Friday, 21 October 2011

Delicious and healthy bento style lunch box- fennel & brown rice sushi

One thing Dorrie adores to snack on is nori. Fia is not so keen on it alone as a snack, but she really does love it as part of sushi, so yesterday's packed lunch was just that!

This is a great way to get the benefits of nutrient rich seaweed into your child's lunch as not only is it delicious, but they really enjoy using chopsticks and dipping their sushi in the tamari; it is a proper 'interactive' lunch!

Here is a really easy recipe for a fennel sushi that is popular with my girls, I make mine with untoasted nori sheets when I can find them, although the toasted will do just fine.


Simple cooked fennel sushi

Ingredients:
1 cup of long grain brown rice
1 tsp of rice vinegar
3-4 sheets of nori
1 avocado, mashed with a squeeze of lemon
1/2 fennel bulb, finely sliced into matchsticks
2 inch piece of cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
Tamari for dipping

Method:

This is kind of tricky to describe without the pictures (my bad), so I really hope it makes sense! If you have any questions, please ask away!

First you need to cook the rice. In a saucepan, add 2 cups of water to the rice. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer until cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed which takes about 40  mins. Stir in the vinegar, transfer to a bowl to allow it to cool quickly.

Place the nori sheet on a sushi rolling mat or piece of tin foil, or even a tea towel!
Spread some of the rice mixture over one sheet of nori, leaving about 2cm of space at the top. This should not be too thick of a layer otherwise the sushi will be too thick to roll very well!

Spread the first 2cm of the rice with some of the avocado. Where the avocado ends put 2 rows of cucumber and fennel matchsticks.

Next you need to roll the sushi up, starting at the end which is filled up to the edge, keeping the roll nice and tight as you go.

When you are nearly up to the gap, use a little water to wet the very edge and then seal the roll.
I like to then put this into the fridge to firm up for a couple of hours, or better still overnight so all you need to do in the morning is slice the sushi- this makes for a super speedy packed lunch!

Slice the nori with a sharp knife, into about 1.5-2 cm slices.
Serve with the tamari for dipping and enjoy!

Tamari dipping sauce, fennel sushi, home made sugar-free pumpkin pie, red pepper slices, pumpkin seed and cacao nibs!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

How to make a healthy cheats packed lunch......

So, we're only a few weeks into the new school year and I'm already feeling that my lunch box inspiration is drying up a little! I never had this trouble when Sofia was in preschool, but that was only 3 days a week...... Now I have 5 packed lunches a week to create for Sofia and 2 for Dorrie, the pressure is on!

Like everybody else out there having to take care of packed lunches for school, I really want to do my best. But with time pressure in our busy lifestyles, how do you make super quick lunches that are nutritious and tasty?! 
The answer is simple, if truly pushed for time, there is nothing wrong with cheating once in a while, don't beat yourself up about it! Remain aware that the fresher the food is and the more minimally processed it it, it is going to be much better for you, but, there are more and more products out there now that offer a pretty decent alternative when you simply do not have the time. Using  a mix of these carefully chosen products and  doing the remaining prep the night before, can free up some much valued time.

Yesterdays falafel 'snack style' lunch was very quick to prepare, you can make both the falafel and the dip the night before, and the rest of the bits just involve some cutting up and pouring out. Easy.

You can also speed things up with a healthy cheats falafel rather than make it from scratch yourself. I am a big fan of Hale and Hearty's falafel mix, which is pretty awesome for a packaged food! It is organic, contains no gluten, no artificial colours, favour and preservatives, and all you need to do is add water, make into balls and fry. Simple!

http://www.halenhearty.co.uk/our_range/products/quick__and__easy_falafel_mix1/

I also made a super yummy and easy dip the night before so it was all ready to go the next day! 
Just blitz together in a mini chopper 4-5 tablespoons of organic soya yogurt, 4 fresh mint leaves, a 2 inch piece of cucumber (roughly diced, seeds removed), a pinch of asafoetida (optional, but does add an extra something special), sea salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Refrigerate until needed.

*To make a super indulgent vegan dip, blitz 1/2 cup of soaked and drained cashew nuts with 8 tbsp almond milk in a blender until creamy. Use half this mixture and mix with the remainder of the dip ingredients. The other half can be kept for a couple of days in the fridge and made into a sweet cream for desserts by mixing in some maple syrup and vanilla extract!
  
To go with the dip, I served up some crudites, seeds and some organic seeded tortilla chips. There are a few great makes of tortilla chips out there, look for organic, with no additives and flavoured simply with sea salt. We really like R.W.Garcia tortilla chips, especially the blue corn ones when we can find them! 
http://www.realfoods.co.uk/product/3453/blue-corn-tortilla-chips-organic


Feta & cucumber dip, falafel balls, seeded tortilla chips, green pepper strips, sunflower seeds and a raw coconut-chocolate slice!
The pudding in this lunch is a delicious home made raw chocolate and coconut slice, I'll be posting the recipe on this very soon so keep an eye out for that, I promise it won't disappoint!
I hope this has given you some inspiration for your lunches and look forward to hearing about your creations :)

**Updated Veganized option Dec 2014

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Beet kvass and herby yogurt cheese

So today I felt inspired to try something new for two reasons. One, because the weather really has turned and it is pretty chilly and miserable, (which is a very good excuse to seek the warm comfort of the kitchen), and two, because an amazing cookbook and nutritional guide has arrived that I have been pining after for a long time! It is called 'Nourishing Traditions' by Sally Fallon, and I really couldn't wait to try the first of the recipes in it.

While many of her recipes are meat, fish and dairy based, even if you are a vegetarian or vegan, I would recommend it (I'm not mad honest) as it really gets back to simple, wholesome nourishing foods and processes. She recommends not using refined sugars and to use alternate grains and flours (with the exception of white unbleached flour in a pie crust). Not only are the recipes inspiring, she also gives plenty of 'how to's' for traditional fermented, soaked and cultured grains, dairy and vegetables, which I truly believe are the way forward to a healthier lifestyle and one we are aspiring to!

So, in a bid to make my first chosen recipe, beet kvass; last night I set about collecting whey from half a tub of organic natural yogurt. I put the yogurt in a piece of muslin, tied it to a skewer and hung it over a bowl and left it overnight to work it's magic....

The next morning all the delicious whey had collected in the bowl and I was left with a beautiful fresh and tangy yogurt cheese in the muslin! We set the cheese aside to make a herby cheese later with, and Dorrie and I got to work making the beet kvass with the whey.

Beet Kvass is a traditional fermented drink which can be used as a condiment too. It is popular in the Ukraine, and like most fermented foods, has a whole range of benefits attributed to it such as being a blood cleansing tonic, alkalising the blood, great for digestion and an all round pick me up! I haven't altered any of the recipe from the Nourishing Traditions book, I have simply halved the amount.

Beet Kvass
Method:
1 large organic beetroot, peeled and chopped roughly
1/8 cup of whey
1/2 tablespoon of sea salt
filtered water

Method:
Place beets, whey and salt into a 1 litre glass container, give a good stir, seal tightly and leave on the work surface for 2 days. After 2 days, pop it in the fridge. It is then ready to go! Drink a very small glass morning and night as a tonic.
Sally Fallon also adds a note to not grate the beetroot or chop them too small, as this makes the fermentation process to quick (beetroot is very high in sugar) and will produce alcohol rather than lactic acid. I also believe it will be more prone to mould this way too!

** To make this Veganized, Beet kvass can be made without a whey starter and just with sea salt and filtered water. Although this is something I haven't yet done, it is on my to do list for sure and I promise to let you guys know when I do!

Fingers crossed my beet kvass doesn't go mouldy as my beetroot had started to go a little soft, will keep you posted!

Garlic yogurt Cheese
Dorrie and I made this with the cheese left over from my whey production! We added a large tablespoon of mixed chopped fresh parsley,tarragon and thyme, 1/4 of a garlic clove very finely chopped and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt. It was delicious and unfortunately did not last long- poor Will missed out on this experiment!

Dorrie eating all the herb cheese....
Beet Kvass

Monday, 19 September 2011

The sauerkraut post!

We adore sauerkraut at home. My husband (Will) really enjoys making it and has taken over the making of all the sauerkraut at home, though, I have a few ideas I'd like to experiment with so will let you know how they go!

Sauerkraut is one of the most beneficial foods you can eat. It is raw, so retains the nutrients in the vegetables, but even more important than that, the fermenting process means that it is absolutely packed with the amazing bacteria lactobacillus which keeps our guts healthy, it is full of enzymes to aid digestion, and high in vitamin C to give our immune systems a boost! How about that for a super food?!

 You can make a basic sauerkraut recipe with just cabbage and salt, but all sorts of vegetables can be added such as beetroot, carrot, kale, ginger, garlic, herbs and spices. As long as the majority of the mix is cabbage, you can really experiment with it.

It tastes delicious as a side with meats, fish and potatoes, on salad or as a topping on crackers and bread. Both the girls often ask for it on it's own as a snack and adore it in multi grain flat breads with houmus and salad, this is a popular packed lunch option for school and pre-school!

Here is a basic recipe from Will's blog 'culture THIS' for you to start with!

Sauerkraut
2 cabbages
1 tablespoon of decent sea salt (assuming 2 small cabbages weighing about 500 g each - see salt guide for more information on salt quantities)
a large bowl (preferably made from glass or ceramic)
a suitable jar (see container guide for more information)
a pair of clean hands

Steps:
  1. First, take the outer leaves of the cabbage and set aside, we will use these later. Then cut in half and remove the cores - also set these aside as they are also useful later on.
  2. Next shred the cabbage using a knife or food processor. It is best to shred it quite fine (no need to be obsessive about it though) as this will make it easier to make the brine later.
  3. Once the cabbage is shredded, place in the bowl, add the salt and start crushing the cabbage until it goes soft and wet (this will take a few minutes).
  4. After the cabbage has become quite wet, leave it for half an hour or so, and the salt will continue to extract more water, creating more brine. In the meantime this is a good time to sterilise your containers with boiling water and have them ready to place the cabbage into.
  5. After the half hour start stuffing the jar with the cabbage. As you place the cabbage in, press down quite hard, which will eliminate air bubbles and you should also notice that enough brine will rise up and more or less cover the cabbage. Keep filling the jar until you get to about one inch from the top (don't worry, this doesn't need to be millimetric).
  6. At this stage you should be able to press down on the top of the cabbage and the brine will cover it - we need to keep it that way (submerged) while it ferments. For this, use the cabbage leaves and cores you set aside at the beginning: wash them thoroughly, create a 'cap' with the leaves to put on top of the cabbage, and use the core (shaped as appropriate) to keep it pressed down when you shut the lid.
There, you should have a jar of soon to be sauerkraut ready to store. Store it at room temperature, preferably out of direct sunlight for about two weeks, then open and enjoy!




Thursday, 15 September 2011

Raw birthday feast for my two little girls!

Well it's been quite a manic few of weeks for us! First of all our poor cat Jaguarundi got hit by a car.... Luckily he is OK, he spent 8 days at the vet hospital and has wire in his jaw but he's home and doing well. It was a bit of a trauma for everyone poor boy.

On top of that, we had two very special birthday girls! Dorrie's birthday was the end of august and Fia's is the start of September, so the weekend in between I wanted to do something for them to celebrate!

We thought about throwing them a party, we have never done that before preferring to spend a special day together as a family, however I was beginning to feel the pressure a bit that they should be having some form of a gathering involving their friends. Problem is, to me, they still feel too young for proper parties. I have memories from when I was even older than they, where the whole occasion of a birthday and celebration totally overwhelmed me! It was all a bit much; and anyway, there are plenty of years for parties, especially now Fia has started school (eeeeek).

But of course we really wanted to do something for them, so I asked Fia and Dorrie what they wanted to do for their birthdays. It was (predictably being my daughters) mainly about the food, Fia wanting a raw food 'feast' with all sorts of delights mentioned, and Dorrie wanting a raw chocolate tart!
This was music to my ears, how could I say no? My Mum (Nanny) was here for the weekend too so the girls were super excited, and we had our very good friends come round with their daughters and also another awesome friend with her son, come to enjoy the food with us! Not a party, but an afternoon with friends who they see regularly (so it was special without being overwhelming). Kind of like a sophisticated play date really, with wine for the grown ups! 

Here are some photos of the feast, many of the ideas were Fia's! It was only possible with help from our friends and my Mum so thanks guys for helping in the Kitchen in both preparing the food and clearing up, you all are awesome! :)

 Sofia and Dorrie's (mostly) raw feast (we got away with a few cooked, but still totally healthy treats)!
We have;
Fruit skewers with a raw chocolate sauce, plums, raw kale salad, raw chocolate brownies, fairy shoot salad with edible flowers, raw apple pie, olives, kale crisps, red peppers, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes, ricotta-kamut gnocchi with a raw 'pasta sauce', olive and spelt crackers, humous, raw almond humous, root vegetable crisps, avocado boats with carrot spoons, unpasteurised ewe's milk cheese and grapes on sticks and raw vegan 'sushi'! PHEW!




 Close up of the pretty fairy shoot salad and my raw apple pie which I'm totally proud of! :)





 Close up of the delicious semi-raw gnocchi!




 Fia eating the raw chocolate tart (with edible flowers on the top) which I forgot to photograph in its entirety!! Silly me!!





I will be posting the gnocchi recipe soon so please watch this space!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Sunshiny quinoa stuffed peppers on a sunshiny day :)

The girls and I have spent most of the day outside colouring and playing ball barefoot which has been a delightful change from all the recent rain! The rays of the sun, the fresh air and the connection to the earth are also a marvelous combination to give yourself a physical and mental boost  ('I'm actually going outside to get my vitamin D and earth myself' says Fia; that girl is going places!)

On days like this it is super easy to eat mainly raw foods, the fresh, bright and vibrant food suits the weather perfectly. So we did a pretty simple, minimum cook lunch that was also very tasty! If you're planning this in advance, be sure to soak your quinoa overnight to help it digest more easily, but if you're in a  rush, soak it for as long as you can spare, at the least a very thorough rinse will suffice!

Interestingly both my girls prefer their peppers raw to cooked which is great as it is quicker to prepare and richer in nutrients! If you prefer your peppers roasted, by all means roast them first before filling with the quinoa mixture, they will still be delicious.

Sunshiny quinoa peppers served with green bean salad (serves 2)

Ingredients:
2 bell peppers, halved  with seeds removed (we like yellow or red peppers)
1/2 cup quinoa, soaked and drained
1/4 tsp bouillon powder (I use marigold reduced salt)
A large handful of raisins or goji berries
handful of fresh chopped parsley or coriander
1/2 fresh chili, de-seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes chopped
Handful of black olives, diced
10 runner beans, de-stringed and chopped finely or chopped french beans

Juice of a lemon
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
ground black pepper
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

 Method:
 Put the quinoa in a saucepan and cover with water until it comes about half a centimetre above the quinoa. Add the bouillon and give it a good stir. Bring this to the boil, and as soon as it is boiling, put a lid on the pan and reduce to lowest heat setting. Leave it to very gently for about 15 mins, there is no need to stir and avoid checking it too often, as you want to keep the steam in to help it cook. When ready all the liquid should be absorbed and the seeds separated. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and tip it into a bowl to cool.
 Whisk together the oil, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper to make a dressing. Place the runner beans in a bowl and pour half the dressing over the beans, coat well and set them aside.
Divide the bell pepper halves between two plates, ready to fill with the quinoa mixture.
When the quinoa has cooled down a little, pour over the other half of the dressing and combine. Mix through the spring onions, raisins, tomatoes, olives, parsley (or coriander) and chili. Spoon the mixture evenly between the bell pepper halves and add the beans on the side, drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil or hemp seed oil on everything and you have a colourful, pretty and healthy dish!

PS we would like to thank Clare and Kieron for the delicious beans which were fresh from their garden :)



Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Breakfast smoothies and shakes


Mmmmmmmmm green smoothies. Still my best breakfast ever. Except maybe celery, coriander and ginger juice which really wakes me up.......!

Anyways, we've been pretty experimental with our breakfast smoothies this last week, I have been feeling more inspired to vary things up a bit more, so thought I'd share with you the latest two creations. Obviously the chocolate one is particularly popular with the girls!

Green smoothies can be as simple as only fruit and greens or much more complex, including superfoods and protein powders like this one. This green smoothie is packed full of nutrients, and while it certainly wasn't the girls favourite breakfast smoothie, they did at least drink it! 
I really liked it though, so for adults I think it is a great way to start the day.......

Green protein smoothie (serves 2)
Ingredients:
Big bunch of chard
1 large banana
2-3 handfuls of blueberries
1 tbsp hemp seed oil
1 tbsp wheat grass powder
1 tbsp pea protein powder
about 1/4- 1/2 cup of filtered water

Method:   
Blitz everything together until you have a beautiful smoooooooth green drink!




Chocolate Vanilla breakfast shake (serves 2)
So, so popular with the girls, especially Fia, this is another really simple and quick breakfast which is not only very good for you, but you actually get to eat chocolate for breakfast! :)

Ingredients:
2 bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of coconut yoghurt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp grated chocolate (we use 100% pure cacao)
1-2 tbsp hemp protein powder
2 cups of Kara coconut milk (or dairy/non dairy milk of your choice)
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
4 ice cubes (optional)

Method:
As before, blitz away in a blender until smooth and creamy! You can adjust the yogurt and milk proportions to your own tastes.




















Hope this has given you some ideas for some quick and easy breakfasts!

*Updated and Veganized December 2014


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Nicey spicey popcorn :)

This is a really simple and delicious snack recipe that we all adore at home. It looks beautiful with its vibrant yellow colour and the spices are warming and comforting.

I think that it makes such a nice change from sweet popcorn and has the added health benefits of coconut oil, turmeric (of course) and cayenne pepper; a fast food snack that is really pretty healthy. I have taken to making a big batch of this, as it will keep a few days (if you can stop munching on it that is) and it comes in super handy to pop (no pun intended) in a paper bag to take when out and about...

Nicey spicey popcorn
Ingredients:
About 200g of popcorn kernels, (you basically want enough to cover a large pan).
2 tbsp coconut oil, or vegan butter
1/2 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric

Method:
In a large lidded pan, heat the oil or vegan butter till quite hot (if using butter take care not to burn).
Pour in the popcorn kernels and quickly pop the lid on.
Cook, shaking occasionally, you will hear the kernels popping.
When the popping slows down, remove the popcorn from the heat.
Mix the salt and spices together.
Pour the popcorn into a large bowl and coat with the lovely spices!

The great thing about this recipe is that it is quick and easy and very adjustable to your own tastes. If you like it a bit more spicey you could up the amount of cayenne to a teaspoon, also if you like less turmeric feel free to halve the amount.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Amazing romaine tacos! (raw)

Mexican is one of my favourite cuisines, I adore it, and when at its simplest, it is at its best. With fresh good quality ingredients and warming spice blends of cumin, coriander and chilli, it is comforting, tasty and takes me back down memory lane to sunny trips abroad.... We eat many Mexican inspired dishes at home; black beans cooked with smokey chipotle chillies, served with home made masa harina flour tortillas (wow that was a mouthful!) is always popular with the girls. We also love tacos, but making the tacos is time consuming so not great if you're in a rush.....

I have thought about making raw tacos for a while now, they always sound so appealing, but for whatever reason I get side tracked and it gets left on my (ever expanding) 'things to make' list. I am not sure if I'll ever catch up with that list, but it is always fun trying! 

Romaine (cos) lettuce is a great lettuce to use as a wrap, not only for its great shape which perfectly holds in the filling, but because it is an incredible nutrient rich lettuce. Among its many benefits, it is high in Vitamin C, folic acid, beta-carotene, and minerals as well as being a great source of fibre and protein. All of this makes it a great vegetable for heart health. If you use a lot of iceburg, switching to romaine is a simple way to boost the nutritional value of your salads!

In the past, I have used romaine to make all sorts of wraps, it works beautifully in place of bread with both raw and cooked fillings and is great simply filled with guacamole, bean sprouts or humous. It can also make an impressive raw taco when filled with a raw taco filling.
 This isn't a new idea, raw tacos have been around a looooong time so I cannot take the credit (unfortunately). This particular blend of ingredients depended totally on what I had available in my cupboards and wasn't particularly thought out, but I think it tastes really similar to the flavours in traditional tacos, the possibilities for adapting this kind of filling are immense!

Anyways, I am so pleased with them, I am even going to make them again tomorrow, I don't think there is anything I'd change about them except possibly to use less sun-dried tomato. The spice mix and amounts used is totally adaptable to your own tastes (I like quite strong flavours) so have a play, you could also use another kind of nut such as cashew or brazil or even seeds. Below are the ingredients that I used, which is a great simple recipe and will make 2-4 good sized tacos depending on how generous you are with the filling! You could also use little gem lettuce to make mini tacos, cute idea for a dinner party starter! :)

Raw Tacos 
 Ingredients:
2-4 big romaine lettuce leafs
1 cup of walnuts
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 bell pepper
4 sun-dried tomatoes, re hydrated in water and drained
1/2 tsp dried or fresh oregano
big pinch or about 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
big pinch or about 1/4 tsp ground cumin
big pinch or about 1/4 tsp ground coriander
big pinch or about 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
big pinch Himalayan or unrefined sea salt

To garnish:
(About) 10 strands of arame, re hydrated in water and drained (optional)
1 Avocado, chopped
Salsa made from 2 fresh tomatoes, 1/4 onion and a tablespoon of lemon juice
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or hemp seed oil


Method:

Wash and spin dry some big leaves of romaine lettuce, set aside.
In a mini chopper, blitz all the ingredients together until it looks like a very rough pate. This forms your taco 'meat'.

Fill the lettuce with the taco 'meat' and garnish with salsa, avocado and arame and a drizzle of oil.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Jam, jam and more jam!

I am not a big lover of fruits, especially the sweeter ones, but one kind I do adore are gooseberries (they're up there with rhubarb and kumquats).  And we got a whole heap of delicious looking gooseberries in our veg box. It was very tempting to make a honey sweetened, oat topped crumble, but, It dawned on me that I have never ever made jam before! How was this possible? It was high time I learnt, and it needed to be a sugar free version too. Up for a bit of a challenge I decided to give it a go.

I did a quick search on the Internet and found some suggestions to use apple juice concentrate in place of the sugar. I didn't have any but I did have my most fabulous and amazing Thorncroft detox cordial, which happens to be 90% apple juice concentrate, and, is a beautiful rich colour with tones similar to my gooseberries.... a match made in heaven!

I'm going to sound like Thorncroft are paying me right now (which I assure you they are not) because this brand is so ace I am going to have to tell you all about it. They make gorgeous soft drinks and cordials, and although some of their varieties do use sugar (but still all natural and containing ingredients with health giving benefits), they have a huge range of fruit juice based cordials and soft drinks. It is this range that I am in love with, particularly the Detox Cordial. It contains everything I hold dear to my heart, liquorice, dandelion, burdock, ginger, sarsaparilla, fennel, turmeric, red clover blossom, cinnamon, clove and coriander leaf. How awesome is that?! 

So I figured I could use this to make (possibly) the healthiest jam around. And I did. And it worked beautifully. It is a little tart, which I like as I haven't a sweet tooth, but you could add a sweeter fruit such as strawberries, or up the amount of cordial. For me this was just perfect, and as gooseberries are naturally high in pectin, it set a treat without having to add anything else. Easiest jam ever. 

Detox gooseberry jam!
Ingredients:
400g gooseberries
300 ml Thorncroft detox cordial (you could use regular apple juice concentrate too)

Method:
Top and tail the gooseberries and pop them in a pan with the cordial.



Bring to the boil and then reduce to a medium heat. Reduce the liquid down till the gooseberries are mushy and the liquid looks thick and delicious.


When you think the jam is ready, pop a plate into the freezer for a couple of minutes, take it out, pop a dollop of jam on it and leave for a minute or two. If you can run your finger through the middle of the jam without it running back together, it is ready!
Pour into a sterilized air tight jar (I sterilize mine in the oven).


This will need to be stored in the fridge as it does not have the sugar to preserve it. It should keep a couple of weeks.
We enjoyed ours with crusty rye bread.

Staying with the jam theme (this blog post is after all called 'jam, jam and more jam'), I had another jammy recipe to make!
In the back of the fridge I had a teeny bit of St Dalfour jam left in the jar (apple juice sweetened french jam, it is lush) and a bit of pastry left over from the supergreens and egg pie. So I made some dainty little shallow jam tarts with the pastry rolled super thin, that took just 12 mins to bake at 180 degrees C. They were quick, easy and perfect whole little bite fulls, a lovely treat for the girls :)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thrifty fun day!!

It was total excitement in the Bedford household today. For the very first time we had a Veg box delivered from Riverford organics. We usually use Able and Cole but were on holiday the day they would have delivered this week, so, to save us from the horror of the supermarkets, we decided it was definitely worth trying Riverford (and also to compare the two,  to make sure we're getting the best possible ingredients).

Anyhow, I am pleased to report that it was brilliant! The selection of fruit and veg was amazing and the quality equally impressive, so much so that I may get a box a week from each company from now on. They both have their pros and cons and it will give us more variety and ensure we get a top up of fresh veg later in the week!

However, I'm rambling, back to the point, my Riverford veg box..... Among today's selection we had carrots and beetroots. They both came with the most amazing, voluminous and delicious green tops I have EVER seen! There was no way I was going to waste those, they were a vegetable in their own right! So Dorrie and I got creative in the kitchen making a refreshing and vibrant juice (at her request) and I created a different take on one of Will's favourites, spinach pie! We had so much fun and I'm so excited to share these recipes with you guys, can you tell?!?


Carrot and beetroot top juice
Ingredients:
A big handful of carrot tops
A big handful of beetroot tops
2 carrots
1 large beetroot, peeled
1 apple, cored

Method:
Wash the Carrot and beetroot tops and drain well. Scrub the carrots and chop each into about 3 pieces. Slice the beetroot and apple into similar size pieces.


 



















Juice the pieces of veg/fruit and the greens, a little at a time in your juicer (We have the Samson 6 in 1) and that is it! Easy, quick, nutritious and  very tasty fresh juice!


Such a beautiful colour
It didn't last long!




















Thursday, 16 June 2011

Easy dhal, great as leftovers too....

So just thought I'd share Fia's preschool lunch from yesterday with you guys, it's a great example how leftovers make a super quick and no fuss packed lunch for your little ones.

There is no reason at all why we can't have food that is traditionally served hot, cold the next day, but it is something easily overlooked...... A good tip is to make more of what you're having for dinner, to save time the next day and keep those lunchboxes exciting!!

Below is my recipe for the dhal that was in Fia's lunch, it may not be completely authentic, but it really is yummy, it is one of the girls favourite dinners in fact. I know the list of ingredients looks mighty long, but it is such a simple dish to cook, please don't let that put you off! 

Spinach also makes a yummy addition to the dhal, just stir it in near the end of cooking so it is just wilted and retains its nutrients.

Dhal, brown basmati, goji berries and hemp seeds, cucumber and home-made sugar free pumpkin pie pudding!

Dhal Recipe
Ingredients:
250g red lentils, soaked for 1 hour and drained
1 pint of water (plus extra in case it dries out)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne or chili powder
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 large tomatoes. diced
1 tsp garam massala
Juice of half to one lemon
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Saute the onion, ginger and garlic for a couple of minutes then add all the spices (except the garam massala) in a little olive oil or coconut oil.
Next add the tomatoes, lentils and water, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 20 mins, or until the lentils are soft.
finish with the salt and pepper, lemon juice, garam massala and coriander, and stir well. And there you have it!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

All weather raw veggie salad

The one thing we can depend on here in the UK, is that you never know what the weather is going to do! One minute I'm wearing a T-shirt and flip flops, the next I am sat huddled up on the sofa with a hot water bottle and fluffy slippers! It is quite a challenge as I never know what to dress the girls in and they end up with multiple outfit changes a day; but hey, it gives us something to talk about and keeps us on our toes right?!

I have the perfect vibrant and uplifting salad for both chilly and warm summer days! It is really fragrant, with a warming subtle spice that is just what I need on a brisk day like today. It is also packed with nutrients from the raw vegetables, and also from the spices, with a generous amount of turmeric, lime, garlic and ginger. It feeds your body as well as your soul.

Turmeric is a wonder food.  I sneak it into as many dishes as I can, sweet or savoury! 
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, can help with a whole list of conditions and illnesses. It is also anti inflammatory, a blood clenser and an effective digestion aid, making it perfect partners with lentils and beans!

All weather salad
Ingredients:
2 Courgettes (zucchini), grated
6 Carrots, washed and grated
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tbsp cold pressed un-toasted sesame oil
2-3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp organic turmeric powder Zest of half a lime
Handful or parsley or coriander (cilantro)
1-2 tsp fresh chopped or dried chili fakes
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Mix the grated carrot and courgette together in a bowl.
In a mini chopper blitz all the rest of the ingredients to make a dressing.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir well to coat!
One thing I thought of after we ate the salad, is that it would be great with some sesame seeds sprinkled over the top. Will definately try that next time!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The dish that has no name, or could be 'The aubergine bake thingy'!

 *This recipe has been veganized March 2016. The original pictures are still on this page but I will update them with the new ones soon! Thank you for your patience while I create vegan versions of my old veggie recipes!

I looked outside the window this morning and was delighted by the blue skies! Although I know our plants appreciate the rain, I really do adore the sunshine and that lovely glow and energy it gives you so I can't help but jump around and act like a big kid when I see blue skies!

I decided that we'd definitely have something summery for dinner, maybe a veggie stir fry with quinoa and a green salad. Then, as soon as I put my washing out (how did it know?!), it became overcast and chilly. Boo. Although I do adore veggie stir fry, I now found myself wanting a rich bake type dish. I don't do a huge amount of oven bakes, but I do have one amazing dish that I love to cook on days like this, the dish that has no name! Or as we refer to it here, the aubergine bake thingy. If anybody can think of a name feel free to post a suggestion! ;)

I created this dish a while ago now. It came to me on a day much like today. I fancied something warm and comforting, a moussaka type dish, but without the meat. I remembered I had some left over olive bread and thought it would be fabulous in a veggie dish layered with aubergine and (vegan) mozzarella, and so this dish was born!

The girls really enjoy this, it is a real family friendly crowd pleaser of a dinner! It is also really great to cook if you have friends or family over. You can prep it all the night before so all you need to do is bung it in the oven, which means you get to spend more time chilling in good company than slaving away in the kitchen: bonus!

The aubergine bake thingy
Ingredients:
2 medium aubergines
5-6 slices of a natural unrefined olive bread
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 bottle of passata
2 tsp dried or fresh oregano
Handful of vegan mozarella (we like mozzarisella)
About 2 big handfuls of vegan parmesan- we love violife parmesan style cheese
A handful of fresh basil leaves
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Thinly slice the aubergines lengthwise, pop onto baking trays and cook until soft, about 25 mins.
In a pan, saute the onions and garlic until just cooked through, not browned. While they are cooking, lightly brush the bread sliced with olive oil and grill or griddle them until lightly toasted.

When the onions are beautifully translucent and soft, add the passata, oregano, salt and pepper and gently simmer for 5 mins.
Now you can start building up the dish!
In a casserole dish or deep oven dish, cover the bottom of the pan with about a 3rd of the tomato sauce. Top this with a layer of the aubergine, half of the remaining sauce and then the bread slices. Sprinkle on the grated vegan parmesan.

Add another layer of aubergine and the rest of the tomato sauce on the top. Sprinkle over the basil, then the sliced tomatoes.

Finally finish with the vegan mozarella, and spread this over the top.
Pop this in the oven for about 35 mins or until the cheese is melted and golden and the sauce is bubbling away!

Monday, 6 June 2011

superfied carrot rolls

I promised a little goji tea time number days ago, and things just got so hectic around here I have only now managed to sit down to write it, sorry! The girls have been quite the little monsters these past few days, perhaps due to being on half term break, they have boundless energy and have been turning the whole house upside down! I am quite worn out by it all, they however do not seem even the slightest bit tired.....!

This recipe is not my own, it is in fact an Antony Worrall Thompson recipe from his book 'Real family food'. Only I messed with it, giving it a cheeky little super foods makeover. Not that there is anything really wrong with the original version (though I wouldn't use white bread as in his recipe), I just always love to find ways to increase the nutritional value of regular recipes you have in books around the house, it is sometimes as much fun as creating recipes of my own! 


Superfied carrot rolls
Ingredients:
10 medium carrots, steamed until soft
2 slices of an additive & sugar free wholegrain loaf, rubbed into crumbs
Handful of goji berries, re hydrated in hot water for 30mins then drained and chopped
Handful of mulberries, re hydrated in hot water for 30mins then drained and chopped
4 spring onions finely diced or half a red onion finely diced
3tbsp finely chopped walnuts
4 small or 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp chili flakes, or for younger children, 1/2 tsp ground paprika
2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 flax egg ( tbsp ground flax mixed with 2 tbsp water)
6 tbsp chopped parsley and mint
salt and pepper
Gram flour for dusting
olive oil for shallow-frying

Method:
Mash the carrots, then add all the remaining ingredients and knead well. The mixture will be quite damp.

Coat your hands in flour and mould the mixture into cylinder shapes, and then shallow fry them until brown on all sides.

Drain them well on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. Serve with vegetables or salad. Easy!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A Goji a day!

It's been a while since I posted, I apologise, I've had such a lot on! I was away for a few days for my brothers wedding, which was beautiful, then we had an awesome day at VegFest in Bristol, then we were at Blenheim Palace for the 'Taste of Summer' event.....PHEW! I am actually exhausted, in a good way though, but am definitely ready to slip back into normality now.

I've been holding off talking about my beloved goji berry for a while. Mainly because I'm worried I just won't do it justice, but also just not knowing where to start. Equally, I don't want you guys to feel like I'm giving you a nutrition class, though I do love to talk about nutrition, as most of my friends would attest to! Anyways, I really do want to share some great info on this pretty little berry; I hope you find it interesting!

Goji Berries are probably the second most popular thing in our house, after cacao. We buy them organic and dried, I have never seen them fresh locally and I'd certainly buy them if I could!

These delicious and chewy little berries have a flavour unlike any other berry - they are totally delicious - if you haven't tried them before, go grab some! They are a great source of protein, packed with minerals and antioxidants and therefore have many health giving properties. I'd put them in my top 5 superfoods and we try to eat them on a daily basis.

To quote the amazing David Wolfe in his book 'Supefoods. The food and medicine of the future' (he'll say it better than I ever could!), goji berries:

"boost immune function, increase alkalinity and vitality, provide liver protection, improve eye sight and blood quality, deliver anti-aging compounds, and possess a number of outstanding qualities."

And really, that is just the tip of the iceberg! If you'd like to know more I recommend grabbing a copy of this book, it is a wealth of knowledge, I refer to it frequently, or you could just email me and I'd be happy to talk about them in great detail!


Another bonus is that they are such a  versatile and tasty ingredient, that it is actually enjoyable eating them everyday and children naturally adore them! Here are some of our favourite ways to enjoy them:

Sprinkled into muesli
Added to raw brownies
Eaten as a quick and delicious snack just as they are
Re hydrated in water for half an hour and then blitzed into a green or fruit smoothie
In salads and pilafs
They can also be used as a raisin substitute in any of your regular recipes for biscuits, cookies and muffins. Any recipe where a raisin can go, the goji can go and do it better!

One of the ways we eat them frequently is in a beautiful trail mix, perfect to take out and about, with loads of goodness to sustain the kids on day long outings!


In my trail mixes I try to add as many raw ingredients as possible, including sunflower and pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, dried mulberries, cashews (not technically raw due to the heating to remove the skin, however buy the un-roasted variety) and raw cacao nibs! Mix the quantities of each to your taste, I tend to use equal amounts of each.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration on how to include goji berries into your family's diet, I'd love to hear what recipes you come up with, I have a little goji number planned for tea so I'll post the recipe tomorrow!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The budgies are on to something here.....!

I'm really excited to talk about millet with you guys! The cupboards are always stocked up with millet at home, it is cheap, quick and easy to make and tastes great too. It is indeed the same food that budgies enjoy (clever budgies), but it's not just for birds I promise!

It has a mild nutty taste and although it is about the same grain size, it has a firmer texture than cous cous when cooked and it is definitely one of my favourite whole grains. 

Millet is easily digested, very nutritious and a great source of magnesium and fibre making it an important store cupboard staple. I like to soak the grains over night (or for at least 6 hours) as this makes the nutrients easier to absorb and is gentler on tummies too, if you forget to do this though, a good rinse and a 30 min soak is better than none!

I always cook extra if I'm making it for dinner as it is perfect for an easy leftover  lunch the next day. You can mix it up with anything you like, the way you'd usually do a rice or pasta salad. This goji jeweled recipe is how we enjoyed it for dinner, it is a tried and tested recipe that we love and the leftovers make an awesome packed lunch for the girls!

Roast butternut squash and goji berry jeweled turmeric millet
Ingredients:
2 Cups of soaked, drained millet
3 1/2 cups of water (you can always add more during cooking if it dries out)
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 butternut squash halved and deseeded
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp vegetable boullion
Couple of handfuls of goji berries
Handful of chopped parsley
Olive or coconut oil for cooking
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Place the squash halves in a baking dish. Add 2 unpeeled garlic cloves in each of the scooped out bits of the squash. Drizzle over olive oil and bake at 180 degrees for around 45 mins or until soft.
While this is cooking you can prepare the rest of the ingredients;

In a pan,lightly saute the millet in a tsp of coconut/olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Now add to the pan the goji berries, boullion and turmeric, pop the lid on and reduce to a simmer for about 30, untill all the liquid is absorbed (keep an eye on it as you may need to top up with extra water) and the grains cooked through. Set aside.

In another pan, saute the onion and 2 cloves of garlic in a little olive/coconut oil untill lightly golden.
Fluff up the millet with a fork, add the sauteed onion and garlic, parsley, the juices and the roasted garlic from the squash (which I mash up together), lemon, sea salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir through to mix.

Serve this mixture inside or alongside the roasted squash. You could also top with lightly toasted flaked almonds or pine nuts.

In the rest of the lunch box is a cucumber and blueberry salad, sunflower seeds and Biona oregano and quinoa snacks!


Monday, 23 May 2011

Raw 'cheese' dip

This is the perfect party food! It's creamy, it's 'cheesy' it's oh so tasty, and, it's made from nuts. 
Nuts are super good for us. I think it is a shame that many 'weight loss plans' seem to put them off limits as they are so nutritious and contain good fats essential for our health. In fact, nuts can actually speed up metabolism and they keep you fuller for longer, we enjoy them everyday.

In this recipe I've used macadamia nuts. They have a beautiful creamy texture that is also slightly sweet, giving the dip a ricotta cheese feel to it. In the past I've also used plain un-roasted cashew nuts and the result is fabulous!

Have fun playing with this recipe, you can add loads of different herbs and spices to make it your own.
It can be served up with raw veggies, crackers, flat breads, all sorts of wonderful things. Sticking with a bit of a party theme, I've served it up with some sea salted blue corn chips, which at £3.99 a bag (yikes) are a very special treat in this house! 

Raw 'cheese' dip
Ingredients:
4 cups of macadamia nuts, soaked for 4 hours and drained
Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
1 clove of garlic
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp nutritional yeast
Pinch of sea salt

Method:
Blitz it all together in a mini chopper, food processor or a blender if you have a powerful one. Can be blitzed roughly or as smooth as you like. How's that for fast food?!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Ranch (ish) dip

With my husband being American, he naturally adores Ranch dressing. And I must agree it is quite lovely, though it took me a few years to agree that anything other than olive oil and lemon juice could dress my salads! As lovely as it is however, it's not the healthiest of dressings, plus, here in the UK I can only find 2 makes of bottled Ranch dressing, and they both have either added sugar or other additives and things I'd rather avoid sneaked into them..... 

This is a dip I came up with as a ranch dressing alternative, using soya yoghurt instead of sour cream, and it tastes great! It's delicious on salads, but really quite brilliant as a dip with oven baked tortilla chips, cucumber and carrot sticks.

For any Americans reading this, I apologise for messing with your dressing, especially for the adding of cheese, but I promise it's really tasty! 

Ingredients:
1 cup of Organic soya yoghurt
1/2 tsp good quality natural English mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped spring onions (with their green tops)
1/4 cup finely grated Vegusto piquant vegan cheese or violife parmesan style cheese
pinch of asafoetida (optional)
pinch of sea salt

Method:
Mix all the ingredients together for a tasty and quick dip! I like to serve this with home made oven baked seeded tortilla chips!

* Updated and Veganized December 2014

Thursday, 5 May 2011

A lunch that looks like many others...... but has added punch!

This morning I was feeling a bit lazy. It was one of those mornings when I want to lounge around, drink tea and take things slow. Usually I've been organised and started prep for Fia's lunch the night before, but last night I hadn't..... ooopsy.
So I prepared a super quick lunch, using a bit of leftovers from dinner and making a nutritious but speedy sandwich. These kind of lunches are great if you're in a rush, and also if you're new to introducing raw and super foods into the family's diet. It doesn't look too far different from what is considered a regular packed lunch, but it is totally packed with goodness, a quick lunch that I don't need to feel guilty about sending her to Pre-school with!
I find it useful to stock up the store cupboard with healthy crisp and cookie alternatives, not for every day, but for days just like today!

In Fia's lunch today was:

A sandwich made from additive and sugar free wholemeal bread, filled with Able and Cole's delicious organic houmous, roast butternut squash (from dinner last night) and avocado.

Biona brand, quinoa and rice oregano snacks

A homemade sugar free spelt mini muffin (made 2 days ago- I made a big batch for occasions such as these!)

A salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives and mint

Plain yogurt with flax seeds and some blueberries


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Bank Holiday, Fire Brigades and Green Smoothie Popsicles!

Well, we had a bit of a dramatic bank holiday weekend! Our relaxing BBQ with friends turned a bit frantic when the gas canister caught fire (due to a faulty seal). It  could have turned out quite nasty, but luckily didn't thanks to my clever husband managing to put the fire out while we waited for the Fire Brigade. Actually more than lucky as we're quite rural so it's a ways for them to come..... We had 3 fire engines and a fire car turn up and quite a bit of attention from the street (blush), what a lot of excitement for what was going to be a chilled bank holiday Monday.....!

I was so impressed with the fire brigade though, awesome bunch of people, and to look on the bright side, the girls gained a new role model thanks to a rather pretty blond firefighter, they were totally in awe of her. Great to see them inspired by someone other than a Disney Princess (not that there is anything wrong with Disney Princesses, but it makes a nice change!)

Before our day took such a dramatic turn we had enjoyed great company and some yummy food and I got to try my green smoothie popsicle recipe out on some other children which is always good! They went down a storm. I love green smoothies, and they're very popular with kids too as they are a nice bright colour and  fun to drink. If, however you have trouble tempting little ones into a smoothie, turning them into popsicles has got to be a winner! They are juicy and refreshing and perfect for a sunny afternoon, and you're getting a bunch of raw greens into your kids too, marvellous I say!
Long may the sunshine remain and there be many more green smoothie popsicle days (and recipes) to come!

Green smoothie popsicles
Ingredients:
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
1-2 large bananas
1 large (2 small) mangos, peeled and diced
2 big handfuls of kale (if your blender isn't very powerful then de-stalk the leaves)
About 1 cup of filtered or spring water

Method:
Put the ingredients into a blender in the order above and blitz until really really smooth!
Pour into ice lolly (popsicle) moulds and freeze until set.

Enjoy!


















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