Now this week I'm fortunate enough to be going on a Vegan Cooking Retreat with my lovely friend and neighbour Jan, to the wilds of Wales for 4 days of fresh air, meditation, yoga and loads of delicious plant based vegan food, run by my Twitter buddy Lee Watson, of Peace & Parsnips fame and the awesome BeachHouseKitchen blog! Its just what I need to recuperate from my few weeks of less than perfect health! I hope to return rejuvenated and with loads of inspiration and new ideas for the blog.
So in the meantime I'm sharing this rather trendy Buddha Bowl recipe, full of plant based goodness. I like to think of myself as keeping up to date with recent food trends and this one which is popular among foodies, is one of my favourites!
A Buddha bowl isn't really anything to do with spirituality, its simply a bowl so full of delicious plant based food, it resembles the rounded belly of a Buddha, apparently!
There are so many combinations to this but the idea is you start off with some greens or a grain ( brown rice, quinoa, couscous), add some delicious oven roasted veggies, in this case sweet potato, red onions and broccoli, add some flavour and texture with some spiced, roasted chickpeas and top it all off with a super delicious creamy dressing and you have a meal fit for a Buddha!!
This is such a great idea for a last minute meal and literally takes 30 minutes to prepare and cook.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of times people will ask if eating veggies isn't really boring!
Hell no, unless you are eating plain veggies, which to be honest I rarely do. There is a whole world of nutrition and flavour to be explored with delicious dressings, using tahini, maple syrup, lemon, garlic, turmeric, spices, herbs, good quality oils, balsamic vinegar, tamari and all sorts of other fantastic ingredients.
Another weird thing is that lots of people only use dressings on salads, wheras I use them on steamed veggies, grains and oven roast veggies. Its such an easy way to add goodness and flavour to your meal and support pretty much every body system at the same time.
Anyway so back to this delicious meal in a bowl, its also pretty versatile and you can serve it with a portion of cooked grains or on a big bed of steamed greens or salad greens to add even more plant based goodness. Sliced avocado and pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds add another layer of creaminess, good fats, minerals and antioxidants.
A sprinkling of seaweed flakes would up the benefits further, adding more minerals, vitamins and antioxidants! So before you know it you have eaten 4 different types of veggies, a wholegrain, loads of good fats, fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and supported every system in your body, not to mention giving your gut bacteria a good feed with all the fibre. Now that's a meal worth having.....!
Have a good week everyone and I shall return with many fine recipes to share!
SWEET POTATO BUDDHA BOWL WITH MAPLE TAHINI DRESSING
1 sweet potato, cut into bite sized pieces
1 red onion, cut into quarters
1 cup of brocolli florets
a handful of salad greens, spinach or steamed kale
1 tablespoon coconut or rapeseed oil
I tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut or rapeseed oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon maple syrup
juice of 1/2 lemon ( about 2 tablespoons)
2 to 4 tablespoons hot water to desired consistency
1. Scrub and chop sweet potato into bite sized pieces or half moon shapes
2. Peel and quarter the red onion
3. Place sweet potato and red onion on a baking tray and drizzle with some rapeseed oil and a light sprinkling of sea salt
4. Bake in a hot oven at 200C for around 15 minutes.
5. Add the brocolli florets and a wee drizzle of rapeseed oil to the tray and turn the other ingredients, bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the veggies are cooked
6. Mix all the spices together and coat the chickpeas with the mixture. Heat a tablespoon of coconut or rapeseed oil in a pan and cook the chickpeas for 10 minutes on medium heat, turning frequently to prevent burning.
7. Add the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup and hot water to a small bowl or a glass jar and whisk together with a fork or put the lid on the jar and give it a good shake. Add more water if required to get a pouring consistency.
8. Arrange the oven roast veggies over a portion of grains or greens, drizzle over some dressing and garnish with the spiced chickpeas!
......your health in your hands.....
Its been a funny old week and sadly not in a hilarious way! We've all been fighting a horrible fluey bug, I was struck down last Saturday, just in time for our 2 night trip to The Wensleydale Heifer, courtesy of the girls for our Christmas, which couldn't be changed! So Alastair and I went and tried to make the most of it, though we were trying to outdo one another with our coughing!
Needless to say we had copious amounts of pineapple, ginger, lemon, manuka honey and coconut oil to try and alleviate the symptoms and a few jacuzzi baths and a few glasses of wine to numb the pain!
Then I was invited onto BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe programme yesterday, which I was concerned about since I sounded a bit like Kermit the frog and I was worried I'd be coughing through the whole programme!
The programme was in celebration of cauliflower for which I made a chocolate cauliflower cake, yes you read that right!! Its a thing apparently but so wrong on every level! It was awful, it tasted very strongly of cauliflower even though the recipe said it was undetectable and the cake was delicious! Just shows you can't believe everything you read online, even from respected food bloggers!
It was however very moist and gooey but no amount of chocolate chips or date frosting could mask that bitter cauliflower taste or smell! So I will most definitely not be sharing that recipe!
Oh and to top off a bad week, wee Faith my chicken died today. She had been poorly for a while. Her wee friend Grace is most upset, as am I. I've had to give her treats all day and she's been following me round the garden.
She keeps looking for her friend. So for those of you who think chickens have no feelings and are just for eating, you are wrong!! I'll have to contact the British Hen Welfare Trust again to rescue some more wee friends for Grace.
So since I'm not feeling great I'm sharing a well tried and tested family favourite, Italian Rice & Beans, which is just perfect healthy comfort food! Its made with brown rice which is high in protein, fibre and B vitamins. Bags of flavour come from the herbs, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar with a final flourish from the finely zested lemon rind. Although its a really simple recipe, it definitely packs a punch in the flavour department. I hope you give it a go!
ITALIAN RICE & BEANS
Ingredients Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
1 cup of brown rice (uncooked)
2 or 3 tablespoons of fresh herbs, rosemary, basil, oregano, flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 can of beans, borlotti, cannelini, flageolet or butter beans
1 or 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large handfuls baby spinach
Zest from one or two lemons
1. Start cooking the rice according to the packet instructions. I use short grain brown rice which has a lovely chewy texture but long grain would also work well.
2. When the rice is almost cooked, heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions and garlic, cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Add the herbs, sun dried tomatoes and beans and cook for another few minutes.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar and a good seasoning of sea salt. Turn the heat down to low.
4. Place spinach in a single layer on top of the beans. Place the hot steaming rice over the spinach and leave for a minute or two until the spinach starts to wilt. Mix gently and taste. Add more salt and balsamic if you think it needs it.
5. Finely grate the lemon zest on top of the rice and serve.
......your health in your hands....
I don't know anyone who doesn't love the smell of freshly baked bread!
Any bread will do and it always tastes better than shop bought stuff, which is generally full of additives and does nothing for your health!
I bought some lovely organic Ciabatta flour from Locavore a few weeks ago, along with organic rye flour and spelt flour. I'm always full of great intentions of baking bread every day but reality kicks in and sadly I don't get around to it as often as I'd like.
Now I'm no ace bread baker and like the majority of us, I like a nice simple recipe that doesn't involve lots of kneading, proving and rising time, but these resting times are actually essential and lots of things start happening, given some warmth and time, all important for the flavour and texture of the finished loaf. . Kneading is a vital step in bread making as it develops the gluten in the flour which gives the bread structure. You can however cheat and just use a mixer with a dough hook if you are fortunate enough to own one!
Commercial breadmaking is all about producing the cheapest loaf in the shortest possible time. Time means money after all and the more loaves that can be produced, the happier the producers are.
So more salt gets added for flavour, which would develop naturally given enough time! More yeast gets added, along with flour improvers, assorted enzymes, emulsifiers and preservatives to achieve the desired rise, texture and shelf life.
Again these things would happen naturally, given the right conditions and enough time, without the need for added chemicals!
Interestingly I came across an article a while ago about gluten and its effect on the gut, which can cause bloating, IBS type symptoms and general discomfort.
A questionnaire asking people with gluten sensitivity found that the majority of them could eat bread on holiday without symptoms, especially in Mediterranean countries where the bread is generally baked fresh every day, without additives or preservatives, and given enough time to prove and rise naturally.
So it could actually be all the additives in commercially produced bread which cause digestive issues. Have a look at the label the next time you buy bread, the list of ingredients is shocking!
So, on that note, if you always suffer with digestive issues after eating bread, then try making your own with good quality natural ingredients.
Always use organic flour for baking since wheat is one of the worst crops for pesticide residues,, check out my organic blog post. Also spelt flour has gluten with a different structure so its generally easier to digest and worth switching to.
So back to the baking, this Foccacia bread is delicious and since I've been craving a bit of sunshine, warmth and signs that spring is coming, I decided to add some Mediterranean flavours to the bread, to remind me of summer!
A wander round the garden yielded some lovely smelling rosemary and thyme so along with some dried oregano, sun dried tomatoes and a good dollop of pesto, my recipe was complete.
You could add some sliced olives, fresh basil, caramelised red onion and garlic or some chopped walnuts. I'll definitely be making this again and will share any good combinations I try.
I guess this bread would be just as nice with just some coarse sea salt and herbs and along with some quality oil will taste delicious.
Jenna made this bread with all ciabatta flour and used the mixer with the dough hook, resulting in light and fluffy bread.
I used 2 cups ciabatta flour and 1 cup of Spelt flour and kneaded mine by hand which gave a denser loaf which was still utterly delicious. We scoffed it last night with some lovely pasta!
So whatever method you choose, and whatever flour you use, your bread will smell and taste delicious, especially served warm straight from the oven and is sure to impress your family and friends!
I really hope you give this recipe a go, it's really possible to make the most delicious bread without too much effort and its miles ahead of shop bought bread! A perfect treat for the weekend!
I will be sharing lots more bread recipes as I try them so watch this space...
I have a brilliant simple flatbread recipe which I'll share soon...!
So here is the recipe...
Makes 1 large loaf
.......your health in your hands.....
🍃 Health educator🍃