Watercress Green Smoothie

I make a green smoothie a couple of times a week, I basically just chuck in whatever is to hand, sometimes the main green element is Kale, other times it’s Watercress.  I love Watercress, it’s the peppery kick that has me munching on it or including it in salads or sandwiches, but in a smoothie it’s even better!

watercress green smoothie

Watercress has high levels of Calcium  Vitamin A, C, E, K beta-carotene and Iron.  Also contains vitamin B1, B2. folic acid, potassium and phosphorus.   It has more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach!

Today, my green smoothie contained:

1 bag of Watercress
1 medium carrot
around 5 inches of cucumber
3 small tomatoes
1 baby avocado
half a banana
small handful of blueberries
3 raspberries, yes 3, all I had left!
about 1 inch of Ginger
Flax seeds
Chia seeds
Water to the perfect consistency for you
Ice, optional.

plus my Green blend which today was Wheatgrass, Spirulina, and Green Barley,   I have a few others and change or add to the blend, I’m always coming across new things to try too!

Blend all and serve immediately.

All measurements are approximate, I usually just sprinkle in some Flax and Chia seeds, make it your own and enjoy the benefits.  This amount serves 2 generously!

 

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Roasted Beetroot and Butterbean Soup

Following on from my previous post of the wonders of the superfood Beetroot, I’ve started with Roasted Beetroot and Butterbean Soup.

Honestly, I’ve never taken to Beetroots, I don’t mind them cooked with a salad or raw grated in a sandwich or salad.  But they aren’t on top of my list of vegetables I really savour and enjoy.

So, in an effort to broaden my taste buds and nutrient levels I decided to attempt my first Beetroot based soup.  I’ve added Potato to thicken it and Butterbeans for protein, along with the Pistachio garnish.

beetroot soup

 

Butter beans are a very good low-fat source of protein  as well as a good source of iron, zinc and magnesium.

Roasted Beetroot and Butterbean Soup

This recipe serves 3-4 depending on bowl size.

Preparation time is around 1½ hours.

Ingredients

400g raw beetroot
150g potato, cubed
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
750 ml vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin Butterbeans
1 lemon, juiced
1 orange, juiced plus zest
Black Pepper (to taste)
4-6 tablespoons coconut milk (to taste)

To garnish:  Total Greek Yogurt and chopped Pistachios

Method

Place the beetroot and potato in separate oven trays and roast for around an hour at 180C, the potatoes were ready after about 40 minutes.

Place onion and garlic into a pan and steam fry for around 3-4 minutes until softened.
Add the stock to the pan with the Butterbeans and cook for around 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Take the cooled Beetroots and peel the skin off, chop and place in a blender with the potatoes, Butterbean stock mix, lemon juice, orange juice plus zest, coconut milk, salt (I don’t use as the stock has salt in) and black pepper to taste.

Blend until smooth.

At this point you can either place in a saucepan and heat through again and serve immediately with a yogurt garnish sprinkled with roughly chopped Pistachio nuts for texture and bread of your choice, we enjoy toasted Sunflower Rye bread spread with coconut oil.

Or place in the fridge to consume within the next couple of days.  This recipe will also freeze well for up to 2 months.

beetroot soup 2

Nutritious and delicious!

For Beetroot nutritional info, see Superfood Beetroot

 

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Superfood Beetroot

Beetroot has always been around but in the past it was more usual to find it in a jar soaking in vinegar.   Now more and more people are using it raw, cooking or juicing it for extreme health benefits.

beetroot

Beetroot is a powerful detoxifier and blood purifier.  A great cleanser especially for the liver, kidneys, intestines and gall bladder.  Beetroot’s lush ruby red colour comes from beta-cyanin which has anti-viral and anti-oxidant properties which protect the cells against free radical damage.

Beetroot  is a rich source of natural sugars and contains a high amount of fibre that improves digestion, aiding the absorption of food but also slowing down the absorption of digestible carbohydrates into the blood, supplying a steady stream of energy.   It also stimulates the circulatory system, speeding up metabolism.

Beetroot is high in assimilable iron, contains manganese and silica which is vital for healthy skin, hair, nails and bones.  Other nutrients include vitamins B3, B5, C, Folic Acid, Beta-carotene, calcium, copper, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

It certainly deserves the title of Superfood!

So now to find more ways of including Beetroot in our diet apart from the usual pickled or raw grated into salads.  I’ll be starting with soup, Roasted Beetroot and Butterbean, but I really want to experiment with different ways to cook it, it does have an earthy taste which has not really appealed to me but with all the massive health benefits I want to include it more regularly on our menu.

Beetroots are in season here in the UK, now is the best time to give them a try!

Here are some fun facts from Love Beetroot.

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Gazpacho Soup

With the end of summer approaching, and the (mostly) warm summer days still gracing us with their presence, we enjoyed this antioxidant rich Gazpacho soup for lunch over the weekend.  Quick and easy to pull together and so refreshing.  No cooking required!

tomatoes pepper

There are a few variations of the Gazpacho recipe, I prefer mine with a little texture to it, but you can pass it through a sieve if you prefer a much smoother soup.

Gazpacho Soup

Ingredients

1 kg of ripe, large vine ripened tomatoes
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
½ large cucumber
small red onion
clove of garlic, crushed
1 tblspn cider vinegar (or vinegar of your choice)
1 tblspn extra virgin olive oil
Seasoning to taste

Method:

Score the tomatoes at both ends and place in boiling water to remove skins, cut into quarters and then remove seeds and core.  Put all the juicy insides from the tomatoes into a sieve over a bowl to catch all the liquid and use the liquid in the soup.

Place the tomatoes and all the extra liquid, red pepper, cucumber, onion, garlic, olive oil and vinegar into a food processor and process to the texture of your choice.

Put the blended soup into the fridge and chill for a couple of hours, once chilled add seasoning to your own taste.  Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and extra diced cucumber and tomato.

Serve with crusty French bread.

 

Gazpacho Soup

Nutritional Info:

Tomato – Vitamins A, B3, B5, B6, C, E, K, Beta-carotene, Biotin, Folic Acid, Lycopene, Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Fibre.

Red Pepper – Vitamins B3, B6, C, E, K, Beta-carotene, Biotin, Folic Acid, Lycopene, Calcium, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Fibre.

Cucumber – Vitamins A, B3, B5, C, K, Beta-carotene, Biotin, Folic Acid, Calcium, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Silica, Sulphur, Zinc, Fibre.

Onion – Vitamins B2, B6, C, Folic Acid, Chromium, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sulphur Compounds, Quercitin, Flavonoids, Fibre.

Garlic – Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, C, Biotin, Folic Acid, Calcium, Copper, Germanium, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sulphur, Zinc, Amino acids, Fibre.

Olive oil – Vitamins E, K, iron, Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids.

 

Gazpacho Soup

Savoury Cheesy Lentil Muffins

With the Bake-Off back this week, I thought I’d get in the baking mood again, haven’t done any for a while, it just doesn’t appeal to have the oven for too long on in the very hot weather.  And with my quest to bake with less or no sugar, these Savoury Cheesy Lentil Muffins fit the bill exactly with no added sugar.

lentil muffins 3

These muffins contain 3 different cheeses and Lentils which belong to the same legume family as beans which means they share similar nutritional benefits being rich source of lean protein and fibre.

Lentils also have  a good mineral profile with generous amounts of iron, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium.

Savoury Cheesy Lentil Muffins

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Baking Time:  25 minutes
Makes:  12 large or 24 mini muffins

Ingredients

50g red lentils, cooked
300ml skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
150g Ricotta
2 medium sized eggs
50g tomato purée/paste
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
30g Parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
225g wholemeal self-raising flour
70g white self-raising flour
50g Cheddar cheese, grated

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 180C, 160C fan, Gas 4.

In a large bowl whisk together the milk, Ricotta, eggs and tomato paste, once completely blended add the cooked red lentils, chopped red onion, Parmesan and parsley and stir in well.

Sift both white and wholemeal (include the husks after sifting) flours into the bowl and stir until combined.  Don’t over stir or the muffins will be heavy.

Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tin, I split the batter into a few full size muffins and some mini, bite-sized muffins for little fingers.  Sprinkle grated Cheddar cheese onto the muffins in the tin.

Bake for around 25 minutes until golden brown, do the cocktail stick test to make sure they are cooked through.

Serve warm or cold.  These muffins are moist and soft and are great halved and slathered with butter or tomato chilli chutney.

lentil muffins 2

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Tomato Chilli Relish

Is this a chutney or a relish?   Chutney’s and relishes are often used interchangeably as condiment terms.  I think of relishes as needing less cooking time and using little or no sugar, so I’ve called this recipe Tomato Chilli Relish.

Picture 155

My tomatoes are still green and growing on my tomato plants but we do have a lovely red, ripe Cayenne Pepper, the second to ripen on our plants, we used the first in a spicy pasta dish and boy was it good!  Fiery hot but fabulous too!

cayenne

I’ve used powdered Cayenne for this batch as I want the chilli pepper for a chilli, madness probably in this hot weather but I have 14 more chilli peppers ready to ripen in the next couple of weeks so will use a fresh, homegrown one to make more relishes and chutneys.

tom cay relish

Tomato Chilli Relish

Ingredients

1 medium red onion. finely chopped
½ teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ teaspoon ground Cumin
375g Tomatoes, finely chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon demerara sugar (optional)
ground black pepper to taste

Method

Gently fry the red onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes or until soft.

Add the Paprika, Cayenne Pepper & ground Cumin and cook out for a minute or so.

Add the tomatoes, I like to leave the skins on my tomatoes for chutney’s and relishes, balsamic vinegar and sugar to the pan with the onion and spices and simmer until it thickens up, around 20-25 minutes.  The sugar will bring out the flavour of the tomatoes.

tom relish

Serve with cold meats and cheeses, I pop some in chicken sandwiches, delicious and perfect for summer eating!

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From the Seed to the Pepper

I wrote about planting Cayenne Pepper seeds earlier this year, a handful germinated successfully and they are now nearly ready for picking!

cayenne

At the moment there are around 12 peppers of varying sizes on the plants, with more flowers still appearing so hopefully a steady supply over the summer.  I will dry a few too to extend their use over the Autumn months.

cayenne 1

So far only one of the peppers is turning red, I’ll be very interested to cook with it to see just how hot it really is!  I first read that it was the seeds that gave most of the heat to a dish when left in, but recently I heard a TV chef say that it was the white pithy membrane inside the pepper.  We like our chlli hot so whatever it is, it all goes in!

cayenne red

There is something so satisfying in planting seeds, watching them push their way through the soil and grow into strong plants that bear fruits or vegetables that are free from pesticides and could not have been grown in a more simpler way.

I am very proud of my herbs this year too, I have parsley, sage, thyme, basil and oregano all sunning themselves on my kitchen window.

Cayenne Pepper

 

Power Food Pairs

It is quite a well-known fact that taking vitamin C assists absorption of iron, think a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a boiled egg for breakfast. But there are many more combinations that will do your health the power of good.

Leafy Greens and Lemon juice – adding lemon juice as a dressing over leafy greens such as watercress or spinach are another example of the vitamin C and iron connection.   Any vitamin C rich fruit paired with a leafy green such as watercress or spinach will help the plant-based iron absorb more easily.

Avocado and Tomatoes – tomatoes contain the carotenoid lycopene, this cannot be easily absorbed by the body unless eaten with some fat and avocado is a great (and delicious) pairing.  Or try Tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, same effect.

avocado  tomatoes

Chickpeas and Onions/Leeks/Garlic – onions, leeks and garlic can help you absorb more iron and zinc from grains and legumes, including chickpeas.

Yogurt and Banana –  By increasing our beneficial bacteria eating probiotic and prebiotic foods we can help ward off  tummy aches.  Bananas supply inulin and oligofructose, these are the prebiotics that the probiotics in your gut like to munch on which equals a happier tummy.

Rice and Beans - when consumed together, rice and beans form a complete protein (think Chilli and Rice).   A protein is “complete” if it contains all nine of the essential amino acids (those that must be eaten as our bodies cannot make our own).  

Eggs and Broccoli –  Broccoli surpringsly contains one of the best absorbed forms of calcium, whilst eggs are good source of vitamin D.  Vitamin D and calcium are essential for bone health.  Make a Broccoli quiche or frittata for a perfect pairing.

There are many more dynamic duo food pairings out there. certainly food for thought.

 

Power Food Pairings

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chia, Date, Walnut Slice

My kind of sweet treat this week, there is no refined sugar in this Chia, Date, Walnut Slice, no wheat or dairy either if that is what you need to avoid.  So easy to put together and no cooking required!  I came across the recipe on Woman and Home and had all the ingredients to hand which I’m trying to do more of, use what I’ve got in!

Chia sweet treat

You literally put all the ingredients except the dates into a food blender and blend until you have fine crumbs, then add the dates a few at a time and blend until it all comes together. Then put into the tin of your choice and refrigerate for an hour or so, it will keep up to 2 weeks.

dates

 I’ve made mine in a flan tin with a loose bottom and have cut into slices and cubes for a little sweet, sugar-free treat.

chia slice

chia bites1

These will definitely become a staple here,  I thought they would be super-sweet with the amount of dates required but not so and really tasty according to the 3 year old!

Quick Nutritional Info:

Chia – This article by the Huffington Post highlights the benefits of eating Chia seeds.

Dates – contain magnesium selenium, manganese and copper which are important for healthy bone development and strength.  Other minerals include iron and potassium plus vitamins B2, B3, B6, Folic Acid and K.

Walnuts – very high in Omega 3, this chart from California Walnut shows what just 1 oz of walnuts will do for your health.

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