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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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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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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 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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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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After School Seedy Fruity Cookies

like to bake and we love cookies, baking your own is not only quick and easy but also you know what’s in them, no additives or preservatives,  long words or strange numbers!

fruity seedy cookies 2

These seedy, fruity cookies are low in sugar but also have a natural sweetness from the dried fruits. Light and buttery they are a perfect blend of soft and chewy textures.  Miss ND loves them, they are perfect to add to her after school snack box (which she hoovers up at great speed, she is a child with a healthy appetite and high energy levels!).

cookies and milk

After School Seedy Fruity Cookies                                            Makes 12 large Cookies

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Baking Time:  12-15 minutes

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4

fruit seed mix

Ingredients
90g unsalted butter
50g soft light brown sugar or coconut sugar
70g porridge oats
25g wholemeal self-raising flour
25g plain flour
25g sunflower seeds
50g cranberry, dried apricot, raisin mix
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten

oat cookie mix

cookie mix

Method
Cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.

Add all the dry ingredients and stir together into the butter and sugar.

Then finally add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly until everything is completely combined.

Shape into walnut-sized balls (the batter will be sticky which is fine) and flatten them onto a lined baking tray.  I use my macaron tin which keeps them evenly shaped.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  Eat!

fruity seedy cookie 1

 

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Watercress Green Smoothie

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 green smoothie

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
Flax seeds
Chia seeds
Water to the perfect consistency for you
Ice, optional.

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!

 

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