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
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

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
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

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! 

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

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
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

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.


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