Now this week I'm fortunate enough to be going on a Vegan Cooking Retreat with my lovely friend and neighbour Jan, to the wilds of Wales for 4 days of fresh air, meditation, yoga and loads of delicious plant based vegan food, run by my Twitter buddy Lee Watson, of Peace & Parsnips fame and the awesome BeachHouseKitchen blog! Its just what I need to recuperate from my few weeks of less than perfect health! I hope to return rejuvenated and with loads of inspiration and new ideas for the blog.
So in the meantime I'm sharing this rather trendy Buddha Bowl recipe, full of plant based goodness. I like to think of myself as keeping up to date with recent food trends and this one which is popular among foodies, is one of my favourites!
A Buddha bowl isn't really anything to do with spirituality, its simply a bowl so full of delicious plant based food, it resembles the rounded belly of a Buddha, apparently!
There are so many combinations to this but the idea is you start off with some greens or a grain ( brown rice, quinoa, couscous), add some delicious oven roasted veggies, in this case sweet potato, red onions and broccoli, add some flavour and texture with some spiced, roasted chickpeas and top it all off with a super delicious creamy dressing and you have a meal fit for a Buddha!!
This is such a great idea for a last minute meal and literally takes 30 minutes to prepare and cook.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of times people will ask if eating veggies isn't really boring!
Hell no, unless you are eating plain veggies, which to be honest I rarely do. There is a whole world of nutrition and flavour to be explored with delicious dressings, using tahini, maple syrup, lemon, garlic, turmeric, spices, herbs, good quality oils, balsamic vinegar, tamari and all sorts of other fantastic ingredients.
Another weird thing is that lots of people only use dressings on salads, wheras I use them on steamed veggies, grains and oven roast veggies. Its such an easy way to add goodness and flavour to your meal and support pretty much every body system at the same time.
Anyway so back to this delicious meal in a bowl, its also pretty versatile and you can serve it with a portion of cooked grains or on a big bed of steamed greens or salad greens to add even more plant based goodness. Sliced avocado and pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds add another layer of creaminess, good fats, minerals and antioxidants.
A sprinkling of seaweed flakes would up the benefits further, adding more minerals, vitamins and antioxidants! So before you know it you have eaten 4 different types of veggies, a wholegrain, loads of good fats, fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and supported every system in your body, not to mention giving your gut bacteria a good feed with all the fibre. Now that's a meal worth having.....!
Have a good week everyone and I shall return with many fine recipes to share!
SWEET POTATO BUDDHA BOWL WITH MAPLE TAHINI DRESSING
1 sweet potato, cut into bite sized pieces
1 red onion, cut into quarters
1 cup of brocolli florets
a handful of salad greens, spinach or steamed kale
1 tablespoon coconut or rapeseed oil
I tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut or rapeseed oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon maple syrup
juice of 1/2 lemon ( about 2 tablespoons)
2 to 4 tablespoons hot water to desired consistency
1. Scrub and chop sweet potato into bite sized pieces or half moon shapes
2. Peel and quarter the red onion
3. Place sweet potato and red onion on a baking tray and drizzle with some rapeseed oil and a light sprinkling of sea salt
4. Bake in a hot oven at 200C for around 15 minutes.
5. Add the brocolli florets and a wee drizzle of rapeseed oil to the tray and turn the other ingredients, bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the veggies are cooked
6. Mix all the spices together and coat the chickpeas with the mixture. Heat a tablespoon of coconut or rapeseed oil in a pan and cook the chickpeas for 10 minutes on medium heat, turning frequently to prevent burning.
7. Add the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup and hot water to a small bowl or a glass jar and whisk together with a fork or put the lid on the jar and give it a good shake. Add more water if required to get a pouring consistency.
8. Arrange the oven roast veggies over a portion of grains or greens, drizzle over some dressing and garnish with the spiced chickpeas!
......your health in your hands.....
Its been a funny old week and sadly not in a hilarious way! We've all been fighting a horrible fluey bug, I was struck down last Saturday, just in time for our 2 night trip to The Wensleydale Heifer, courtesy of the girls for our Christmas, which couldn't be changed! So Alastair and I went and tried to make the most of it, though we were trying to outdo one another with our coughing!
Needless to say we had copious amounts of pineapple, ginger, lemon, manuka honey and coconut oil to try and alleviate the symptoms and a few jacuzzi baths and a few glasses of wine to numb the pain!
Then I was invited onto BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe programme yesterday, which I was concerned about since I sounded a bit like Kermit the frog and I was worried I'd be coughing through the whole programme!
The programme was in celebration of cauliflower for which I made a chocolate cauliflower cake, yes you read that right!! Its a thing apparently but so wrong on every level! It was awful, it tasted very strongly of cauliflower even though the recipe said it was undetectable and the cake was delicious! Just shows you can't believe everything you read online, even from respected food bloggers!
It was however very moist and gooey but no amount of chocolate chips or date frosting could mask that bitter cauliflower taste or smell! So I will most definitely not be sharing that recipe!
Oh and to top off a bad week, wee Faith my chicken died today. She had been poorly for a while. Her wee friend Grace is most upset, as am I. I've had to give her treats all day and she's been following me round the garden.
She keeps looking for her friend. So for those of you who think chickens have no feelings and are just for eating, you are wrong!! I'll have to contact the British Hen Welfare Trust again to rescue some more wee friends for Grace.
So since I'm not feeling great I'm sharing a well tried and tested family favourite, Italian Rice & Beans, which is just perfect healthy comfort food! Its made with brown rice which is high in protein, fibre and B vitamins. Bags of flavour come from the herbs, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar with a final flourish from the finely zested lemon rind. Although its a really simple recipe, it definitely packs a punch in the flavour department. I hope you give it a go!
ITALIAN RICE & BEANS
Ingredients Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
1 cup of brown rice (uncooked)
2 or 3 tablespoons of fresh herbs, rosemary, basil, oregano, flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 can of beans, borlotti, cannelini, flageolet or butter beans
1 or 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large handfuls baby spinach
Zest from one or two lemons
1. Start cooking the rice according to the packet instructions. I use short grain brown rice which has a lovely chewy texture but long grain would also work well.
2. When the rice is almost cooked, heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions and garlic, cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Add the herbs, sun dried tomatoes and beans and cook for another few minutes.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar and a good seasoning of sea salt. Turn the heat down to low.
4. Place spinach in a single layer on top of the beans. Place the hot steaming rice over the spinach and leave for a minute or two until the spinach starts to wilt. Mix gently and taste. Add more salt and balsamic if you think it needs it.
5. Finely grate the lemon zest on top of the rice and serve.
......your health in your hands....
I don't know anyone who doesn't love the smell of freshly baked bread!
Any bread will do and it always tastes better than shop bought stuff, which is generally full of additives and does nothing for your health!
I bought some lovely organic Ciabatta flour from Locavore a few weeks ago, along with organic rye flour and spelt flour. I'm always full of great intentions of baking bread every day but reality kicks in and sadly I don't get around to it as often as I'd like.
Now I'm no ace bread baker and like the majority of us, I like a nice simple recipe that doesn't involve lots of kneading, proving and rising time, but these resting times are actually essential and lots of things start happening, given some warmth and time, all important for the flavour and texture of the finished loaf. . Kneading is a vital step in bread making as it develops the gluten in the flour which gives the bread structure. You can however cheat and just use a mixer with a dough hook if you are fortunate enough to own one!
Commercial breadmaking is all about producing the cheapest loaf in the shortest possible time. Time means money after all and the more loaves that can be produced, the happier the producers are.
So more salt gets added for flavour, which would develop naturally given enough time! More yeast gets added, along with flour improvers, assorted enzymes, emulsifiers and preservatives to achieve the desired rise, texture and shelf life.
Again these things would happen naturally, given the right conditions and enough time, without the need for added chemicals!
Interestingly I came across an article a while ago about gluten and its effect on the gut, which can cause bloating, IBS type symptoms and general discomfort.
A questionnaire asking people with gluten sensitivity found that the majority of them could eat bread on holiday without symptoms, especially in Mediterranean countries where the bread is generally baked fresh every day, without additives or preservatives, and given enough time to prove and rise naturally.
So it could actually be all the additives in commercially produced bread which cause digestive issues. Have a look at the label the next time you buy bread, the list of ingredients is shocking!
So, on that note, if you always suffer with digestive issues after eating bread, then try making your own with good quality natural ingredients.
Always use organic flour for baking since wheat is one of the worst crops for pesticide residues,, check out my organic blog post. Also spelt flour has gluten with a different structure so its generally easier to digest and worth switching to.
So back to the baking, this Foccacia bread is delicious and since I've been craving a bit of sunshine, warmth and signs that spring is coming, I decided to add some Mediterranean flavours to the bread, to remind me of summer!
A wander round the garden yielded some lovely smelling rosemary and thyme so along with some dried oregano, sun dried tomatoes and a good dollop of pesto, my recipe was complete.
You could add some sliced olives, fresh basil, caramelised red onion and garlic or some chopped walnuts. I'll definitely be making this again and will share any good combinations I try.
I guess this bread would be just as nice with just some coarse sea salt and herbs and along with some quality oil will taste delicious.
Jenna made this bread with all ciabatta flour and used the mixer with the dough hook, resulting in light and fluffy bread.
I used 2 cups ciabatta flour and 1 cup of Spelt flour and kneaded mine by hand which gave a denser loaf which was still utterly delicious. We scoffed it last night with some lovely pasta!
So whatever method you choose, and whatever flour you use, your bread will smell and taste delicious, especially served warm straight from the oven and is sure to impress your family and friends!
I really hope you give this recipe a go, it's really possible to make the most delicious bread without too much effort and its miles ahead of shop bought bread! A perfect treat for the weekend!
I will be sharing lots more bread recipes as I try them so watch this space...
I have a brilliant simple flatbread recipe which I'll share soon...!
So here is the recipe...
Makes 1 large loaf
.......your health in your hands.....
I've enjoyed the last few days of sunshine and blue skies, long overdue! SAD syndrome really is a thing and I think affects all of us to a certain degree. Anyway I've been out and about enjoying some exercise and fresh air and I feel the better for it, though I think my Vitamin D levels still need a wee week of proper sunshine to return to optimum levels! I'm working on that with hopefully a sunshine break at Easter!!
There is nothing nicer than a big bowl of warming, nourishing soup after a long walk and this is one of the most filling and delicious soups in my repertoire, and a big family favourite on a cold day!
I adapted this recipe from Italian minestrone so it has the same base flavours of tomato, onion and garlic. I decided to replace the white pasta with much healthier brown rice which makes the soup gluten free and the addition of some beans adds fibre, protein and minerals and really makes this a complete meal in a bowl!
You can add whatever veggies you have to ring the changes but peppers, green beans, carrots, leeks, courgettes, frozen peas and finely shredded greens of some sort all work really well and add loads of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, strengthening literally every body system.
So without further ado, here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it....!
ITALIAN RICE AND BEAN SOUP
......your health in your hands....
Since today is national pancake day I thought I'd share this rather delicious savoury chickpea pancake recipe.
I'm not a huge fan of sweet pancakes but if you are then the easiest pancakes you will ever make are here, and they are gluten free and free of refined sugar! They are made with only 2 ingredients, banana and eggs!
These are so easy and a great way of using up some ripe bananas. Get the kids to make them for an after school treat!
Anyway back to the savoury pancakes, Jenna made this a few weeks ago and I was intrigued to try it! Like everything Jenna makes, its vegan and packed full of veggies and flavour. Nothing she makes is ever bland!
The recipe uses chickpea flour, also known as gram flour, and its widely available in most supermarkets. Its incredibly cheap, packed full of protein and fibre and its gluten free!
This dish is like a combination between a pancake and an omelette and its really versatile, you can add pretty much any veggies you like and mix up the flavours with spices and turmeric, or herbs, sun dried tomatoes and olives or add extra flavour and minerals with good old seaweed flakes!
I'm a massive fan of Mara seaweed flakes and add them to most savoury dishes for a real mineral boost and unique depth of flavour.
The choice is yours so get creative!
Coconut or rapeseed oil will add stable good fats to the dish and loads of greens ( think leeks, spinach, kale, cavolo nero, finely shredded spring greens) complete the picture for an incredibly healthy, nutritious and delicious meal.
These pancakes are dense, filling and really delicious, I hope you try them. Its actually a brilliant last minute, use up all your veggies in the fridge kind of meal! Remember to slice your veggies finely so that they will cook faster. This only takes 10 minutes to put together and 10 minutes or so to cook and will feed 2 hungry people for dinner!
SAVOURY CHICKPEA PANCAKE Serves 2 for dinner or 4 for light lunch
.......your health in your hands.....
Is organic food worth the extra money?
This is a question I get asked a lot! My answer is a great big YES!!
It makes a massive difference, nutritionally, to our health and the environment.
My first degree is in Agricultural Chemistry and I more recently studied Permaculture and I have a Permaculture Design Certificate to prove it!
So I know a LOT about soil and pesticides!
The soil is a living organism teeming with all sorts of microbes going about their business, enriching the soil, decomposing waste and making minerals and trace elements available to any plants who happen to be growing there. If the plants grow in a living soil, which is exactly what ORGANIC soil is, then all the trace minerals exist in the soil so the plants can benefit from them and so can you when you eat the plants!
Conventionally grown crops are grown on dead soil, with only the application of the 3 main macronutrients, N, P and K essential for the plants to grow. These plants will grow but they will be lacking in most of the trace elements and will have been sprayed with toxic pesticides, which I may add DO NOT WASH OFF WITH WATER!
If that were the case then as soon as the crops were sprayed and watered or it rains, the pesticides would be washed off, which I can assure you is not the case! That would literally be money washed right down the drain!
There have been many studies done over the years comparing the nutritional quality of organic versus conventional produce, most recently in October 2015, a massive study by Newcastle University, link is here
showing that organic can be up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants essential for good health and more than 50% lower in toxic heavy metals and obviously much lower in pesticide and chemical residues.
That's worth paying extra for, in my opinion!
Bearing in mind that kids are up to 4 times more susceptible to pesticide residues and environmental toxins and if your health is compromised you seriously need to reduce the amount of toxins you ingest, to give your body a chance to heal itself.
Now I'm not suggesting that you buy everything organic, that's outwith the budget for a lot of people and its sometimes not that easy to source organic food.
The Soil Association are certifiers of over 70% of the organic food sold in the UK
Here is their link to Eating Organic on a budget
Here is an up to date list of fruits and vegetables, from The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) that tend to have the highest levels of pesticide residue (even after being washed and peeled). Click here for a pdf version
Dirty Dozen (this is where you want to spend the extra money on organic produce whenever possible)
these have the least amount of pesticide contamination - so are not as high a priority to buy organic.
If you can't buy organic then at least buy local. Always check where your fruit and veg comes from and buy UK produced if possible.
Of course if you sign up to an organic veg box scheme then everything will be organic and mostly locally produced.
If your budget doesn't stretch to organic or you have difficulty finding organic fruit and vegetables then you can use this simple home-made spray before you wash your fruit and veg.
HOME MADE VEGGIE WASH
To use just spray onto your fruit or veg, leave for 5 minutes, then rinse as usual.
Wholefoods also sell a concentrated product called Veggi Wash which is easy to use, convenient and good value. You just dilute a capful in a bowl of water and soak your produce for 5 minutes, then rinse it.
For those of you who live in or around Glasgow, the lovely folks at Locavore have kindly offered 25% off your first organic veg box, just quote Nourished by Nature! Also if you spend £30 in the shop, you get 10% discount. This is a brilliant offer so please take advantage of it! A veg box delivery starts from £10 per week for a medium bag.. Click here for more details
It's really quite exciting checking out the box every week, to see what seasonal goodies you have! I have just re instated my veg box, I grow my own over the summer, so am usually knee deep in greens, salads and herbs!
Locavore also have a veg bag Facebook group, on which people post recipes or take photos of odd looking veggies asking what they are and what to do with them!
There have been some funny ones that I have replied to. Last spring someone was holding up a bunch of wild garlic and asking if it would be good in a green juice!! I think not!
But it is a seriously great idea to eat seasonal food, grown locally, when its at its most nutritious and hasn't travelled far to get to your plate. The other great thing with a veg bag delivery is the lack of plastic packaging, it arrives in a reusable box so again has benefits for the environment.
Apart from fruit and veggies, the Soil Association suggest that you buy any animal products organic Its always from higher welfare animals, fed on their natural diet, without antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones and the resulting meat, eggs and dairy have way higher nutritional value.
Similarly wheat is among the heaviest sprayed of all the cereal crops and considering that many of us eat wheat at every meal, in the form of bread, cereals, pasta, pizza, cakes and cookies then its worth seeking out organic options. I always use organic flour for home baking and buy organic wholewheat pasta.
The use of glyphosate on British cereal crops has increased by 400% in the last 20 years, and a recent study on European city dwellers found that 7 out of 10 people had traces of glyphosate in their urine Now that's a worrying trend. Glyphosate is now the most heavily used weedkiller in history! Chemicals of any kind have no place in our bodies and can wreak havoc with many body systems.
Lidl sell organic wholemeal pasta & organic rye bread and most supermarkets have a good range of organic products
Again Locavore stock organic eggs, from their own free ranging ducks and chickens, organic milk, butter, cheese, meat, flour and grains.
If you are a meat eater then it makes sense to eat better quality but less often. This is the International year of The Pulse so we should all be eating more lentils and beans for our health and cutting down on animal products
I tend to buy potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, apples, cucumber, celery and courgettes organic.
I also buy organic whole milk for Alastair, who likes it in his tea. I buy organic Soya Milk for baking and the odd cappuchino.
Organic isn't always more expensive. For example Oatly Organic Oat milk is the same price as non organic!! Its a no brainer in that case, always go for organic if you have the choice, especially if its the same price! You will end up with a product with less environmental impact, less toxic residues and more nutritional value!
.....your health in your hands.....
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.