I hope everyone has been out enjoying all this fine weather and topping up their vitamin D levels!
I certainly have and apologies for not posting anything on the blog last week but to be honest I have just been chilling out, doing some gardening and spending time with my lovely hubby Alastair. We found ourselves in the most unusual position this bank holiday weekend of having the house to ourselves, apart from the three dogs!
Kathryn and Laura had gone to London to stay with their cousin Sarah and catch up with their big sis Emma and Jenna is currently living it up in a stately home in Oxfordshire! She is helping in the gardens!
Anyway we have had such a lovely time and we bought an outside wood-fired pizza oven!
I'm so excited about it, it only cost £99 from Aldi!
Since we don't eat meat, we are not huge BBQ fans but sourdough wood fired pizza is a different thing altogether!
I attended a sourdough workshop last week too so I can now add sourdough to my ever expanding range of fermented foods and drinks. My gut is going to be extremely happy!!
Anyway enough of my ramblings, I just wanted to share this very simple, delicious raw red pepper & walnut sauce.
Its extremely versatile and perfect for the summer months when red peppers are in abundance and cheap as well.
Red peppers have a high water content which helps to flush toxins from the body and are also packed with vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene.
I added olives which give it a Meditteranean flavour and of course garlic, which I add to pretty much everything!
Sun dried tomatoes give it a delicious intense flavour and of course are packed with lycopene too, which protects us from cancer.
Walnuts are another of my favourite foods and as their shape suggests they support brain health due to high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. They are also a great source of protein, fibre and vitamin E.
Extra virgin olive oil and olives adds more omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants and keeps our heart healthy.
Tahini is one item I couldn't live without, its packed with calcium and magnesium to support bone health and its alkaline so easy for the body to absorb. It adds a delicious creaminess to any dish and is especially useful for dips, dressings and sauces.
Right so all you do is add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor and that's it, leaving you lots of time to relax and enjoy the sunshine!
It will keep in the fridge in a covered container for a week or so.
Over the summer months we don't want to be spending hours in the kitchen so expect lots of fast, simple and delicious recipes, all tried and tested! I only share favourite recipes and my criteria are flavour, simplicity, nutrition and versatility.
There are so many recipes out there which use loads of ingredients, are very time consuming and don't even taste that good!
So if you like what I share, consider subscribing to my blog so you won't miss any of my brilliant creations!
So here is the recipe I promised......!
RAW RED PEPPER & WALNUT SAUCE
This is the most versatile sauce. I use it like pesto stirred through pasta, as a sauce with spiralised veggies, as a topping for bruschetta, pizza topping,
as a dressing for salads thinned down with some water. It can also be mixed with some cream cheese (vegan options) to make a lovely topping for baked potatoes or a delicious dip with oatcakes or raw veggies.
1 red pepper, deseeded
6 sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup olives, pitted
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons of your best oil, extra virgin, avocado, walnut or flaxseed
1 tablespoon tahini
Himalyan sea salt to taste
1 drizzle of raw honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup (optional)
Simply add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.
Taste the sauce and add a drizzle of sweetener if you like!
......your health in your hands....
This is a brilliant and incredibly easy dish I adapted from a macrobiotic recipe, originally using adzuki beans. It works equally well with tinned kidney beans and literally takes minutes to make!
We made it at The Jeely Piece Club this morning, as one of our dishes, and everyone loved it so I thought I'd share it!
This has to be one of the easiest recipes ever and its perfect for a quick weekend meal.
It really is about the healthiest fast food recipe I know!
The hardest bit is chopping the onions!
Don’t use cheap soy sauce which is artificially flavoured with MSG and really bad for your health. Shoyu and tamari are naturally fermented healthy alternatives. Clearspring do a good range of organic sauces.
Beans are literally the perfect food, they can lower cholesterol, protect your heart, balance your blood sugar making you feel fuller for longer and improve your digestion.
This is delicious served with some brown rice and simply steamed greens for a healthy, balanced meal which will support every system in your body. Give it a go, your body will thank you!
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
....your health in your hands.....
I still can't decide whether summer has arrived or not! I'm going between boots and fit flops at the moment, that's Scotland for you, every season in one day!
Anyway I was in Waitrose earlier this week when the sun was shining and bought a rather lovely big salad bowl!
I love colourful salads so I thought I'd share one of our family favourites.
It's Tabbouleh, a middle eastern dish, based on bulghur wheat with loads of vibrant herbs, lemon, olive oil, tomatoes, cucumber and red onion.
It really does taste of summer, all herby, lemony and nutty!
I have mint popping up all over the garden at the moment, which pleases me no end! I can't begin to explain the warm fuzzy feeling that envelops me when I just go out and pick plants that I've grown myself for our dinner.
Its just awesome and miles ahead of buying them from the supermarket wrapped in plastic!
As you probably know I am a big advocate of eating loads of colourful fruits and veggies and this recipe doesn't disappoint!
We have lemons, packed with Vit C and antioxidants.
Vine ripened tomatoes, packed with vitamins, minerals and lycopene an antioxidant proven to reduce risk of several cancers, including prostate, lung and stomach cancer.
Cucumber, really hydrating and cleansing. Its 90% water and also contains useful amounts of vitamins and minerals, notably silica and vit C great for skin health.
Mint, which is great for the digestion and relieving symptoms of IBS
Coriander, a brilliant detoxifier, especially of heavy metals
Red onions, great infection fighters and really high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Extra virgin olive oil contains a great balance of essential fatty acids and vitamin E, great for skin health. It can lower blood pressure and cholesterol so great news for your heart.
A point to note is the wonderful synergy going on in this salad. The high levels of vitamin C enhance the absorption of iron from the herbs. The olive oil enhances the absorption of lycopene and also of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
This is one of the things I love about eating real food, combining natural ingredients to amplify the health benefits. A wee bit of knowledge goes a long way and in actual fact so many traditional dishes have been developed in this way to take advantage of these natural synergies.
That's where many supplements pale into insignificance, once the active ingredients have been extracted from the whole food, they don't work in the same way.
Nature is so clever, and in my humble but informed opinion, we can't improve upon it.
It's real seasonal best quality organic food for me every time!
Tabbouleh is a brilliant dish for lunch and will keep in the fridge in a covered container for 3 or 4 days. You can add chickpeas, goat’s cheese, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes, olives, avocado and chopped peppers.
Frozen peas and sweetcorn are also good. It's also great at a BBQ or any other gathering where lots of people need fed!
Bulghur wheat is a high fibre wholegrain, containing all the B vitamins, iron, potassium, zinc, selenium and magnesium. Topped with pumpkin seeds and toasted walnuts lifts it to superstar status in the nutritional stakes!!
Bulghur wheat comes in fine, medium and coarse grain and all the supermarkets stock it. It doesn't require cooking, just add boiling water, cover with a plate and leave it for 20 to 30 minutes. Perfect!
Feel free to use any combination of herb; flat leaf parsley, basil, coriander and mint are all good, even better if you've grown it yourself!
So I give you TABBOULEH...
.......your health in your hands......
Now that the weather is finally warming up and thoughts turn to long summer days filled with fragrant flowers, summer berries and al fresco meals, I'm craving delicious berries!
I'm very much a seasonal person and love the different foods that each season brings and for me raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries invoke lovely memories of warm summer days, eating delicious salads!
I made this jam at my Lighten Up for Spring Workshop and the ladies all loved it, especially when they found out how simple it is to make and how healthy it is, compared to shop bought jams, which are sometimes more sugar than fruit!
All berries are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants which protect us from oxidative damage & keep us looking young.
Purple berries are particularly high in anthocyanidins, a group of flavanoids with many proven health benefits.
Blueberries contain the highest concentration of these and can protect against age related macular degeneration, protect the brain from oxidative damage, promote urinary tract health in a similar way to cranberries and improve digestion due to the soluble and insoluble fibre content.
That's pretty impressive and they taste delicious too!
Lidl were selling lovely blueberries last week for only 59p per pack so I bought loads of them, washed them all then froze them for adding to smoothies, making jam and jellies.
I quite often use frozen fruit, which is almost as healthy as fresh. Its generally frozen soon after picking preserving the vitamins and antioxidants.
I also bought Chia Seeds from Lidl for only £1.99. This is a great deal and its well worth stocking up at that price.
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that pack a real punch in the nutrition department! They are really high in fibre, a great source of protein, omega 3, iron, calcium and magnesium They have the unique ability to absorb lots of water and form a gel so are very useful for making jam and keeping you feeling full. They really don't taste of anything so are ideal to sprinkle liberally on porridge, smoothies, salads, soups or desserts.
So back to the jam! It only has 3 ingredients. Berries, chia seeds and sweetener of choice and it only takes 20 minutes!
A quick note, I used xylitol and rice syrup to sweeten my jam.
Xylitol is a pretty good sugar alternative with 40% less calories than sugar, and a lower GI making it useful for diabetics. It's actually a sugar alcohol and can have laxative effects so I only use it occasionally. It is also toxic to dogs so please don't feed it to your pets, unless you want to kill them!!
Maple syrup and brown rice syrup are my sweeteners of choice but as I said xylitol can be a useful alternative to sugar for occasional use.
So here is the very simple recipe... enjoy...!
MAGICAL CHIA JAM
500g fresh or frozen berries
2 tablespoons chia seeds
3 or 4 tablespoons maple syrup, rice syrup or xylitol
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a medium pan, combine the berries with 3 tablespoons sweetener and bring to a gentle simmer over a medium heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the chia seeds and cook stirring frequently until the mixture thickens, around 15 minutes.
3.Once the jam has thickened a bit, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Add more sweetener to taste.
The jam will thicken more as it cools and will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks.
I've been enjoying my magical jam on my morning porridge with homemade coconut kefir. Its just delicious!
Its also lovely on Coconut Scones, stirred into yoghurt or drizzled on pancakes or ice cream!
.....your health in your hands.....
I hope everyone is out enjoying this lovely weather and topping up their vitamin D levels!
I've been rather busy trying out new recipes. I had my lovely juicing buddies over for dinner with a few dietary restrictions between them,! Gluten, nuts, fish, lentils and beans to name a few! Considering I don't eat meat or dairy that presented a bit of a challenge!
Anyway I put on a delicious tapas spread and for dessert I made these absolutely delicious, I'm talking SERIOUSLY OMG DELICIOUS totally raw caramel slice.without any nuts!
The original recipe was from the lovely folks over at Food Matters, which I adapted slightly!
They are extremely healthy and packed full of incredibly nutritious ingredients, including dates, tahini, maple syrup, raw cacao, coconut oil and buckwheat, my genius alternative to nuts!
Most of us are familiar with caramel shortcake, a rather sweet concoction full of sugar, saturated fat and dairy, not healthy on any level!!
So this is a similar but much healthier alternative and it tastes much better too.
Some of you may be unfamiliar with buckwheat which is a gluten free grain, containing all 8 essential amino acids.a great source of complete protein. Its contains fibre, magnesium and high levels of rutin and quercetin, which strengthen the blood vessels, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and enhance the action of Vitamin C.
So its an all round good guy and well worth including in your diet. Holland & Barret and Wholefoods stock it.
The other ingredients are all nutritional superstars, which I have mentioned in various other posts so a quick summary will suffice!
Dates are just fabulous and although deliciously sweet and fairly high in sugar they are also packed with fibre, protein, vitamins and antioxidants. Both fibre and protein slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the blood so has a much lower effect on your blood sugar levels, which is exactly what we are aiming for in the health stakes.
Tahini is a fantastic source of calcium and magnesium and its alkaline so great for strong bones, a much better source than dairy! It also has fibre, protein and good fats. Its made from sesame seeds, another of my favourite ingredients.
Raw Cacao is the best source of antioxidants on the planet and will boost your mood, provide you with magnesium, iron and a multitude of other nutritional goodies!
Coconut Oil is antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, immune boosting, metabolism boosting and supports every body system including your brain and digestion. Its a miracle in a jar, what more can I say!
You can use almonds instead of the buckwheat and just melt some dark chocolate with a tablespoon of coconut oil for the topping, if you don't have raw cacao. You can also use cocoa powder instead in the base but you lose all the associated health benefits and it won't be raw!
These keep really well in the freezer and are a fantastic treat when sugar cravings hit!
So without further ado here is the recipe.
RAW CARAMEL SLICE
3/4 cup buckwheat or almonds
3/4 cup medjool or deglet noor dates (pitted)
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
Simply put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until well combined. When you pinch a piece it should stick together. If its not holding then add a teaspoon of warm water. Line a square baking tin with clingfilm, to make it easier to get out of the tin. Press the mixture evenly into the tin. A spoon dipped in hot water is a good way to smooth the base down.
Put it in the freezer.
1 cup of medjool dates
1/2 cup coconut oil melted
4 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
good pinch of Himalyan sea salt
Process in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Pour over the base layer and put it back into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup raw cacao
Put all the ingredients into a glass bowl simmering over a pan of boiling water and stir until melted and well combined. Pour over the caramel and put back in the freezer until set.
Cut into small squares and keep in a covered container in the freezer.
Remove 5 minutes before serving.
......your health in your hands....
This is a fantastic vegan alternative to parmesan cheese. Its so healthy, packed full of good fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
I think it's my new favourite seasoning!
I tried it out at my Spring Workshop yesterday and the ladies were most impressed by how delicious it was. Its cheesy, savoury, nutty, zesty and has that unique umami flavour, supplied by the seaweed flakes!
So a quick resume of the ingredients
Almonds are an excellent source of good fats, protein, fibre, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and Vitamin E. They are also high in antioxidant flavanoids which boost the immune system and are protective against cancer.
Almonds can also lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease.
Nutritional yeast flakes are a godsend for vegans, they are an inactive form of yeast, great source of protein, supplying 9g in 2 tablespoons compared to a large egg which is only 6g!
They are also high in fibre and a fantastic source of all the B vitamins, especially B12 and folate and also zinc.
They add a lovely savoury, cheesy flavour to any savoury dish.
Lemon zest is packed with antioxidants and vitamins, especially vitamin C which is really important for the immune system and skin and it's alkalising so easily absorbed. Vitamin C also boosts the absorption of iron.
Garlic is just one of natures superfoods and can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and provide antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects. It's health benefits could fill a whole book!
Seaweed flakes are basically like a complete multivitamin and mineral supplement and they supply that unique umami flavour which is highly satisfying and delicious! It's also known as the fifth taste!
I use Mara seaweed flakes, dulse, kombu and shony are all excellent with similar benefits but slightly different flavour profile.
Mara seaweeds are all harvested from Scottish waters and are great quality. I always support local quality products whenever I can and I urge you to do the same. Here is the link to Mara
Seaweed is a brilliant way to boost your intake of minerals and cut down on the amount of salt in your diet and great news for your blood pressure too!
All herbs, dried or fresh have numerous health benefits. Blog post coming soon!!
Himalyan Pink Sea Salt is known as the king of salts and contains 86 trace minerals the body can use, well worth switching to, especially if you use Table Salt which is just pure sodium with no associated beneficial minerals!
So back to the awesome Almond Parmesan. It's really versatile and can be used as a savoury seasoning on any pasta dish, omelette, baked potato, soup, avocado toast, in fact any savoury dish at all will be enhanced by this and your body will thank you big time!!
So here is the very simple recipe.
.....your health in your hands.....
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.