Apple and Blackberry Chia Seed Preserve

Time to write has been very limited in the school holidays but time does seem to be flying by, she will be back to school for year 1 too soon and I will miss these relaxed, fun-filled, summer days.

I know I’ve posted before about Chia seed jam but with so many Apples being picked from our trees and our Blackberries finally starting to ripen I thought I’d try a completely sugar-free version, no sugar, nothing, not even a non-refined sugar.  I expect the purists would argue that this is a jam so I’m calling this a Preserve.

Apple and Blackberry Chia Seed Preserve

Preserves, Conserves, Jams made without sugar will need to be refrigerated and eaten within a week or so, no problem here!  

Apples from our apple trees

Using fruit to make a fruit spread like this is so simple and easy to put together in very little time. The fruit amounts I have used here worked well and the balance of flavours made it tangy but with a sweetness too from the Blackberries.  I used a mix of cooking apples and eating Apples, we have one Apple tree that produces a sweeter Apple than the other three.

Blackberries from our garden

The addition of Chia seeds will thicken up the Preserve as well as providing a healthy dose of omega 3, fibre, anti-oxidants and protein.  Once added to the cooked Apples and Blackberries, the Chia seeds will absorb some of the liquid and it will take on a thicker jam-like consistency.

Apple and Blackberry Chia Seed Preserve

Ingredients

500g Apples, after peeling and coring
200g Blackberries
Water, about an inch in your pan
1 tsp Vanilla extract 
2 tablespoons Chia seeds

Method

Peel, core and chop Apples into manageable pieces, I still use my Apple Peeler, a very retro and very necessary piece of equipment that saves me time and elbow grease, it does it all in one go!

Apple peeler

Put the Apples into a large pan with around and inch or so of water and cook on a gentle heat until the Apples have broken down and become a thick purée.  Add the washed Blackberries into the pan and continue to cook again until they are soft. 

At this point the Blackberries don’t need to be completely broken down unless you’d prefer a smoother fruit spread.

Add the Vanilla extract and stir in.  Turn the heat off, add the Chia seeds and stir in until well combined. Allow the Preserve to thicken up as the Chia seeds swell and the flavours meld until cool.  Transfer into a clean, sterilised (I pop mine into the oven) jar and keep refrigerated.

I’m off to have some on buttered rye bread as writing about it has made my mouth water!

Nutritional Info:

Blackberries:  Vitamins A, C, K, magnesium and potassium.  Rich in anti-oxidants, this fact sheet from Berry Health Benefits is a very good, informative read.

 

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Learning to Love the Lunchbox

When Miss ND started school last September I was concerned about many things, one of them was what was she going to eat at school.  I know they will teach her reading, writing and arithmetic (although they are probably called something else these days!) and many other things but her health and wellbeing was most important to me especially as she had barely turned 4.

Lunchboxes

I read the school menu and  wrote over 1000 words for a post about it but have a lot of respect for the school cook, so it still sits in my drafts folder.  It wasn’t the improved Jaime Oliver school lunch experience I had hoped for but Miss ND loves her food and will try anything once.  So for the first school year she had school lunches and came out at 3.05pm so hungry that she hoovered up the snack box I made for her daily.   I wasn’t best pleased to hear about the small portion sizes and the time allowed to eat their food. Miss ND has a very healthy appetite and we all know that the little ones need time to eat and hopefully finish their food without getting indigestion or a stitch, I remember those!

The menu changes around October time for winter fare but I’m not holding my breath for any improvement (but would love to be surprised!) so I will be tackling the lunchbox from September.  Believe me I don’t need the extra stress this may provide but replacing the days she really doesn’t like anything on the menu twice a week will be a start.  She is so excited to take one of her many lunchboxes in, to a 5 year old it is like a mini picnic with foods she enjoys.

Lunchbox Talk

Last  week I attended a bloggers event in London hosted by Making Sense of Sugar, along with Pediatric Nutritionist Ana-Kristina Skrapac and Chef Manju Malhi.  you can read about the event here

Chef Manju

It was useful to brainstorm about food choices and the struggles we are facing when sending in a lunchbox into school.  I know how to balance a meal and I also know what nutrients my child needs to grow and have enough energy to last through the school day but it’s also about packing a lunchbox with food that she likes too (and has time to eat!).  I want to see that lunchbox empty at 3.05!  

Here are my girl’s (mummy approved) recommendations, we’re starting with simple but healthy choices:

– Sandwiches with oat bread, butter or coconut oil (she loves coconut oil), filled with flaked tuna mixed with crème fraîche and black pepper or egg and watercress or cheese and cucumber.   Wraps would just unravel at this point and I always overfill them, maybe next year! 
– Frittata – freshly made the night before (with added hidden vegetables) and lunch for mummy too!
– Pasta salad, tossed in coconut oil (she loves it straight from the spoon!) with flaked tuna and diced cucumber.
– Carrot and Cucumber batons with homemade hummus (always have some on the go, so easy to make).
– Cheese, Cheddar, Gouda, Edam in any form, sliced, blocks, etc.
– Fruit pot, apple, blueberries, grapes (nothing that turns to mush with a bit of lunchbox shaking, e.g. raspberries!)
– Banana – bananas contain around 50% naturally occurring fructose, as well as glucose, sucrose and maltose. But they also contain valuable potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese as well as good amount of vitamin C.  Bananas are even a source of omega 3!
– Greek yogurt with berries/banana, etc
– Homemade bars and balls – nut free versions (recipes coming soon) or if pressed for time Organix Carrot Cake bar.
– Plain Popcorn (we love).
– Savoury homemade muffins, with bacon and cheese or sweet potato or courgette and goats cheese (these are sugar free too).

Balanced, filling and easy to eat in the allotted time!  That’s the plan anyway, 

As the colder months approach I will want to send in hot food but if our school does not have any reheating facilities I either have to send in a flask or think again.

I would love to hear what your children love to see in their lunchboxes too!

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Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

I do love a dollop of jam on my toast but I haven’t eaten any for years now, except for the odd teaspoon when out having a cream tea, I can never resist it then!  Laden with sugar, I’ve wanted to keep it at bay from my girl’s palate, I’ve made numerous fruit “jams” by boiling up fruit until soft, but it’s just not the same consistency as jam which holds its shape on toast.

Strawberry chia jam flowers

I’ve been using chia seeds for some time in breakfast, smoothies and puddings but a couple of years ago I read about them being used to thicken jam, so now with an abundance of summer fruits to hand I’m finally giving it a go and really hope the result is fabulous because I have missed jam!

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants with an abundance of omega 3, protein and fibre along with calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus .  Adding chia seeds to recipes will easily boost its nutritional value.  Chia seeds swell in liquid and become quite gelatinous which will have the effect of thickening the simmering fruits instead of adding a shed load of refined sugar to do the job.

rp_summer-berries-1024x903.jpg

I’m using Strawberries for this batch but with the amount of blackberries I see forming on our bushes I will definitely be making Blackberry Chia Jam.  I’ll probably have to add a little more honey or maple or barley rice syrup to take the edge of the blackberry’s tartness.

From this particular jam I used:

300g punnet of strawberries, topped, tailed and halved
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons Chia seeds

Method

Put the Strawberries, lemon juice, vanilla extract and honey into a pan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously then simmer gently over a low heat for 5-10 minutes until the Strawberries are softened and broken down.

Either leave the fruit as is or mash, the choice of chunky or smoother is yours.

Add the Chia seeds and mix until very well combined.  I had no idea how much liquid the Chia seeds would absorb but can always adjust quantities for the next jam if necessary.  If you prefer a smoother looking jam, you can grind the Chia seeds beforehand, as mine had Strawberry pips in, I left them whole.

Take the jam off the heat and let sit until the jam thickens for about 30 minutes.  Pour into a clean sterilised glass jar.  I shall keep it in the fridge as there is no high sugar content so may not last as long as conventional jam.  This made a good jar full.

Strawberry Chia jam jar

My verdict:  It is very seedy which I don’t mind at all, I think this would suit Raspberries very well.  It tastes very clean, fruity and delicious with the knowledge that it isn’t sugar heavy, just a couple of teaspoons of honey.  It will be lovely run through natural yogurt as well as on toast.  Shall be making much more with other fruits and adapting the flavours and ingredients more. Need to see how the jam differs using maple syrup and barley rice syrup too, lots to try and definitely a good alternative to jam for us!

Strawberry Chia Jam bread

 

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Roasted Salmon Jewelled Rice and Quinoa Summer Salad

Summer definitely has arrived here and living by the coast means that every weekend the beaches and cafes will be full to bursting, all good for the town’s economy, not so good for us to find a spot to eat or park!

beach-waves

One of the best things about the warmer months is eating outside, I especially love sharing a meal with Mr ND in the garden in the evening, it’s a good time to catch up on our day and relax once Miss ND is fast asleep.

roasted-salmon-with-dressing

Weekend lunches alfresco are also a favourite here, usually something light and not too time-consuming to make.  I roasted the Salmon the day before as it was to be eaten cold and the rest was a matter of making the rice and Quinoa and chopping the other ingredients.  I made a delicious marinade for the Salmon and a beautifully piquant but citrusy dressing for the salad.

Roasted Salmon Jewelled Rice and Quinoa Summer Salad

Salmon Marinade

1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon maple syrup
cayenne chilli, deseeded and chopped (I used around half of a small one)
around 1 inch of Ginger, finely grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of one Lime

Mix all the ingredients together and pour the marinade over the salmon and leave to marinate for around 30 minutes in the fridge.  Spoon marinade over the salmon once or twice during the 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan.  Roast the salmon for around 20 minutes until cooked through, I like it slightly crispy around the edges and do roast for a little longer if necessary.

Let the salmon cool, then refridgerate until needed.

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Roasted-salmon-jewelled-rice-salad

Jewelled Rice and Quinoa Summer Salad

I used 250g Long grain with wild rice and around half a cup of Quinoa both cooked in vegetable stock in separate pans.  Once cooked, let both cool, then combine and set aside.

My ingredients for the salad component were:

4 large Spring onions, thinly sliced
4-6″ Cucumber, diced
Half a medium red Pepper, diced
4 medium radishes, thinly sliced
2 fresh Apricots, chopped
1 large orange, chopped
seeds from 2 Pomegranates

Salad Dressing

Juice of 1 large orange and 1 lemon
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 generous teaspoon Dijon Mustard
freshly ground black pepper to your taste

Mix ingredients together in a small jug and stir well.

Combine the cooked rice and Quinoa with the salad ingredients and spread onto a large serving plate.  Chop the cooked Salmon into small cubes and dot around the plate.   Once served, pour dressing over the individual servings.  Tuck in!

Roasted-salmon-with-dressing-close-up

 

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Oxford Blue Cheese and Broccoli Pasta Sauce

I was delighted to receive a gift of cheese and biscuits from the Cheese Market recently and with summer upon us I decided to use some of it for this easy Blue Cheese and Broccoli pasta sauce.

The Cheese Market specialise in artisan cheese from specialist producers, most of which use milk from their own farms or the local area.  There is a huge selection of cheeses and related cheese gifts and for something a little different a Cheese wedding cake!

Fusilli gigante broccoli cheese sauce

Mr ND does not do green vegetables easily unlike myself who eats Broccoli for breakfast some days!  This was a good way to infuse some into his green vegetable-less diet!

The cheese market gift box

I do love cheese and in a pasta sauce, when melted, just divine.  The crème fraîche gives a little lightness to the sauce, use half fat if you like it even lighter.

Oxford Blue Cheese round

Oxford Blue Cheese and Broccoli Pasta Sauce

Serves 2 – this recipe can be doubled up successfully

Prep Time:  15 minutes  Cook Time:  20 minutes

Ingredients

200g approx dried pasta

150g -200g Broccoli, steamed
125g Blue cheese, rind removed and chopped
100ml crème fraîche (half or full fat)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
grated lemon zest
black pepper

Method

Cook the pasta in boiling water, I used Fusilli Gigante, any sauce will cling well onto its curves.  Drain once cooked and set aside.

Blend the steamed Broccoli with a touch of water until you have a loose green purée.

Place the blue cheese and crème fraîche into a saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring continuously until you have a lovely blended, smooth sauce.  Add the lemon juice and zest along with plenty of black pepper.

Blue cheese and creme fraiche melting

Add the green Broccoli purée into the cheese sauce and stir until well combined.

Fusilli gigante broccoli cheese sauce

Pour the sauce over the pasta and serve immediately.  Add more black pepper as desired.  We added a glass of Chenin Blanc and ate al fresco in the Saturday sunshine last weekend.
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Miele event at Silo Restaurant Brighton

Last week I was excited to receive an invitation to an event with Margot from Coffee and Vanilla at a restaurant I had on my list of places to try locally.  I had in mind what the restaurant ethos was and found that there was a whole lot more going on behind the doors at Silo Brighton.

Silo Restaurant Brighton

The event was a partnership between Silo, the revolutionary Brighton restaurant and Miele, a high end appliance brand.  Silo’s Head Chef, Douglas McMaster created a bespoke four course tasting lunch menu incorporating locally sourced fresh produce, showcasing the range of dishes that could be prepared using  Miele’s Steam Oven.

Miele Steam Oven

Miele Steam Ovens maintain the nutrients, colour, texture and flavour of the food being cooked.  Steam ovens work by generating steam externally and then injecting it into the oven cavity when needed, giving you precise and constant temperature control for perfect cooking results.

Everything that is served at Silo Brighton is sustainable, sourced locally and can be used as part of their menu with zero waste.  The Head chef ensures that no ingredient used in the dishes is thrown away.  He says “By creating everything on site from its wholest form we can capture real food and real food tastes better”.

This passage from Silo’s website sums up their ethos “The great thing about sharing a bakery with a zero-waste restaurant, coffeehouse, and brewery is the abundance of waste products that can be used in the bakery. There is always an abundance of flavours. The waste milk from the coffee bar is a constant supply of buttermilk, the fruit waste and yeast from the brewers can be used in the bakery products, and with the restaurant a variety of ingredients are always on hand. The bakery products are in continuous development and variation, depending on what’s in season. What remains constant is the approach of using the purest, most nutritious raw materials to create a wholesome, delicious product”.

the compost machine set inside Silo, turns all of their food scraps and trimmings directly into a compost used to produce more food

left: the compost machine set inside Silo that turns all of their food scraps and trimmings directly into compost used to produce more food. Right: the flour mill

The food was simply outstanding from start to finish. We commenced the day with possibly the most delicious coffee I have tasted and Asparagus caramelised onion & Dijon mustard pastries.

Asparagus caramelised onion & Dijon mustard pastries at Silo Brighton

We then sat down to a small snack with freshly made Sour Dough bread from flour milled at Silo (the butter is also made there too!) and beautifully fragrant Elderflower Bubbly.

Silo snackOur next course was Tomato, sprouted lentils, smoked curd and wild garlic buds along with a zingy Lime and Ginger tonic.  A cool, refreshing dish and beautifully presented.

Tomato salad with smoked curd

Next we were treated to wonderful Asparagus and egg yolk sprinkled with sunflower and pumpkin seeds paired with Nettle Iced tea.

Silo Asparagus with egg yolk, sunflower and pumpkin seeds

There was a varied choice for the next course…

Silo Restaurant Brighton menu blackboard

I chose the Brown rice Risotto with baby Beetroot with Silo’s fresh Cheese.  This was served with a very refreshing raw Satsuma and Beetroot juice which I loved.

Silo Brown RIce Risotto with baby beetroot

To round off this delicious tasting lunch there was a Strawberry, Raw Cacao and lemon skin dessert sprinkled with Elderflowers and a sampling of inhouse Old Tree Perry.

Silo Strawberry, raw cacao, lemon skin, elderflower dessert Miele event at Silo Restaurant Brighton

Miele Silo BrightonThank you to Miele and Silo Brighton for hosting a very enjoyable lunch with a clear message on zero food waste.

 

 

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Disclosure:  All content and opinions here are our own, we were given a complementary lunch as guests of Miele, there was no financial compensation and we retain full editorial control.

What’s In A Name?

New food trends keep popping up, which are not so new, just reworked or reborn for today’s ever evolving health foodies.  Some resurface that have been around for decades, one that I can remember my own mother doing, that I carried on with my own children, only now it has a name.

I’ve been soaking oats nightly forever mainly because I felt the soaking would make the oats more digestible (see link below) for a young tummy at the time and I just carried on out of habit. Then someone gave it a name,  Overnight Oats!  Although I have to say that mine are more like the Bircher Muesli mum used to make minus the dried fruit which I have steered clear of for Miss ND so far, they are too prone to getting stuck on little teeth!

oats close

During the colder months I do cook Miss ND’s oats after soaking overnight, I think little ones need something warm in their tummies in the morning before braving the elements before school.

I make them in separate bowls for each of us, I like Almond or Coconut milk and Miss ND  will either have whole milk or Oat milk.  I also like to soak chia, ground almonds and flaxseeds in the mix.  I pop the flaxseeds in whole for myself as I love nibbling on them in each mouthful to crack them open, just me probably, but it also makes me slow down and eat more mindfully!  For Miss ND I do grind them though.

oats and seeds

These additions do soak up a significant amount of milk which I don’t measure, I do, however, check the oats mix just before I go to bed and add more milk to each as necessary.

A dollop of full fat natural Greek Yogurt (Lidl’s is amazingly creamy and comes in a huge bucket which is just as well as Miss ND loves it and eats it by the bowlful every day for afters) some fruit and a sprinkling of cinnamon will complete the bowl in the morning.

I don’t sweeten our breakfast, the only sweetness will come from the fresh fruit.  Miss ND has been brought up on low/no sugar and it really has paid off, she loves savoury and when she does eat chocolate,  she only manages a little (wish I had the same restraint!).

And when you see a “new” healthy recipe, remember that they may have been around for a while. Some of us have been hiding vegetables in our cakes, soaking our oats, making almond milk and clean eating, etc  long before it all became a trend.

Health Info:

Oats contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, E, Folic Acid, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Selenium – trace elements: copper, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and iodine.

This link from Sun Warrior is an excellent explanation of why we should soak our nuts and seeds overnight.

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My Imperia Pasta Maker

I am embarrassed to say I have had my Imperia pasta maker for quite some time, years infact. I bought it wanting to try to make my own pasta from scratch and life events took over in a big way and it got put away.

Imperia Pasta Maker

Imperia Pasta Maker

It feels like a really retro piece of equipment, no batteries or electricity needed and it has 3 heads to make many types of pasta and it also came with this ravioli tray, I absolutely adore ravioli and all the fillings that come to mind, delicious!

I have come across the Pasta Maker a few times and always with good intentions to unbox it finally but as we were and still are going through house renovations, it got put away and the dried pasta used.

Fast forward to last week when watching a food programme I saw them making fresh pasta over several episodes and I thought I have to do this!!!

Could I find the Pasta Maker, of course not, I scoured the whole house and finally found it in what will be another bathroom (one day!) right at the bottom (isn’t always the way) of a pile of belongings!

So, what’s the difference between now and all the other times I promised myself I would make fresh pasta when I’ve stumbled across the box??  I have been taking things a little slower in the last couple of years, trying to savour, enjoy and appreciate life more after the passing of someone very close to me.  Taking things slower has meant I am taking time over things rather than rushing through life at speed, it means sometimes I get less done but it feels like I’ve done it well (most of the time).

Hopefully I’ll also be working my way through my long overdue list of foodie projects as I’ve spent the last few weeks organising my home office and I actually know where everything is now!

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Quinoa Lentil Burgers

I’ve been meaning to try out my Burger maker to make some Quinoa, Lentil Burgers for some time now, not enough hours in the day for everything I want to make! There are a few veggie burger combinations I have in mind so expect a few posts in the not too distant future!

quinoa burger

I really enjoy the whole burger experience, the patty, the soft bun, the onions, cheese, gherkins and French mustard, it has to be French mustard for me.

We haven’t eaten red meat burgers since Mr ND became a vegetarian many years ago but I remember when I was pregnant I was craving burgers, the baby needed a burger, she got a full on Quorn burger that day made by Mr ND, I remember it well, strange how we crave when pregnant, our bodies way of telling us what we need.

So, for my first foray into making my own veggie burgers I have chosen Quinoa and Green Lentils as my base.  I love Quinoa, been using it for years, protein-rich and gluten-free it is a versatile addition.

Quinoa Lentil Patties

I’ve kept the Burgers quite simple but I can see other ingredients that will make it into future burgers such as walnuts, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, flaxseeds, etc.

Quinoa and Lentil Burgers

Prep Time:  30 minutes  :   Cook TIme:  5 -20 minutes

Makes approximately 5 large burgers

Ingredients

1 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
150g Chestnut Mushrooms, chopped
400g Green Lentils (I used tinned)
60g Quinoa, cooked
1 tablespoon Tomato purée
1 medium egg, beaten
5 tablespoons oats
Paprika and Cayenne to taste
Parsley to taste
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Method

Gently sauté the red onions and garlic for a few minutes then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes or until soft.

Drain the Green Lentils and rinse, put into food processor along with cooked Quinoa, Tomato purée, beaten egg, salt and black pepper.  Pulse ingredients until you have the consistency you want.  For the next Quinoa burger I make I may just add the Quinoa to the bowl rather than the food processor for a little extra texture, remember this is my first one!

Pop the mixture into a large bowl and add the oats, use as many tablespoons as needed, 5 was about right for mine, Paprika, Cayenne, Parsley and sesame seeds, mix well.

Refrigerate for an hour or so or overnight to firm up a little.  I baked mine for 15 minutes so stop them from breaking up when I fried them off after but next time I will probably use either more oats and/or some wholewheat flour.  But with careful handling I got perfect, unbroken burgers!

Once you have the base burger mix done, you can separate it up and customise the burgers to everyone’s taste if need be.   Extra chilli flakes and maybe Pumpkin seeds for me!   This batch made 5 really decent sized burgers and 1 little one for a little one to try.   Easily freezable too,

Quinoa Lentil Burger

Serve in a bun of your choice or between Lettuce leaves garnished with homemade salsa for a gluten-free version.

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