Category Archives: food

Courgetti with Walnut Watercress Pesto

Courgetti with Walnut Watercress Pesto is an amazingly light and summery lunch that can be prepared in minutes, especially if you make the pesto the night before!   With such an array of superfood ingredients to boost health and wellness, this is definitely one of our favourite summer lunches.

Watercress certainly is a powerhouse food, packed with many natural phytonutrients and a host of vitamins and minerals.  It boasts rich levels of calcium, iron,  vitamin C and K, as well as B vitamins, beta-carotene and magnesium, zinc, potassium and manganese amongst others. A full nutritional analysis here.

courgetti pesto

The addition of Walnuts further enhances the nutritional value of this dish.  Walnuts and walnut oil are rich in antioxidants, they contain protein, omega 3 fats, vitamins B6 and E, potassium, magnesium, copper and zinc, amongst others, all of which are great beauty foods too!  One of walnut’s most valuable properties is in fighting inflammation which is so important for many health concerns.

walnuts

Walnut Watercress Pesto

Pesto Ingredients

1 85g bag of Watercress
2  garlic cloves, crushed
70g Walnuts
40g Parmesan cheese, grated
130ml (approx) extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper

Blitz the Watercress, garlic, walnuts and Parmesan cheese in a blender until you have a finely chopped consistency.  Watch out for the walnuts, too much blending at this stage will turn them into walnut butter!

Keep blitzing whilst adding the olive oil slowly until you have a gloriously green sauce.  Add as much or as little oil as it takes to reach this stage.  Don’t overdo it though!  Season to taste.

Spiralise 1 very large Courgette (Zucchini) for 2 people.

Walnut Watercress Pesto Courgetti Courgette Zucchini

Cook some frozen peas in boiling water for around 3 minutes, take off the boil and add the spiralised Courgette, leave to stand for 2-3 minutes to soften, more if you like it softer.  Drain both well and add your Walnut Watercress Pesto to the vegetables and serve immediately.

pesto

As always, nutritious, delicious, homemade.

Hijacked By Twins
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Vegetarian One Pan Pasta

For my first foray into recipe videoing I decided to keep the process simple and also have something to eat for dinner that night!

Vegetarian One Pan Pasta is so very easy to put together, the recipe on the video doesn’t list the garlic and herbs I threw into the pan but it was my first ever video production and I wanted to keep it under one minute long.  Lots to learn, more techniques, etc, but I really enjoyed the whole process from start to finish and am already planning the next one to film.

There is no set recipe here, add as many different vegetables and pasta in varying amounts to suit the number of people being served.  Just make sure all the vegetables are thinly sliced to help speed up the cooking time and add plenty of stock as the pasta will absorb most of it,  I used 1 litre and that was just about right.   We served this dish finished with grated cheese liberally thrown over, just delicious!

The dish will comfortably feed 4 large portions and is ready in under 20 minutes.  It would also be ideal to cook on a camping stove, I cooked mine on an induction cooker to show the process on the video as it was cooking.

Vegetarian One Pan Pasta

This was a great meal for Miss ND, full of vegetables with Black-eyed beans for the protein element.  She loved it. result!

 

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Power, Buddha, Abundance Bowls

I absolutely LOVE eating food from a bowl, it seems to be a trend now but even if and when it wanes I shall still be eating from a bowl whenever I can!  I’ve heard of so many names for the same thing, Power bowls, Buddha Bowls, Abundance Bowls and so on.

What some don’t realise though is that the bowls of delicious food they see all over the internet aren’t just flung together, no, a bowl of food needs to be planned and the components prepared in advance for optimum ease of pulling it all together!

I do keep some things to hand in the fridge a lot of the time, e.g. cooked quinoa (to add to Miss ND’s porridge for protein) and black rice which I love, but there are a lot of food items that can be sourced quickly like hummus, avocado, beans, etc to add good fats and protein to your bowl.

There are so many permutations, but it’s important to balance your bowl of food with protein, carbs and good fats.  Add in some colourful raw or cooked vegetables and for more texture, some nuts  and seeds.  Walnuts and Pumpkin seeds are my favourite combination.  Hard boiled eggs and Avocado, another favourite too!

How to Build a Bowl:

As mentioned before, forward planning is recommended, anything that can be cooked in advance and stored in the fridge is a time-saving bonus.  For this particular bowl I used:

Cooked white Quinoa for the base.  Protein-rich, quinoa contains all nine of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, plus anti-inflammatory phyto-nutrients, some omega-3 essential fatty acids and iron and zinc.
Cooked red Quinoa – red and black Quinoa have more health benefits than white because they have significantly more antioxidant content.

Bowls of black rice, quinoa and red quinoa
Cooked Black rice, provides the richest nutritional value, providing higher levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre of any rice and one of the highest levels of anthocyanin antioxidants!
Grated carrot contains a good source of beta-cartotene, vitamin K, potassium and anti-oxidants.
Red Cabbage Kraut, homemade and so easy to prepare.  It is a probiotic rich nutrient-dense superfood great for immune and gut health.
Beans!  Protein-rich and highly nutritious.  I used kidney, Borlotti and Black-eyed beans.
Radishes and Rocket leaves.  Take a look here for the nutritional benefits of radishes, truly amazing little salad vegetable.  And Rocket (Arugula) another nutrient-packed food, so many benefits read about them here too.
Cooked and mashed Sweet Potato – an excellent source of beta-carotene. Very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6 and a good source of fibre, potassium, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and phosphorus.
Avocado – another nutritional powerhouse, high in good, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, many essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and fibre.
Beetroot Hummus – homemade, chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic. lemon juice and Beetroot!
Beetroot is an acquired taste, quite earthy but in hummus it totally works.  Beetroot contains magnesium, iron, potassium, iron, vitamins A, B6, folic acid and C.  Plus antioxidants due to it’s vibrant colour and soluble fibre.
Chickpeas have a whole host of health benefits too, protein-rich, good source of folic acid, (veg) iron, zinc, copper, manganese and phosphorus.

And finally!  A good few handfuls of Pomegranate seeds and  a sprinkling of crunchy sunflower and flaxseeds over everything to finish off with a flourish.

Pomegranate seeds, loaded with vitamins B6, C, K, folic acid, phosphorous and potassium with very powerful antioxidant values.
Sunflower seeds – good source of vitamins B1,B3, B6, E, folic acid,manganese, selenium, phosphorus, copper and magnesium.
Flax seeds, I used golden this time, but also use brown.  Another excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamin B1, B6, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus and are high in fibre.

If you like a dressing on your food, try a tablespoon of olive oil and honey and a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, mix and drizzle, delicious!

You only need a small portion of everything but all put together in a balanced bowl of food like this one, can give you health benefits galore!

 

Raw Chocolate Tartlets and Raw Cacao Supergreen Spirulina Balls

I’ve been making a few raw desserts and snacks lately, trying to find the perfect crust and small morsels of healthy snacks to nibble on when working. A cup of tea (nearly) always needs to be accompanied by something and a healthy little treat is always welcome.

The crust on these Raw Chocolate Tartlets is a fusion of dates, almonds, dessicated coconut and raw cacao. The silky ganache has coconut oil from Vita Coco, coconut milk, raw cacao powder from Bioglan and maple syrup blended to a smooth, chocolatey puddle that sets to make a light, but firm moussey texture.

Vita Coco Coconut oil

Bioglan Products

Put them together and you have a delicious, refined sugar free, chocolate tartlet. I followed the recipe from Secret Squirrel Food (if you have checked out her blog, do, it’s fabulous!) and adjusted a couple of quantities, e.g. 1/3 cup of coconut oil instead of ½ cup and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup instead of 1½ in the ganache.

raw chocolate tartlets

Very easy recipe to put together, the only faff was wrangling the cling film into the muffin tin, essential though or the tartlets would be difficult to get out of the tin, the cling film allows you to ease the product out safely!  Mine are a little “rustic” looking but taste divine, soft, silky chocolate ganache in a nutty, chocolate crust.  In hindsight, I would have made these much smaller, mini-muffin bite-sized.  They are far too big and rich for one portion, definitely a sharing serving!

raw cacoa chocolate tartlets

My Raw Supergreen *Spirulina domes are small protein packed snacks that are not overly sweet and are so super nutrient dense, a small bite has a lot of concentrated nutrition.
They have a wonderfully rich chocolatey taste due to the cacao in the Bioglan Supergreens Powder and the **Raw Cacao. 

Raw Cacao Supergreen Spirulina Balls

Makes over 20-30 small-medium bite-sized balls 

raw cacao supergreens spirulina balls

Ingredients
80g raw cashews
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons golden linseeds
150g dates, pitted and soaked to soften
1 tablespoon Vita Coco coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon Bioglan Supergreens Powder
1 tablespoon Bioglan Raw Cacao Powder
1 teaspoon Bioglan Spirulina Powder

Method
Place the cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and golden linseeds into a food processor and blend until you have your desired consistency. I blended to quite a fine finish as I wanted Miss ND to not tell me “there are bits in this mummy!”.  

Add the softened pitted dates, melted VitaCoco coconut oil, Bioglan Supergreens, Spirulina and Raw Cacoa powders and blend until all ingredients are well combined.

Form into small balls (I made varying sizes, small for Miss ND as they are very nutrient dense), place on parchment paper scattered with a coating of your choice. We love sesame seeds, a rich source of calcium iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium and copper and a valuable source of protein, also adds a little crunch to these healthy, truffly balls.

Nutrient Info:

*Spirulina as sourced on the back of the Bioglan Spirulina packet, has 10x more beta carotene than carrots. 30x more iron than spinach and 4x more protein than eggs! Quite the superpower superfood, use sparingly, a little goes a long way.

**Raw Cacoa Powder, again from the back of the Bioglan Supergreen packet, has 17x more iron than spinach, 6x more potassium than bananas, 2x more magnesium than almonds and more fibre than oats.  Very impressive!

*Thank you to Vita Coco for the gift of Coconut oil and to Bioglan for the Raw Cacoa, Spirulina and Supergreens Powders, amazing ingredients.

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An Evening with Omar Allibhoy and Olive It!

Olive It! and Tapas Revolution restauranteur Omar Allibhoy recently held a culinary masterclass at The Brighton Cookery School. It was to celebrate the Olive and to teach people about their health benefits, which olives work well in which dishes, their seasonality and new and delicious ways to enjoy Spanish olives.

Omar Allibhoy Ollive It!

Spanish chef and cookbook author Omar Allibhoy who has been called the Antonio Banderas of cooking by none other than Gordon Ramsey, runs four Tapas Revolution restaurants, three in London, one in Birmingham and one newly opened in Sheffield.

 

Olive It display

The exclusive hands-on cookery tuition session by Omar showed a a variety of tapas inspired recipes using olives. We also learnt how the olive starts out as green on the tree, turning purple and then finally black, all from the same tree!  Olives are low in calories (unless you eat the whole bowl of course!), they contain monounsaturated fats, over three quarters of their fat content is oleic acid.  They are a good natural source of vitamin E, with black olives also containing a good amount of iron.Black and Green Olives

Omar showed us how to prepare an olive, candied cherry and goats cheese dessert with double cream and a splash of sherry. I am always up for different flavour combinations and this sweet and salty fusion did not disappoint, I could have eaten two portions, oh wait I did as there was some left over at the end, utterly delicious!

We then made a couple of olive oil marinades using cayenne and oregano for the green olives and ginger, cardomon and cinnamon to combine with black olives. I must admit to a huge penchant for olives, we cook with them (tapenades, hummus, with pasta, etc) but also love a bowl of green olives with a glass of wine. I have never marinaded them before but it’s certainly on my another way with olives list now!

Tapas IngredientsRed Pepper Tomato dressing

Our main course was salad based with a thick and very filling Romesco dressing.  Into a food processor went the roasted red peppers, tomatoes and garlic (I absolutely love roasted garlic), hazelnuts, toasted bread and a healthy dose of olive oil.  The dressing was then blobbed onto a bed of salad leaves along with flaked Tuna and chopped anchovies, with more black olives scattered over the finished dish.

Romesco dressing

There was plenty of Spanish wine flowing to accompany the dishes which we devoured at the end of a very pleasant and knowledgeable evening. We were given a goody bag with tins of olives, an apron and the Olive It! cookery book which as you can imagine is crammed full of olive recipes which we will be trying.

Olive It!

Olive It! Recipe Book

Thanks to Omar, Olive It! and the Storm Communications team for the invitation and a wonderful evening.

Sugar Free Sweet Treats Simple Raw Brownie Bites

In an ongoing attempt to steer Miss ND (and myself!) towards healthier refined sugar free sweet treats, I am continually (it feels) presenting her with my culinary experiments.  She’ll try anything and is a great barometer to anything from “ugh, disgusting” to “that’s really yummy mummy, can I have another!”.  Kids will usually tell you how it is!

I started a long time ago with this basic recipe for simple brownie bites with only 4 ingredients, adding in various other ingredients but I’ve had to be sneaky as Miss ND calls it to get some of them past her!  (She is used to my veggie smuggling).   

Brownie bites ingredients

Raw Brownie Bites

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Raw Brownie Balls

Formulating sugar free treats is quite simple, leave out the refined sugar and sweeten with fruit. Dates, for example, are rich in vital nutrients with vitamins A, B6 and K, Potassium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.  

But let’s not forget that Dates and all dried fruit are high in fructose and contain concentrated sugars, but with these small brownie bites, the portion size is very small (unless like me, you cannot eat just one!).  And Dates that contain healthy vitamins, minerals and fibre do have a very different impact on the body than eating the same amount of refined sugar.  For example if you ate an apple, it would have a slower rate of glucose absorption than a glass of apple juice. The apple juice has had its fibre content removed completely so it is absorbed very much more quickly by the blood.  The fibre in whole fruit lowers the carbohydrate spike in the blood, which in turn slows down that sugar rush.

Raw Brownie Bite BallsI used the excess trimmings to create small balls, coat/roll them in a variety of coverings such plain cocoa powder, desiccated coconut, whole or ground flaxseed and/or chia seeds, cocoa nibs for crunch, etc. 

*Please note that these do contain nuts*, one of Miss ND’s good friends at school is nut allergic and I am looking to put together a nut-free version, these are refined sugar-free, my main aim for now.

 
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Christmas Stollen Bites

With Christmas fast approaching the sweet treats and cakes make their way to the table, it is hard to avoid them but I think there are times when we need to relax and enjoy the festive season and all it brings foodwise!  

I’ve been making a Stollen for the past few years now, I love it, reminds me of my grandmother who was very special and who Miss ND is named after. She would bake many Stollen before  Christmas each year and send one to all her family no matter where in the world they lived. I do miss her Stollen and more especially her.  I bake in remembrance of a wonderful lady.

Christmas Stollen Bites

 

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Honey Ginger Pumpkin Seed and Walnut Crusted Salmon with Black Rice Soba Noodles

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Honey Ginger Pumpkin Seed and Walnut Crusted Salmon with Black Rice Noodles, quite a mouthful and a super deliciously tasty one too!  This anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich meal is easy to prepare and is ready in around 30 minutes.

salmon black rice soba noodles

I love Wild Alaskan Salmon, they swim around in the wild, eating as nature intended which makes them rich in omega 3, vitamins, minerals and Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant.   Astaxanthin is a naturally-occurring carotenoid, a reddish pigment produced by micro-algae and eaten by salmon and other marine life, e.g. crab, lobster, etc which makes them pink. Astaxanthin can protects cells and the nervous system from oxidative damage and is beneficial to joints and skin amongst many other health benefits.

Salmon raw marinating

Adding a marinade of honey, orange and fresh ginger plus a crust of whole Pumpkin seeds and chopped walnuts only enhances the health benefits of the dish even more.  Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, magnesium, manganese and plant-based omega 3’s.  Walnuts, another rich source of omega 3, magnesium, folate, vitamin E and antioxidants.

Black Rice Soba Noodles

I teamed the dish up with a new find, King Soba Organic Black Rice Noodles
, made from black rice, a deep purple coloured rice rich in minerals and fibre.  Very quick to prepare compared to my usual pasta spaghetti.  The noodles are also wheat and gluten-free.

Honey Ginger Pumpkin Seed and Walnut Crusted Salmon with Black Rice Soba Noodles

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2

Honey Ginger Pumpkin Seed and Walnut Crusted Salmon with Black Rice Soba Noodles

Ingredients

  • Marinade Coating:
  • 2 teaspoons Runny Honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Ginger, grated
  • Juice of half an orange
  • dash of Olive oil
  • Salmon:
  • 2 Wild Alaskan Salmon Fillets
  • 50-60g Pumpkin seeds, whole or roughly chopped
  • 50g Walnuts, roughly chopped
  • .
  • Black Rice Soba Noodles

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160C fan 180C non-fan
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade/coating, mix well.
  3. Place the Salmon into an ovenproof dish and spoon the marinade over making sure all the Salmon is evenly coated.
  4. Sprinkle the Pumpkin seeds and chopped Walnuts over the Salmon. .
  5. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Take out after 5 minutes and baste the juices over the Salmon making sure not to disturb the crust.
  7. Whilst the Salmon is roasting, place the Black Rice Soba Noodles in boiling water (they will soften quickly) and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat.
  8. Drain the Black Rice Soba Noodles and refresh quickly with cold water.
  9. Serve the noodles with the Salmon. I roasted Tomatoes with Garlic, Olive oil and Basil in the oven with the Salmon for another component.
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Honey Orange Roasted Figs

With the last of the fresh figs hitting the shops soon, it was a good time to snap some up and roast a few.  Figs are high in natural sugars which can add a healthier dose of sweetness to a dish. They are high in soluble fibre plus a good source of several essential minerals, including potassium, magnesium, manganese, calcium, iron and copper.  Figs also contain a good dose of vitamin C and vitamins B3, B5  and B6 and K.

Fresh figs are extremely delicate and perishable, I kept these in the fridge for a couple of days before I roasted them but once roasted they can be stored in the fridge for a few days.

Roasted honey orange figs

Honey Orange Roasted Figs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • Fresh Figs, ripe (as many as you need), halved
  • approx 1 teaspon unsalted butter
  • 1 generous tablespoon honey
  • 1 orange, juiced

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C
  2. Arrange the halved Figs on a lined baking tray and place a small dot of butter onto each Fig.
  3. Combine the honey (if your honey is not runny, place in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to loosen up) and Orange juice in a bowl then spoon over the Figs.
  4. Place the Figs into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until they are soft and the honey/orange liquid is sticky.
  5. After 10 minutes baste the Figs with the honey/orange liquid, this will make the figs deliciously soft.
  6. Let cool.
  7. Serve 2-4 halves depending on size with thick Greek Yogurt and drizzle with a little of the honey/orange liquid to finish.
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honey orange roasted figs with natural Greek yogurt

Another perfect pairing with roasted figs is cheese especially Danish blue, Gorgonzola, Camembert or Blue Brie and walnuts.  I have a few favourites, but a quick one is to cut the fresh fig into quarters, not going all the way through, drizzle with the honey/orange liquid then place a square of Gorgonzola (my favourite) into the middle and roast in the oven along with some chopped walnuts.   

Roasted figs with Gorgonzola Cheese

Roasted honey orange figs with Gorgonzola cheese

 The result is sweet, soft figs with salty blue cheese and the sticky liquid that caramellises the walnuts – utterly delicious!

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Spelt Seeded Buttermilk Soda Bread

Inspired by the Spelt Buttermilk Soda Bread we made at River Cottage cookery school last month, this loaf was made with the buttermilk from the butter I made earlier in the week (I couldn’t resist having another go, the butter tastes so deliciously creamy too!).

Seeded Spelt Buttermilk Bread

My loaf contains Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame, Flaxseeds and Walnuts which are packed full of health giving properties.  

Walnuts, Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame and Flaxseed Mix

Pumpkin seeds are full of omega 3 essential fatty acids, along with some omega 6, rich in B vitamins, selenium and zinc. They are also a good source of calcium and magnesium.

Sunflower seeds too are a valuable source of B vitamins, vitamin E, omega 6 essential fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.  The seeds are rich in calcium and magnesium too.

Sesame seeds, these tiny calcium rich seeds are brilliant non-dairy bone builders, rich also in zinc and vitamins B and E as well as magnesium.  They contain both omega 6 and 9 fatty acids.

Flaxseeds have an abundance of balanced levels of omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids plus vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, E, Folic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc.  A true wonderfood!

Walnuts, fabulous Walnuts, my go-to snack and a wonderful addition to breads.  They are one of the richest sources of antioxidants plus vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, E, biotin, Folic acid, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

Spelt Seeded Buttermilk Soda Bread

Makes 1 Loaf

Pre-heat your oven to 200C/180C fan

Ingredients

175g Spelt Flour
50g Oats
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon each of Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame and Flaxseeds (more or less to your own taste)
100g Walnuts (more of less to your own taste)
100g Cheese (Cheddar and Goats cheese are favourites)
1 tablespoon Honey
275 ml Buttermilk

Extra seeds and cheese to sprinkle on top before baking.

Method

Combine the Spelt flour, oats, bicarbonate of soda, salt, seeds and nuts in a large bowl.  Mix in well.

Add the Cheese, Honey and Buttermilk and stir in until it all comes together, form into a ball and transfer onto a floured surface.  Gently knead until all ingredients are well combined, do not over work.  

Pop the dough onto a greased and/or lined baking tray and shape into a round, cut the dough with a knife twice, making sure not to go all the way though.  The bread should pull apart easily once baked into four generous pieces.

Spelt seeded buttermilk soda bread

Sprinkle with the extra seeds and cheese then place into the oven to bake for around 25-30 minutes until nicely golden brown.  This soda bread comes out of the oven with a delicious crusty finish, soft and pillowy on the inside.

 

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