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 came across the recipe last week on Twitter, created by the lovely Laura over at The Whole Ingredient and was waiting for an occasion to try it out.
I love cauliflower and its in season right now so the best time to eat it! 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, fibre, 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 good reasons to include it in your diet!
This recipe ticks all the boxes for me. Its so easy, delicious and nutritious.
It takes literally 5 minutes to prepare and only 30 minutes to cook. Any recipe which encourages us to eat more veggies gets my vote and this one certainly does that. Forget about soggy cauliflower dripping in cheese sauce, this is literally unrecognisable and its so delicious and moreish, you could quite happily eat a whole bowl, well I certainly could!
I had Graham from The Fat Loss Coaches over for lunch yesterday so thought I'd try the recipe out on him.
.I served it with sweet potato and bean burgers and steamed kale with garlicky balsamic dressing. Graham scoffed the lot and declared it delicious, so it was a real winner!
I only cooked some of the cauliflower and kept the rest marinating in the sauce to have with dinner which gave the flavours some time to develop. I think the next time I make this (which will be soon!) I will add some crushed garlic and some turmeric to up the health benefits, add extra flavour and impart a lovely yellow colour! You could really add any other spices, coriander, cumin, sumac or indeed a spoonful of curry paste would work well too.
Its just great to have a few simple but totally delicious and healthy recipes up your sleeve!
This is one of those recipes that once you've tried it, will become a family favourite. It has a few of my favourite healthy ingredients in it, including peanut butter, tamari, lime juice and coconut oil and its so easy, you can literally throw it together in 5 minutes. So if you have a cauliflower lurking in your fridge and don't know what to do with it, give this a go!!
I'm convinced that kids would happily eat this and fussy husbands too, its that good! Please leave a comment if you convert any veggie haters!
Cooking time will depend on the size of your cauliflower - over-cooking will result in soggy florets, which you don't want!
...............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......
Now that Bonfire Night is here and I'm talking about how the weather affects our food choices and some healthy foods for Bonfire Night on BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe so I thought I'd quickly write a blog post to share some simple, healthy ideas to make your Bonfire Night Celebrations go with a bang! Big thanks to my lovely hand models Megan and Daniel from Juice Warriors for holding my paper cones of nuts and popcorn! They did eat them after I took the photos!
I have to admit its not a time of year I particularly enjoy, our dog Ben is absolutely terrified of fireworks and shakes uncontrollably when he hears them, which these days is not just on the 5th but for a few days before and after, so he's going to the kennels in the country this year.!
Soup in a mug always goes down well and there are many simple and delicious options to choose from on the blog. Just click on the soup category. I'd recommend Tomato and Chickpea it's so easy and delicious!
So back to some simple, healthy snack ideas. You really want finger foods that you and your guests can enjoy al fresco while you are watching the fireworks.. Also you don't want to be washing lots of dishes so these wee paper cones are perfect, I made mine from a Lidl magazine, half pages for spiced nuts and a full page for popcorn.
Here is the link showing you how to make them, its really easy!
These are delicious and way better than ordinary salted nuts. You can use any combination of nuts and seeds, I used walnuts, cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds but almonds, hazelnuts, pecans would work well too. Nuts are a great source of protein, good fats and minerals and seeds are packed full of antioxidants, protein, calcium and magnesium.
2 cups of nuts
1/2 cup of pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp to 1tsp cayenne pepper (depending how hot you like them)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsps chopped rosemary (optional)
Put the nuts and seeds in a bowl and add the tamari, oil and all the spices and mix well until the nuts are coated in the mixture.
Empty the nuts and seeds onto a lightly greased baking tray, spreading them out into a single layer
Bake in the oven at 180C for around 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the tray to make sure they don't stick.
Cool then serve in paper cones!
Popcorn is a wonderful snack and its a wholegrain so has useful amounts of fibre. Its incredibly cheap to buy and you can make loads which is great for a party. Its a great kids snack and way better than Pringles or artificially flavoured crisps. Its even better if you use coconut oil to cook it in or rapeseed oil both of which are stable at high temperatures and add additional health benefits. A wee sprinkling of Himalyan Sea salt will add 86 trace minerals the body can use as well as a nice salty flavour!
Voila a cheap and healthy snack!
You don't need a popcorn maker, just a good sized solid pot with a lid.
So put enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pot, add a good grinding of sea salt and a single layer of corn kernels. Its important not to add too many or they will overflow and pop all over the place!
Just put the pot on a fairly high heat, put the lid on and hold it on, you will hear the corn start to pop. Don't be tempted to take the lid off or you could be hit in the face or the eye with a hot piece of popcorn, which is most definitely not fun! Give the pot a shake and when the popping stops, turn heat off, remove the lid and you have a pot full of delicious popcorn.
Season with some Himalyan sea salt, pour into large paper cones and enjoy!
Fun Filo Pastries
These healthy pastries make a delicious lunch or snack, are really easy to make and they are really versatile. They are baked in the oven so are pretty much fat free, compared to shop bought samosas which are generally deep fried in questionable oil! Not great for your health on any level! There are lots of alternative fillings but the simple curried filling seems appropriately warming and spicy for eating al fresco on Bonfire night!
1 pack of filo pastry, 30 x 50 cm (12 x 20 in) each,
1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
1 tsp coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
½ cup frozen peas
1-2tbsp curry paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
pinch of salt
Quite simply, half and thinly slice 2 red onions. Sauté the onions in a tablespoon of olive oil over a low heat with a pinch of sea salt for 10 minutes until soft. Add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and stir for a few minutes.
Crumble or cube the feta cheese and mix together.
Chickpea, spinach and feta cheese
Drain a tin of drained chickpeas, and add to food processor with 100g feta cheese, couple of handfuls spinach, zest of a lemon, tablespoon lemon juice, ½ tsp smoked paprika and blitz until combined.
🍃 Health educator🍃