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......
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 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......
It's just not Christmas without brussel sprouts! They really are a love them or hate them vegetable. I'm actually not that fussed either way, I can take them or leave them!
I think most of us, well certainly of a certain age, can remember soggy, bitter brussel sprouts at Christmas! Overcooked veggies are one of my pet hates!
Now I'm all for seasonal food and brussel sprouts are certainly seasonal. Since we don't eat turkey, or any other animal for that matter!! I like to include some sprouts with our Festive Feast!
I came across this recipe on the Food Matters blog and was intrigued to give it a go. I've certainly never considered sprouts as a salad ingredient but then I never considered kale as a salad leaf before until I tried it in Awesome Wild Rice Salad and now I'm hooked!
The key to using tougher greens in salad is to use enough dressing and pour it over your salad ingredients an hour or so before you serve it to soften them a bit, making them easier to digest.
This particular salad is packed with nutritious ingredients with a festive twist from the cranberries and nuts. It is bursting with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins from the radishes, carrot, beetroot and flat leaf parsley.
The dressing packs a real punch with good fats from the rapeseed oil, immune boosting and digestive benefits from the garlic and apple cider vinegar and a delicious sweetness from the maple syrup!
All in all this definitely ticks all the boxes on flavour and nutrition!
I hope you give it a go, it could just transform your opinion of brussel sprouts!
Here is the recipe.
INGREDIENTS for SALAD
1/2 bag (approx 200g) of brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
4 radishes, cut into strips
1 small raw beetroot, thinly sliced or grated
1 small to medium carrot, grated
seeds of half a pomegrante (optional)
handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
handful of pumpkin seeds to garnish (optional)
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider or white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
sea salt, black pepper and a large pinch of cinnamon.
1. Give all your veg a good wash and cut the bottom off the sprouts.
2. I used my food processor to thinly slice the sprouts and grate the carrot and beetroot which is really easy but if you don't have one then just slice the sprouts as finely as you can and grate the carrot and beetroot.
2. Thinly slice the radishes then cut them into strips.
3. Pile your veggies into a large salad bowl, just use your hands to mix it all together.
4. Add the walnuts and cranberries.
4. Measure all the salad ingredients into a glass jar and give it a good shake.
5. Pour over the salad and mix well.
6. Garnish with pomegrante and pumpkin seeds.
BRUSSEL SPROUT CRISPS
This was another OMG moment this festive season when I realised that sprouts make damned good crisps!
I'm a huge fan of kale crisps, which are just delicious and so light and crispy and I've perfected the recipe here.
Brussel sprout leaves are a lot thicker than curly kale so need a bit longer in the oven at a higher temperature.
I've found that if you trim off the outer leaves from your sprouts, you can crisp them up, then oven roast the middle bits with other veggies like red onions, cubed butternut squash and parsnips or thinly slice them and use them in the Sprout Salad.
.It becomes increasingly difficult to remove whole leaves since they are so tightly packed the nearer the middle. Initially I just sliced the middle bits thinly but they didn't crisp up like the outer leaves did so if you want crispy leaves just use the bigger outside leaves.
Right so all you need to do is wash your leaves well and dry in a salad spinner. I also dried mine on kitchen roll. Put the sprouts in a bowl and drizzle over about a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and massage the leaves to make sure they are all coated in oil. Then tumble them all onto an oven tray, arrange in a single layer, season with seaweed flakes and/or Himalyan sea salt.You may need more than one tray since they need to be in a single layer to crisp up!
I love Mara Seaweed, they do a great range of Scottish seaweeds with great flavour and health benefits!
Right then put them in the oven at around 160C for 15 minutes, shake the tray and put them back it for another 10 minutes or so until nicely browned and crisp. Ovens vary a bit so just use these timings as a guide and keep an eye on your crisps to make sure they don't burn.
Although some of mine did look a bit brown, they still tasted delicious!
This really is a great way of using up extra sprouts over the Festive Season.
Even my husband Alastair, who hates sprouts, actually ate these and said they weren't disgusting! He went back for seconds so I know he liked them, he just didn't want to admit it!!
Anyway sprouts like all veggies are extremely nutritious so I hope you eat loads of them this Christmas! It's certainly easy with these delicious recipes!
. .....your health in your hands......
I had a very busy weekend catching up with my old school friends for lunch on Saturday, which is always fun and then I had 7 people over for a plant based feast of a lunch on Sunday! Everyone loved all the food, and there was a LOT of food! This fantastic Wild Rice Salad was one of the dishes accompanying the main course and everyone was raving about it!
So I thought I'd share the recipe. There was some left over since the recipe makes a lot so Alastair took it for his lunch with some feta cheese, nothing goes to waste in our house, especially not delicious food!
This is a beautiful salad, packed full of the most delicious, nutritious and colourful ingredients. There are so many flavours and textures going on here all resulting in a wonderfully taste bud tingling sensation. From the spicy crunch of the radishes to the sweetness of the raisins, the saltiness from the sun dried tomatoes to the zingy freshness of the lime dressing this is an absolutely winning combination and definitely one to impress your friends!
Big thanks to my Twitter pal, Lee Watson over at The Beach House Kitchen for the original recipe which I adapted slightly! I used a combination of Red Camargue & Wild Rice, from Waitrose, since Wild Rice is rather expensive and not that easy to find. You could use any combination of rice but preferably brown rice. There are quite a few rice mixtures available with wild rice.
I didn't have any dill or chives so I left both out and it was still delicious.! I had half a pomegranate to use up so added the seeds which worked really well!
I hope you give this recipe a go, I can guarantee it will become a favourite!
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
For the dressing
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.