Wednesday, 17 October 2012

What I ate Wednesday and my first guest blog post :)

Welcome to another 'spooky' What I ate Wednesday! Thanks again to Jen at Peas and Crayons for hosting this fun event!

Well let me tell you, it's all been happening recently! With my new business up and running and spending lots of time in the kitchen creating new dishes I've all but neglected my blog. So you know what I needed? A little 'oomph!' When Caroline over at The Broccoli Hut made a call out for guest bloggers while she is busy planning her wedding, I jumped at the chance to help! This was just the thing I needed to get me writing again. But, I am honestly deeply honoured that she agreed. I really admire her health and taste driven blog and am a frequent visitor, I really recommend you give her a visit!

You can read my guest blog post for The Broccoli Hut, 'sopa de ajo blanco' here :)

So what have I been eating this week? The answer is ALOT! Monday and Tuesday have been experimental days, so Tuesday there was way too much food around the house and I found myself munching all day long....

For breakfast yesterday we demolished the remains of the very tasty raw pumpkin (less) pie recipe that I created over the weekend, it was delicious. And being raw and including vegetables, I didn't even feel guilty about eating it for breakfast! This is an awesome halloweeen recipe you guys.

For a mid morning snack I enjoyed a delicious chocolate orange Nakd bar with a a cup of pukka mint green tea. I adore these bars, they are my saving grace and I don't know what I'd do without them.

For lunch we ate squash stuffed with rice and lentils, a green salad and some of my hubby's delicious home made sauerkraut- the beetroot one!

In the afternoon we all snacked on my failed attempt to make oaty cookies- they fell into a gazillion pieces and became a kind of granola. But we ate it anyway! Sorry I have no picture however, they really weren't looking their best!

The girls and I also had fun making healthy spooky halloween treats. These cute apple slices with 'teeth' are a great idea and one I saw on Just add Cayenne a couple of weeks back. The idea came from a site which has tons of cool healthy halloween treats so we'll be making more of those as Halloween gets closer! So much fun to make the girls had a blast!

Yesterday we ate a ton of sopa de ajo blanco. I made a big batch and we ate it for dinner and will be having it again for lunch today!

So what a day- much more sweet food than I usually eat, but all very tasty. Today I'm going to enjoy a chilled out day eating leftovers and spending more time enjoying the beautiful outside while we still can....!

Ellie x

Monday, 15 October 2012

Super Halloween treat- Raw pumpkin (ok, squash) pie

So.... It's suddenly feeling really very Autumnal here right now- yesterday we went kitted out with hats and gloves for the first time since the Summer ended. So you know what that means? Halloween and Bonfire Night are just around the corner!

Halloween is such fun for us, we always make a trip to the fabulous Blenheim Palace to go on a Halloween treasure hunt and along to Riverford's Pumpkin day to watch cooking demos, puppet shows, do fun crafts, and, most important of all, choose our pumpkins for carving. They have the most amazing selection of pumpkins I've seen here, the closest thing to the American 'Pumpkin Patch' you can get. There is really something about choosing your pumpkin right from a farm in the open air, it is so much more magical than buying them from the supermarket. Check them out if you're in the UK, there may be a Riverford farm near you!

Feeling very festive last week, I decided to make a popular Autumn treat at our house- Pumpkin pie. Only this time I went for a raw version. It was a total experiment and although I guesstimated the amounts and just kept my fingers crossed, it turned out perfect first time! I do have a slight confession mind.... It isn't actually pumpkin. You see, raw pumpkin just didn't taste as good. Something about the roasting process brings out its natural sweetness and makes it taste delicious, but raw it just tasted bland. You can make it taste sweeter of course, by adding more maple to your recipe, but I really do try to keep added sugars to a minimum. For this reason I went for squash (butternut in this case) and I'm saving the pumpkin for my baked pie recipe! ;)

I did make use of some tasty pumpkin seeds in the crust however, so it isn't completely pumpkin-less!

For the sweetener I used maple. This is not raw, but it is a natural sweetener often used in raw recipes for its delicious almost smoky flavour and rich mineral content. If you can find yacon syrup or coconut nectar these would both be an amazing alternative! . Agave syrup is also frequently used in raw foods. The more I look into agave though, the more uncomfortable I am about using it and so I try to avoid it (though I'll eat it on occasion). Do some research and decide for yourself which sweetener works best for you- remember ALL sweetener should be used in moderation, even the 'healthy' ones!

Raw pumpin (ish) pie

For the base:
1 cup of walnuts
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
7 meejool dates, pitted
Pinch of himalayan or fine sea salt

For the filling: Set 1:
2 cups of cubed squash (I used butternut)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of himalayan sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup (you could use coconut nectar or yacon syrup)

For the filling: Set 2:
1 cup of cashew nuts soaked overnight and drained
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of two big limes (3 smaller)
1 cup of nut milk- I used a mix of homemade cashew and hemp milk
The seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 1/4 tsp alcohol and sugar free vanilla extract
Just over 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil- around 85ml

First of all make your base. Blitz the nuts and seeds first until they re fine crumbs, then add the dates. Pulse the mixture until it forms a 'dough'. Press this out into a 22cm loose bottom flan/pie dish to form the crust and set aside while you make the filling.

The filling for this recipe is assembled in two parts to achieve maximum creamyness!
Tip set 1 ingredients into a food processor and blitz until as smooth a texture as you can achieve. It will still look quite 'rustic' at this stage, but don't worry-They'll get blended up later on to make it completely smooth. The smoother texture you can achieve now, the easier that will be!

Tip set 2 ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy smooth. Although this is quicker in a high speed blender, any blender will do, it will just take a little longer. Take the processed set 1 ingredients and add these also to the blender. Continue blending until well mixed and creamy- you don't want any lumps at this stage as this is the final stage of the filling.

Pour the mixture into the pie dish  and pop in the fridge for around 6 hours (or overnight) until it has set. That's it! Serve with some raw vanilla ice cream for a perfect Halloween treat.

Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

What I ate, on a very busy Tuesday! :)

Hey all!

Welcome to my 'What I ate Wednesday' post (hosted by the fabulous Jenn at 'Peas and Crayons!') It's been a while since I did one of these, and I've been meaning to forever....

It's been a pretty busy time for us- as always right now! I am starting up my nutritional business which is needing lots of time invested, as well as looking after my girls, homeschooling and planning our 10yr wedding anniversary celebrations! Although loving being busy, you know what I did yesterday? I cheated with the food side. Totally. I called Will at work and had him stop at the Natural grocery store and buy ready meals! GASP! The horror! (This is totally my halloween angle, hehehe) Though it's not really that bad at all, we all have those days, and sometimes the 'holiday' from making the food and taking the stress off when you're busy is more important. Besides, I made garlic kale and a massive salad to go with it AND this meal is just about the cleverest thing I ever saw in the food processed world- I had to share!

It is made by this company called Amy's, we bought the black bean enchiladas. The meal does not come in a plastic dish, but a cardboard one. It is all organic and is dairy free and wheat free. The corn tortillas are made using traditional ingredients and there is not a hint of sugar or preservatives anywhere on the ingredients. Even the water used is filtered water! So I know it's not the most optimal thing to eat a ready meal, but seriously, this meal saved me last night when I was feeling overwhelmed by things to do- we all get those days sometimes!

And I had plenty of creative moments too! I also ate yesterday:

For breakfast, a green smoothie with banana, apple juice, chia seeds and the green tops of the fennel. First time I've used the fennel herb in a smoothie and it turned out perfect! Really tasty and different, with a very mild aniseed flavour to it. This is a fab halloween drink- alien slime the girls called it!

For lunch we made brown rice, mushroom and walnut burgers which were delicious! 'Why do these taste all ricey' asks Dorrie. 'Because they have rice in!' I replied. 'Ahhhh' she says all knowingly and very smug- this child has a pretty good palate already ;) I added in some leftover carrot pulp from juicing the day before and used flax to hold them together.They held, but not perfectly so this recipe needs some tweaking.

When snack time came around we cooked up a tasty treat as the girls had a friend coming over to play. We made peanut butter oat flap jacks, sweetened with honey and binded with coconut oil. Another experiment dish, they also need a little tweaking- they crumbled a bit too much, and as such weren't photo worthy- sorry!

I've started planning some healthy and all RAW halloween treats and hope to have those ready for you next week, so excited by these. Today I'm off to stock up on boxes of rasins to hand out to the kids. Although in England Trick or Treating is no way as huge as it is in the States, we live on an old US airbase and I'm pretty sure the tradition just stuck around here. We get TONS of kids calling, last year I actually ran out of rasins, then turned to our fruit bowl, then finally had to send them away empty handed with an apology! I need to plan better this year for sure....

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Raw chili chocolate truffles and the tooth fairy visits! us!

My baby girl lost her first tooth! What an exciting day it was for her too. This tooth has been wobbly for ages, I mean at least 2 months- nearly three, she's been waiting a loooong time for this event. Being of a wonderful mixed heritage (English, North American and Argentine) she was super lucky to have both the tooth fairy and ratoncito come visit her which totally made her day!

I think it is easy to overlook such important moments in children's life in the western world as trivial. The rituals that mark growing up seem to have been long gone and we forget how much of a big deal this is to a child. To Fia this was HUGE. The grin on her face said it all, and she wanted to chat about this all day long. So we did. We chatted about the different cultures and what they do with their teeth, and we made sure she knew that this was important to us too, that we get it. She really wanted to mark the day with something special, so we tied a ribbon to a tree and she asked for her new tooth to be strong like the tree. A little thing that gave her a lot of joy. What rituals do you guys have in your family when it comes to losing baby teeth? Does the tooth fairy visit or do you do something else?

So, in celebration of Fia's first tooth, I'm posting my recipe for raw chili chocolate truffles- a celebration recipe if ever there was one. I've been keeping these close to my heart for a future recipe book, but really they are too delicious to not share. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do :)

They are best stored in the fridge to firm up a little, but remove them around 30mins before you want to eat them so they are not too cold. They make the perfect after dinner truffle so I usually pull them out of the fridge right before we sit down to eat dinner.

Raw chocolate chili truffles makes 30 (ish!)
250g cashew nuts
14 meejool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tbsp raw cacao powder.
8 drops of medicine flower vanilla extract (or use the seeds of 1 vanilla pod)
1 tsp mesquite powder (use 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon if not available)
Pinch of Himalayan salt or fine sea salt
For the dusting:
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/4 tsp of ground cayenne pepper- adjust amount to your taste
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

In a food processor, blitz the cashews until they are as fine as you can get them. The perfect consistency is when they start almost making a butter at the very bottom but are like ground almonds on top. Give them a stir to remove the smooth part from the bottom of the processor bowl.
Add the cacao powder, vanilla, mesquite (or Cinnamon), and salt, and whizz briefly to combine. Lastly add the chopped dates. Blitz again until the mix starts to come together into a dough. It needs to be mouldable and not too crumbly in texture.
Next make the dusting. Sprinkle the cacao, cinnamon and cayenne onto a tray and mix together with a spoon.
Then take small pieces of the 'dough' and roll them into ball shapes with your hands. Pop them on the tray and roll them around in the coating by tilting the tray in different directions. When they have a nice even coating, remove them to another plate. Keep on going until you have used all the dough and all the truffles are coated.
Put them in the fridge until required!

Such a simple recipe, but really tastes out of this world. You can go crazy with flavours for these truffles too. Try ground cardamon and orange with cacao or mint extract for an after dinner minty truffle or roll them in coconut for a snowy looking winter truffle. Really the combinations are endless!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Mushroom mince and a rockin' chili recipe

We're on a chili kick right now, I love chili and now the weather has turned cold it's just what I fancy (though I have a recipe for a raw version that'll still give you that warm feeling too!). Usually when I make a veggie chili I use lentils to bulk it out (Tex-Mex style chili was easily one of my favourite things to eat), but last week I came up with a whole new idea....

When we're cooking vegetarian, we don't like to use quorn or soya mince as these are quite processed products - I've not got anything against them, it is just our preference. I was going to cook up a classic chunky veggie chili, the kind where you bite into large chunks of delicious vegetables but we had some organic chestnut mushrooms in the fridge that needed using up.

Now that's not a problem I hear you say - just bung them in too! So I'll explain.... The problem is, my girls tell me they don't like mushrooms at all, 'no way are we eating them' they say, 'they are disgusting'. Funny thing is, they LOVE mushroom burgers. They really do. They also love mushroom pate. So I reckon it is more of a texture thing with them than a taste. I thought rather than chop them up and have the girls complain, I'd blitz them up fine in the food processor to kind of thicken the sauce while also being less 'mushroomy' in texture. What I discovered was, it came out just the texture and look of veggie soya mince. Brilliant. The finished texture of the chili was really 'meaty' and the flavour rich from the mushrooms, they declared it the best chili ever. I have to agree with them and it was cheaper and healthier than any meat or meat substitute. Win win all round!

So here is my first ever recipe with 'mushroom mince'. You saw it here first people! Well... maybe! I am definitely going to use my mushroom mince in pasties and shepherds pies from now on, I look forward to sharing those with you soon :) I think you could use pretty much any mushrooms for this. I went with chestnut for the brown colour and slightly richer texture and the fact that they're so easily available. I think it would be super delicious with some shiitake thrown in there too, or portabello would make a really rich tasting dish.

Ingredients: (Serves 4-6)
A little coconut or olive oil; for sauteing
1 large onion, diced
1 fresh chili, diced finely (optional-I leave this out for the girls)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, diced
1 cup of dried mixed beans, soaked overnight and drained
3 corn on the cob, kernels cut from the corn (you could substitute with frozen)
400ml passata sauce
600ml filtered water
1 pack of chestnut mushrooms
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric powder
Pinch of cayenne powder (you can up this if you want a fiery result, I do when not making it for the girls)
2 tsp ground paprika
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp dried or fresh oregano
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp liquid amino's (optional, but does enhance the taste)
Ground pepper to taste

First make your mince. Add the mushrooms to a food processor and blitz (highly scientific!). When you blitz them, be careful not to over process them or they'll turn into a pate, you want a 'mince' like consistency, it needs some 'bite'.
In a large pan, heat the oil  in a large saucepan and saute the onion and garlic (and chili if using) until just beginning to turn brown. Add the tomatoes and cook another 2mins. Next add the spices, beans and water and bring to a boil. Pop a lid on, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for around 30mins.
Add the passata, oregano, mushrooms, corn, salt and pepper, cocoa powder and amino's if using, stir well to mix and continue to cook with the lid on for another 40-50mins until the beans are soft and the chili is thickened. You can remove the lid to thicken the sauce even more depending on how thick you like the sauce to be.
Garnish with fresh coriander, avocado slices and manchego and feta cheese if you like :)