I have discovered that I am very good at growing nettles! Apparently nettles like a nitrogen rich soil and they are very prolific in my raised beds so I have decided that rather than dig them all up, I would eat them!
Nettles have been eaten in many cultures around the world and used for their medicinal properties, and my goodness, after doing some research there doesn't seem to be much nettles can't help with!
I won't go into detail here, suffice to say nettles have extraordinary nutritional value, packed with A, C and B vitamins.
According to Francois Couplan the French ethnobotanist, nettles have three times more iron than spinach, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, calcium rivalling that of cheese and a protein content on a par with soya beans.
In effect, nettle has 3 times more nutrient density than anything you would buy in the shops, and it grows literally everywhere for free!
Best eaten in spring, although it can be harvested from shady areas later in the summer, and long associated with health and vitality, nettle leaves can be steamed, dried, used in soup, teas, used like spinach and blitzed into this fabulous pesto recipe!
And better still later in the summer when the leaves aren't so vibrant the seeds can be harvested, dried and used all year round as a pick me up and nutrient boost!
There is nutrient dense food literally under our noses and most of us either ignore it or destroy it! Well not me, I am harnessing the awesome power of nature and reaping the benefits!
There is no time like now to support our immune system, and no better way of increasing diversity in our gut microbiome by eating seasonally foraged greens!
I am stating the obvious here but nettles will sting you so wear gloves and take a pair of scissors to snip the tops of the nettles. Don't pick any of the older leaves just the young growth at the top. Also pick away from traffic pollution, grass verges or areas likely to have been sprayed with chemicals, and avoid nettles at dog level which may well have been peed on!
So this pesto recipe is vegan, nutritional yeast flakes and lemon juice replace the cheese, nuts and seeds provide protein and fibre and olive oil gives a good dose of omega 3. Feel free to mix up the types of nuts and seeds you use, according to what you have available. Hazelnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds and sesame seeds all work well.
I added the zest of a lemon too since the zest contains loads of polyphenols, vitamins and minerals, which our gut bacteria love, and most folks throw it away
Here is the recipe
I have been experimenting a lot with vegan cheeses and this one is my absolute favourite! I made a version of it for Christmas using thyme and dried cranberries but this smoky version is my current favourite!
You can buy liquid smoke but I actually use my own smoky marinade leftover from home smoking mushrooms or aubergines, its so intensely smoky but liquid smoke works just as well.
You can replace the liquid smoke with lemon juice and add some lovely fresh herbs like thyme or oregano for a lovely light summery creamy cheese.
This is just so good, it doesn't last long in our house and is perfect served with sourdough crackers or slathered on a freshly baked sourdough with some sliced tomatoes, basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar! It also makes a lovely filling for a baked sweet potato!
If you forget to soak the cashews overnight you can boil them in water for 10 mins to soften them, just drain them before you use them!
You can also shape the cheese into a log shape, or a round shape once it has firmed up. Then get all creative by rolling it in herbs, chopped nuts or a spice blend!
White miso paste adds a fabulous umami flavour and makes this taste like actual cheese, its fermented and makes a real difference to the taste. You can buy it in Waitrose, Tesco and online.
Simply add the drained cashew nuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast flakes, coconut oil, miso paste, garlic, liquid smoke and salt to a blender and blitz until smooth.
Line a small bowl with cling film
Scoop the cheese mix into the bowl, gather the sides of cling film around the cheese and twist to make a ball shape.
Chill in the fridge for a few hours, until firm.
Remove the cling film, then roll the cheese into a log shape and coat with dried herbs, fresh herbs or chopped nuts.
This cheese will keep for around 5 days in the fridge.
Everyone loves oatcakes, what's not to love....
Well apart from the fact that most of them contain palm oil and oats if they are not organic have likely been sprayed with pesticides!
I buy organic oats from Locavore which is a fabulous shop and well worth a visit for everything organic, ethical & sustainable!
So back to my wee oatcakes, variety is the spice of life and I am always going on about increasing diversity in our gut microbiome by eating lots of different types of fibre!
So these oatcakes have sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds & flaxseeds, organic oats and I used some organic soya kefir water instead of water to add extra nutrition, although water is fine! Just use whatever combination of seeds you have available.
Here are the proportions.
Ingredients makes 20 oatcakes
……….then just roll out fairly thin, cut shapes with a cookie cutter and bake at 180C for 18 to 20 mins.
Rolling the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper stops it sticking to the rolling pin!
Fabulous, packed with nutrition & couldn't be simpler!!
Your gut & your taste buds will be delighted with these!
🍃 Health educator🍃