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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.

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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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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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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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Quick Courgetti Chilli Pomodoro

Things change when you have little ones in the house, I find myself eating a kiddy portion of food at 5.30 pm to encourage her to eat at the table and of course to make sure she eats well.
Most evenings I will eat later in the evening with Mr ND, but last night I didn’t feel like it but by 9.00 pm I was ravenous!

courgetti 1

I made this very quick and rich Tomato sauce with Courgetti from ingredients to hand in around 25 minutes. it was surprisingly light but also filling.  I used 2 garlic cloves because I love garlic, it always enhances a tomato based sauce and has amazing medicinal qualities, anti-viral and antibiotic.  I like to use red onions which are more nutrient dense than the white version.

spiraliser

Courgetti is simply a Courgette (Zucchini) made into spaghetti to replace the pasta element in a dish using a Spiraliser.  I found mine here and have used it constantly since I bought it a few months ago, it’s great fun for children too to spiralise a carrot and such like to eat raw.

Quick Chilli Pomodoro Sauce

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Serves 1 generously for a main meal or 2 entrees

Can be frozen.

Ingredients

1 medium red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
or 3 large plum tomatoes more finely chopped
around 125ml Passata
1 tablespoon tomato puree
pinch or 2 of Chilli Flakes
dash of red wine (optional)
sprinkling of Oregano and Basil
Black Pepper

1 medium Courgette (Zucchini) spiralised or grated

Method

Fry the red onion for a 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic for another couple of minutes.

Add the tomatoes, Passata and tomato purée and cook on a fairly high heat (without letting it catch).  Splosh in a dash of red wine if using and Oregano, Basil and Black Pepper to your taste and continue to cook, simmering for around 10 minutes until the tomatoes are broken down (around 10 minutes).

No blending of the sauce required, I always leave the skins on the tomatoes and seeds in.  I found an interesting article here that said “Each part – skin, fruit wall, pith and that jelly-like stuff around the seeds – plays a different part in producing that tomato flavour.  By removing the skin and seed pulp you get a drier, more refined tomato sauce and you alter the sweet/acid balance of the flavour. Personally, I don’t mind a bit of skin in a sauce” I agree!

Courgetti – I prefer not to eat my mine completely raw, I boiled some water and laid the Courgetti in the boiled water for a couple of minutes or so whilst the Tomato sauce was cooking.  Drain the Courgetti and serve the tomato sauce on top, finish with a dusting of grated parmesan if you like.

This simple, easy to put together, chunky, rich tomato sauce has a high antioxidant content, including a rich concentration of lycopene found in tomatoes.  When tomatoes are eaten with healthier fats, like olive oil, it increases the absorption of phyto-nutrients.

courgetti Collage

No bells or whistles, just nutritious and delicious!

Health Info:

Courgettes – Good source of vitamin A, B1, B3, Phosphorus and Copper.  Very good source of Dietary Fibre, Vitamins B2, B6, C, K, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

 

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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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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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Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is said to have magical properties when you are have a cold, I rarely get them but the Little One attends nursery or Pre-School Academy as it is now known and it is a breeding ground for bugs and sniffles.  She has a streaming cold, but it is not bothering her in the least, but to get it out of the way fast I thought I’d make a Chicken Soup which is very easy to throw together and a welcome supper especially as the weather has gotten colder this week.

chicken soup

Chicken Soup 

Prep & Cook TIme: around 1 hour
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 litres of chicken stock (I used Maggi Stock Pot)
3-4 medium-sized chicken thighs (I used skin and bone on)
1 red onion, chopped
2 Bay leaves
Thyme, good sprinkling
I used: 2 large carrots, 2 large celery sticks, butternut squash, 1 small
sweet potato, all chopped and 1 medium courgette, sliced
125g pearl barley
50g short grain brown rice

Method

Bring the stock to the boil, then add the chicken thighs, onion, bay leaves and thyme.  Simmer covered for around 20 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the stock and put aside.

Add the vegetables into the stock with the pearl barley and rice, bring to the boil, then simmer again for 30 minutes.

Pull the chicken off the bones and shred.  Add the chicken to the soup, season to taste and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves before serving.

This makes a wonderfully filling chunky healthy soup and a well balanced meal, the pearl barley and rice will absorb all the flavours and add fibre.  Pearl barley is a very good source of molybdenum, manganese and selenium plus a good source of copper, vitamins B1, B3, chromium, phosphorus & magnesium.

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Healthy Date, Walnut and Seed Truffles

I’ve been using various combinations of ingredients for these little sweet morsels, trying to keep the little girl’s mind on healthy treats.   And with Valentine’s Day at the end of the week, they also make a lovely gift for the one I love. 

healthy truffles

These are sugar-free, the dates gives them their super sweetness and the cocoa that soft chocolatey taste, the seeds and nuts are blitzed finely (or hidden in the case of the toddler) and the coconut oil makes these truffles silky smooth.   For children I would roll in a smoother coating such as ground almonds or coconut rather than chopped nuts.

Healthy Date, Walnut and Seed Truffles

Prep TIme:  30 minutes
Chilling Time:  20 minutes
Makes 20-24

 Ingredients

125g dates
50g walnuts
50g mix of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flaxseeds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
100g fresh blueberries

To finish: flaxseeds, cocoa, chopped or ground almonds,
chopped hazelnuts, coconut

Method

Soak the dates in warm water for a few minutes to soften, then blitz the dates, walnuts and seed mixture in a food processor until smooth.

Add the cocoa powder, coconut oil and blueberries and gently pulse until well combined. Place the mixture in the fridge for an hour to firm up a little.

Form into small balls and roll in coatings of your choice, see above for suggestions.

These truffles will keep in the fridge for a week, not that I’ve ever had to test out that theory!

Quick Nutritional Info:

Dates are rich in Polyphenols, a plant antioxidant that has a higher capacity to reduce oxidative stress.  An excellent source of Potassium, Calcium and magnesium, with a good balance of manganese, zinc, copper, iron and selenium.  Vitamin K and B complex.

Walnuts:  Good source of Potassium, iron and magnesium, plus B6  and omega 3 fats.

Cocoa Powder (unsweetened):  Phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium, flavenoids.

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Weekend Breakfast Egg Muffins

Weekends are the time we get to sit together and enjoy breakfast, I probably should call it brunch as it’s all a bit later and more relaxed.  Eggs always feature in one form or another, these Breakfast Egg Muffins are light and full of vegetables and cheeses.  This recipe is enough to fill 6 muffin tin holes, I added a very generous pinch of Cayenne Pepper  to the last two (whilst still in the bowl) for a delicious kick!  

egg muffins2

Weekend Breakfast Egg Muffins 

Ingredients

50g chestnut mushrooms, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
2″ leek (white part), finely diced
50g courgette, finely diced
2-3 cherry tomatoes, diced
3 large organic eggs
70g Ricotta cheese
20g Cheddar (or similar) cheese, finely grated
1 generous tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Black Pepper
Parsley
*Cayenne Pepper (optional!)

egg muffin ingredients

Method

Fry the mushrooms, onion and leek in a little olive oil on a medium heat for around 3-4 minutes to soften, add the courgettes and cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Lightly whisk the eggs, then add the Ricotta, Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, combine well.

Season with black pepper and parsley to taste, add Cayenne if using.

Combine the egg, cheese mixture with the vegetables and stir well.

Grease a 6 hole muffin tin with butter or you can line with muffin cases if you wish.  Spoon the mixture into the cases up to the rim and bake at 160C, gas 4 for around 20 minutes or until set.  Delicious hot or cold.

egg muffins

*For the numerous health benefits of Cayenne Pepper see my post here.

 

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