Friday, 12 June 2015

Carrot Noodle Salad with Charred Courgettes

Whilst I write this the sun is shining bright, not a cloud in the sky, and I'm enjoying a super-refreshing green juice. These are the kind of days I crave. The warmth of the summer sun on your skin makes you feel truly nourished and relaxed. The increase in temperature also means using more fresh and raw ingredients in my cooking, which are great to help give you that summer glow. 

This is a lovely little salad, making use of my current favourite kitchen toy: The Spiralizer. Seriously, if you don't have one already I seriously recommend buying one. They aren't expensive and make rustling up quick, highly nutritious and seriously satisfying meals super easy. They're also really versatile making noodles, spaghetti and ribbons out of a massive selection of veggies. Mine is by HemsleyHemsley but there are a quite a few different types available if you're interested. If you don't have a spiralizer then don't worry you can also julienne or grate your carrot for this recipe.

To serve 2, for a main meal, you will need:

2-3 Carrots
1½ Courgettes
4 Spring Onions
Handful of Pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp cold-pressed Rapeseed Oil
1 tsp Wholegrain Mustard
2 Lemons
Salt Flakes
Coarsely ground black peppercorns
Carrot Tops, to garnish

Heat a cast-iron skillet / griddle pan to top heat. Slice the courgette diagonally, no thicker than 1cm. Pour 1 tbsp rapeseed oil into a small bowl with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper. Brush the oil onto the courgette slices and set aside the remainder. The pan should be really hot now, press the courgette slices onto the griddle and let them sizzle. Cook on top heat for around 5 mins per side, this should ensure that you have great charring in the form of thick black stripes. If you are making this salad as part of a BBQ then char them on the BBQ if you like - they appreciate a good smoke. Once cooked remove from the pan onto a plate and set aside.

Set up your spiralizer and scrub your carrots. Chop off the top and bottom of the carrot to create flat, parallel edges. Fit your desired blade, I have used the thin-noodle attachment. Attach the carrot to the spiralizer with the thinnest end near the blade. It can take a few practices to get it right at first, especially with a vegetable as slender as a carrot. Once you have made your carrot noodles pull them apart and pop them into a large bowl.

Now for the dressing. Grab the bowl with the remainder of the oil, salt and pepper mix from earlier. Add the mustard, juice of 1 lemon and another ½ tsp black pepper. Whisk together and pour over the carrots. Use your hands make sure the noodles are all fully coated. 

Plate the courgettes and carrot noodles together. Slice the spring onions and throw on top. Wash a small handful of carrot tops before ripping up and adding to the plate with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds. Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over at the table and enjoy!

I love the vitality of this salad, it's so fresh and full of goodness. This dressing is so incredibly versatile too and I use it on all sorts of salads! It's earthiness with a touch of zest is great with root vegetables like carrots and it's a great match for beetroot or celeriac. 

The veggies used in this recipe have mainly come from our weekly veg delivery from Abel & Cole. It's great getting fresh, organic goodness delivered at home and I'd definitely recommend trying it if it's available in your area.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Lush Cauliflower Curry

I adore Indian food. In our house there's nothing more exciting or tempting as having a delicious curry, whether homemade or takeaway. Although I do prefer to make my own, I love getting an Indian takeaway for the wealth of veggie options. We tend to order in a little feast when we do! Fresh ingredients are an absolute must when cooking Indian, lots of vitality to soak up all the delicious spices. My favourite thing about this Lush Cauliflower Curry is the slight sourness. Feel free to use dried turmeric, ginger and so on, but if you can get hold of the fresh roots you're onto a winner. It's a nice slow-cook in the oven which gives it a deliciously deep flavour and texture. 

This recipe serves 4 with breads, I used ready-made chapatti's to serve with mine but of course you can also use rice. I actually made it to serve 2 and kept the second half in a container in the fridge which will keep for 2-3 days. Perfect for a quick week-night dinner. You will need:

1 Cauliflower
1 large White Onion
thumb-sized piece of fresh Turmeric root
1 thumb-sized piece of Ginger
4 small Garlic cloves
4 dried Curry Leaves
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground Cardamom
½ tsp ground Coriander
1 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
½ tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Salt flakes
4 med-sized Yellow Tomatoes
6 Cherry Tomatoes
Sachet of Creamed Coconut or 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
To garnish: Fennel tops, Mint leaves, Black Onion seeds.

Firstly set the oven to 180°c  Roughly chop the onion and add to a food processer, chopper or pulser. Peel and finely slice the ginger, turmeric and garlic then add to the onions. Then add all the spices and give a few good pulses until it's a coarse paste. Don't worry if you don't have a food processer, I'd suggest finely chopping and grating all the ingredients and mixing together well. Leave the salt, pepper and curry leaves out at this stage.

On the hob, put a casserole dish on a medium heat. You'll need to make sure you use a dish with a lid. Melt the creamed coconut or coconut oil then add the paste. Move around the pan releasing the aromatics for 2 minutes before adding the curry leaves and cooking for another couple of minutes. Dice the tomatoes and add to the dish, lower the heat slightly and let them cook down for 5-7 minutes until soft. Keep stirring throughout to ensure no serious sticking. 

Make up 500ml vegetable stock and add to the pan. Mix everything together well and bring to the boil. In the meantime break up a whole head of Cauliflower into florets. Once boiled bring the heat back down to a simmer and add the florets, spooning over the sauce. Put the lid on your casserole dish and then into the oven for 2 hours.

Take the curry out of the oven a couple of times during cooking to stir and make sure it's the right consistency. You don't want it to be too dry too early on and if it is I'd suggest using a little more stock and / or turning the oven heat down. For the final half hour of cooking I take off the lid and up the heat to 200°c to brown off the tops of the cauliflower slightly. It also reduces the sauce nicely to give it the perfect saucy consistency. 

Once out of the oven, taste and season with salt and pepper. Scatter some ripped up Mint leaves, Fennel fronds and Black onion seeds then serve with your favourite bread or rice accompaniment... and Enjoy!! 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Suma Bloggers Network: Delicious Summer Dips

So, it's been way too long since I last blogged. 2015 has been manic so far (mostly in a good way) and I've had limited down-time. It's meant not enough time in the kitchen, which I hate, and not enough time to focus on food in general! But this long-awaited blog for Suma Wholefoods signals my return. I hope you enjoy it!

I'm so glad to finally see some sunshine, it really is good for the soul. And these two dips are perfect for this time of year. Their versatility means you can make them in bulk and add them to lunches and dinners throughout the week. The first is a Pickled Chilli & Parsley Hummus and the second is a Butter Bean & Semi-dried Tomato Dip. They're great for sandwiches, salads, dipping and the latter is a splendid addition to pasta. 

Both recipes follow a very similar process with a few cross-over ingredients and you'll need to grab your blender for this one. Suma have an incredible selection of dried goods including these fab Chickpeas and Butter Beans, they're brilliant to buy and cook in bulk for ease of use during the week. I say this because when I get home from a long day at work there are times when I really don't have the energy to fully scratch cook, I'm sure you can relate. A fridge full of ready to eat and quick-cook meals really is a necessity. The Cooks & Co jarred products are brilliant too and I love adding the chillies and tomatoes to a massive variety of meals. Check out the Suma Bloggers Network for all the other recipes using their great range of ingredients!
Here are the ingredients you'll need:

Butter Bean and Semi-dried Tomato Dip:
200g soaked and boiled Butter Beans 
10-12 Cooks & Co Semi Dried Tomatoes
Handful of Basil leaves
1 tsp Organic Seaweed - The Atlantic Kelp Company
3 tbsp Olive Oil from the jarred Tomatoes
1 tbsp cold-pressed Flaxseed Oil
2 med Garlic cloves
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 tsp coarsely ground Black Pepper
½ tsp Cornish Sea Salt

Pickled Chilli & Parsley Hummus:
200g soaked, boiled and peeled Chickpeas
Handful of Parsley, leaves and stalks
1 tsp Organic Seaweed - The Atlantic Kelp Company
2 tbsp Light Organic Tahini 
1 tbsp cold-pressed Flaxseed Oil
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 large Garlic cloves
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Cornish Sea Salt
½ tsp coarsely ground Black Pepper
Juice of 1 large Lemon

Let's start with the Hummus! I used approximately ¼ of the 500g bag of chickpeas and soaked overnight. They were cooked for around 1 hour until nice and tender. You then need to slip the skins off. This might sound like a fiddly task but it's actually quite quick and easy when they've been cooked long enough. Once you've peeled the chickpeas add them to the blender with the Basil leaves, oils, tahini, chillies, lemon juice, crushed garlic and seasoning. Then blitz until it's smooth as you like. I prefer mine a little chunky but feel free to keep blitzing if you like it smoother. 

Now for the Butter Bean Dip. I soaked around ¼ of the 500g bag of Butter Beans from Suma overnight, I then cooked them for approximately 1 hour 30 mins to make sure they were super-tender. Of this I used 200g cooked Butter Beans for this recipe. I put the rest into a container and used for lunch salads. Legumes are a great source of protein to keep you fuelled up.

Add the cooked and cooled Butter Beans to your blender with the Basil leaves, tomatoes, oils, lemon juice, seaweed and seasoning. Then use a garlic press to crush the garlic and add. Once you've added all the ingredients blitz until smooth. Simple. 

The flavours of each are divine. So fresh and zingy but with a real depth. The seaweed really helps to add that umami goodness. If you're a chilli lover like me you can add a little more cayenne to the hummus. You can use extra olive oil if you haven't got flaxseed oil but it does add a great nutritional kick, especially if you follow a fully vegan diet. Both dips will keep in sealed containers in the fridge for a few days. 


Friday, 30 January 2015

Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup

My food philosophy is growing and changing all the time. And the one thing I keep coming back to is variety. You can eat all the "superfoods" in the world but the true key is diversity. A wide range of whole foods with a wide spectrum of differing nutrients and benefits is key. The more colourful your diet, the better, in my opinion. I've dabbled with going free-from in various ways and I think the best way to go is to listen to your body. I like being vegetarian and am mainly dairy-free but I really don't feel the need for labels. Just be yourself and do the best you can for your body!

Sometimes I think it's good to go back to basics. On this blog I often try and introduce new flavours and I'm always on the lookout for the next nutrient-dense foodstuff to tickle the tastebuds. Although this is certainly no bad thing, I can sometimes overlook the simple things. There are culinary classics that you can go back to time and time again without them failing you. This is one of them. The trusty Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup. And trust me, if there's one version of this recipe to keep on standby - it's this one. 

The tomatoes I used were a few different kinds; some Plum, Pomodorino, a few Vittoria. I'd be inclined to suggest using on-the-vine tomatoes as I think they have more flavour than the lighter-coloured off-the-vine ones. 

To serve 2 as a main, or 4 as a starter you'll need:

1kg Tomatoes
3 cloves of Garlic
1 med white Onion
1 green Chilli
1 tsp Celery Salt
3-4 tbsp Olive Oil
2 handfuls of Basil leaves
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Firstly set your oven to 200°c. Add the tomatoes whole to a glass baking dish, pour over 2-3 tbsp of the olive oil then sprinkle with the celery salt and coarse black pepper. Put in the oven to cook for at least 45 minutes. Turn them mid-way through and by the end they should be charring on top, as well as being ridiculously plump and bursting with juiciness. This recipe calls for no additional stock and the liquid all comes from the tasty Toms!

Dice the onion, slice the garlic and chilli then set aside. Pick your basil leaves discarding the stalks and throw these in the bottom of your blender. If you're using a hand blender just set aside until ready to blend.

When the tomatoes have been roasting for nearly 40 minutes heat the remaining olive oil in a deep saucepan. Add the onion and sweat for 5 minutes on a low-med heat. Then add the chilli and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. 

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and pour into the saucepan. Mix together well then transfer the mix into the blender, pouring over the whole basil leaves. Blend well for 2-3 minutes until smooth then back into the pan. Taste then season before serving steaming hot... I served mine with Cheese on toast for the ultimate in comfort food (it was soooo good!) but you can use your favourite croutons or dippers!

Such a delicious and incredibly simple meal to make. There was a little left over and I plan to use it as pasta sauce tonight with wholewheat fusilli and a little "cheesy" nutritional yeast! Nom nom nom :)

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Happy New Year to all. What are your new years resolutions? Mine is to read more. I often find that my input is social-media based and I'd like to break the habit. I'd like to read and learn more to increase my knowledge and broaden my horizons in 2015.

I'd like to say a massive THANK YOU to Steve of The Circus Gardeners Kitchen for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award (see Rules below). What a fantastic start to 2015! I adore Steve's blog which is "Seasonal Vegetarian Cooking with Side Helping of Food Politics"... he is a very knowledgeable chap!

Following on from this I'd like to nominate a few of my favourite blogs:

The Flexitarian - "Let's talk about Food, Health, Ethics & the Environment"... really feel like this blog is on my wavelength! Very inspiring stuff!

Curiously Conscious - Fab healthy living & lifestyle blog which covers everything from mindfulness to composting with some great recipes along the way.

In My Bowl - Alexandra is a real inspiration & I love her #GoddessVibes series founded on "the premise of unconditional self-love, positive thinking, and holistic and natural living".

SmarterFitter - I've followed Monica Shaw for some time on Social Media (especially love her Instagram feed) & always feel inspired by her pro-active, health-driven outlook on life. 

Three things that inspired me most this week are:

a) Visiting my grandparents last week filled me with love and happiness. They'll have been married for 60 years next year and I'm so proud of them! They always encourage, support and inspire me.

b) My husband Benjamin. I've had mobility issues for 2 years now as a result of a hip problem. I genuinely do not know what I'd have done without Ben. His constant love, support and patience is inspiring. 

c) Dozens of healthy eating blogs kicking my ass for the food (and drink) crimes committed over Christmas. The #healthyliving online community reminds me to treat myself well.

The Rules:
1. As the recipient you should thank the person who nominated you by linking to his/her blog and displaying the award logo;
2. Nominate up to 15 other blogs. Link their blogs and inform them about the nomination;
3. Share three things that inspired you the most this week.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Beetroot & Goats Cheese Baked Frittata

Hope you've all had a fabulous Christmas and are gearing up for an equally exciting new years! Wishing you all good health and happiness for 2015!

Although I'm meat and dairy free the majority of the time I'm not always particularly strict, especially at this time of year. I think it's important to be happy as well as healthy and sometimes limiting yourself can be dispiriting. So I like to embrace most things even if it's just once in a while! In this spirit I'd like to share with you this recipe for my Beetroot & Goats Cheese Baked Frittata... now although it's certainly not going to be winning any beauty contests it really is delicious and I'd love for you to give it a go. 

This is a really interesting dish. Seriously light and fluffy with a beautiful earthiness from the beets. Contrasted with the creamy and slightly tangy cheese it's delicious! 

For 4 servings you will need:

5 medium-sized Eggs
130ml Double Cream
2 large (fresh) Beetroots
1 tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
125g Abergavenny Goats Cheese 
Mild Olive Oil for greasing
Salt and Pepper to season

Firstly set your oven to 200°c and grease a deep baking dish with olive oil.

Top and tail your beetroots. I usually reserve my beet tops for juicing or smoothies as they are full of goodness - they actually contain more Iron than spinach! I've included a juice recipe below if you fancy trying it! Peel the beets then grate into a bowl and set aside.

Crack the eggs into another large bowl. Whisk together well then add the cream, mustard and a good helping of salt and pepper. Mix together well before adding the grated beetroot. Combine then pour into the baking dish ensuring the beets are evenly distributed. The vibrant pink at this stage is fantastic!

Break up the goats cheese into pieces. It's a soft creamy cheese but does retain it's shape. Scatter the cheese over the frittata pushing pieces down so they are not protruding out too much. Grind over a little more black pepper then pop into the oven for 30-35 minutes. Easy peasy!

Once removed from the oven it should be risen and lightly browned all over. The texture is super light and fluffy! I served mine on a bed of rocket with a light drizzle of lemon juice plus some pickles, which are a great match to beetroot. 

This is a recipe for all seasons. I'd love to add in Spring Onions in the summer, or maybe a little Thyme or Rosemary for winter. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did... here's my juice recipe:

Juice Recipe (for 1 large glass): 

Beet Tops (Stalks and leaves) of 5 beetroots
1⁄4 of a Red Cabbage
4-5 small Carrots
3 large Oranges
1 Lemon
Small handful of Mint

Using a juicer throw the leaves, stalks and cabbage through first. Followed by the citrus... the juicier ingredients will carry through any residue and vital nutrients. Serve with ice and enjoy!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Pumped-up Pear, Cinnamon & Date Porridge

This is my latest post for Suma Bloggers Network. And I've made a super-comforting and power-packed festive brekkie! The products I ordered from Suma are: Rude Health Organic Sprouted Porridge Oats, Organic Linusprout Cinnamon, Zaytoun Palestinian Medjoul Dates, Suma Organic Pumpkin Seeds and Suma Organic Dried Sweetened Cranberries.

This porridge is the bomb. I know that nobody has said that since like 1996 but it's true. It really is. It's uber festive and pumped with nutrition. It's comfort food at it's absolute best, especially for this time of year. And as well as being dairy-free, it's also gluten-free too! 

Now, down to business. Sprouted Oats are going to be THE THING for 2015. I hate silly food fads, I really do, but this trend could really be the start of something. I could try and re-hash the information for you, or I could just let you know what Rude Health say (because let's face it, they know best):

"An unsprouted grain is dormant, waiting for the right time to germinate. It's nutrients are locked up and well protected, making dormant grains harder to digest... When soaked in water, the grain wakes up and starts to sprout. Enzyme activity breaks down growth inhibitors, transforming and multiplying nutrients into their more easily digestible forms... The sprouted grain is slow dried to preserve it's valuable nutrients."

So there you have it. Along with the Sprouted Oats I've also added Linusit's Organic Linusprout with Cinnamon. It's Organic Flaxseed Powder which has also benefited from being sprouted and has Organic Cinnamon included. Flax is a great source of plant protein, Omega 3 and fibre. Suma have a really great selection of products with high nutritional value and source only the best. 
To serve 2 this simple and tasty porridge you will need:

1 cup Rude Health Sprouted Oats
1½ cup of Rude Health Brown Rice Milk (or any dairy-free milk you like)
1 tbsp Organic Linusprout Cinnamon
1 Pear
2 tbsp Agave Syrup
2 Medjool Dates (diced)
Good grating of fresh Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
Pumpkin Seeds & Cranberries to garnish

Firstly put your oats in a pan with the milk. On a medium heat bring them up to heat, once they've started to bubble lower the heat a little for a gentle simmer. Cook for 12 minutes stirring regularly - if at any point the porridge is starting to get too dry add a drop more milk.

Meanwhile peel and roughly chop your pear. Put in a pan with the agave syrup and set to a medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes until bubbling and the pear is starting to soften. It should be releasing juices and getting syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

After the 12 minutes your porridge should have a lovely creamy consistency. Take off the heat whilst you add the pears and syrup, the linusprout, dates, nutmeg and salt. Mix together well then pop back on the heat for another 2-3 minutes. Then you're ready to serve...

Add to a bowl then top with pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. A little squeeze more of agave (if you like things extra sweet) and another light grating of nutmeg to finish. Perfect!

I hope you're all ready for Christmas and getting into the festivities. It really is the most wonderful time of the year! Merry Christmas to all & all the very best for 2015!