walnuts

ROASTED ROOT SALAD WITH MUSTARD DRESSING

ROASTED ROOT SALAD WITH MUSTARD DRESSING



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What happens when three nutritional therapists and their families get together for dinner? No, we don’t snack on carrot and celery sticks and drink kale juice. We eat, and we eat a lot. But we do eat very nutritions and delicious foods. Usually we struggle to put all the various dishes on the table. The quantity reminds me of the French film Blow Out.

Last Saturday we had one of our foodie get togethers. Our table was overflowing with black bean chilli, patatas bravas, Mexican rice, guacamole, hummus, rocket and vegetable salad with cashew dressing and roasted vegetable salad with mustard dressing. Everything was delicious, full of nutrients and made with love :)

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One of my contributions was the roasted root salad with mustard dressing. Full of flavour, zingy, delicious and very colourful (if I may say so myself). It is so easy to make! I used carrots, butternut squash and beetroot. Of course other veggies would work here well too, sweet potato, parsnip, pumpkin, swede. The sweetness of root veggies can take a very punchy dressing flavoured with plenty of whole grain mustard.

This salad is fabulous when made ahead, great for take to work for lunch. Or as the weather gets better it is definitely one for a picnic basket. Bit of crusty sourdough would be amazing to soak up the dressing that has turned beautifully pink. I know I will be making this again and again.



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ROASTED ROOT SALAD WITH MUSTARD DRESSING

ingredients

1Tbs coconut oil
5 medium to large red beetroot
5 large carrots
1 small to medium butternut squash
3 medium red onions
Dressing
2 Tbs whole grain mustard
3 Tbs sherry vinegar
4 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp tamari or nama shoyu
1 Tbs maple syrup

5 tbs chopped parsley
1/2 cup walnuts

  • Cut the root vegetables into 1/2 inch (1.5cm) dice.
  • Melt the coconut oil.
  • Place the vegetables on a baking tray and roast, drizzle with coconut oil and roast for 15 minutes.
  • Slice the red onions and add to the vegetables, roast for another 30-35min or until the roots are cooked all the way through and starting to caramelise around the edges.
  • While the veggies are roasting prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients.
  • Tip the roasted veggies into the dressing, mix to coat. Hot vegetables will soak up the dressing making this extra delicious.
  • When the dressed veggies are cooled down add the parsley and walnuts.
  • Serve with a crusty chunk of sourdough.


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BEETROOT SALAD WITH PARSLEY GARLIC DRESSING, WALNUTS AND RADISH SPROUTS

BEETROOT SALAD WITH PARSLEY GARLIC DRESSING, WALNUTS AND RADISH SPROUTS

Sometimes it seems to me that it is very difficult to sell the idea of healthy food to some people. Somehow healthy food has a reputation of being bland and boring. Can food be pleasurable, tasty and healthy at the same time?

Christ Wark (chrisbeatcancer.com), in one of his podcasts, said that when he was going through his most intense healing period he began to see food as fuel rather than pleasure. He was focused on flooding his body with nutrition, eating for the sole purpose of healing his body. And he ultimately succeeded. Yes, eating the same salad or glass after glass of vegetable juice day in day out may become repetitive and boring but also in a way comforting.

When you switch from processed, over-salted, over-enhanced foods to healthy as nature intended nutrition you will, over time (this may take just a few weeks), learn to appreciate the true flavour of food. I like to tell my clients to imagine what the healthy food is doing in their body. Or in fact any food. We all know that eating a donut won’t bring any benefit to your health, there is no nutrition in a donut (unless you count artificial vitamins and minerals added to the flour). Eating a plateful of vegetables, on the other side, will flood your body with minerals, vitamins, enzymes and phytonutrients. If you can imprint this into your mind your choices may just become easier.


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Let’s practise with my beetroot salad:
Beetroot:
rich in folate and manganese, supports liver detoxification, anti-inflammatory
Parsley:
rich in vitamins and minerals, diuretic (supports kidney detoxification), anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory
Garlic:
vasodilator (beneficial for cardiovascular health), anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiviral, anti-cancer, source of selenium
Walnuts:
rich in vitamin E, omega 3 fats, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, rich in magnesium, cooper, manganese, biotin and molybdenum, lower LDL cholesterol
Olive oil:
anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, protection from cancers of the digestive tract, can slow down growth of harmful bacteria (i.e. Helicobacter)
Radish sprouts:
anti-cancer, rich in minerals, vitamins and enzymes, aid liver detoxification, source of phytoestrogens
Cider vinegar:
helps regulate blood sugar balance, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, helps break up mucus, aids digestion

If you are a beetroot lover like me you will adore this recipe. And as you see it will love you back. I already made it twice this week…


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BEETROOT SALAD WITH PARSLEY GARLIC DRESSING, WALNUTS AND RADISH SPROUTS
Serves 2-4 (4 as a side salad)

10 baby beetroot or 5 medium size (any colour)
1 large clove garlic
handful of parsley (about 2-3 tbs chopped)
4 tbs cider vinegar (I use non pasteurised)
3 Tbs cold press extra virgin olive oil
few walnut pieces (about 1 tbs)
handful of radish (or broccoli sprouts)

  • Clean the beetroot, cut of the stalks but be careful not to expose the flesh as this will cause the beetroot to bleed out into the cooking water. I leave the roots intact.
  • Boil in water for about 30min (this will depend on size) till beetroot is tender.
  • Drain the beetroot, let cool. When cool enough to handle slip the skins off. Cut into bite size wedges.
  • Arrange the beetroot wedges in a single layer in a shallow bowl.
  • Next make the dressing: crush or finely chop the garlic clove and chop the parsley. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil and vinegar with a pinch salt. Stir in the garlic and parsley.
  • Pour the dressing over, scatter with walnuts and place a mound of sprouts in the middle.


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ROASTED COURGETTE, BROAD BEAN AND VEGAN PESTO SALAD

ROASTED COURGETTE, BROAD BEAN AND VEGAN PESTO SALAD

Most of the courgettes that I have in the kitchen make it into a bowl of raw spaghetti with a variety of raw sauces. This time however I opted to cook them. I must have been inspired about last Friday’s lunch with a friend. We shared lovely Lebanese mezze and a massive dish of grilled veggies (including courgettes) and falafels.

Another summer vegetable, the broad bean was in my veg box. I find it the most wasteful vegetable in the world. It even rivals globe artichokes in the amount of waste it generates...You receive a big bag of bean pods, you pod the beans, cook them, pop them out of the tough (to me not very pleasant) skins and you are left with a handful of bright green beans and a mountain of waste... lucky we have a compost bin. You can’t deny the nutritional value of broad beans, it makes all the work worth it. A cup of can provide 44% of your folate! And 12.9g of protein. Other minerals and vitamins these little gems are rich in include iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium and B vitamins.

The courgettes and beans do not posses any strong flavours and need something to lift them up. I chose pesto as it is great with any veg. My pesto maybe vegan but it sure is delicious. It is thick, nearly spreadable, cheesy from the nutritional flakes. Lemon juice just lifts it up a little. I really enjoyed this dish, it’s so full of flavour and so versatile. I had mine simply with some rice, but any grain or pasta will be great. The salad is perfect for a mezze style meal. The pesto is great on its own too. I can promise you won’t miss the parmesan.

More broad beans and courgettes in my veg box this week... I think I know what I will be making.


pestobeans-and-courgettes
ROASTED COURGETTE, BROAD BEAN AND VEGAN PESTO SALAD
serve this as a salad, mix in with some rice, pasta or quinoa, use as a topping for a jacked potato, in a sandwich... the possibilities are endless

Serves 2 as a main dish

2-3 courgettes (zucchini) (I used two rather big ones)
olive oil in a spray bottle
1-2 cups shelled broad (fava) beans
2 spring onions (scallions), white part thinly sliced
pesto
1 cup (packed) of basil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
1tbs lemon juice
3 tbs cold press extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes
salt to taste

broad-beans

  1. Cut the courgettes into bite size pieces. Place into a roasting dish and lightly spray with olive oil. Bake for 25min at 400 or until courgettes start to brown around edges. Set aside to cool
  2. Boil the beans for 2 minutes in water. Rinse in a colander with cold water. When cool enough to handle pop them out of the light green tough skins. Set aside.
  3. In a blender combined the pesto ingredients and process into a thick paste. It won’t be as runny as traditional pesto.
  4. Mix the courgettes, beans, spring onion with the pesto. Best served at room temperature.

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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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EASY BRUSSELS WITH WALNUTS

EASY BRUSSELS WITH WALNUTS

Our kids have been counting days till Christmas. In just a few days I will have several pots on the stove, both ovens on the go, sink full of dirty dishes and hopefully a glass of wine somewhere near. Following the Czech tradition I cook my main meal on Christmas Eve. This gives my children a taste of Czech Christmas and I get to do minimum cooking on Christmas Day.

Recently Daily Mail online posted an article on the healthiness of European Christmas dinners. The Czechs are proudly standing at number 2 surpassed only by France ( I think the use of foie gras calls for disqualifications). I do have reservation about the way this survey was conducted, but one thing I know for sure the Czechs do not stuff themselves silly on the day. Growing up our Christmas meal consisted of split pea soup (virtually fat free), breaded fried carp (special white sausages for my fish bone phobic Dad) and potato salad. For dessert we always had stewed apple compote with a few walnuts for a crunch. After dinner the homemade cookies would finally make an appearance (they are usually made a week ahead and nobody is allowed to have a crumb).

One thing that didn’t seem to feature on out table were vegetables (apart from few vegetables in the potato salad). Daily mail mentions sauerkraut but I don’t remember ever eating at Christmas. These days my Christmas fishless/turkeyless dinner has been adapted to feature both Czech and English elements. Split pea soup is a must but so are Brussels sprouts. Every year I try different ways to make Brussels interesting and this year I am going to cook them with walnuts.

The recipe below was a quick test batch that serves 3-4 but if you are feeding a crown do double or triple recipe (no need to triple the coconut oil of course). Serve hot straight from the pan. I can guarantee you will want to make these more than just at Christmas.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2524558/British-Christmas-dinner-ranked-unhealthiest-Europe.html

brussels-with-walnuts

EASY BRUSSELS WITH WALNUTS
Easily doubled or tripled. Coconut oil doesn’t need to be tripled. For an oil free version add the garlic and walnuts to the brussels when they are softened, cook for couple of minutes. You will not get the golden brown colour but it will still taste delicious.

Serves 3-4

ingredients
2 cups of small Brussels sprouts
2 tsp coconut oil
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped garlic
handful of walnuts (about 1/2 cup)
salt and pepper to taste

method
  1. Pull of any damaged leaves of the Brussels sprouts and halve them lengthways.
  2. Put the Brussels sprouts into a wok (or a deep frying pan) add enough water to barely cover them and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer till the sprouts are tender, about 8minutes. Most of the water should have evaporated by this time.
  3. Add 2 tsp coconut oil, the garlic and walnuts. The Brussels will start gently frying in the coconut oil. Cook till some of the Brussels turn golden brown.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
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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!

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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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BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND ORANGE SOUP

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND ORANGE SOUP

The house move is getting closer and closer, 7 days to go! Yesterday our lovely friends came to help us with the disaster zone that was our attic. Thank you!!! The day before (after watching The Croods with kids in the cinema) I sorted boxes of old cooking magazines. With all my books in boxes I resorted to couple of old Good Food magazines to read in my bath. There I came across a Valentines ( February 2008 issue) menu from the celebrity chef James Martin. The geek in me had to add up the calories, fat and protein of the romantic menu. Rather than romance you may expect a coronary...

Here are the results, per serving:
kcal - 2500
fat - 194g, sat fat - 70g
protein - 90g

Based on the British Nutrition Foundation RNI’s this meal contains over 500kcal, 124g of fat (50g sat) and about 50g more protein than an average women needs in a day (of course needs vary according to body shape, but trust me nobody needs 194g of fat!!!).

People tend to idolise TV chefs, they nearly posses superstar status. This gives them a lot of influence and they should be using it in a positive way. You may say the above meal is a celebration meal, only for special occasions. I agree, we do not make a three course meal every day. Still I think this is irresponsible. UK like the USA is experiencing obesity crisis, the health service is finding it hard to cope. We now have thirteen year old children having bariatric surgeries and their health suffers as a result of such intervention. This generation of children may die before their parents unless things change.

I would like to challenge TV chefs to create some healthy tasty meals, but from what you can read below, this may be near to impossible. When challenged, John Burton Race had a bit of a tantrum. By the way what does he call moderation???:

"It's a very good idea to watch your saturated fats," said John Burton Race, a Michelin-starred British chef whose recipes were evaluated by The Fat Panel. "But I would rather eat one spoon of full-fat cream ice cream than sit there with a gallon of unsweetened yogurt. I would rather eat these foods which are naughty but nice in moderation than try to look around for substitutes. It's just a pointless exercise."

And on he goes:

"It's ridiculous," said Race, pointing out that the panel harped on 100 grams of butter in his baked apple recipe, which also included dried fruits, nuts and the whole fresh apple."If you want something really indulgent, one of the lovely, rich things in life, have it in balance and moderation," Race said. "I'm sure that it won't kill you."

I will repeat Dr Esselstyn’s words again: “Moderation kills!” Chefs only get the message when faced with their own mortality. Maybe its time to start making changes sooner.

Read more at:
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=7071103&page=1#.UZDnjo6TQ0s


butternut-orange-soup


BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND ORANGE SOUP
Yummy, spicy soup. No added oils just good fat from the walnuts.

Serves 4

1 onion, chopped
3 sticks of celery, chopped
1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped (deseeded for milder soup)
120ml (1/2 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
750ml light vegetable stock
For the topping:
large handful of parsley
handful of walnuts

  1. In a medium sauce pan heat about 60ml (1/4cup water) and saute the onions, celery and chilli till soft. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick.
  2. Add the orange juice, butternut squash and vegetable stock.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for half an hour.
  4. While the soup is cooking chop together the parsley and walnuts.
  5. Serve the soup garnished with the parsley and walnut mix.

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100% RAW/MARINATED MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH WALNUT AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO PATE

100% RAW/MARINATED MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH WALNUT AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO PATE

One of my college assignments is to go on a diet for a week and do a presentation to the rest of the class. This is going to be quite an exciting experiment I can’t wait to see how we all get on. We have several liver detoxes, juicing and alkalising and ayervedic diet, and many more. My choice was quite easy. No, it is not Atkin’s because I do value my life :) I am going 100% raw for a week. I love raw food but have never done 100%, maybe for a day, but not for a week.

The purpose of the exercise is to pick a plan and follow it. I was originally going to follow Matt Amsden’s Rawvolution but the breakfast required 2 young Thai Coconuts per day which is not something I have readily on hand. Quite frankly I could not see myself wrestling 2 coconuts every morning. Not on a school day! Kids breakfast, lunch, coconuts... too much to handle.

I am starting the 100% plan tomorrow and will report everyday (or that’s the plan). I am using The Raw Food Diet by Christine Bailey, this means her recipes not mine. Not something I am used to doing, not three times a day. There is lots of planning and preparation, I have shopped, soaked, chopped, processed, dehydrated and I am ready.

Before I start my exciting endeavor here is my own raw recipe for marinated mushrooms stuffed with walnut and sun dried tomato pate. Enjoy.

yum yum
veggies

MARINATED MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH WALNUT AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO PATE
Serve these with a green salad for a light dinner. They are also fab as canapes.

Serves 4 as a main dish with a salad, or 8 as canapes

ingredients
300g (10oz) small portobello mushrooms
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Braggs Liquid Aminos (or Tamari or Shoy)
100g walnut
handful of parsley
30g (1oz) sun-dried tomatoes not packed in oil
2 spring onions (scallions)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt

stuffed-raw-mushrooms

method
  1. First prepare the mushrooms. I like to peel the outer skin, it allows the marinade to penetrate easier.
  2. Put the mushrooms into a glass bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and Braggs Liquid Aminos.
  3. Cover with lid or cling film and leave to marinate for 24 hrs in the fridge. Make sure you gently shake the mushrooms now and than.
  4. Make the pate. I used my own “sun-dried” tomatoes made in the dehydrator. If using regular sun-dried tomatoes, soak them for half an hour.
  5. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and process till ti comes together to a coarse pate. You may have to add 1 or 2 Tbs of water. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. Remove the mushrooms from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Divide the pate among the mushrooms and serve.
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ROASTED AUBERGINE AND PEPPER DIP/SAUCE

ROASTED AUBERGINE AND PEPPER DIP/SAUCE

Last night we were watching the Red Nose Day on TV, amazing amount of money was raised for some very worthy causes. All of the stories of the people in need, whether in Africa or the UK, are truly heartbreaking. An African woman died from AIDS leaving behind her HIV positive daughter. The medicine she was supposed to take to keep her alive cannot be taken on empty stomach as it can be too toxic. She gave up her share of food so her daughter had enough to take her medicine thus condemning herself to a premature death.

Today walking through the town we came across a Mexican restaurant serving a 3 pound burrito. It may not be as big as those on Man V Food but still nobody needs to eat this much in one sitting (not even for a lousy T-shirt). See the disparity? Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

The sad thing is that the type and amounts of food people in the Western world eat today can result (and it sure does) in chronic diseases and an early death. Not to mention the destruction of the environment. I couldn’t believe that I read in the today’s Daily Mail article about king prawn production in Thailand. To keep up with the demand from the Western world, man groves in Thailand have been destroyed to be converted into prawn pools. Fishing for the prawn feed destroys the marine life. The workmen, trafficked from poorer countries, work in terrible inhumane conditions. This makes me very angry. I could say my conscience is clear, I don’t eat prawns, thus don’t participate in this appalling industry. However this is about all of us. I do appreciate not everyone will stop eating prawns but everyone should be aware of where their food comes from and be shown how to make better, more ethical choices. This is the only planet we have and we are collectively responsible for its future.

I have posted the article on my facebook, but if you haven’t read it here is the link. Truly shocking:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2294246/Love-eating-prawns-Youll-right-tell-THEY-fed-on.html

Ponder over the article with a bowl of this on hand :)

aubergine-pepper-dip

ROASTED AUBERGINE AND PEPPER DIP/SAUCE
This is such a versatile recipe. Great as a stir in sauce for gnocchi or pasta (pesto style), fabulous on bruschetta or rye bread, yummy as a dip, homemade baked pitta or tortilla chips... Just make sure you crush the garlic clove before putting it into the food processor, nobody likes to crunch on a piece of garlic...

ingredients
1 medium aubergine (eggplant)
1 red pepper
1 clove of garlic, crushed
5 sun dried tomatoes
1 cup of parsley
1/2 cup walnuts

Great as a stir-in sauce for gnocchi or pasta.
gnocchi-roasted-aubergine

  1. Heat grill (broiler) on high. Line a baking sheet with some aluminium foil. Pierce the aubergine and pepper with a skewer or the tip of a sharp knife.
  2. Place the aubergine and pepper on the baking sheet and put them under the grill.
  3. Grill until the pepper skin is blackened and the aubergine very soft. This will take 10-15 minutes. You may have to take the pepper out before the aubergine is done.
  4. Put the pepper into a bowl and cover the bowl with cling film, this will make it easier to take the skin off. When cooled, peel the pepper. Remove the stem and seed but reserve the juices that collect inside the pepper.
  5. Make a slit lengthways into the aubergine and scrape out the flesh.
  6. Put the pepper with juices, aubergine, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, parsley and walnuts into your blender or good processor.
  7. Process until all ingredients are well chopped and mixed together.
  8. Use this as a quick stir in sauce for pasta or gnocchi, spread for bruschetta or a dip for pitta chips.
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COURGETTE SALAD WITH TOMATO SALSA DRESSING AND WALNUTS

COURGETTE SALAD WITH TOMATO SALSA DRESSING AND WALNUTS

Another great study weekend, this time we had our first client clinic. We observe, take notes, discuss, learn. What an amazing experience! I can’t wait till this is my job. Helping people and doing it through diet is a fabulous way to make a living (I can’t ever get tired about talking about food and nutrition!).

What struck me with our clients, and it is true with so many of us, was the lack of fruits and veggies in their food diaries. I am sure we all think we are eating quite healthy. However upon a closer look it may not be so. It is not uncommon to go through the day with one token banana and not much else on the 5-a-day front. A cheese or ham roll, packet of potato crisps and a can of cola is a very typical take to work lunch. Unfortunately this is not going to do a whole lot for your body. Out of a bag side salad sitting next to a ready meal for dinner is nothing to get excited about either.

I am lucky to be at home for lunch, this enables me a bit of planning and thinking about what I eat. Today it was leftover vegetable soup, couple slices of rye bread, an apple and an orange. I also sneaked in few kale chips. I do tend to cook soup in larger batches, freeze or just keep it in a fridge for a few days. I don’t see cooking for myself as a waste of time, cooking for one is cool, I can eat whatever I like. I can eat all the things rest of the family may not go crazy for. It may just be a sweet potato baked in the oven with some spicy greens and chickpeas on top. In my eyes, that is heavenly. And when I am pressed for time, I will have a hummus, grated carrot and seed wrap, or an avocado, lime and spring onion wrap with a bit of cayenne for some kick.

At college, everybody makes an effort to bring a very nutritious lunch. We are, after all, studying nutrition. There are quinoa salads, flasks of soup, pots of hummus, leftover veggie curries, lentils, rye breads. Everybody carries boxes of nuts and dried fruits, kale chips, fruits and veggies. We all plan ahead to ensure we eat well. It is all about getting into the habit and finding a little bit of extra time to prepare some yummy, healthy and portable dishes. Your health is surely worth extra few minutes a day.

This salad takes minuted to make and carries an amazing zing that is sure to wake up your taste buds.

courgette-salsa-salad

COURGETTE SALAD WITH TOMATO SALSA DRESSING AND WALNUTS
Make sure you to add the walnuts in just before serving. If left sitting in the lime juice they will taste rather unpleasant.

Serves 4 as a side salad but will do nicely for 2 as a “raw pasta” dish

ingredients
2 medium courgettes (zucchini)
1 medium beef tomato
pinch of salt
2 spring onions
1/2 red chilli
juice of 1 lime
1/2-1 Tbs agave syrup (to taste)
handful of coriander (cilantro)
1/2 cup walnuts

method
  1. Using a swivel peeler cut the courgette lengthways into long ribbons. Leaving the centre part with seeds behind. Place the ribbons in a bowl.
  2. Next make the dressing. Cut the tomato into quarters, using a sharp knife remove the seeds and skin. Dice the tomato finely, place into a small bowl and add a pinch of salt.
  3. Finely chop the chilli and spring onions and add to the tomatoes together with lemon juice and finely chopped coriander.
  4. Add the dressing to the courgettes and let sit for about half an hour in the fridge.
  5. Just before serving add the walnuts.

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RED PEPPER AND WALNUT SPREAD

RED PEPPER AND WALNUT SPREAD

Not surprisingly, yet another research has shown the link between red meat consumptions and the increased risk of heart disease, bowel cancer and Type-2 diabetes. This recent Cambridge University study also looked into meat production and our carbon footprint. Studies after studies are coming up with the same results yet only a handful of us are taking notice. It is important to keep this news in the public view.

This particular study has shown 3-12% reduction in colorectal cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes risk. The scientist are only talking about a reduction of red meat intake from 91g to 53g per day. I would like to see the numbers for people who cut their red meat consumption down even further or indeed cut it out completely.
http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/12032/20120911/goodbye-red-meat-cutting-reduce-carbon-footprint.htm

Another study that caught my eyes is the link between mother's (and even grandmother's) diet and their daughters (granddaughters) increased risk of breast cancer. High fat diets in pregnancy can increase your daughter’s, granddaughter’s or even great granddaughter’s breast cancers risk by 55-60%. These are some scary numbers. And yet we get “nutritionists” promoting high animal fat low carb Atkins style diets.

This study proves that not only we are what we eat but our children are what we eat too!

http://www.sciencecodex.com/pregnancy_exposures_determine_risk_of_breast_cancer_in_multiple_generations_of_offspring-98216

The last study? Omega 3 supplements don’t cut risk of heart attacks. If your overall diet isn’t great Omega 3 supplement will not make much of a difference. Eating healthy plant based diet is the answer. You could include fish in your diet if you wish (I don’t) or choose from some of the many sources of non animal Omega 3 fatty acids. Chia seeds, linseeds, walnuts and kale are some of my favourites.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1357266
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/09/11/us-heart-omega-idUKBRE88A1C020120911


redpepperwalnutspread


Now one super speedy natural Omega 3, antioxidant rich, planet hugging recipe:

RED PEPPER AND WALNUT SPREAD
This spread is fab on some crusty whole grain bread but can be used as a pasta sauce pesto style.

I used peppers from a jar, but it is easy to roast your own. Just place on a foil or baking paper lined baking tray and bake (200C) or broil until peppers start blistering all over. Put into a bowl cover with plastic wrap to let peppers to steam, this makes them easy to peel. Peel and de-seed. Catch any juices from inside of the peppers.

ingredients
1 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 roasted red peppers, from a jar works great
1 raw red pepper
small bunch of parsley, leaves only, chopped

method
  1. Put walnuts, garlic and peppers into your food processor/blender.
  2. Whizz up into a course pate consistency.
  3. Add in the parsley and whizz shortly till well incorporated throughout the spread.


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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.

kalekofta2

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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CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

Imagine this: you pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee if you prefer and you get that niggling feeling to have something sweet with it. Do you reach for a biscuit jar, a slice of Victoria sponge or a brownie? Or do you decide to be good and have nothing at all? What if there is a solution that gives you a well deserved treat without the butter, refined sugar and even flour. My chocolate raw bars are right on the money.

There has been a bit of an explosion of raw bars on the market lately. I am partial to Naked Bars, they taste great and are a perfect portable boost of energy. They are very popular in my nutrition class they seem to come out when we need a lift from that mid afternoon slump. As much as I love them I thought I could do better and cheaper myself.

Results were excellent, I must say Naked Bars have a competition, my son prefers mine and takes them to school. My friend who had one today asked for a recipe and to take some home with her. Another friend coming tomorrow... I am thinking I should start to package these. Enough of this self indulgent praise. Fire up your food processors and make these bites of indulgent gorgeousness too.


chcorawbar

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

I do apologise for using American measure only but I got carried away (twice already) and didn’t weigh my ingredients, using cup measure is so much easier. 1 cup = 250ml.

Makes 10 bars

ingredients

1 cup walnuts
1 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened
10 Medjol dates
2 Tbs raw cacao powder
1 Tbs Maca powder (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 goji berries
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (each nut into about 4 pieces)

method

  1. In a food processor combine the walnuts and coconut, process till you get reasonably fine texture, it will not be as fine as ground almonds.
  2. Add your cacao and maca powders and whizz around shortly, just until mix trough.
  3. Next add the dates into the mixture and process until it all starts coming together. To test it take a bit of the mix and press together between your fingers. If it sticks together and holds shape you are ready. If the mixture is not sticking together you may need to add another date.
  4. Tip the mixture into a bowl and add rest of the ingredients. Mix well so the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  5. Line a 10x6 inch baking dish with a grease proof paper. Tip the mix into the baking dish and press down to get a compact rectangle.
  6. Chill in the fridge for at least couple of hours before cutting. They will keep a several days in the fridge easily.
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BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD

BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD

Every Monday deserves a big news in the field of medicine. The one that stands out today is the breakthrough in treating obesity, a “flab jab” (to steel a tabloid headline) or, in a more scientific language, a somatostatin vaccine. This article explains how the jab works:
http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120709/New-somatostatin-vaccines-promote-weight-loss.aspx

We all know the obesity problem is out of control and there is a part of me that thinks this jab may not be such a bad idea. There are many people who, for whatever reason, will not (even though I am sure they can) change their lifestyles. A jab seems like a very easy solution to a very serious and expensive problem that is spreading through many countries around the world.

The other and much louder part of me believes that this is an utter madness. This jab is promoted (by many newspapers) as a way to stay slim on a junk food diet. I am sure that eating diet of junk food without the weight gain will appeal to a lot of people. This will ensure a huge profit for the company making the vaccine and by default to fast food outlets and processed food manufacturers. You may be able to eat rubbish and not put massive amounts of weight on, maybe even stay slim (the mice this was tested on lost 10% of their weight). However, as we know, being slim does not assure person’s good health. If you choose eating a junk food high calorie dense diet the chances are you will be malnourished regardless of your weight. A weigh loss jab surely won’t change this.

In the words of Dr Mark Hyman:
“We can’t medicate our way out of a bad diet.” And he is right, medication is not the answer. Medication has further implications, it is always toxic. For example diabetes medicine increases the risk of dying from heart problems and statins (the cholesterol lowering medication used to reduce heart attacks) increase Type-2 diabetes. This is a vicious circle. I am sure we will find negative side-effects to the above mentioned jab in due course. Instead of waiting 10 years for this jab to be approved just eat yourself to health (and healthy weight ) instead.


beetrootandorange


BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD
This salad has an outrageous colour and fresh, fruity flavour. You can use shop bought already pre-cooked beetroot, they tend to be bigger so use about 8.

ingredients
12 baby beetroot
2 oranges
2 small red onion
2 celery stalks
salt
handful of walnuts

method
  1. First prepare your beetroot. Scrub them clean but keep root ends intact. Cook beetroot in boiling water for 20-30min till tender. Cooking time will depend on the size of your beetroot.
  2. Let the beetroot cool down, slip of the skin and cut of the root and stalk ends. Cut each beetroot into 6 wedges. Place in a bowl.
  3. Next segment the oranges. Using a sharp knife (serrated knife works well too) cut off all the peel including the white pith. Holding your orange in the palm of your hand over the beetroot cut segments away from their skins. When you have removed all the segments squeeze the juice from what is left from your oranges.
  4. Thinly slice the red onion and add to the beetroot.
  5. Remove strings from the celery stalks and slice quite thinly. Add to the salad.
  6. Season with salt (optional) and pepper.
  7. Place the salad in a serving bowl and top with the walnuts.
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MIGHTY 4 SALAD

MIGHTY 4 SALAD

Everyday we are advised to eat new exotic superfood, acai or goji berries, chia seeds, noni juice, Indian gooseberry and many others. How did the generations before manage to survive without these?

No I don’t dispute the health benefits of the above foods, but in my opinion all plant foods have their own super powers. The quick and simple salad I put together today is made of everyday ingredients and according to studies can protect you heart and eyes, lessen tumour growth, help reduce blood pressure, lower risk of asthma and help regulate your blood sugar.

What are these mysterious superfoods? The humble beetroot, apple, celery and walnuts! Combined together in a refreshing salad dressed only with raspberry vinegar. There is a reason why I don’t use any oil in this salad. The walnuts are rich in Omega 3 oils, the kind we all need to get more off. Olive oil, on the other hand, is rich in Omega 6 oils and we tend to have far too much of these in our diets. We need some fats to absorb vitamins from our veggies efficiently, in this salad the walnuts take care of that rather efficiently. Perfect balance.

You do have to put up with the beetroot colouring the rest of your food pink, no surprise there. If you don’t have raspberry vinegar any other fruity mild vinegar will work well. White balsamic would be great. The apple should be crisp and juicy, not too sweet, it needs to offset the sweet mild beetroot.

beetapplesalad

MIGHTY 4 SALAD
I used 1 large beetroot that I cooked till soft (about 45 min) you can use precook beetroot, as they are usually small I would use 3. There is no need to be too precise with the ingredients if you like more apple add more apple...The recipe can be easily doubled, tripled....

Serves 2

ingredients
1 large beetroot
1 large juicy apple
2 celery stalks
handful of walnuts
2 Tbs raspberry vinegar
salt and pepper

method
  1. If using raw beetroot, wash it well but don’t cut of the ends as this would expose the flesh and make the colour leach out. Put in a saucepan cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook till soft. Large beetroot will take about 45 min.
  2. Cool the beetroot and peel, this skin should slide off easily. Cut into 1/2 inch dice.
  3. Cut the apple into 1/2 inch dice.
  4. Using a vegetable peeler or knife remove the strings from the celery stalks. Slice quite thinly.
  5. In a dry frying pan toast the walnuts, take care not to burn.
  6. Mix all ingredients together, dress with the raspberry vinegar, season with a pinch of salt and plenty of fresh black pepper.

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APPLE STRUDEL MINIBITES

APPLE STRUDEL MINIBITES

header-tea and strudel



In my opinion there is no better drink than a nice cup of tea. My favourite, without a doubt, is green jasmine tea. I love its heady floral scent and gentle flavour. My cupboard is full of different teas, green and white, plain and flavoured, there are some with fancy names, teas in bags and loose leaf teas. Some have been tied by hand into intricate flowers that magically open up when introduced to hot water.

We all know the antioxidant rich tea has lots of health benefits. In UK tea is the number one source of flavonoids in the diet. I thought I would do a little experiment and search through some tea stories to see what health claims newspapers come up with. I must say I was overwhelmed.

These are some of the claims I found:
Drinking tea just may

  • reduce chance of brain tumour and stroke
  • help fight infection
  • slow down weight gain and prevent obesity
  • cut risk of throat and oral cancer
  • help prevent breast cancer
  • lower LDL cholesterol levels
  • prevent flu better than vaccination
  • alter gene expression and improve cholesterol metabolism
  • lower diabetes risk
  • extend lifespan
  • prevent fatal autoimmune diseases
  • fight ageing and free radicals
  • cut risk of heart disease
  • help to halt luekemia and other blood cancers
  • block lung cancer
  • prevent eye disease and glaucoma
  • halt prostate cancer tumour growth
  • treat/or prevent dementia, brain disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • fight lung cancer and pneumonia
  • prevent and treat osteoporosis

A very impressive list indeed. According to these claims, drinking tea could help solve the world health crisis and we all should have green tea coming out of our water pipes. As amazing as all these claims are, tea is just one small part of a healthy lifestyle, drinking tea will not have a significant affect if the rest of person’s diet is poor. However based on this my daily cups of green tea will taste much sweeter (without sugar of course).

Most people associate tea with a piece of cake or biscuit so I though a perfect sweet treat will go down well with my today’s blog. A classic slice of apple strudel I grew up with is transformed into a much healthier bite size version. All the familiar apple strudel ingredients minus the sugar and pastry. The dates may not belong to a classic strudel but they are a fantastic glue to keep the bites together. One or two are enough to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.

APPLE STRUDEL MINI BITES

tea and strudel ingredients

ingredients
100g (2cups) soft dried apple rings (not apple crisps)
100g (1cup) walnuts
70g (1/2cup) raisins
4-5 Medjol dates
1tsp cinnamon

method

  1. In a food processor chop the walnuts. The nuts need to retain some texture not turn into nut flour.
  2. Add the apples, cinnamon, raisins and 4 dates. Process until the mixture starts coming together. If needed add another date.
  3. Tip the mixture into the bowl and roll into 18 walnut size balls.
  4. Keep in the fridge, this will firm them up a bit.

  1. tea and strudel

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BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH APPLES AND WALNUTS


Poor brussel sprouts, they have a very bad reputation, nobody seems to like them. They are only put on English tables at Christmas and that is only due to tradition. Everybody seems to blame them for after Christmas dinner flatulence (I guess nothing to do with the thousands of calories eaten in one setting). They are boiled to death, endured and quickly forgotten for another year.

Brussel sprouts do need an image change. I think they are rather pretty, mini little cabbages, green gems you could say. They definitely are nutritional gems. Powerful anticancer food, full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they promote heart health, have anti-inflammatory properties and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. A lot of power in this small vegetable.

No, I am not expecting a major brussel sprout revolution, however they do deserve to be on our plates more often. Please give sprouts a chance.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH APPLES AND WALNUTS

Slicing the brussel sprouts thinly is a very clever way of preparation. Not only they cook very fast, but they do take on a whole new identity, you may even forget what you are eating. The apple juice counteracts any of the bitterness making this a very fresh and tasty side dish. Allow about 7-10 sprouts per person ( I am talking adults here), after all veg should be half of our plate.

IMG_0669

ingredients
40 brussel sprouts, discard any discoloured outer leaves and the stem, slice thinly
100 ml apple juice (preferably fresh juice, not from concentrate)
2 large apples, cut into matchsticks
handful of walnuts (can be toasted)

method
  1. In a sauce pan heat the apple juice, add the sliced sprouts, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 5 min. Test if tender enough for your taste.
  2. Add the apple and heat through.
  3. Mix in the walnuts and serve.
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