Well I can't believe that the summer holidays are over and the kids are all back at school! It's not been much of a summer, although we have made the most of it! We are now the proud owners of an old classic VW Camper Van called Bruce and I just love him. Its so much fun, its like camping but all nice and cosy with a pull out cooker, a really comfy bed, an excellent cool box and loads of storage for all our stuff.
I have decided to extend my holidays until October to make the most of Bruce before the weather changes and the nights are shorter! I'm so good to myself!
We are going to a 3 day Festival in Inveraray at the beginning of September which I'm most excited about!
I'm also heading back to Wales to another Vegan Cooking Retreat run by my cool dude buddy Lee Watson of Peace & Parsnips fame, my favourite vegan cookery book!
So lots to look forward to and enjoy, lucky me!!
I have a blessed life indeed.
So back to sharing some healthy recipes with you lovely people!
Another of my healthy obsessions is cookery books and the latest addition to my collection is;
Veggie Desserts and Cakes by Kate Hackworthy
so for my first blog post in a while I thought I'd share a really simple recipe from her book.
I love veggies and eat shed loads of them so this book appealed to me big time!
I think we are all familiar with Carrot Cake, but this book takes the use of veggies in cakes to new levels! Parsnips, beetroot, cauliflower, kale, peas, sweet potatoes, aubergine, spinach, swede, and sweetcorn all get a mention!
I'm all for using sweet veggies in cakes but I'm yet to be convinced by cauliflower and kale!!
I once made a chocolate and cauliflower cake for the BBC Kitchen Cafe Programme which I was a guest on. The very smell of it was awful and was not improved by the most luscious chocolate frosting. I couldn't even try it, the cauliflower smell was so strong and off putting! Maybe I just used a particularly strong cauliflower but I thought at the time that some things are just wrong and cauliflower and cake is one of them!! So needless to say I won't be trying that again!
On the plus side, there are many lovely recipes to try, so I thought I'd start with these Beetroot Seedy Squares! I'm a big fan of beetroot and always have a few vacuum packs in the fridge.
I adapted the recipe a bit, I used half the amount of beetroot and rolled them into balls instead of cutting them into squares. Beetroot although sweet has a strong earthy taste which can be overpowering and I didn't want to make a whole batch then discover that no one liked them! I can't stand waste so I played it safe and I'm delighted with the results. These wee bites are a lovely colour so I decided not to roll them in seeds or coconut. I like them bare!! The beetroot flavour is very subtle and perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the dates. Mixed seeds, ( I used sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and linseeds ) add texture, loads of good fats, protein and minerals, oats contain soluble fibre and dates are just packed with everything a body needs!
So these wee nutrient dense power bites make a delicious healthy snack at any time of day or when you feel in need of an energy boost!
Also great for packed lunches and hungry kids!!
So overall verdict for these wee bites is a big thumbs up! Next on my list are Pea and Mint Cupcakes, Sweet Potato and Pecan Blondies and Cucumber and Lemon Cake with Gin Icing!! I was sold at the Gin icing!!
Kate also has a blog which is well worth checking out.
So here is her recipe, slightly adapted...
BEETROOT BLISS BITES
Makes 25 wee bites
So I've had a lovely time lately! Alastair and I had a great few days away in Northumberland, at a fabulous 5 star Gastro Pub, called The Joiners Arms! Its well worth a visit, the rooms are gorgeous and the food was delicious!
We were also blessed with lovely weather, blue skies and sunshine so we had lots of lovely beach walks and fresh air!
We have all managed to avoid coughs, colds and viruses this year and long may that continue! However we don't put our good health down to luck, we eat really well and include lots of immune boosting foods in our diet!
Which brings me to this totally awesome and delicious immune boosting broth, which supports health on every level.
Alastair came across the recipe by the brilliant Anna Jones in The Guardian and immediately wanted to make it! I'm really glad he did, it is the most delicious, nourishing and bright green thai broth I have ever eaten.
Do yourself a favour and make this, your body and your taste buds will thank you, as will anyone you share it with!
In this season of detoxing, the buzz is all about depriving yourself of comfort food, but this soup has it all, its nourishing, healing, restorative, immune boosting and it just tastes amazing!
This is comfort food you can truly eat without feeling guilty, bloated or sluggish!
Its packed with the most health giving ingredients including coconut oil, ginger, garlic, chillies, coriander, turmeric and spinach.
There are so many benefits to this soup and its also really filling due to the rice noodles and chunks of butternut squash.
Some recipes have lots of ingredients and are a bit complicated and faffy and the end result really isn't worth the bother but not this one! Massive thanks to the awesome Anna Jones for this recipe.
I have both of her books A Modern Way to Eat and A Modern Way to Cook
and highly recommend both of them. She just talks so much sense and her passion for great flavours shines through.
I would seriously give this soup 10 out of 10 so here is the recipe so you can try it for yourself! Please leave a comment if you do!
BEST EVER THAI BROTH
4 tablespoons coconut oil
a thumb of ginger (50g) peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves peeled
1 or 2 small green chillies
4 spring onions, trimmed and roughly chopped
a bunch of fresh coriander leaves and stalks
a few sprigs of mint
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
15 green peppercorns, fresh or brined
2 x 400ml tins of coconut milk
1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder or 1/2 stock cube
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
a stalk of lemongrass
1/2 butternut squash, peeled
handful of spinach or spring greens
100g brown rice noodles
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
I haven't shared a beetroot recipe recently so thought I'd share this humdinger of a beetroot casserole with sweet potatoes, herbs and mushrooms with a good glug of red wine to lift the flavour to dinner party fancy!! I assure you, its that good! If you love beetroot and hearty casseroles then you will absolutely love this recipe!
Beetroot ticks a lot of boxes for me, its cheap, readily available, delicious, a fabulous colour and has lots of health benefits! It can lower blood pressure, improve memory and brain function by basically improving blood flow and relaxing the arteries, all down to nitric acid which beetroot has lots of! Its also a very effective internal cleanser, due to the powerful antioxidant betacyanin and supports kidney, liver and gallbladder function. Its also a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and easily digestible carbohydrates for a wee energy boost!
It's also extremely versatile and lends itself well to juicing, cakes, dips, soups, salads and casseroles!
I really do love the humble beetroot, whats not to love?
Anyway back to this fabulous recipe, the idea came from the awesome Anna Jones cookbook A Modern Way to Eat. I love Anna Jones, she makes the most delicious vegetarian food, wholesome, flavoursome and nutritious. A fabulous book if you want to transition to a more plant based way of eating, full of family favourites, lovely photos and simple, easy to follow recipes.
So back to this one...
I used vacuum packed beetroot, instead of fresh beetroot. I always have packs of beetroot in the fridge for dips, houmous, salads and soups and it's already cooked so can just be added for the last 10 to 15 minutes. Fresh beetroot can take up to an hour to cook, so if you are using fresh then cut into smallish chunks, to speed up the cooking time.
Puy or dark green lentils are another favourite ingredient of mine. They are packed with fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins and support health on every level. They are really filling and make a great substitute for meat. They don't require soaking prior to cooking and cook in around 20 minutes. All the supermarkets sell puy type lentils now, they hold their shape well and don't go mushy, which the more common red lentils do! I always have a selection of lentils in my cupboards, they are so versatile and delicious and great for adding fibre and protein to a meatless meal.
Sweet potatoes add lots of beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A and supports skin and digestive health. They contain a wonderful sugar called fructo-oligo-saccaride which acts as a food source for good bacteria in the gut, producing a chemical called butyric acid that can repair and strengthen the gut wall and rejuvenate the digestive tract! We should all be feeding our good gut bacteria and sweet potatoes are just so delicious this is just another excellent reason to eat loads of them. Even though they are naturally sweet, they contain blood sugar regulating properties and improve the cells responsiveness to insulin, so won't spike your blood sugar!
So all in all a very healthy dish to make for dinner, its just full of beneficial veggies, lentils, herbs and lots of garlic to boost the immune system and add lots of flavour!
We had this served with a big pile of creamy mashed potatoes and steamed green beans and Jenna used the leftovers by adding more mushrooms, stock and potato and blending it to a smooth velvety pink delicious soup!
We never waste food at Nourished by Nature!!
So here is the recipe, please leave a comment if you try it!
Ingredients Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
8 to 10 small cooked beets, quartered or fresh beetroot peeled and diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into dice
4 bay leaves
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
250 ml red wine
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup (200g) small dark lentils, rinsed and drained
handful of mushrooms, halved (optional)
....your health in your hands.....
It's been so cold recently but I'm loving the crisp, frosty days! I've had to bring Grace my wee chicken into the house since the temperature has been -7C the past two nights! I'd never forgive myself if she froze to death!! She has been happily eating porridge for breakfast with coconut oil, raisins, sweetcorn and sunflower seeds and washing it down with a good glug of kombucha, which she loves! She is a discerning chicken for sure!
Anyway I thought I'd share another of my favourite soup recipes, which is just the job for lunch on a freezing cold day! This one is adapted from a macrobiotic recipe, acquired during my studies to become a macrobiotic health coach, which I am, but I find the macrobiotic way too bland and restrictive for my liking, so I adapt the recipes to suit my taste!
So mung beans are very small dark green beans, mostly eaten as beansprouts here but they are also delicious cooked! Like all beans, mungbeans are packed with fibre, protein and minerals with major benefits for our health. They lend themselves very well to soup and make a pleasing change to the more common lentils, which most of us are familiar with.
I do think its wise to introduce new foods, most of us have a limited repertoire of recipes and sometimes get stuck in a boring food rut, which is where Nourished by Nature comes in!
I never cook or eat boring or bland food, life is too short for that, I embrace all the wonderful natural flavours and enjoy vibrant good health as a result!
Soup is one of the easiest things to make, and the varieties are endless! It's just such a brilliant way of sneaking more veggies and wholegrains into the diet.
One of my favourite things is a big bowl of steaming hot soup, served with a slice of home made sourdough bread!
The simple things are sometimes the best...
Most supermarkets and natural food stores stock mungbeans and they keep for ages.
So this soup is thick, nourishing, tomatoey, flavoursome and stick to your ribs delicious!
Here is my recipe
MIGHTY MUNGBEAN & TOMATO SOUP
1 cup of mungbeans (approx 200g)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 glug of rapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, finely diced
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 leek, finely sliced
1 courgette, diced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 litre vegetable stock (Marigold or Kallo are good)
freshly ground black pepper
....your health in your hands......
My daughter Jenna made this chocolatey fruit and nut concoction a few weeks ago and I can't tell you how deliciously moreish it was!!
So I obviously had to make a batch myself!
We chocolate lovers can delight in the knowledge that good quality high cocoa solids chocolate is incredibly good for us! It contains antioxidants with heart protective qualities, phenylethylamine, an amphetamine like compound which acts as a natural mood enhancer along with magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and B vitamins.
All of that considered, dark chocolate just doesn't have the same creamy mouthfeel as milk chocolate, even though most of us are aware that milk chocolate doesn't have any of the benefits of dark chocolate and has lots of refined sugar!
So this recipe, adapted from The New Vegan by Aine Carlin, one of my favourite vegan authors actually manages to combine all the health benefits of dark chocolate with a lovely texture and creamy mouthfeel, due to one of my favourite ingredients....tahini!
Tahini is made from sesame seeds, its packed with calcium and magnesium and its alkaline so easy for the body to absorb. It's so versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
We literally use it every day!!
The other healthy ingredients in this delightful sweet are hazelnuts, goji berries and apricots, coconut oil and a good pinch of Himalyan sea salt.
With thoughts turning to Christmas, this could be made quite festive with the addition of cranberries and a teaspoon of mixed spice or cinnamon and maybe some orange zest! It really is good enough to give as a gift.
I will most definitely be making this again before Christmas.
It is perfect with an after dinner coffee or in fact any time you happen to pass the fridge!
It will keep happily for a fortnight in aforementioned fridge but not in our house! It's literally gone in a few days max!!
So here is the recipe.....
CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE SLICE
100g bar of dark chocolate
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown rice syrup
large pinch of himalyan sea salt
30 g hazelnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
30g apricots, raisins or cranberries
1 tablespoon goji berries(optional)
cocoa powder for dusting
I love houmous, our whole family does, and I honestly can't imagine life without it! Its a perfect snack spread on oatcakes or with vegetable crudities. It's packed with protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and in my opinion, its a superfood!
So houmous is just chickpeas, tahini, good quality olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and whatever other flavourings take your fancy!
Now I like to mix things up a bit and plain old houmous can be a bit boring so I decided to jazz mine up a bit! I also love beetroot, it has so many benefits for our health and its such a fabulous vibrant colour and its incredibly cheap.
All the supermarkets sell vacuum packed beetroot, which is simply cooked in water, then vacuum packed to preserve it. Jars of beetroot are very popular in Scotland though they are pickled in vinegar which can be a bit overpowering so I always use the vacuum packed beetroot for dips.
Tahini is another one of my favourite ingredients and an essential ingredient in houmous. Its basically just sesame seeds ground into a paste. Its packed with calcium and magnesium and high in protein and its alkaline so easy for the body to absorb. Its a great food for building strong bones so great for growing kids and for all women to prevent oesteoporosis which is a horrible disease, mostly affecting women after the menopause. Exercise is another great bone builder so get yourself outside for a walk! Prevention is always better than cure so don't wait until your bones start thinning, do something about it now!
Anyway a wee digression there but back to the houmous!
Houmous is very versatile and I frequently have it as a topping on a baked sweet potato for my dinner, with caramelised red onions, tamari seeds and a big salad. Its actually one of my favourite dinners and so easy!
I have so much mint growing in the garden, it smells wonderful, is incredibly good for the digestion and I frequently have a big pot of mint tea, after dinner. If you have mint in your garden then just take a handful of leaves, put them into a warmed tea pot, then add boiling water and let the tea infuse for 5 minutes before you drink it. It's so delicious and way nicer than peppermint tea bags. A perfect end to a meal!
I guess the amounts of mint in this houmous are entirely up to you but I tend to use about 10 big leaves. Equally you could omit it altogether if its not a flavour you enjoy. That's the beauty of making your own dips, just add whatever you have to use up and switch ingredients around to make new combinations. Olive and coriander and sun dried tomato and basil are another two flavours I really enjoy. I can now add beetroot and mint to those two!
I had half an avocado to use up so added it to my houmous to make it extra creamy and delicious but its equally good without it. Just add another tablespoon of oil or water to get the consistency you prefer.
I have posted various other dips on the blog here so you can try a few other options!
BEETROOT & MINT HOUMOUS
1 tin chickpeas, drained
300g vaccum packed beetroot (about 3 to 4 small to med beets)
2 tablespoons tahini
juice of half a lemon ( approx 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled (optional)
10 big mint leaves ( add more or less to your taste)
1. Quite simply put everything in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add more oil, salt or lemon juice to taste.
2. Enjoy as a spread on oatcakes, wraps, baked potato topping or with vegetable crudities!
.......your health in your hands....
I'm a huge fan of potato salad and usually make it with a delicious garlicky vegan mayo, until I came across this recipe by Deliciously Ella. The photo caught my attention first, I love anything green, anything with avocados and I'm a sucker for a lovely big vibrant serving bowl and since
Deliciously Ella had all three I had to try it!
I have to admit I wasn't disappointed! This takes potato salad to new heights of flavour and nutrition. Avocado, lemon, asparagus, mint, basil chives, olive oil and new potatoes are a wonderful combination, all green, healthy and delicious.
It is the end of British asparagus season so frozen peas or edamame beans are great alternatives!
I grow lots of herbs in the summer and I have loads of mint, basil and chives and I'm always looking for new recipes to use them in. They just taste great and are packed with all sorts of beneficial antioxidants, minerals and vitamins along with essential oils.
And now for the sciency bit......
I came across some research on resistant starch recently, which is present in many foods to varying degrees. It is resistant to digestion so reaches the colon intact, where our gut bacteria use it for food and convert it into short chain fatty acids, namely acetate, butyrate and propionate.
Butyrate is of most importance and has unique health benefits including increasing metabolism, reducing inflammation and increasing insulin sensitivity;
and guess what....?
Resistant starch is much higher in cold cooked potatoes than hot ones, a
good enough reason to eat lots of this delicious cold potato salad!
Add a delicious creamy dressing packed with healthy fats and vitamins, some heart healthy olive oil, alkalising lemon juice and a nice crunch from the asparagus with digestive benefits from the mint and you have a superstar salad, which is a perfect accompaniment for a summer BBQ or buffet spread. This salad will keep quite happily in a covered container in the fridge for a few days, if it lasts that long!
I hope you try this, it really ticks a lot of boxes for me in the nutrition and flavour departments.
So here is the recipe....
CREAMY AVOCADO POTATO SALAD
1kg new potatoes, washed
Bunch of spring onions, 4 or 5
2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
Bunch of asparagus or a cup of frozen peas or edamame beans
1 lemon, juiced
2 ripe avocadoes
Mint, basil and chives, to taste, roughly a small handful of each
......your health in your hands.....
I seem to have been posting lots of cakes and treats recently so I thought it was time to redress the balance and post a lovely healthy dinner recipe!
This one is really easy to throw together and ideal for a mid week supper.
I find aubergines a great replacement for meat, they have an interesting texture and work really well in curries and spicy dishes. Gone are the days when you had to salt them for hours then fry them in loads of unhealthy oils! In this recipe, just dice and add them straight to the pan, easy, peasy!
This dish contains many ingredients with amazing health benefits. We have my usual favourites;
Red onions, packed with antioxidants, great source of fuel for our gut bacteria and great infection fighters.
Garlic which is just a nutritional superstar on every level,
Turmeric which even surpasses garlic in the health stakes, improving pretty much every health issue from brain health, to fighting cancer to reducing inflammation from arthritis, improving digestive issues and improving skin health.
Ginger another amazing anti inflammatory and great for soothing the digestion.
Coconut milk, deliciously creamy, full of healthy fats, metabolism boosting, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial and something that I sneak into as many dishes as I can. I just love it!
Lentils of any kind support every body system and are packed full of fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also cheap, versatile and easy to cook and an essential ingredient in my kitchen.
Coriander a fantastic herb for detoxing, especially good at removing heavy metals from the body and high in antioxidants and cancer fighting phytochemicals.
Spinach another nutritional superstar containing 22 different phytochemicals and a great source of iron, calcium and magnesium.
Once you start to think of food in terms of nutrition, you become much more mindful of what you are actually feeding your body and that is a very good thing!
I tend to think in terms of every time we eat or drink something, we are either feeding disease or fighting it and I choose to support my body by choosing nutritionally dense foods which support me on every level.
Admittedly no one is perfect and eats well all the time but we need to find a balance where we can be our best selves and that means eating decent food the majority of the time.
Since I am Nourished by Nature, for me this is mostly plants and wholefoods, natures' super-foods!
The 80/20 rule is a good one to follow and means we can eat really well 80% of the time and allow ourselves less healthy food and treats the rest of the time.
Life is for living and being happy and healthy, its not about deprivation, guilt and regrets so don't make your life about these things.
There ends my sermon for the day!
Right back to the recipe. I had no frozen peas since my freezer broke this week, and it was full of kale from my garden, frozen berries and bananas! Luckily I could squeeze some of it into my other freezer but the frozen bananas were just mush. Anyway I discovered a bag of edamame beans in my other freezer so added them instead. They are such a nice colour, almost lime green and sweet and delicious.
I also had a bag of lovely wee organic potatoes which I wanted to use so I cooked them separately and added them to the dish at the end. I served it with some lovely steamed green beans.
So here is the recipe.. enjoy!
AUBERGINE, LENTIL & COCONUT CURRY
1 cup of puy or green lentils (250g)
650ml vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil or coconut oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
1 level teaspoon dried chillies (more if you like it hot!)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can coconut milk (400ml)
2 aubergines, washed and cut into cubes
1 cup of frozen peas or edamame beans
Handful of chopped fresh coriander
Big handful of spinach
........your health in your hands......
I've decided to share this lovely summer soup recipe with you all. I'm a massive fan of seasonal eating and courgettes are in season right now, along with lots of other wonderful summer produce!
I love soup and always tend to have a pot on the go, even in summer, although I do tend to keep it in the fridge to keep it fresh. One of my pet hates is waste and having to throw soup away because its gone off!
A wee tip, its actually onions that are to blame, since they absorb bacteria which makes them very good for us but once cut, they absorb bacteria from the environment. Never leave a half cut onion in your fridge. Just buy smaller onions and use the whole thing!
Onions were used during the plague to prevent spread of disease and households used to leave cut onions in every room. Apparently it worked
Remember you can also freeze any soup so that avoids the going off problem!
Anyway back to this rather lovely summer soup. I got the original recipe from an old Marks & Spencer cookbook about 20 years ago and it's one I still use.
If you grow your own courgettes, which I do, then this is a great way to use them up! However I'm buying them at the moment since mine aren't ready yet!
I've been spiralising lots of courgettes recently too, courgetti is just a genious replacement for carb heavy, white pasta and its delicious and so healthy!
Try and select darkest green, firmest courgettes and the smaller ones tend to be sweeter. I sometimes find that the bigger courgettes can be quite watery and bitter, not what you want for your lovely soup!
So among the healthy ingredients of this soup is turmeric which is beating drugs for just about everything in numerous trials! It has so many health benefits and is well worth including in your diet. Point to note that the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin is absorbed way better in the presence of piperidine, found in black pepper and further enhanced by oil so any recipe using turmeric should include black pepper and oil for maximum benefit!
So without further rambling, here is the recipe!
COURGETTE & TOMATO SOUP
2 or 3 small to medium courgettes, finely sliced
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 tin of tomatoes or 400g of fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
1 tablespoon organic white flour
1 level teaspoon turmeric powder
750 ml good quality vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the finely sliced onion and courgettes. Turn the heat to low, put the lid on and sweat the vegetables for around 5 to 10 minutes with a pinch of sea salt.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, turmeric and the tablespoon of flour and give it a good mix with a wooden spoon to disperse the flour evenly and get rid of any lumps.
3. Add the hot stock, give it all a good stir then
put the lid on and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
4. Puree with a hand blender until smooth
5. Add a good grinding of black pepper and some sea salt to taste.
Some grated parmesan is also lovely!
.....your health in your hands....
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.