So, it’s the eve of Christmas Eve and I am ready for a rest, it’s been a busy run up to Christmas and I feel like I’ve been running on adrenaline since September when Miss ND started school (a whole other blog post!) and I may just have overdone the late nights and goings out a touch. I feel a cold coming on and this is the exact time I would jump on it right away before it takes hold.
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 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
Water to the perfect consistency for you
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
Nutritious and delicious!
For Beetroot nutritional info, see 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 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.
Once a week I make a Superfood Smoothie with a base of Kale, the only other way I like consuming Kale is lightly oiled and baked in the oven, Kale crisps, really good! I make enough for 2 long drinks, it keeps well in the fridge overnight.
The avocado and chia seeds provide a good source of healthy fats, these good fats are required for the absorption and metabolism of other nutrients and for nervous and immune system function.
The Kale and (again) chia seeds are a great source of calcium, Kale also contains good levels of anti-oxidants.
Kale and Avocado Superfood Smoothie
Prep time: 15 minutes tops!
Serves 2 or 1 for 2 days
Ingredients – all approximate, it really is a throw in how much you wish and what quantities you have available.
Kale – around 3 large handfuls, take out any large stalks
Avocado – 1 large
Blueberries – Large handful
Cucumber & Tomatoes – several slices & 4 cherry tomatoes
Chia/Flaxseed mix, around a tablespoon of each soaked in water
Water – adjust consistency to your liking
Blend ingredients together until smooth. I use a Vitamix but a blender or food processor will also do the job, you may need to grate vegetables like carrots first.
Smoothies are so versatile and great for using up produce and over soft fruits, this one is quite basic, add celery, watercress (for a lovely peppery flavour), baby spinach, salad leaves, apple, carrot, etc to tweak flavours. I also add a couple of tablespoons of olive or coconut oil if I’m leaving out the avocado and if it’s just for me some cayenne pepper for a kick!
I know it resembles green sludge but it does have a sweet taste and not earthy at all. For child friendly superfood healthy smoothies add banana for a creamy taste, much less Kale and more fruit especially blueberries which do a great job masking the green! Milk can replace the water and we have used almond butter for a nutty taste (omit if there are any nut allergies). Cocoa powder, raw if you can get away with it, can persuade even the most difficult tastebuds to try some!
Sip Slowly and Enjoy!
I use Black Pepper a lot in my cooking, it isn’t merely something that adds flavour but also has numerous health benefits. Black Pepper is used for its aroma, nutritional and medicinal benefits making it surprisingly nutrient rich.
Black Pepper – Piper nigrum – is from a perennial flowering vine from the Piperaceae family. Black peppercorns are made by picking the pepper berries when they are half ripe and just about to turn red. They are left to dry which causes them to shrivel and become dark in colour (there are other peppercorn colours but these are from the same plant, either picked earlier or processed).
Black Peppercorns are a good source of potassium, zinc, manganese, iron, calcium and magnesium. They are also an excellent source of many of the B-complex vitamins such as B1, B2, B3 and B6.
Peppercorns are a good source of vitamin A, C, E and K and are also rich in flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants which help the body to remove harmful free radicals.
Black Pepper is a great digestive, the piperine content stimulates the taste buds to signal the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid. This acid is essential to digest proteins and other foods in the stomach,
Turmeric is grown for its root which has many beneficial properties, it is a popular cooking spice, you probably know it for colouring and flavouring curries and such like, but this potent spice has many medicinal uses too.
The potent ingredient is curcumin, which gives turmeric its intense golden colour. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that is effective at fighting free radicals in the body to protect skin, eyes and hair and to reduce the damage they are able to cause to DNA and cells. It has anti-bacterial and cholesterol lowering properties which support your cardiovascular system and its anti-inflammatory properties are also said to be very effective in relieving the pain and stiffness of arthritis. Turmeric is known as an adaptogen, helping to support the body against stress.
This is just a brief overview to the amazing health benefits that Turmeric has to offer, take a look here for a more comprehensive view.
Turmeric can be utilised in a number of recipes, this is a very simple one I’ve recently tried as a bedtime drink, I take it unsweetened, but you can add a touch of honey or maple syrup to sweeten to taste. Use the milk of your choice, I like coconut milk, almond or plain semi-skimmed milk. I’ve started with ½ tsp of Turmeric but more can be used. The addition of Coconut oil apparently facilitates the absorption of the curcumin into your system.
Golden Turmeric Milk
½ tsp ground Turmeric
180ml milk of your choice
½ tsp coconut oil
¼ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Heat the milk until steaming, do not allow to boil, add the ground Turmeric and coconut oil and “cook” for a few minutes. Add the cinnamon if using.
Turmeric, another medicinal wonder spice!
Made from dried ground cayenne chillies, cayenne pepper is one of the most readily available, easy-to-use sources of capsaicin, a healing substance that gives all peppers their fiery heat. Cayenne Pepper has so many incredible health benefits, this wonderfully fiery chilli pepper is part of the capsicum and nightshade family. It is rich source of vitamin A and C, vitamins B1, B3, B5 & B6 plus calcium, iron and manganese.
It is a powerful circulation booster and where cardiovascular health is concerned, cayenne pepper claims to stop heart attacks, nourish the heart with vital nutrients, remove plaque from the arteries, improve circulation, rebuild blood cells, lower cholesterol, emulsify triglycerides, remove toxins from the bloodstream and improve overall heart health.
It can also help with digestive ailments, being a gastric stimulant and digestive aid. Cayenne can help to remove fungal infections or parasites from the digestive system. It can lower high blood pressure, speed up metabolism and is antibacterial and anti-fungal. Its anti-inflammatory action is said to reduce the pain and swelling of arthritis. It really is a medicinal wonder spice.
Cayenne also causes us to sweat, an important process of detoxification and if you are feeling the cold it can impart a wonderful warming feeling to your extremities.
Cayenne Pepper can be added to soups, risotto, scrambled egg, etc or taken in hot water, tincture or capsule form.
I came across this the other day, will attempt to grow my own small crop this year, at 75p, it’s worth a go to have fresh, home-grown chillies!
Pure Fruit Lollies – with the fabulous, but blisteringly hot weather lately and more promised, we’ve been eating lots of cooling foods and probably way too many clotted cream ice-creams at the beach. There is something about the beach and ice-cream that is hard to resist!
Making lollies is so very easy, no added extras just soft fruit (a great way to use up soft and squishy raspberries) in a blender (or mashed with a fork) as fine or chunky as you like, then popped into lolly moulds and frozen. I used the Annabel Karmel mini ice lolly set, ideal for small hands to hold. You can sieve any fruits with pips for babies and add water to the fruit puree for a softer lolly, we like them without as they don’t melt as fast, but you could also juice harder fruits and add instead of water, the combinations are endless!
These pure fruit lollies an excellent way of getting fresh fruit into a small child without them getting wise to the fact that it’s good for them and they taste delicious and fresh too.
Our diet usually consists of good, clean, wholesome foods but I lead a very busy life and there are times when I’m rushed and reach for the nearest thing to hand, usually fruit but sometimes I do reach for a not-so-wholesome alternative! So we also do take some supplements to fill in any gaps or for a “wee top-up” as a friend calls it. On the Viridian Nutrition website they say “These days we cannot rely 100% upon the quality and nutrient density of even the best fresh produce, due to intensive farming, depleted soils and environmental factors” , a sad, but true fact. I was very happy to be sent 3 products to review for Viridian Nutrition – 100% Organic Omega-3 Oil, Viridikid Multivitamins and Minerals and B-Complex with Magnesium Ascorbate.
I was very impressed with Viridikid Omega-3 Oil, the ingredient list contained everything I would happily give my child which I cannot always say about a brand. All the oils listed are 100% organic, Flax seed, Hemp seed, Avocado, Pumpkin seed, Vanilla oil and Orange skin oil. I had been looking for an omega-3 product to replace the one Miss ND (practically 3) had been taking as it was fish based and the older she got the harder it was to get her to take it. She will eat fish happily but not fish oil, so this product really fits the bill with its pleasantly, naturally flavoured organic vanilla and orange oils.
The Viridikid Multivitamins and Minerals contain a broad range of nutrients, but no added sugar, aspartame or other sweeteners and no added colourings or flavourings. The capsules are tiny, just right for little ones, although I shall still break one open and put in Miss ND’s porridge as usual! I would prefer though if it contained vitamin D3 instead of D2 which is in our current kiddie supplement.
Viridian very kindly included one supplement for mummy, a High Five B-Complex with Magnesium Ascorbate . I take a B-complex vitamin supplement almost daily, this one is a little unusual as it has a higher percentage of Vitamin B5, Pantothenic Acid. whereas my usual B-complex has an equal amount of each B vitamin. In a base of Alfalfa, Spirulina and Bilberry, it has the added benefit of the Magnesium Ascorbate which also provides some vitamin C.
Overall, I have to say I am very happy with these supplements and will definitely purchase, especially the Omega-3 oil which is certainly a great find for me and has addressed the problem of the fishy taste in other oils we had been using.
Disclosure: We were sent these products to review, no payment was received, all views are my own and 100% honest.