Tag Archives: homemade

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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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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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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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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Allinsons Dough Tree Campaign

It was lovely to receive this hamper packed with Allinson Baking Products from Baking Mad to promote Allinson’s Dough Tree Campaign.

bread hamper

The challenge was to bake one of their Dough Tree bread recipes from the ingredients.  There was so much to choose from, the Cranberry and Pumpkin Cob  is appealing because of the fruit content and Pumpkin seeds (Pumpkin seeds are rich in Manganese Phosphorus, Magnesium and Copper plus a source of Zinc and iron).  Slathered in butter, Miss ND wolfed a couple of slices down after school, I was very impressed.

Dough Collage cranberry pumpkin Collage

bread and butter

I’m not a huge bread eater myself, I have a mild allergy to yeast, but I couldn’t resist baking the Bacon and Cheddar Scrolls as well, I love cheeses in bread and the combination of bacon, cheese. wholegrain mustard and onion is delicious encased in the bread.

bacon scrolls Collage

Flour

Bread freshly baked from the oven is a delight and what better aroma wafting around the kitchen too.  I have 2 tips for baking bread, use a dough hook on your mixer, it saves time and aching wrists plus it kneads dough beautifully.   Make sure your yeast is within date, you may not get the best results with yeast you bought months ago that’s been lurking in the cupboard, ask me how I know!

 

Disclosure:  We were sent a hamper of products from Baking Mad to make some delicious breads.

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