I have been having the best summer, enjoying all the lovely sunshine, going for lots of adventures with Bruce our old Vw Camper Van and generally fermenting everything!!
To say it has become an obsession is a bit of an understatement! I now dream about fermenting stuff!!
My fridge is full of all sorts of jars of starters, milk kefir grains, water kefir grains, seasonal ferments and my cupboard is full of various ferments bubbling away!
Now much as I would love to say I grow all my own veggies, that would be far from the truth! However I am a fan of seasonal eating and in the summer we have so much incredible produce to choose from!
Think juicy tomatoes, crisp green courgettes, shiny peppers, lush green herbs, colourful edible flowers, rosy pink radishes, rainbow coloured salad leaves! I could go on but you get my drift!
I do however grow lots of herbs and I have courgettes and tomatoes this year but none are ready yet! So I'm experimenting with all sorts of flavoured kombuchas, water kefir and fruit Kvass and making use of all my abundant herbs, mint, basil, lemon balm, lemon verbena, thyme, oregano, fennel, borage and nasturtiums!
I ran a workshop last week with my awesome friend Sonnda Catto, a Cordon bleu trained chef, pattisserie expert, nutritionist with the most developed palate I have ever come across! She creates the most amazing freefrom foods I have ever tasted! They may be glutenfree, sugarfree, grainfree, dairyfree but they are most definitely not flavour free!
Sonnda has a restricted diet because of her ME but she certainly makes the the most incredible food from the best quality ingredients! We will be collaborating again and running regular workshops so watch this space for details.
And I will be launching a new programme of workshops, covering all things fermented, details coming soon!
Anyway as usual I digress, I have so much to share with all you lovely people that I simply become overwhelmed and don't know what to share first, so end up sharing nothing!!
So I have decided to focus on tomatoes and give you two new recipes, both fermented, for awesome flavour and health benefits!
These are both really simple and all you need are your ingredients and a glass jar! No cultures or special fermenting equipment required!
Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, which after fermentation becomes more bioavailable, which means your body can use it more efficiently! All sorts of magical stuff happens when you ferment food and its all good!! Lycopene has been associated with reduced risk of several cancers and it can also protect your skin from sun damage! Tomatoes are also rich in potassium which regulates fluid balance and are an excellent source of vitamin C, which also increases during fermentation!
So there you have it! Tomatoes, like all fruits and veggies, are extremely good for you, but fermenting them takes the health benefits to another level, as well as adding lots of gut healing lactobacillus bacteria, which just support every system in your body!
So no excuses, go and ferment some tomatoes!!
These are very aptly named and are indeed wee bombs of flavour with a delicate fizz on the tongue, that only fermentation can provide!
The recipe is so simple, you can hardly call it a recipe!!
So gather together some wee organic cherry or wee plum tomatoes, or better still use homegrown ones, about 500g.
Find yourself a large glass jar and give it a wash in hot soapy water then rinse it well. I used a large olive jar from Lidl but any glass jar will do.
Make a wee hole in each tomato using a wooden cocktail stick or skewer, pop them in your jar, add 3 or 4 bashed garlic cloves, a few sprigs of basil, any other herbs you have like flat leaf parsley, rosemary, oregano or thyme. Make a brine by dissolving a tablespoon sea salt in 1 litre filtered water then pour it over the tomatoes. Leave an inch or so headspace to stop the brine overflowing. I covered mine with a big grape leaf from my garden but nasturtium leaves also work well or a large lettuce leaf or cabbage leaf. The idea is to keep the tomatoes submerged in the brine. You can also use a ziplock bag then fill it with water to keep everything weighed down.
Put the lid on loosely and leave it to ferment for 4 or 5 days, at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. You should see bubbles after a few days indicating that fermentation is proceeding normally.
After 4 or 5 days you should have delicious probiotic flavoursome tomatoes with a gentle fizz when you eat them.
Transfer to the fridge and enjoy!
So at my workshop last week, we sampled all sorts of delicious fermented summer treats and this awesome fermented salsa was a big hit! Although so was everything else, but I'm focusing on tomatoes today, so here is the recipe!
(Makes 1 litre jar)
This salsa just tastes alive, so delicious and the fermentation adds a lovely sour tang. This is a great way of using up tomatoes and who doesn’t love salsa with tortilla chips! Or on a slice of sourdough with avocado as a probiotic bruschetta! To be honest this tastes amazing as it is, so if you don’t have time to ferment it then you can still enjoy all the amazing flavours, you just won’t have any probiotics! It’s a fast ferment, only 3 to 5 days so not that long to wait!! Alternatively, just add a clove of fermented garlic, job done!
Oh and keep any remaining brine in a wee jar in the fridge, you can add a tablespoon to some mashed avocado for fermented guacamole or pour it over your salad with some of your favourite oil! My current favourite is avocado and walnut oil!!
This is so easy. Simply mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, then pack into a clean 1 litre jar, leaving 2.5cm headspace at the top. Pack it in tightly to expel any air and bring juices to the surface. You can omit the chilli or add more depending on how hot you like it! I'm a chilli wimp so only add a wee pinch of chilli flakes.
Close the lid and allow to ferment at room temp for 3 to 5 days. Taste it after 3 days, it should have a wee fermenty fizz and zing. You can leave it for another day or so, if the flavour isn't to your liking, but don't leave it much longer or you can end up with an alcoholic tasting salsa, which isn't very nice!!
Put a bowl underneath it to catch any escaping juices. Transfer to the fridge, it will keep for around 6 months but it will be long gone by then!
......your health in your hands......
So its been a while since I posted anything on my blog! I've been very busy with Fermenting Workshops and just generally fermenting everything and having lots of fun experimenting and trying out new recipes and techniques.
I was sent a bag of organic tiger nuts recently from the awesome Tiger Nut Company so I've added that to the heady mix! I've made tiger nut milk, tiger nut kefir, spiced raisin tiger nut scones and wee Beetroot Bliss Bites using the dehydrated tiger nut pulp!
I have also acquired some water kefir grains so I now have the full gamut of ferments!
I can honestly say that ferments are taking over my life and my kitchen!
But of all the things to be addicted to, its a good one!! So many amazing health benefits and a whole new world of flavour!
I posted a photo of my rather delicious fermented dinner a few weeks ago on UK Fermenting Friends and 200 people liked it and I had lots of requests for recipes! These are all people who already know about fermented foods and drinks but I think the foodie side of me is taking simple ferments to new levels!!
I've certainly had a lot of interest in my workshops recently, mostly thanks to my wonderful friend Katrina of the awesome Body Toolkit Juicing Retreat, who shared my post with her juicing group with a glowing recommendation! My April workshop is fully booked and I only have one place left on 19th May, so I will add a few extra dates!
Contact me if you are interested in learning how to make all sorts of amazing fermented goodies and would like to add your name to my waiting list!
So off the topic of fermenting and back to this brilliant recipe!
I ran a series of healthy eating workshops this week at St Pauls Youth Forum Community Group in Provanmill, which was great fun, with lots of healthy food made and scoffed!
Our last session was Indian themed and I came across this great recipe for flatbreads on cafedelites cool website.
I normally make sourdough flatbreads, which are great but these ones are so soft and pliable and easy to roll, perfect for a fun workshop with kids and adults. Everyone loved them so I thought I'd share the recipe!
I'm off to Berlin next week and I'm most excited, its the best city for vegan food, and although I'm not exclusively vegan, its my favourite food and what I eat most of the time!
These flatbreads could easily be made vegan by substituting Soya yoghurt for the Greek yoghurt. Aldi sell delicious thick and creamy Greek Yogurt, which is what I used for these along with unsweetened soya milk.
So I hope this recipe becomes your favourite flatbread recipe, its definitely a keeper!
I made them last night and we had them for dinner with coconut spiced potatoes and mango chutney, simple and delicious!!
The addition of garlic powder gives these a lovely flavour. A teaspoon of cumin seeds would also work well!
The combination of greek yoghurt and olive oil make these flatbreads so soft and pliable and easy to roll out and also if you use a non stick pan, they hardly need any oil and its so easy to flip them over!
Please leave me a comment if you try these!!
So here is the recipe....
Easy Garlic Flatbreads
Ingredients makes 8 flatbreads
......your health in your hands........
I hope everyone survived the last week of snow! It was becoming ridiculous and quite scary how food supplies in the shops dwindled so fast. It's always bread and milk that go first and thankfully I bake my own delicious sourdough bread and had just stocked up on lots of organic flour from Waitrose, at 25% off! I can't resist a good bargain! It did make me very grateful that I can bake my own nutritious bread from only three ingredients and I actually consider it a life skill!!
Wee plug for my upcoming workshops, where I share all my knowledge and tips on how to make sourdough, kefir, kombucha and fermented veggies so you can go away and make your own fermented goodies! It could be a life saver the next time there is a food shortage!!
I only have one place left on Sat 17th March and one place on Sunday 25th March so contact me asap if you want to join the fun!
Here is the link
Anyway we could survive for at least a month. Our cupboards are well stocked with every type of pulses, grains and beans and I have a massive jar of fermented garlic in the fridge along with dried mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and loads of onions! I also have lots of fermented veggies, packed full of probiotic goodness!
My freezer is full of kale, spinach, frozen fruit and Alastair has a fish drawer full of fish!
I only buy dairy milk for my kefir grains and can easily make milk from almonds, oats, cashews or rice, all of which I have lots of.
It does make you think though how fragile our food system is and how long it would take for us to run out of food completely?
Anyway I'm so glad the snow has gone and the sun is actually shining today and the sky is blue! Hurrah spring is coming! My favourite season!
So I've been meaning to share this recipe for a while. I posted a photo on Instagram a few weeks ago and lots of people commented on it.
It's one of those recipes that you can vary endlessly according to what veggies, lentils or beans you have available.
I have made a few variations myself. The star of the recipe is good old Linda McCartney Veggie Sausages, a staple in our house, and only £1 per pack at Home Bargains! I always have a few packs in the freezer for weekend breakfasts and brunches!
However they work really well in this hotpot/casserole and make a really delicious and healthy dinner!
I love using up whatever veggies I have in the fridge, which I did a lot of last week, when we were snowed in, and I had a great time looking through my many cookery books for new ideas!
Anyway this recipe I just made up so its simple but rather versatile and works great with a big pile of creamy mashed potatoes and steamed greens or with pasta, rice or couscous. Any leftovers can be eaten cold for lunch.
You essentially cook the sausages in the oven for 15 minutes while you get on with making the sauce. Its a tomato based sauce with onions, carrots, peppers, mangetout, frozen peas or green beans with flavour from cumin, smoked paprika, mustard, and some tomato ketchup for a bit of added sweetness.
I have made this with the addition of puy lentils, which I cooked separately then added to the sauce with the cooked sausages and also with kidney beans and I had a bag of cooked quinoa and bulghur wheat to use up so just added that too. You can essentially just use frozen peas, carrots and onions and a tin of kidney beans and tomatoes but be adventurous and add whatever veggies you have. Celery and mushrooms would work well too and any cooked grains, lentils or beans. Also spinach stirred in at the end is always a good addition and a great way of boosting your greens for the day!
So here is my basic recipe..
SMOKY SAUSAGE & BEAN CASSEROLE
Ingredients for 6 people
.....your health in your hands....
So I've been busy replenishing all my fermented veggies. All I had left was a sad looking grey kimchi and an equally sad lemon and dill kraut!
I had forgotten how much I enjoy fermented veggies, just a tablespoon per day can boost your gut bacteria and give you a whole host of health benefits.
I used to only make plain boring old sauerkraut with cabbage and salt but since I've discovered how versatile and delicious kraut can be I've been experimenting with lots of different flavour additions!
I currently have 3 batches on the go but this pineapple turmeric ginger kraut is my absolute favourite. I love all the ingredients individually but put them together and ferment them for a few days and you have the most delicious zingy, earthy, sweet, salty and sour flavour explosion that looks like summer days, its such a vibrant bright sunshiny yellow colour!
Apart from the amazing taste, each of the ingredients have a myriad of health benefits so go figure, if you add them all together and ferment them, you add even more benefits and a load of gut healing healthy probiotics! I love the fact that whole foods work in synergy and enhance each others effects. Nutrition can't be broken down to individual components, its not a reductionist thing! Foods are more than the sum of their parts! Thats why extracting and concentrating individual minerals, vitamins or antioxidants don't work as well as the whole foods they are extracted from. There is a whole world of interactions between fibre, protein, simple sugars, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, trace elements and co enzymes, which we will never know. It's just too complex!
In my opinion, you can't improve on nature. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, as fresh as possible, and be aware of how to enhance their health benefits.
Anyway I digress,
The brilliant thing about fermented veggies is you are providing your body with a whole host of probiotic good gut bacteria and the veggies are a food source for them! They thrive on fibre so it makes sense to eat the bacteria and the food at the same time!
Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale, and has amazing gut healing and cancer fighting properties, due to the glucosinolate compounds it contains along with sulphur compounds and lots of vitamins and minerals.
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which helps to digest protein, and is especially useful for clearing mucous and sinus problems. It is also a great cough suppressant and works just as well as over the counter cough remedies! It's also a powerful anti inflammatory.
Ginger is great for soothing the digestion, relieving nausea and fighting inflammation in the body.
Turmeric is a superstar in the health stakes, it is a powerful anti inflammatory, relieves pain, kills cancer cells and just works on so many levels, you would be missing out on a whole lot of healing power if you didn't include turmeric in your diet! Black pepper enhances the action of turmeric and good quality fat enhancers its absorption even further.
So as I said earlier, if you put all these amazing ingredients together and ferment them with some sea salt, then you have an awesome inflammation fighting superfood, which just happens to taste amazing too!! Bearing in mind that every chronic disease involves inflammation on some level and pretty much all of us will have some low grade inflammation going on somewhere in our body, so we can all benefit from this amazing food. And fighting inflammation is only one of the health benefits of these powerful ingredients, there are many more......
So do yourself a favour and give this amazing sauerkraut a go!!
All you need is a white cabbage, preferably organic but at least locally sourced, 1/2 pineapple, some fresh ginger and some fresh or powdered turmeric, some sea salt and a large glass jar with a lid.
I don't sterilise my jars, just wash them in hot soapy water then rinse them really well to remove any traces of soap.
You can buy large glass Mason jars or Kilner jars with clip top lids in most supermarkets. Ikea and Home Bargains are particularly good value!
The most important thing to remember when fermenting veggies of any kind, is to keep the veggies submerged in the brine. In order to do this, you need what is called a follower, meaning something to place on top of the veggies, followed by a weight of some sort to hold it all down. A large cabbage leaf works well, with a glass gu pot to weight it down, which fits perfectly in a glass mason jar.
Alternatively you can use a ziplock bag, press it down firmly on top of your veggies and fill it with brine solution or water to act as a follower and weight in one!
The idea is to keep any small bits of veggies from floating above the brine, which can cause mould or kahm yeast, neither of which you want it your lovely ferment!
This is a fast ferment and only takes 4 to 7 days. Fermentation is affected by the temperature, if its too cold your ferment will take longer. 15 to 22 degrees C is the temperature range that the bacteria we are trying to cultivate, function best at, which is essentially room temperature. Keep your jar away from direct sunlight. Your kitchen worktop or a kitchen cupboard is ideal and allows you to keep an eye on it. If any bits of cabbage float to the top then remove them or push them back under the brine. You will see bubbles as the fermentation progresses which is a good sign that all is progressing normally!
This is truly delicious and a great accompaniment to any sandwich, wrap, snack, toast, eggs, savoury dish, buffet spread or just eaten as it is. You only need a tablespoon a day to boost your gut bacteria and reap the health benefits!
Wee point to remember, please use a clean spoon or fork when taking any of your kraut from the jar. You don't want to introduce any bacteria or moulds and ruin your lovely kraut!
So here is the simple recipe...
Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Kraut
....your health in your hands....
Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog post of 2018! I have been extremely busy redecorating the house since the new year, it's just what I felt like doing and once I started I couldn't stop!!
Sometimes we have to just go with the flow and do what we feel like doing, rather than what we feel we have to!
I have decided that I want to be more creative this year and develop a mindfulness and meditation practice and of course spend lots of time with Bruce our VW Camper Van exploring our beautiful country and going to lots of festivals!
So that's my plan, hope everyone has some fun things planned for this year!
Which brings me back to the purpose of my blog which is to spread the word on the power of food and nutrition to heal us and keep us well so that we can enjoy our lives to the full!
I succumbed to the flu type virus that was doing the rounds over the festive season, which brings into sharp focus how awful it is to be unable to do the things we want and spend quality time with our family and friends.
I'm not a fan of taking drugs and think in a way that by taking drugs at the slightest sign of symptoms, we are basically telling our bodies that we don't trust them to heal us. Our immune systems do an incredible job for us, fighting viruses, bacteria and all manner of other ills, if we support them with healing foods and let them get on with it.
So my plan was to rest in bed for a few days, and boost my immune system with shots of pineapple, ginger, lemon and turmeric, which worked great to suppress my cough, lots of healing soups and fruit to boost my vitamin levels and harness the awesome power of garlic and onions to fight the infection, which I'm happy to say they did!
It just brings into sharp focus the power of food to heal us on every level! Food is the original medicine, drugs are the new kids on the block!
Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Its usage predates written history! Sanskrit records document the use of garlic remedies approximately 5000 years ago, while the Chinese have been using it for at least 3000 years.
Hippocrates and Aristotle cited numerous therapeutic uses for garlic.
Its multifaceted in its healing power. It's antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal & anti parasitic. It can clear heavy metals from the colon, fights infection due to colds, flu, strep throat, pneumonia and viral related cancers. It can lower blood pressure, protect the heart and lower cholesterol. Not bad for a lowly garlic clove!!
Many of the therapeutic effects of garlic are thought to be due to the many sulphur containing compounds it contains. It is also an excellent source of Vit B6, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, calcium, potassium and iron.
There are 27 known active ingredients in garlic and dozens more that work in ways we haven't discovered yet! Many of these compounds work synergistically in the body to fight infection.
Many serious bugs, among them MRSA and staphylococcal strains of bacteria, have developed resistance to most antibiotic drugs, but not to the awesome power of garlic, due to the chemical complexity which these superbugs can't fight!
The other interesting thing about garlic is it only kills bad bacteria and leaves all the good guys unaffected, whereas antibiotics wipe out most of the good ones as well as the bad ones, leaving your immune system compromised and your gut microbes decimated!
Not good on any level for your health!
Which brings me back to another of my favourite topics, Fermentation!!
Now bearing in mind all the benefits I have just told you about, you can take garlic and boost its power by a large degree by simply fermenting it in a salt brine for a few weeks and then keeping it in the fridge, to use whenever you like! I add it to all my dips and dressings for a real flavour and health boost! It's definitely best used raw to preserve all the probiotic bacteria but you add it to any recipe requiring garlic at the end.
This simple process increases the vitamins, makes them more bioavailable and adds lots of beneficial lactic acid bacteria (the good guys!) So this is indeed a win-win situation!
Additionally the strong flavour mellows out during the fermentation process and magically doesn't linger on your breath!
The only drawback to making fermented garlic is the number of cloves you have to peel first! However, in my positive world, I see this as some time out, sitting comfortably, listening to some nice music and usually with a nice glass of wine or a lovely coffee, depending on the time of day!!
Mindfulness in action right there!
If you really don't have the time to sit and peel a massive pile of garlic, you can try putting your separated cloves into a big pot, putting the lid on and giving it a good shake! Apparently it works but I haven't tried it myself!
Also if possible, buy organic garlic! Best to start with the best quality ingredients you can find!
So all you need is a clean glass jar, enough garlic cloves to fill it, some salt water and a few black peppercorns (optional) and some patience! Bearing in mind it takes at least 2 weeks but preferably nearer 4 to ferment, then it's really worth making a lot. It will keep up to a year in the fridge!
Firstly find yourself a decent sized glass jar and give it a good wash in hot soapy water then rinse it well to remove any traces of soap. Then the hard bit,
peel loads of garlic, enough to almost fill your jar. Add the peeled garlic cloves to your jar, add some peppercorns if you like! Then make up a 2% brine solution using a good quality sea salt without any additives or anti caking agents! This is simply 20g of sea salt dissolved in a litre of water. It depends on the size of your jar how much brine you will need. If you are using a smallish jar then just make up 500 mls brine with 10 g sea salt.
Pour the brine over the garlic cloves and make sure they are totally covered. Leave at least 2.5cm of headspace at the top of your jar. It's a good idea to add a weight of some sort to keep the garlic submerged. A small ziplock bag filled with extra brine works well or a large cabbage leaf or a small glass gu pot. Put your jar out of direct sunlight but at room temperature for at least 2 weeks. I left mine for 6 weeks. You should see small bubbles of carbon dioxide which is a sign that the fermentation is proceeding normally. Once fermented you can store it in the fridge where it will keep happily for up to a year!
Occasionally some of the garlic cloves turn blue, which is just due to the sulphur compounds and nothing to worry about!!
You will find endless ways to use your fermented garlic! It tastes like a cross between raw and roasted garlic and adds great flavour and amazing health benefits to any food you add it to!
..... your health in your hands.....
I've been experimenting a bit with options for our Christmas dinner and I've decided on this rather delicious dish!
I came across the idea on the rather fabulous plant based blog mygoodnesskitchen and the simplicity of this appealled massively!
My criteria for any recipe really, festive or not, is flavour, simplicity and nutrition and this one ticks all the boxes!
Plus it looks great too and is sure to impress your guests!
We stick with vegan options for Christmas although Kathryn always requests a veggie lasagna which isn't festive at all but it's her favourite so we make a separate one for her.
We tend to have lots of options and a table full to overflowing with festive fare but we all love cooking and have the time to spare but food is a priority in our house.
The saying there are those who live to eat and those who eat to live and we definitely fall into the first category!!
We love food!!
So back to this really simple but elegant dish. The most difficult part is cutting holes in the butternut squash! I have a really good plain round cookie cutter which worked really well. I also tried a fluted option which although more difficult to cut through, left a lovely flower shaped hole, although the hole is filled with stuffing mix so just go with the plain option!
Cut slices about an inch thick and buy a butternut squash with a long neck end so you can cut a good few slices out!
I decided also to try the stuffing mix with portabello mushrooms and it worked really well and was simpler and quicker since the mushrooms don't need pre cooking prior to adding the stuffing and you don't have to cut a hole in them! You just give them a wipe with a damp cloth, put them on a lightly greased baking tray and spoon generous amount of stuffing mix and a wee drizzle of oil then bake them for around 20 minutes or so!
Doesn't get much easier than that!
Okay so the stuffing has a lovely festive flavour from the cranberries, chestnuts and herbs. If you can't find chestnuts then you can replace them with walnuts or hazelnuts. I used Merchant Gourmet vacuum packed cooked chestnuts from Waitrose.
Another time saving tip is to use a can of cooked lentils! Then its simply a matter of frying an onion, garlic, herbs then adding the other ingredients and heating it through.
I am going to make up my stuffing mix and freeze it so I'll be good to go on Christmas day.
If you have fresh sage, rosemary or thyme in the garden then add a good chopped spoonful of all of them. Alternatively you can use dried herbs.
I served a slice of squash and a big mushroom with a delicious gluten free, extremely healthy mushroom gravy, which is made with cooked brown rice, mushrooms, stock, herbs, garlic, tamari or balsamic vinegar and optional nutritional yeast flakes!
All you do is simmer the mushrooms, stock and cooked rice for 10 minutes then add herbs, garlic and seasoning and blend the lot into a delicious vegan gravy. No faffing around with lumpy flour and butter for me!! The recipe is included at the end of this post.
On a health note, cooked and cooled rice, potatoes and pasta have way more benefits for our gut bacteria, due to increased amounts of resistant starch, and everyone knows how much I go on about these wee critters! Its a symbiotic relationship on a massive level, with huge benefits for us, their hosts!
So do yourself a favour and provide your gut microbes with a festive feast this year and they will repay you with enhanced health on every level!
A feast to these wee guys is fibre, lots of it from different sources, so veggies, fruit, wholegrains, lentils, seeds, nuts, beans and pulses is the way to go!
If you decide to make this delicious dish your festive choice then you will be doing your health, your taste buds and your gut microbes a huge favour!
Whatever graces your festive table this year, enjoy it and have a wonderful Christmas...
Here are the simple recipes..
FESTIVE STUFFED SQUASH
Ingredients to serve 6
VEGAN MUSHROOM GRAVY
....your health in your hands....
It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, well it is in our house, apart from the fact that we all have a sore throat, so we've not been singing festive songs as much as usual!
I've been having sea salt baths with lavender and tea tree, downing shots of turmeric, ginger and lemon and eating loads of Immune boosting soup and fermented garlic!
I always use drugs as a last resort once I've given all my natural remedies a chance to work! I'm feeling better but now Kathryn and Laura have a sore throat!! Its always the same at this time of year!
Anyway I'm still in full on festive food mood and have a few more brilliant recipes to share before Christmas!
I came across this recipe on the awesome Kellie Andersons excellent blog food to glow
she has some incredible recipes, mostly plantbased and all delicious and healthy.
Her blog is well worth a look, I love her style of cooking and the flavour she manages to pack into her recipes is amazing!
So back to this great recipe...
These wee crackers would make a great gift, presented in a wee bag and tied with twine or ribbon. You can be creative and cut out all sorts of shapes. That's the brilliant thing about making your own stuff, you know exactly what the ingredients are and you can personalise most recipes to suit your own tastes and preferences.
Kids would also love making these and they make a nice change from sweet biscuits covered in icing! These crackers actually taste a little sweet and have a lovely crunch and festive flavour. They would be perfect with a Christmas cheese board (lots of dairyfree vegan cheeses around too) or as an accompaniment to dips or just plain as a wee snack!
The recipe makes lots of crackers so I have frozen half the dough and will make more crackers next week when we've eaten all this batch!
I used avocado oil in mine but olive oil or any mild tasting oil would work. Kellie's original recipe added 50 ml orange juice and the zest of a small orange but I didn't have any so I added a bit more water instead and used 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice instead of ginger.
The trick is to try and roll the dough out fairly thinly for nice crisp crackers. Just be sure to flour your work surface well or use 2 sheets of greaseproof paper and roll the dough on the paper with one sheet on top. You can then put the greaseproof paper directly onto an oven tray.
I just lightly greased and floured 2 baking trays and the crackers crisped up nicely and didn't stick at all!
So here is the slightly adapted recipe..
CRANBERRY & HAZELNUT CRACKERS
.....your health in your hands.....
So this week before all the true frantic madness of Christmas begins, I am sharing a few new recipes which are all worthy of a place at your Festive table, whether you are catering for meat lovers, vegetarians or vegans.
This mushroom, walnut and lentil pate is absolutely delicious and actually tastes quite meaty so I'm sure everyone will love it.
I am a massive fan of mushrooms, lentils and nuts so this is my idea of an ideal starter. Served with some thinly sliced sourdough or delicious crackers (recipe coming soon!)
this will surely impress your guests! It can be made a few days in advance and will happily sit in the fridge until you need it. This also works well stirred into a mushroom risotto or as a topping for a baked potato or a pizza!
I've made this a few times and played around with the recipe a bit. The original recipe from the wonderful Dearbhla Reynolds book The Cultured Club uses fermented mushrooms, which adds another layer of flavour and nutrition but since most folks won't have time to ferment the mushrooms first then this adapted recipe is equally delicious and the addition of seaweed flakes adds that unique umami flavour.
There are also lots of fresh herbs in this, all of which I have growing in the garden, so rosemary, sage and thyme and flat leaf parsley all feature in this delicious pate.
Garlic, onion, tamari and lemon juice add more flavour and nutrition and the addition of flaxseed and breadcrumbs firm it up so that you have the option of setting the pate in a small loaf tin, which looks rather wonderful and can then be served in slices.
Other options are to set the pate in small individual ramekin dishes or just put it into a serving dish and serve dollops rather than slices! It's whatever suits your needs best and makes life easier! If you are catering for gluten free then you would need to leave the breadcrumbs out or use gluten free ones. I always have a supply of breadcrumbs in the freezer, which are very handy and a great way to use up any slightly stale bread.
So back to the ingredients, any mushrooms will do but I always purchase organic mushrooms. Mushrooms absorb and concentrate whatever they are grown in, good or bad. I'd rather not have a side of pesticide residues or heavy metals with my food, thank you very much! It's always safer to buy organic and most of the supermarkets sell organic mushrooms these days at a reasonable price. Button mushrooms, portabello, chestnut or shitake mushrooms will all work well or indeed a mixture!
I will be making the version with fermented mushrooms for our Christmas dinner! Jenna is home from Cornwall for Christmas and is missing her mamas sourdough, kimchi, krauts and condiments so I'll have to get her gut microbiome restocked while she is here.
I have festive kombucha and lots of lovely fermenty things on the go!
So without further ado, here is the recipe....
Decadent Mushroom & Lentil Pate
....your health in your hands.....
I sometimes think that onions are overlooked when it comes to soup, but a good bowl of well made onion soup is an absolute joy and extremely nutritious!
Onions are great infection fighters and immune boosters and this is exactly the time of year that we need a wee boost, with all the stress of Christmas preparations, the cold and damp weather and for most of us too much alcohol, chocolate, and junk food. Add to that too many late nights and an never ending to do list, all of which depletes our immune system leaving us vulnerable to whatever bugs are doing the rounds!
But not to worry, onions to the rescue!
I came across this soup recipe in a Sunday magazine and loved the simplicity of it. The onions are simply oven roasted with some herbs, until they are deliciously sweet and tender and then blended with some good quality veggie stock! I use Kallo organic stock cubes or Marigold Bouillon Powder.
Voila, soup done!
The trick is to let the onions roast until they are really soft and deep gold in colour
There are so many varieties of onions! I recently bought some rather lovely pink onions so I used a mixture of pink, red and white onions in my soup but any combination would work.
Onion soup is traditionally served with a slice of toasted bread and cheese on the top but I would rather have a nice slice of sourdough on the side!
I am a big fan of simple recipes that pack a punch in the flavour and nutrition stakes and that's exactly what this soup does. Onions are a staple in most folks kitchen so this soup can be thrown together anytime!
It is absolutely delicious and is a definite contender for Festive entertaining, it's that good!
So without further rambling, here is the simple recipe!
Luxurious Onion Soup
....your health in your hands......
I came across this recipe a few weeks ago over at Jessicainthekitchen.com a great blog promoting real wholesome plant based food. Jessica is American, hence the original name Cauliflower Buffalo Wings! Americans are big on chicken wings and eat loads of them, usually deep fried, and extremely unhealthy and produced under terrible conditions. There is nothing healthy about the way these chickens are raised, and cheap food is produced at a real cost to the poor suffering animals and ultimately to our health, if we choose to eat them.
So my plea is to please try these cauliflower ones instead and leave the chicken wings off your plate!
Someone commented on Twitter about Cauliflower having wings, when I shared my photo a few days ago. It made me laugh when they suggested that perhaps you needed to buy GM cauliflower for the wings! Made me think Crispy Cauliflower Wings is a bit of a stupid name so I am renaming them Crispy Cauliflower Bites!
These are just the most delicious, crispy, flavoursome and healthy finger foods on the planet! Perfect food for sharing and you can dip them in whatever dip or sauce you fancy!
These are perfect for movie night or a wee pre dinner snack, they are so nutritious you could eat the lot yourself! I genuinely think you could persuade a few vegetable haters to try these or even fussy kids !
Please leave me a comment if you manage it!!
I love cauliflower and it has a long season in the UK so readily available and locally grown for quite a few months of the year. I should just add that cauliflower is a bit of a superstar in the health stakes. Its a great source of vit C, vit K, B vitamins, omega 3 fats, magnesium, antioxidants and phytonutrients which protect against cancer. It contains choline for brain health, its anti inflammatory,supports the digestive system and detoxification.
So quite a few reasons to eat it! I do think that cauliflower tends to get overlooked for its brighter cousin broccoli, but to be honest it has almost as many health benefits! I guess you could make these with broccoli or romanesco too!
These are miles away from soggy cauliflower florets dripping in artery clogging cheese sauce and are so simple yet so nutritious and healthy!
They do have a cheesy flavour but it comes from Nutritional Yeast Flakes, which are a godsend for vegans who like cheesy flavour without the dairy!
I would advise everyone to go and buy some, they are packed with all the B vitamins, iron, zinc and protein, and cost around £3.75 from any health food store. In my opinion these are way better than a B vitamin supplement. B vitamins are crucial for energy production and dealing with stress so we could all benefit from them!
I also use them to make the most delicious Vegan Almond Parmesan, which is packed with flavour and nutrition, from seaweed flakes, garlic, lemon rind, sea salt and ground almonds! Very handy and versatile and way better than old smelly socks parmesan!
So back to the recipe, you need a medium to large cauliflower, broken into bite sized florets. The trick with these is to dip the florets in batter then into breadcrumbs for a fantastic crunchy coating that sticks! They are then simply baked in a hot oven for 20 to 30 minutes so no faffing about with hot oil. I really detest deep frying anything, I just hate the smell of hot oil and it seems to cling to my clothes so I smell all greasy and horrible!!
Oven baking is far healthier too so that's always my preferred cooking method for anything crunchy.
The batter is just flour and plant based milk, with seasoning. I added cumin, smoked paprika, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to mine but you could add any herbs or spices you like! Top tip from Jessica, if your cauliflower florets are wet, the batter won't stick, so I didn't wash mine I just wiped it with damp kitchen roll!
I always have a bag of breadcrumbs in the freezer. I just blitz any leftover bread in my food processor for instant breadcrumbs. At Nourished by Nature nothing is wasted and since I am always baking lots of sourdough, I generally have spare! And mine is all organic which is even better! I also cut spare sourdough into cubes, freeze them, then oven bake them with some oil and herbs for excellent crunchy croutons!
So to recap these are simply cauliflower florets, dipped in a flour/milk batter, seasoned anyway you like, coated in breadcrumbs, then baked in a hot oven!
You can make a gluten free version using gluten free flour and breadcrumbs. Chickpea flour is naturally gluten free. Doves farm produce decent gluten free flour too.
Serve with any dipping sauce, chilli sauce, guacamole, tomato salsa or even good old tomato ketchup! I served mine with fermented tomato ketchup, sweetened with maple syrup and naturally fermented for a probiotic hit and fantastic flavour!
I will share the recipe soon!
I also made a tamari/maple/tomato dip which tasted great, it just didn't look good in the photo, it was brown!! If you want to make it, just use equal amounts of tamari/maple syrup and tomato puree. Loosen it up with some oil and add crushed garlic and sea salt!
So here is the very simple recipe....
CRISPY CAULIFLOWER BITES
.......your health in your hands........
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.