 1 min.
  3. Next add the tomatoes, black eyed peas and vegetable stock. Cook on low heat for about 20 adding water it the sauce thickens too much.
  4. Add the kale and cook for further 10 min stirring halfway through.
  5. Serve with brown rice or quinoa. If you have any on hand a swirl of cashew cream or chopped avocado will make a great topping.
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BABY PEPPERS WITH CASHEW CHEESE

BABY PEPPERS WITH CASHEW CHEESE

One more day to go before we see the year 2013 off and welcome the new and exciting year 2014. By now I am ready for a detox! Yes, I have overindulged and under-exercised. There was chocolate, or shall I say there were chocolates, wine, meals consisting of several dishes (even though healthy they were rather gargantuan). And than there were yesterday’s cocktails provided by my friend. She makes cocktails by emptying her bar contents into a jug and topping this concoction with some juice. I do admit they were unassumingly lethal yet delicious.

Do I feel a degree of guilt? Sure I do, but no point dwelling on this, I am detoxing starting the 2nd of January. And recording what I eat on this blog will definitely help the cause. But first, we have our New Years Eve celebration ahead of us. We always have lots of nibbles like sushi, dips, olives, little sandwiches and lots of other things. The aim is to fill up our plates with stacks of bits and bobs and keep going back for more.

My baby peppers with cashew cheese look indulgent and are (of course) dairy free. They are very easy to make. You can even play “guess what’s in the filling” with your guests (just make sure they don’t have a cashew nut allergy!). If you feel brave you can use some mild chillies instead of baby peppers.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! MAKE YOUR YEAR 2014 FILLED WITH LOVE, LAUGHTER, HEALTH AND DELICIOUS PLANT BASED FOODS.


stuffed-baby-peppers

BABY PEPPERS WITH CASHEW CHEESE

1 cup cashew nuts
1/4 (60ml) + 1tbs water
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
salt
lemon juice
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
10 olives, chopped into small pieces
small handful of basil, chop finely
14 small sweet peppers

  1. Soak the cashews in water for about 2 hours.
  2. Drain the soaked cashews, place in a blender together with 1/4 cup water and the nutritional yeast and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Blend till smooth (or as smooth as you can get it). You will have to scrape the sides of the blender few times. If the mixture is too thick you can add extra tablespoon of water.
  3. Put the cashew cheese into a bowl. Season with salt, add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil.
  4. Cut the tops of the baby peppers and carefully scoop out the seeds. Using a small spoon (or if you fancy a piping bag) fill the peppers with the cashew cheese.
  5. Chill before serving.

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KALE TARKA DAL

KALE TARKA DAL

Last night, over some delicious food at our friends, we talked about our favourite cuisines. I couldn’t make up my mind, I like Italian for its delicious simplicity, Thai for its balance of flavours, Indian for its spiciness... Than there is Japanese, Czech, Moroccan, Syrian... I guess I just like delicious food.

I can spend hours watching cookery shows, chefs adding foams, smears of sauces, gels and jellies, freeze dried petals. We have elevated cooking to a form of art, it has become more than just food. However, in the end of the day, that's precisely what it is - food. Us mere home cooks will never use dry ice to make ice cream or jellify pea puree into pea like spheres. This doesn’t mean that a home cooked meal is somehow inferior to a 9 course tasting menu at a manor house restaurant.

As a home cook I love to look for inspiration from traditional cooking all over the world. No Michelin star presentation, no sommeliers, no pressed white table cloths or polished silver. Just simple nutritions flavoursome food. Dal is one of my favourite dishes. It is so comforting, easy and satisfying. It also is the perfect veggie meal, full of protein (25%), rich in B vitamins, iron and zinc. No wonder it is a daily staple all over India.

Unfortunately my husband doesn’t share my love of dal therefore I tend to cook it for myself for lunch or as a part of an Indian meal. I cooked this dal for my friend for lunch couple weeks ago and she has been reminding me to share the recipe online ever since. I know kale is not something you see in a traditional Indian dal but it works beautifully (so does spinach or Swiss chard) and as you may know by now I think there are never enough recipes for kale :)

mung-dal

KALE TARKA DAL

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a part of a Indian Thali style meal

ingredients
1 and 1/2cup split mung dal
3 cups of water
2 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
ground black pepper
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
4 oz (120g) kale leaves (weight without the tough stalks)

for the tarka

1 Tbs coconut oil
1 small onion (or shallot), finely sliced
1 chilli, finely sliced
1/2 tsp nigella seed
1/2tsp cumin seed
20 curry leaves

coriander leaves to garnish

kale-dal

method
  1. In a large sauce pan combine the mung dal, water, ginger, garlic, asafoetida, turmeric, pepper and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes (add more water if the dal seems too dry) or until the lentils are cooked through, falling apart. The consistency should be of a thick soup or porridge.
  2. Next add the kale and cook covered for 5 minutes or until the kale is soft.
  3. While the kale is cooking, in a small frying pan (or s heavy sauce pan) heat the coconut oil and fry the onion and chilli for 2 minutes (the onion should be brown) than add the whole spices for a minute. Add the onion and spice mix to the dal ( I love the way it sizzles).
  4. Serve garnished with lots of fresh coriander with some brown rice or a chapati on the side.
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RAW CHOCOLATE ORANGE TART

RAW CHOCOLATE ORANGE TART

Three birthdays in a row can be quite challenging. We had a very busy week indeed. Family meal out, my daughter's birthday party and a rather noisy sleepover, dinner made for my husband, visit from the family and some birthday shopping (yay!!!).

My daughter’s birthday is two days before mine and my husbands three days after. I always felt that my son would feel left out but he relishes the fact that his birthday is in June and all attention is on him only. The three of us end up sharing the birthday magic... Just trying to decide which restaurant we want to have our triple birthday meal can be a challenge.

Every year I tend to make a three course meal for my husband. This year it all went badly wrong. Things just weren’t going right at all. My husband and our friend who was joining us were both stuck in gridlock traffic. My timing therefore was off. And in the end I managed to cook millet in place of quinoa (they just looked too similar at that point in time). I only find out when gooey slimy millet sludge started to bubble up in the pan. Yeah it didn't taste great. Luckily the dessert turned out fabulous.

As all inventions go I had my fingers and toes crossed that the tart sets, cuts into neat (ish) wedges and mainly tastes good. As you can see from the picture, the wedges were not restaurant quality neat but they did hold their shape. And the taste? Smooth orange and chocolate cream filling, intense tart shell ... do I need to say more?

I am sure I will not serve millet "pilau" (sludge) for a while but the tart is definitely going to make an appearance next time friends come for a visit. Well, I do need a better photo after all!

raw-choc-organe-tart


RAW CHOCOLATE ORANGE TART
serves 8-10

ingredients
the base
2 cups of walnuts
10 Medjol dates
2 tbs raw cacao powder

the filling
1 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 medium oranges)
1/4 cup water (or as needed)
4 medjol dates
2 tbs coconut oil melted (preferably in a dehydrator)
orange peel, grated (from 1 orange)

2-3 oranges to decorate

orange-tart-slice

  1. In a food processor combine the walnuts and pitted dates. Process till combined into a paste with the nuts retaining still some texture.The nut pieces should be about the size of breadcrumbs. Add the cacao powder and process until the cacao is mixed in well.
  2. Press the walnut date paste into a 25cm (10inch) tart tin , I used a silicon one. There is enough mixture to go up the sides. Place into the fridge while you prepare the filling.
  3. In a high speed blender combine the cashews, orange juice, mejdol dates. Process till smooth thick creamy texture, like thick custard. Add extra water in mixture is too thick (i feel that if the blender struggles extra water is needed). I needed to add the whole 1/4 cup of water.
  4. Stir in the coconut oil and orange peel.
  5. Poor the filling into the tart shell. Place in the fridge for several hours or till the filling sets.
  6. Decorate with orange slices.

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CAULIFLOWER, LEEK AND BEAN SOUP

CAULIFLOWER, LEEK AND BEAN SOUP

Cauliflower season is back! It has been making appearance in my weekly veggie box for past few weeks. White, crisp and sweet, it lends itself perfectly as a base for a creamy soup. In my version I have paired this nutritious brassica with leeks and beans which further enhance its creaminess.

Last year, at Christmas, my sister-in-law cooked some cauliflower soup for a starter. As she pulled it out of the fridge to reheat it, she opened the lid of her storage container and the most awful smell wafted around the kitchen. She exclaimed it smelled like &*%£. Subsequently the whole lot was poured down the sink. Be this a lesson to you, cook and eat, do not store and especially do not take leftovers to an open plan office for lunch (unless you really don't like your colleagues) . Cauliflower and broccoli soups indeed have the ability to smell in an extremely unappetising fashion when stored.

For this recipe I used cannellini beans that were cooked from dry but you don’t have to do the same, a tin of cannellini beans (or any other white beans) will work great too. Simply drain and add at the same step. If you don’t want to use the wine (I don’t always have a bottle open in the fridge) you can achieve a similar undernote of gentle acidity by squeezing some lemon juice into the soup before serving.

I garnished my soup with lightly toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley, but this is where you can let your imagination run wild. How about home made sun-blushed tomatoes, sourdough croutons, basil leaves, homemade pesto or some smoked paprika. Now my mouth is indeed watering, I have a cauliflower in the fridge, cooked white beans in the freezer, now all I need is couple of leeks ... Today’s topping? Maybe the tomatoes that have been dehydrating since 9am and some basil. Yum.

cauliflower

CAULIFLOWER, LEEK AND BEAN SOUP
Serves 2-3

2 large leeks
2 cloves of garlic
1 small cauliflower
125ml (1/2cup) white wine
2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or 1 tin, drained)
3 cups of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to tast
lightly toasted pine nuts and parsley for garnish

cauliflower-and-bean-soup

  1. Slice the leeks (mainly the white part) and wash thoroughly. Put the leeks into a medium size stock pot or sauce pan with 60ml (1/4 cup) water. Cook till soften.
  2. Crush the garlic and add to the leeks.
  3. Next add the wine, boil for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol.
  4. In the meantime cut the cauliflower into florets. Add these to the leeks together with beans and vegetable stock.
  5. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  6. Blend the soup in a food processor or with a stick blender until smooth. Season.
  7. Garnish with pine nuts and parsley.
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SWEDE (RUTABAGA) CORONATION STYLE

SWEDE (RUTABAGA) CORONATION STYLE


As you may probably know by now I am not a big fan of swede (rutabaga) I only like it a little more than turnip (which is not much at all). Traditionally, here in the UK, it is used in a beef stew or as an integral part of the famous Cornish pasty (to confuse the matter they call it turnip in Cornwall). As a side dish swede is often served mashed together with carrots. In Finland swede is served as a creamy bake flavoured with maple syrup. I have tried making a vegan version of this but it still needs a lot more work.

Being faced with a humongous swede ( bigger than baby’s head!) I had to think. I really didn’t want this one ending up in a compost heap like the last one (sorry). Flavours of all vegetables deepen when roasted so this seemed like a good idea. To improve the rather bland swede I decided to spice it up and sweeten it and after roasting, drench it in a very similar sauce I used for my Coronation Chickpea salad.

I cut up the swede into 1/2 inch dice hoping for this to speed up the cooking time. Still it seemed to take forever... Was it all worth the effort? I have to say it was. I will admit I was secretly thinking what other vegetable would be suitable for this recipe, but I did enjoy the swede. The next day, however, I was for a major surprise, the salad was wonderful eaten straight from the fridge. Somehow the swede absorbed all the curry flavours, its texture improved it was trylly delicious. I ate all the leftovers for lunch. Will I rejoice next time a swede finds its way to my vegetable box? Probably not. But if it does I now have a way of dealing with it.


swede-salad
SWEDE (RUTABAGA) CORONATION STYLE

Serves 4

ingredients
3 cups swede, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1Tbs good curry powder ( I used Byriani mix)
1/2 tbs rapeseed oil
1 Tbs maple syrup
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 cashews
1/2 water
2 tbs mango chutney
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
salt
1/3 cup flaked almonds
1 small red onion
1/3 cup coriander
lemon juice to taste

method
  1. Preheat the oven to 210C. Place the swede, curry powder, oil and maple syrup into a roasting pan that will hold the swede in one layer. Mix all ingredients together so all the swede pieces are coated with spices evenly. Roast till the swede is soft, this may take 40-45min.
  2. While the swede is roasting soak the raisins in boiling water.
  3. Put cashews, water (you can use the raisin water), mango chutney and vinegar into a high speed blender. Process until smooth.
  4. Toast the flaked almonds in a dry pan till golden brown. Set aside
  5. Cut the red onion into fine dice.
  6. In a large bowl mix red onion, swede, cashew sauce and raisins.
  7. Garnish with almonds, coriander and add lemon juice to taste.
  8. Serve immediately or wait till the next day after, it is awesome straight from the fridge.

roasted swede
roast-swede
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ROASTED TOMATILLO AND TOMATO SOUP

ROASTED TOMATILLO AND TOMATO SOUP

Have you discovered tomatillos yet? I absolutely love them! Unfortunately they are still very hard to find here in the UK but they are worth searching for. Luckily Riverford, who deliver my organic veg boxes, have been supplying them (when in season) for 2 years running. You can even buy a salsa verde kit from their website. Occasionally tomatillos are available in our local Mexican shop Otomi. Failing that, they carry jars of tomatillo salsa verde, these are a good start for a tomatillo novice.

Why do I love tomatillos? First and foremost it’s the flavour! They are tangy, zingy and fresh tasting. On top of being delicious they are very good for you. Tomatillos contain phytonutrients withanolides that have been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties. They are a good source of vitamin C, E and carotenoids such as betacarotene, lutein, zeaxanthin. Tomatillos also contain host of minerals such as potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus and manganese. Not bad for something that looks like an unripe tomato...

close cousins - tomatillos and tomatoes
tomatillos-details

So far I have only used these Mexican gems in a salsa, but I was ready to expand my tomatillo horizon. Soup seemed like a good start for experimentation. Paired with tomatoes (who are their close cousins) and chillies I was sure (ish) to be onto a winner. I must say I was very pleased with the results. The downside was I only managed to make one lunch portion of soup...However thought this amount would be perfect for the very fashionable dinner party amuse-bouche. Served in shot glasses with a nice coriander leaf and a slice of lime perched on the rim of the glass this would make a very impressive pre-appetizer. Flavour explosion guaranteed! So you can either eat the whole lot yourself (like I greedily did) or you can wow your guests. Whichever way you go... Enjoy!

the finished product
tomatillo-soup

ROASTED TOMATILLO AND TOMATO SOUP

Serves 1 greedy person for lunch, 6-8 as an amuse-bouche in shot glasses

ingredients
200g (7 oz) tomatillos
150g (5 oz) tomatoes
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 cup of well flavoured vegetable stock
coriander leaves for garnish

roasted tomatoes and tomatillos
tomatilo-roasted

method
  1. Peel the papery husk of the tomatillos (this is a sticky job), wash well.
  2. Line a baking dish with aluminium foil in a way that it will catch all runaway juices. This will also prevent the tomatillos and tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of your pan.
  3. Roast the tomatillos and tomatoes in a 200C oven for 20 minuter or until they start to blister and split (see photo).
  4. In a medium sauce pan heat 60ml of water, add the onions, garlic and chilli and saute for 5 min or till softened. Add more water if needed.
  5. Next add the tomatillos and tomatoes with all their juices.
  6. Add the vegetable stock and cook covered for about 10minutes.
  7. Blend in a food processor or using a stick blender.
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves.
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KALE WITH MISO AND CHILLI

KALE WITH MISO AND CHILLI

Recently my IBS went out of control. I was so happy not to have had a flair up since April and here it was with a vengeance. As if this IBS monster stored its evil energy and unleashed it all at once. For over 2 weeks I was in pain, had no appetite and had whole host of other symptoms. A hot bath was my only relief but you can only stay there for so long...

Thanks to Dr Google I could list a number of diseases I probably had. It was as if the rational and the irrational part of my brain were fighting for the spotlight. I was sure that it was IBS but at the same time I have never felt this bad before. It doesn’t help when people tell you: "WOW you lost weight!" I was getting a bit defensive, exclaiming rather firmly: "NO I DID NOT!"

Finally I went to see my GP. The first thing he said? You lost weight! GRRRR. I hopped on the scales and the result? No, I did not loose weight. We decided to run full blood screen. I think he was doing it for the peace of my mind. We ran antibody for coeliac disease too.

I went gluten free, I just need to take control of something. In the meantime (it takes a week for the blood tests to come back) I started to feel better. Finally (and I celebrated this) I started to feel hungry, my stomach was happily growling again. I feel so much better. Not 100% but so much better.

My blood test came back today. Yes, all came back perfectly healthy. No coeliac disease. Nothing out of place. Actually pretty much 99% of everything tested is slap bang in the middle. Even this doesn’t explain this IBS malarky but I do admit I am happy. Oh yeah and for all the plant based diet doubters,
my iron levels are perfect!!! Now I am going to hit the beast with slippery elm, glutamine, probiotics, digestive enzymes....and a clean plant based food of course.

My doctor asked me whether I want to treat it or manage it. I want to manage it, no pills please. Impressed I was when he suggested enteric coated peppermint tablets (that's what my lecturer recommended too!). Adding them to the above list. They apparently work as well as the usually prescribed antispasmodics.

So after several weeks of plain unexciting foods (in minute portions) I am excited about foods again. I can add some spice and imagination to my dinners. I was craving beans, lentils and curries, little bit of spice, but knew my stomach couldn’t cope. All good now. I cooked curry on Monday, and kale with chilli and miso today. It is good to be back!

kale-in-a-wok


KALE WITH MISO AND CHILLI
Serves 4 as a side dish.

ingredients
350g (12oz) curly kale
1tsp of coconut oil or 3Tbs of water
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 Tbs yellow miso (I use live miso)
1 Tbs Braggs Liquid Aminos or Tamari

method
  1. First pull the kale leaves of the thick stalks, wash and rip into bite size pieces.
  2. In a large wok heat the coconut oil or water, add the garlic and chilli and saute for 1 min.
  3. Next add the kale leaves and saute for couple minutes.
  4. Add 2 Tbs of water, cover with a lid and cook for about 5 min (or as tender as you like it). Add more water if needed but the kale will release moisture.
  5. In a medium bowl mix the miso and braggs. Add in the kale and stir well.
  6. Serve immediately.

kale-with-miso
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SUN DRIED TOMATO KALE CHIPS

SUN DRIED TOMATO KALE CHIPS

There are not many people who are willing to cook for me. I can actually count them on the fingers of my hand. I know this is familiar to anybody who eats differently than what is seen as the norm. Whether you are gluten free, vegan or raw you will find yourself being invited to very few dinner parties. You will be seen as the awkward. Hopefully one day the awkward will be the norm and the norm will become awkward.

My friend J is my dinner party buddy (that sounds way to posh! We just like to cook for each other). We have a very similar food philosophy. Nobody else gets excited about kale coming to season the way we do. We will text each other about organic kale’s appearance on the shelf of the Better Food Company. She has even brought me a bag of kale as a present before. She knows me well.

kale-chips-sundriedtomato
kale pieces stripped off the stalks

I have been trying to convince other non believers into embracing the humble yet amazing kale. I would say my success is about 50/50. Kale chips are the ace card in my pocket. Most people who try them fall under their spell. In one day I had 2 friends on the phone asking for my kale chip recipe :) Yesterday another friend announced they were eating kale chips all last week. I couldn’t be happier.

Brendan Brazier’s “sour cream” and onion kale chips still are the most popular in our house, but these seem to be close second. I think anything tastes better with sun dried tomatoes. If you still are a kale chip virgin please have a go. Even if you don’t have a dehydrator, they taste great made in the oven too (both methods are in my recipe). They will loose their RAW tag but they will still make an incredibly healthy and tasty snack.


SUN DRIED TOMATO KALE CHIPS
1 bag of kale with stalks (350g, 12oz)
2/3 cup cashews (soaked for half an hour and drained)
1/2 cup water
4 sundried tomatoes, soaked for 30 min
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1/2 tbs brags aminos (or tamari)

kalechips-sundried-tomatoes
the sundried tomato sauce

  1. Strip the kale leaves from their stalks.
  2. Wash thoroughly. Rip any larger pieces into bite size pieces.
  3. Dry will in a salad spinner. You will need to do this in three batches. Place the kale into a large bowl (you will need the largest bowl you have)
  4. In a high speed food processor blend all the remaining ingredients into a smooth sauces.
  5. Pour the sauce over the kale leaves and massage it into the kale so that all the leaves are cover with sauce.
  6. If using a dehydrator, place the kale onto your mesh dehydrator sheets (I use 3 in my Excalibur). Dehydrate at 115F (46C) for 12-14 hrs. Crunch test after 12 hours, if the kale chips are not crunchy enough dehydrate for couple more hours.
  7. If using an oven preheat it to 300F (150C). Spread your kale evenly on 2 baking trays and bake the chips for about 25 minutes. After the first 10 minutes keep checking on our chip every 5 minutes. Every oven is different and the kale chips can burn quickly.
  8. Store in an airtight container.
  9. Enjoy!

kalechips-sundried-tomato
crunch time
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COURGETTE KUGEL

COURGETTE KUGEL

Foolishly I have trusted the weather forecast. Who wouldn’t want to trust the promise of summer’s last attempt to stick around? The reality is that the freshly washed clothes that I left (ok forgot) outside overnight got even wetter than they were from the washing machine. I guess I have to admit that the autumn has taking its rightful reign. At least last two days were mild enough to sit outside in the afternoon.

Autumn also means I will have to get myself organised for my final year of college. Exciting as it is I am also a bit nervous (understatement) about taking clients for the fist time. Last year we were the observers in the back of the classroom, this time we will be in the hot seat. My plans to revise over the summer didn't seem to materialise too well so I am trying to catch up now.

Part of the being organised is getting food prepared for the weekend so that it is easy for my husband and kids to cook a meal when I get back from college in the evening. My courgette kugel is such a recipe. You can make it ahead and just simply stick in the oven when needed.

Kugel is a traditional Jewish bake, pudding or casserole, usually made with egg noodles or potatoes, sometimes rice. It can be sweet or savoury. I like the comfort of such food. This is a vegan version of a kugel. It is creamy, rich and comforting as if made by a Jewish Grandmother.

I have also made this recipe with four courgettes instead of the 2 leek/2 courgette combo. It was as good. Nice thick tomato sauce complements the kugel perfectly. And of course salad and green veggies. This makes a big batch so any leftovers should be cooled quickly and reheated thoroughly. Enjoy!

kugel

COURGETTE KUGEL
Serves 6

ingredients
kugel
2 fat leeks
1 1/2 cup basmati rice
2 courgettes
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1 pack of silken tofu (300g, 10oz)
1 Tbs tahini
4 sun dried tomatoes
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste

method
  1. Thinly sliced the leeks and place together with rice into a large sauce pan. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Drain the rice and leek mixture and set aside.
  3. Grate the two courgettes and mix with the rice and leeks.
  4. To make the sauce blend together the water, cashews, tofu, tahini, sun dried tomatoes and nutritional yeast. Season.
  5. Place the rice mixture into a large baking dish, add the sauce and mix well.
  6. Bake at a 180C oven for 40-50 minutes, until set and golden brown on the top.
  7. Serve with a tomato sauce, salad and some green veggies.

kugel-detail

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FIERY BLACK BEANS

FIERY BLACK BEANS

We don’t tend to include beans in the list of superfoods, but they certainly are worthy of the name. I do think the word superfood is misused for marketing and shameless profiteering. Even the health food industry is governed by money and you are more likely to profit from the latest miracle seed or berry from the South American rainforest than something so ordinary as a bean. In my view all vegetables, beans, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds are all superfoods.

Beans offer a great nutritional value for money. Especially if you buy them dried, just as I did to make my fiery black bean recipe. A half a kilo pack of black beans will easily serve 8 people. Black beans are packed with protein and don’t be fooled by being told beans are not a high quality protein, black beans do contain all the essential amino acids. They are a great source of iron and calcium, 2 of the minerals people think you can’t obtain from a vegan diet in adequate amounts (I get tired of hearing this). Beans are also full of fibre, one nutrient most people aren’t getting enough. They are not only cholesterol free but have been shown to help reduce cholesterol, balance blood sugar and even have cancer fighting phytonutrients.

Many people get intimidated by cooking beans from their dried state. Cooking some types of beans can indeed be a bit frustrating. My Achilles heel is cooking dried Egyptian broad beans, I have now given up on them and buy these in a tin. Most beans are however more straight forward. First soak soak soak. Soak the beans over night (not longer than 24hrs) and drain the water. If you forgot to soak your beans it or simply don’t have the time, place the beans in a large pot with about 2- 3 x the volume of water. Bring to a vigorous boil for 10min, turn them off and let the whole thing stand for at least couple of hours. Now you can proceed as you would with the beans that had their long overnight bath. The first method results in more nutritious beans as the soaking makes minerals and vitamins more available.

Cooking times have to been taken lightly, they will vary due to size or freshness of the beans. I go by taste, my personal preference. And I will disagree with the TV chef Gino D’Campo, beans really shouldn’t be al dente, they should be cooked through. Even if this means that some of your beans fall apart during the cooking process. I like to use a piece of kombu seaweed in my beans, this is said to make the beans easier to digest (less flatulence), it also adds to the flavours. Other flavourings I often use are: bay leaf, thyme, parsley, rosemary, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, garlic. These are best fished out and discarded when your beans are finished. Last time I cooked my black beans I searched for the kombu but it had melted into the beans. One way to add iodine to your diet :) In many recipes you can use the cooking liquor (i.e. stews, soups, dips), it is usually full of flavor. I have used my cooking liquor in my fiery black bean recipe below.

fiery-black-beans

FIERY BLACK BEANS
We had these with some chipotle spiced tomato sauce, guacamole, salad, tomatillo salsa, corn tortillas and even baba ghanouj. You can also just serve them with rice and fruity salsa. Add some stock and a bit of lime juice to any leftovers for a quick fiery soup.

Serves 8

500g (17oz) of dried black beans
piece of kombu seawead (I used 2x 1cm strips cut from a large sheet)
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs rapeseed (canola) oil or 80 ml (1/3 cup water)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped into small dice
2 cloves garlic, finely choppped
1 red Cayenne chilli pepper (deseed for a less fiery meal), finely chopped
1 chipotle chilli (soaked in boiling water for 30 min), finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp oregano
salt to taste

  1. Soak the beans overnight and drain. (or use quick cook method described above)
  2. Add the beans, kombu, bay leaf and water to cover the beans with 2x volume of water, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gook gently till beans are soft (about 40-60min).
  3. In a large casserole heat the oil (or water) and add the onion, pepper and garlic. Cook till softened. Add the chillies and cook for further 2 minutes.
  4. Next add all the spices and cook for further minute.
  5. Using a slotted spoon remove the beans from cooking liquor and transfer to the casserole dish. Add about 1 cup of the liquor together with some salt and pepper.
  6. Simmer gently for about 30-60min, add some more of the cooking liquor if the beans start drying out and stick to the bottom of your casserole.
  7. To serve in tortillas make sure all the liquid has cooked out but beans are still moist. If you serving these with rice you want a bit more liquid in your beans that will serve as a sauce.

fiery-black-beans-2
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FERMENTED CABBAGE

FERMENTED CABBAGE

My internet hell is finally over. We are connected. The other day my daughter exclaimed she can’t live without it! Now, she doesn’t have to. I did think this was a good opportunity for the kids to see what it was like in the “olden days” :)

As you may know from my last post I have recently had a course of rather strong antibiotics for a tooth infection. I have realised how much this affected my recent digestion resulting in gurgling, bloating and just not feeling right. I am no doubt the medication had a lot to do with that. Of course I have been taking some good quality probiotics (and no, the yoghurt drinks are not good enough! - I get asked that a lot).

To speed up my recovery and repopulate my lost friends (I am truly sorry to expose you to antibiotics my friends, but the pain was unbearable) I have started home fermenting. Genetically, we are 99% microbes. Looking after our friends may just be the most important thing we can do to maintain our health. And scientists agree. Lots of research is showing links between our microflora (or lack of) and poor health.

Apart from being raw, full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, fermented vegetables contain live bacteria. This is just what your digestions needs. And it is not a new idea either. Fermented vegetables have always been a staple in many cultures, you can’t imagine a Korean meal without some kimchi, Japanese table will always have some fermented vegetables or indeed the amazing miso whilst tempeh is a staple in Indonesia. I grew up eating sauerkraut as did anyone from Germany to Latvia.

Fermented vegetables, especially raw sauerkraut, are starting to appear in health food shops. Anywhere from £8-10 for a 750g jar this is not a cheap item. Fermenting your own however is cheap as chips. OK I haven’t gone as far as making sauerkraut yet, but my fermented cabbage is delicious and I have no doubt it is abundant with some friendly bacteria. I feel they are smiling at me from the jar!

One last note: If you are taking a portion with you for a lunch, make sure your container is tightly sealed. I have learnt the hard way. My fermented cabbage juice spilt all over my lunch I brought with me to college. Not only everything smelled of fermented cabbage juice, but the rest of my lunch was swimming in it. I am sure that apricots marinated in cabbage juice will not become the next food trend!

fermented-cabbaga-kilner

FERMENTED CABBAGE WITH CARROTS

ingredients
1 hispi cabbage (also called sweetheart), small to medium size
1 medium carrot
1/2 tsp caraway seed (optional)
salt (see below)

1 litre preserving jar (Kilner)

  1. First you need to sterilise the jar. I boil some water in a large sauce pan that will fit my jar. Put the jar in together with the lid and let quickly bubble over. Just a few seconds if fine. I leave the jar in the water until I need it.
  2. Next remove the outer cabbage leaves. Generally couple will do, keep the cleaner one, wash and set aside.
  3. Using a knife thinly slice the cabbage, you don’t need German precision, it’s just cabbage :) Put into a colander and wash thoroughly.
  4. Coarsely grate the carrot. Mix together with the cabbage.
  5. Carefully remove the jar and lid from the water.
  6. Put all the cabbage/carrot mix into the Kilner jar. Make sure you pack it in. I use the pushing stick from my juicer to do the job. If using you can sprinkle the caraway seeds between layers. Don’t overfill the jar, I leave about 1 and 1/2inches cabbage free. Now top the cabbage with the reserved whole cabbage leaf, this will ensure the cabbage stays submerged.
  7. Next, make the salt solution. I find that 2 cups of filtered water with 3/4-1tbs of salt do the job for 1 jar. Stir well to dissolve. Pour the salt water into the jar, leaving about 1inch below the top of the jar. The juices will rise during fermentation. Screw the lid on but not too tightly.
  8. Put the jar somewhere warm, I use my airing cupboard (the builder who came to fix my airing cupboard door was rather surprised to find a jar there...). Any warm space will do, you could try to balance it on top of a radiator when in use. I have discounted this idea due to free roaming kids and dogs....
  9. Check the cabbage everyday, open the lid, smell it, inspect the juice. The juice will go cloudy, you will be able to smell the fermentation (not too different from cider or sourdough smell). On the third day have a taste of the juices, it should be fizzy, pleasantly sour (3-4 days are usually how I like it). Transfer into cold store, fridge in my case. You can eat it straight away or let the flavours develop further in the fridge.
  10. I generally have a small (Chinese tea bowl) with my lunch. I especially love drinking the juice!

Day 4
fermented-cabbge-detail

Day 14
fermented-cabbage-2weeks
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BAKED SWEET POTATO FALAFELS

BAKED SWEET POTATO FALAFELS

The other day my son told me how a boy from his class bought a pack of biscuits for breakfast and brought it to school. My son was pretty pleased because his friend share the biscuits (and trans fats!) with his school mates.

My friend and I were talking about this over a nice lunch. We were trying to get our heads around how a 10 year old can be put in charge of buying his breakfast. I know he is not the only one, I hear stories of my son’s school friends buying extra large chocolate bars and cans of Red Bull before school.
We are both mum’s who understand how important good nutritions is for everybody, and especially growing kids. We can’t imagine being is a situation where we wouldn’t have anything in the house for kids to eat at breakfast. But there are households where this is the case, it is easier to give a child couple of quid and send them to a shop. I find that very sad. Especially since there has been a 4 fold increase in children treated in hospital for conditions linked to obesity.

My friend than talked about how her mum had knowledge about healthy eating without having access to the information we have today. The difference is she cooked, her mother cooked, her mother’s mother cooked. They passed the knowledge down the generations. Today the situation is different, many parents (I don’t want to blame the mum’s only) don’t cook, they look at the price and convenience when it comes to food not its nutritional value (healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive just look at http://agirlcalledjack.com/). Nutrition education at schools is not great, or dismissed by parents as rubbish. I did speak to someone who complained about school filling her daughters with rubbish and now she is refusing to even have a cake at home...

I have found, with my own kids, that it is not always easy to convince them to eat healthy. I know if I gave them money to buy their own breakfast they would walk out with a bar of chocolate or a croissant. And there are many things they refuse to eat. I still have the sweet potato hurdle to overcome. I do keep trying though... I came up with these sweet potato falafels hoping they might not realize... OK the colour gave the sweet potato away and than came the refusal but this will not stop me trying...


sweet-potato-falafel
BAKED SWEET POTATO FALAFELS
These can be also made into larger burgers, the mixture will make 6 burgers. They are also delicious cold the next day in a pitta bread with salad. They are yummy with a mango chutney.

ingredients
1 large sweet potato
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 small onion, cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup rolled oats (use gluten free oats for gluten free version)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 Tbs hemp seeds
2 Tbs of chickpea flour (if needed)

Makes 12

sweet-potato-falafels

method
  1. First peel, cut into large pieces and steam the sweet potato till soft.
  2. In a food processor process the chickpeas, onion, garlic and oats and process till the ingredients are coming together. You may have to stop and scrape the mixture down from the sides.
  3. Tip the mixture into a bowl, add the drained cooked potatoes, cumin, coriander and the hemp seeds. You can also add couple tbs of fresh coriander (which I didn’t have on hand).
  4. Using your hands mix everything together while crushing the sweet potatoes.
  5. If the mixture is too sloppy you can add couple tablespoons of chickpea flour.
  6. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper. Make 12 - 16 falafels (I made 12 larger ones). The job will be easier if you wet your hands before shaping your falafels, the mix won’t stick to your hands. I find it I have to wet my hands every 3-4 falafels.
  7. Place the falafels on the baking sheet and bake at 180C for 20 minutes turning over half way through.


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NOT SO TRADITIONAL BABA GHANOUJ

NOT SO TRADITIONAL BABA GHANOUJ

When I was little, probably the age my daughter is now, my grandmother brought home a couple of aubergines (aka eggplants). This was the first time we met, me and aubergine of course. My grandmother did what all Czech people do to vegetables, she breaded it and fried it, schnitzel style. I remember not really enjoying the aubergine.

That night, I had a dream, you might call it a nightmare (it was for a seven year old girl). In this dream I was chased by a gigantic aubergine. Yes you can laugh but this traumatic experience caused me not to eat aubergines for many years (or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t enjoy it?).

Many years later, in my 20’s, I had an aubergine again and I have never looked back. It is definitely the vegetable I would take with me onto a dessert island. It is incredibly versatile, an amazing base for many veggie meals, it feels and taste substantial. If cooked properly it is beautifully silky and takes on all the flavors it has been cooked with.

It is very easy to cook aubergines wrong, I have been served undercooked inedible aubergines in restaurants (and I always let them know!). Don’t serve an aubergine unless it is squashed easily under very little pressure with a wooden spoon or a fork. It needs to be melt in your mouth, soft and silky.

Here is one of my favorite aubergine recipes, baba ghanouj (or baba ghanoush). It is popular in many Middle Eastern countries, you can find it in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and via Turkey even in Bulgaria. Traditionally this recipe is made with lashings of olive oil, but I love my oil free version. If you really wish you can always drizzle a bit of good quality extra virgin olive oil over the top to make it more authentic.

Baba ghanouj is perfect for a mezze meal, light lunch or just as a dip with some pitta chips and a nice glass of wine. I believe this is a recipe to serve to an aubergine hater, just don’t divulge the main ingredient.

babaghanouj


NOT SO TRADITIONAL BABA GHANOUJ

ingredients
2 aubergines (medium to large)
1 Tbs tahini
juice of 1 lemon (or to taste)
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt
handful of parsley, finely chopped

method
  1. First prepare the aubergine. Leave the aubergines whole just prick several times with a point of a sharp knife (this will prevent any possible explosions). If you are using a grill (broiler) preheat it to its highest setting, place aubergine onto a aluminium foil lined baking tray and place the aubergine about 1 inch away from the grill. You can also use your gas hob, place the aubergine straight over the flames. I do prefer the grill method, you get a more evenly cooked aubergine.
  2. Turn the aubergines often and cooked until the aubergine collapses. Feel the aubergine using tongs, it should feel very soft when squeezed gently. The skin should be charred. Under the grill it should take about 20-30min.
  3. Let the aubergine cool.
  4. When the aubergine has cooled down, slit the skin down lengthways and scoop the soft flesh out, discard the skin. Place the flesh into a food processor.
  5. Add the tahini and garlic and process until you get a puree with still few chunks left in it (no baby food).
  6. Add the lemon and salt to taste and chopped parsley. Place in a serving bowl.
  7. If you really have to you can drizzle some olive oil, but other great toppings are cumin, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts or paprika.
  8. Enjoy!

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PINK QUINOA SALAD

PINK QUINOA SALAD

Last weekend at college we learned about phytonutrients and superfoods. I feel that we have only scratched the surface, there are thousands of phytonutrients, some have been well researched and some have not yet been discovered. What a fascinating subject!

My college friend put on her Facebook page: “After a whole weekend at college the conclusion is: just eat your fruit and veg!” I couldn’t have said it better. And as our lecturer pointed out we should aim for 10 and everything over that is a bonus.

The bad thing about phytonutrients? They all come with rather complicated names and I have to learn and remember them for my upcoming exam. Together with biochemistry, all vitamins and minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, orthomolecular nutrients... Yes I shall be busy over the next 3 weeks...

Quick nutritious recipes should get me through it! Just like this pink quinoa salad. You must admit it looks fabulous. It tastes great too. I will try to post as much as my study schedule allows me.


pink-quinoa-salad

PINK QUINOA SALAD
Sushi seasoning is sold in bottles in Japanese sections of Asian shops or supermarket. I use it to season sushi rice (of course) it takes the guess work out, perfect balance every time. It tastes great as a dressing too, it may need a bit of vinegar or lime juice if too sweet for your palate. I used cider vinegar, but rice wine vinegar would be fantastic too.

Serves 4

1 cup quinoa
1 large carrot
1 medium beetroot
3 spring onions
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbs capers
small handful of parsley
2 Tbs sushi seasoning
1 Tbs cider vinegar

  1. Rinse the quinoa well. Bring a medium pan of water to boil (about 1litre), add the quinoa and cook for about 15min. Rinse under running cold water.
  2. Coarsely great the carrot and peeled beetroot. Place in a salad bowl.
  3. Slice the spring onions into thin rings.
  4. LIghtly toast the sunflower seeds in a dry pan, take care not to burn them.
  5. Add the onions, sunflower seeds, quinoa, capers, parsley to the carrots and beetroot..
  6. Season with the sushi seasoning and vinegar.

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FIERY PARSNIP CURRY

FIERY PARSNIP CURRY

Parsnips. I have to admit I have not tasted a parsnip before moving to the UK. It is not a vegetable you find on the Czech table. I do admit there are many vegetables I would rather eat than parsnips. I don’t hate them but they do not excite me very much. If you put and aubergine and parsnip in front of me I know which one I would choose.

This is where my vegetable box comes to its force, I don’t get much of a choice what is delivered. And as I like to eat seasonally I do have to give even parsnips a chance. They sure deserve it, these roots are rich in fibre, Vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6 and B1, they do contain good amounts of minerals such as iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. This sure make parsnips much more interesting.

What is the best way to cook them? I love them roasted (see I said love!!!), with spices and some maple syrup. This definitely brings out their natural sweetness. I am not keen on a parsnip mash, but a soup can be delicious, especially with plenty of warming curry spices thrown in.

Last time we found ourselves in Sweet Mart supermarket we decided to buy some gorgeous Indian savoury snacks. My husband bought a portion of fiery parsnips, not something I was drawn to. I made an aubergine curry that night and we had the parsnips on the side. Beyond all expectations I must admit we were hooked instantly, the tender sweet parsnips went so well with the heat of the chili and the acidity of the tomatoes. Delicious!

No surprise that as soon as I found myself with a few parsnips, I had to try to recreate this amazing dish. I only had a Scotch Bonnet pepper in the fridge which is not a typical Indian ingredient. It worked really well, lending the dish not only its fiery heat but also its lovely fruity flavour. My husband called it a close match. When he had the leftovers next day he than admitted it was a
very close match. Rested for a day and being gently reheated the sauce got even better, stickier and more intense. Parsnips have never tasted this good!

fiery-parsnip-curry

FIERY PARSNIP CURRY

Serves 4

ingredients
1 Tbs rapeseed (canola oil)
1 tsp nigella (kalonji) seed
15 curry leaves
1 onion, sliced
1 inch ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Scotch bonnet (Habanero chilli), left whole and slit with a knife. (chop up finely for an extra spicy curry)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
5 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunky batons
375 ml water
fresh coriander

fiery-parsnip-curry-2


method
  1. In a large saute pan heat the oil. Add the nigella seeds and curry leaves. Wait for the seeds to start popping. Take care not to burn them.
  2. Add the onions and cook them on medium heat till they are soft and brown.
  3. Next add the ginger, garlic and the Scotch Bonnet pepper. Cook for a minute.
  4. Add the spices, cook for about 30seconds.
  5. Next add the tomatoes, cover and cook for about 5min.
  6. While the tomatoes are cooking prepare the parsnips.
  7. Add the parsnips to the tomato together with water.
  8. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down. Cook gently for about 30min until the sauce it reduced and parsnips are very tender.
  9. Uncover the dish and turn up the heat for about 5 min. You should end up with a very reduced, sticky sauce.
  10. Serve with some fresh coriander and rice. Yum!

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BORSCHT WITH ATTITUDE

BORSCHT WITH ATTITUDE

Growing up the only beetroot we ate came pickled from a jar. Nothing wrong with a bit of pickled beetroot I always thought it was delicious. I do think that Czech pickled beetroot is so much better than the one I can get in the UK. So much sweeter, yummier, I especially love the whole baby beetroots, it wouldn’t be a problem for me to eat a whole jar in one sitting....

These days I do prefer to use fresh beetroot. The possibilities are endless. I can always marinated it to get a lovely pickle like taste. I love raw, grated beetroot in salads, juiced, made into smoothies or raw soups. It is also great roasted with balsamic vinegar, or simply boiled and made into salads or mixed with grains to make a “risotto” (check out some of my other beetroot recipes).

Everybody is familiar with Russian Borscht, the famous beetroot soup. I know, traditional recipes don’t need to be messed with but I couldn't resist playing with it a bit and here is the result: borscht with attitude. I have infused the Russian soup with some Thai flavours. It will sure wake up your taste buds! I do wonder if my Russian friend will like it...

borscht-with-attitude

BORSCHT WITH ATTITUDE
This is easily doubled if you are feeding more people. I didn’t think kids would go with the spiciness of this dish hence the 2-3 portions...

Serves 2-3

ingredients
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced into 1cm (less than 1/2 inch) pieces
2 medium beetroot, diced into 1 cm pieces
4 cups of vegetable stock
1 Tbs vegetarian Thai red curry paste
1 medium-large potato, diced into 1 cm pieces
2 cups shredded cabbage
125ml (1/2 cup) unsweetened almond milk
lime to taste
fresh coriander

method
  1. In a medium sauce pan heat about 80 ml (1/3 cup) of water.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.
  3. Add the carrot and beetroot together with the red curry paste.
  4. Cook for about 1 min.
  5. Next add the stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook for 10min before adding the potato.
  7. Cook further 10 min before adding the cabbage.
  8. Cook further 10 min or until the beetroot is cooked through.
  9. Add the almond milk and just heat up.
  10. Finally add lime juice to taste (I used juice of half a lime and a bit extra at the table)
  11. Serve in soup bowls garnished with coriander.

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GRANDMA HANA’S SAUERKRAUT SALAD

GRANDMA HANA’S SAUERKRAUT SALAD

It is the 1st of January 2013. The first day of the new year. After a night of celebrating many of us are making new year’s resolutions. Weight loss will and exercise will be at the top of the list for sure. The papers are already rating diets and introducing new ones. Manhattan diet anyone? This morning I have received an email suggesting I hold a detox party!

Eating healthy shouldn’t be reserved only for January. It should be something we simply just do. I have a big appetite. My mum in law asked me how come eat as much as I do and don’t put weight on. It certainly is the foods I choose to eat, and the foods I choose not to. And I don’t always have a New Year’s Eve buffet in front of me.

So for a healthier 2013, let’s eat real food. Cook from scratch more. Eat more raw foods. Let’s realize our health is in ours hands. Move, smile, love more and stress less. Make time for yourself, the people you love. Make choices right not only for you but for the planet. Live with compassion. Be a part of the big picture.

And if you have over indulged the last week or so, try my grandma’s cleansing salad. Three ingredients, minimum effort and it is incredibly healthy. One of the salads ingredients is the super sauerkraut. It only contains 27 calories per cup, while being full of Vitamin C and probiotics. What a perfect start to the new year!

Saurkrautsalad

GRANDMA HANA’S SAUERKRAUT SALAD
You may notice carrot in my salad, this was part of the sauerkraut that I bought from my Polish shop. If you can, get some unpasteurised raw sauerkraut to get the beneficial bacteria. If you can’t find it you can use sauerkraut from a jar too.

Serves 4

ingredients
3 cups sauerkraut
2 medium apples, diced
1 medium red (or sweet white) onion, finely chopped

method
Just add everything together and enjoy.
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