Tag Archives: healthy

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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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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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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Carrot, Ginger, Orange Soup

All change with the weather again, the sun got his hat on again last week and we were all enjoying the benefits of lighter eating, being out doors and not having the heating on!

With the exception of the sand blown over from the Sahara this week (my car and windscreen were covered in it and my eyes have been feeling gritty too), the warmer weather, even if temporary, is so welcome.  

carrots

I’m still eating a lot of soups, mostly for a quick, light lunch, this soup literally only takes chopping the onion, carrots, ginger and juicing the orange to prepare, then can be left to bubble away until all the flavours have infused.

carrots ginger orange

Soups are also brilliant for using up produce or even just making use of food already in the cupboard and fridge.  The basic soup recipe is good for all the family and as you know I like a little heat  so I do add a touch of cayenne pepper to mine once served.

My oils of choice are Coconut and Olive, when choosing an oil to cook with you want an oil that will not be damaged by high cooking temperatures and Coconut oil can be used at higher temperatures without heat-induced damage to the oil.

carrot ginger orange soup

Carrot, Ginger, Orange Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: around 1 hour
Serves 4

Ingredients

I medium red onion, finely chopped
450g  carrots, sliced fairly thinly
750ml vegetable stock 
1″ fresh ginger, chopped
pinch or two of cinnamon 
1 medium orange, juiced

To garnish:
seeds of your choice 

Method

Gently steam fry the onions in a large saucepan until softened.

Add the sliced carrots and cook for 10-15 minutes on a medium heat, stirring frequently.

Add the vegetable stock, bring to a rolling boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for around 25 minutes or until the carrots are soft.

Add the chopped ginger and cinnamon and simmer for a further 5 minutes to infuse the flavours.

Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending to a smooth consistency.  Whilst blending add the orange juice.

Serve garnished with a selection of seeds – I like Neals Yard Omega Sprinkle, a mix of pumpkin, sunflower, golden linseeds, brown linseeds and sesame seeds.

carrot ginger orange soup

 Quick Nutritional Info:

Carrots contain valuable amounts of the phyto-nutrient antioxidant beta-carotene which gives carrots their bright orange colour.  Beta-carotene is absorbed in the intestine and converted into vitamin A during digestion.  They are an excellent source of vitamin A plus vitamin C, E, K, folic acid, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and some iron.   

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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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Kale and Avocado Superfood Smoothie

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. 

superfood smoothie

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
Strawberries
Cucumber & Tomatoes – several slices & 4 cherry tomatoes
Chia/Flaxseed mix, around a tablespoon of each soaked in water
Water – adjust consistency to your liking

Method

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!

kaleandavocado

Sip Slowly and Enjoy!

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Spotlight on Spice: Turmeric

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.

turmeric

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

Serves 1

Ingredients

½ tsp ground Turmeric 
180ml milk of your choice
½ tsp coconut oil
¼ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Method

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 milk

 Turmeric, another medicinal wonder spice!

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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Coconut Almond Fruit Loaf

I am slightly obsessed with coconut oil, I’ve been using it in cooking and baking , in place of butter on my toast and the little girl loves it straight from the spoon!  

Coconuts contain trace amounts of some micronutrients, vitamins E & K plus a little iron.  Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a saturated fat that enhances the immune system through its antiviral and antibacterial effects.  It is mostly made up of  MCFA’s (medium chain fatty acids) and is said to speed up metabolism and be good for your joints.  It is a stable oil when used at high temperatures and easily digested.  There are studies that show that lauric acid can increase your HDL (healthy) cholesterol and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol.

I’ve been experimenting a little with adding coconut oil into my baking, it really is a great addition.  I made some muffins the other day using only coconut oil for the fat but although they were all scoffed down quickly by the family it made the muffins a little dense and heavy.  My Coconut Almond Fruit Loaf has butter and coconut oil and it is a great combination as the loaf turned out superbly and along with the buttermilk content, made a wonderfully moist cake.  I wanted to use coconut sugar instead of regular caster sugar but couldn’t find it, the 3 year old has probably relocated it to her kiddy kitchen!

coconut cake Collage

Coconut Almond Fruit Loaf

Makes: 8-10 slices (plus 2 end wedges!)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 1 hour

Pre-heat your oven to 160C, gas 4 & grease and line a large loaf tin

Ingredients

75g unsalted butter, softened
20g organic virgin coconut oil, softened
zest of 1 lemon
1tsp vanilla extract
85g golden caster sugar
2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
70g shredded/dessicated coconut
50g ground almonds
200ml buttermilk
150g raisins, apricots, sultanas
(or whatever your favourite mix is)

Method

Beat the butter and coconut oil with the sugar until creamy.  Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract with the eggs and gradually beat in.

Sift in the flour and baking powder and lightly fold into the butter/coconut/egg mixture.

Add the coconut, ground almonds, buttermilk and dried fruit and fold in until well combined.

Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for around 1 hour or until baked through (check with a piece of dried spaghetti, it should come out clean when ready) and golden brown.

Enjoy with a hot, steaming cup of tea.

I’ll be tweaking this one a little more to perfect the bake but pretty pleased with it so far!

 

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