The random schoolgirl invasion

leroywatson4:

Here’s a little story I wrote about my time in the Himalayas, cooking for 50 English schoolgirls in a remote Tibetan monastery. Its was quite a challenge, no shops, the cook has been arrested and the only market was a 5 hour jeep ride away. The odds were stacked against us!

Originally posted on Penguin Blog:

On the way to the National Park

In this exclusive piece, author of Peace and Parsnips Lee Watson writes about cooking for 50 schoolgirls in a hostel in the Himalayas.

The Spiti Valley is one of the most remote places I have ever been. Purely Tibetan (although technically part of India) ancient Buddhist monasteries hang from sheer rock faces and pristine still lakes dot the desert landscape. Spiti is a trapped in a different time.

I based myself in the hostel of a small monastery, not there to cook, but to walk; exploring the high Himalayas. It was a dream. I had just returned from a few days of tough hiking. Sunning myself on the little terrace. I noticed a red dust cloud forming over the hill beside the monastery  a little strange (a solitary rambling yak herder was the norm). A wild group of donkeys came storming into view, followed closely by shouting local…

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Lee’s BBC Radio interviews with Steve Wright and Eleri Sion

I thought I’d pop these on #thebeachhousekitchen as I had such a laugh doing them, it was the first time I’d ever set foot into a radio studio and spoke to a nation!  Quite a day out.  All the people I met were lovely and made me feel very relaxed.  I’ve never had a problem talking (loads) about anything!  Especially veganism, something I’m so passionate about.  They could hardly shut me up!

I ended up chatting about all things vegan, fav foods, chia seeds, healthy eating, nutrition, vegetarian week and ‘Peace and Parsnips’.  I started the day with BBC Radio Wales and Eleri was a real star.  We kicked off with a little ABBA ‘Knowing me, knowing you’ and halfway through the interview we went for ‘Whhhaakkaaan Be Your Hero Baby’ by Enrique Inglesias.  The banter could hardly live up to the tunes, but we tried.  Eleri is the daughter of a cattle farmer and I had little chance of converting her to vegan ways (not that I expected to!) but we had a real laugh and some of Eleri’s questions were quite a surprise.  My favourite of the day was;

‘So Lee, tell us, where is the peace in ‘Peace and Parsnips’?’

I wasn’t prepared for something so deep!  I thought we’d just talk a bit of tofu.

Steve and Janie Lee Grace were very nice and welcoming, the interview was high energy with loads of chat and questions flying around the place. I challenged Steve to a ‘Roast Squash Gnocchi’ (a recipe from the book) which he didn’t fancy much, but I got the impression that they were both open to the idea of vegan food and more veggies in our diets.   I was sandwiched between the guys from ‘Made in Chelsea’ and Gilbert O’Sullivan.  A mixed bag!  I also got my picture taken outside of the BBC building by the paparazzi and touched Elton Johns piano.  Quite surreal times.

Todays cook off - Loads of new tasty recipes for the Beach House Kitchen.

Todays cook off – Loads of new tasty recipes for the Beach House Kitchen.

Click HERE for the Steve Wright interview.

Listen to me chatting with Eleri Sion HERE about vegan wind issues, the joy of plants and PEACE.  I start about 2:05 minutes.

Sunbathing today on Dinas Dinlle, many miles away from a Radio interview!

Sunbathing today on Dinas Dinlle, many miles away from a Radio interview!     PS – This is how we sunbathe up here, wearing jeans and hiking boots.

If you’re not in the U.K. I don’t think you can access these.  Sorry about that.  If you’d like to hear them, Jane’s recorded them on her ZOOM.  We can maybe transfer them across somehow.

PEACE AND PARSNIPS ROCKS THE TOP 20

Peace and Parsnips has been selling really well and even stormed the Amazon top 20 bestsellers recently.  It is still the number 1 selling Salad cookbook on Amazon and we have plenty more promotional behaviour planned for the summer.  Jane and I are organising some supper club style nights in local cafes and restaurants, I’ll be doing book signings and cooking demos around the country and we may even run a vegan cooking course (with yoga and hiking) this winter.  We’ll let you know. Add all that to tending to our veg patch and cooking up a storm in the BHK and 2015 is looking like a busy one!

WIN!

If you’d like to win a copy of Peace and Parsnips, have a look here.  Plenty of sparkling veggie books being given away by the great folk over at The Happy Foodie.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Press, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)

This is not a fussy thing!  Not a gram (or lentil) of stress, just lots of spicy and sweet creaminess……the perfect dish to end Vegetarian Week. Twitter takes up a lot of time! I’ve been tweeting like a nutter this morning but its great to come back to the BHK. Blog-ville!

Here is last nights dinner which worked out a treat. Creamy and sweet with a hint of nuttiness and plenty of spice this is pure plant and packed with things to make you shine and go MMmmmmmmm……. This is a chunky curry, all made in the one pan for ease of preparation. We like to keep things whole food and don’t think this means loads or extra prep or time over the hob. There is no separate masala sauce making here, we just dive straight in and get maximum flavour and richness from the soya milk and peanut butter.

Jane and I celebrated my birthday on the beach and in the garden yesterday. A little belated as I’ve been busy promoting ‘Peace and Parsnips’ down in London and working at the Trig.  We quaffed a nice bottle of Sancerre and watched the sun slowly set from a rug near our stone circle (quite a cool feature of our garden!)  Pretty idyllic behaviour!  Our garden is looking wild and verdant at the minute, alive with the hum of big busy bumble bees.  You have to wait ages for a sunset at this time of year, we gave up at 9:30pm and retreated into the Beach House. I mention in the recipe that we like our veggies with a little crunch and must say that the pictures of the curry were taken alot later in the evening when the curry had sat and carried on cooking. They were well cooked by that stage (a bottle of wine can have a bizarre effect on cooking).

The Beach House Garden - Waiting for sunset

The Beach House Garden – Waiting for sunset

NATURAL HEALING

Later we watched an interesting documentary ‘Sacred Science‘ about natural plant healing, straight from the shamans of the Amazon.  There is so much healing potential in the plant world, most of which we are unaware of.  This documentary opened our eyes to the potency of the natural world to heal even serious or terminal illness; cancer, parkinsons, diabetes etc.  The Amazon is tragically disappearing for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being deforestation for the growing of soya beans to fatten cattle for humans to consume.  Cutting out meat and dairy will have a hugely positive effect on the Amazon, safeguarding the plants that will one day, no doubt, be used more widely to cure illnesses that presently can only be treated with powerful chemical drugs with many side effects.

Shades view

Shades view

A WORD ON WELSH WEATHER

(Always an interesting conversation in North Wales.  We had hail stones the other day like ping pong balls.  It sounded like the world was being pummelled with marbles!) Its been chilly up here in North Wales and the plants are taking it slowly this year. Basically, not growing. We are about to put our crop of seedlings out into the veg patch, but if things don’t get alot drier and sunnier, we fear stunted beetroots and shy cabbages. Come on SUN! Trigonos (is our local organic/ biodynamic veggie farm) is growing a load of veggies this year and hopefully soon we’ll have some local seasonal veggies to play with. At the minute we are turning to things like sweet potato regularly, primarily because they are one of the most nutritious (see ‘Foodie Fact’ below) and delicious things that could ever pass your hungry lips.

Doing the not-so-famous 'Wine Crane' yoga pose

Doing the not-so-famous ‘Tipsy Crane’ yoga pose

ULTIMATE SPINACH!

Jane makes me a mix CD for my birthday every year, last year we had the magnificence of ‘Wild Honeypie’ which contained alot of tracks from the awesome snowboarding movie ‘Valhalla‘. This years offering is ‘Hazy Daze’ and I’ve popped a couple of the tunes at the bottom of this post. To give you an idea of what we’re grooving to when peeling our radiant orange spuds. Its fair to say that ‘Ultimate Spinach’ are our new favourite band for so many reasons.

So, a simple curry which we hope you make with big smiles and eat with loved ones and laughterXXXXxx

Jane getting out little birthday picnic ready

Jane getting our little birthday picnic ready – the Beach House Garden

The Bits – For 4

850g sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped into 2 inch chunks)

1 large onion (sliced)

1 large pepper (deseeded and cut into 2 inch chunks)

1 large courgette

2 large tomatoes (roughly diced)

1 chilli (finely diced) or 1/2 teas chilli flakes

2 inches ginger (roughly grated)

250ml soya milk

2-3 tbs smooth peanut butter

1 tbs vegetable oil

1 teas sea salt

 

Spices

2 teas cumin seeds

1 1/2 teas mustard seeds

1 teas fenugreek seeds

 

1 teas ground turmeric

2 teas ground coriander

1/2 teas ground cardamom or 4 cardamom pods

Just about ready - Curries up!

Just about ready – Curries up!

Do It

In a large frying pan, warm the vegetable oil and add the spice seeds (only).  Leave them to fry and pop for 30 seconds and then add the onion.  Stir well and add 1 tbs of water if the pan is getting too hot.  This helps to prevent the spices from sticking and potentially burning.  Fry and stir for 5 minutes, when the onions are golden, add the ginger, chilli and sweet potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.  Making sure you stir regularly.

Now add the ground spices to the pan, stir well and add the tomatoes with 2 tbs water.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Now add the soya milk, courgettes and pepper, turn the heat up a little and bring the curry to a boil. Lower the heat and cover and cook for roughly 5-7 minutes, until the courgettes are soft with some crunch still.  If you plan on serving the curry later, cook only for a few minutes, the veggies will cook through when you come to re-heating the curry.

Just before serving, stir in the peanut butter.  If you really like peanuts, go for 3 tbs, 2 tbs will give a light, nuttiness.

Serve

Would be lovely with some freshly chopped coriander, brown rice and all your favourite curry accompaniments. A spiced chutney of some sort will be magnificent!  To add even more nutrition by adding a few handfuls of spinach to the finished curry and stirring them in.

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Foodie Fact

Sweet potato is one of our favourite ingredients.  Its such a treat in so many ways, just roasted in its jacket is something sublime.  Sweet potato (also called Yam) is grown all over the world, there are actually over 200 varieties.  The insides of these potatoes can be purple, cream, yellow, pink, white….  They are originally from Central and South America, one of the oldest foods known to man, nowadays the worlds largest producer is China. Sweet potato is one of the finest sources of beta-carotene, raising our Vitamin A levels.  Eating sweet potatoes with a little fat, i.e. the vegetable oil in this recipe, helps the body absorb the beta-carotene. These vivid tubers also contain lots of Vitamin C and Manganese.

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Music, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Birthday Blueberry Spelt Slices (and brownies and cookies…)

Hi everyone it’s Jane here!

I have snuck into the beach house kitchen blog to post this in complete secret…

So without further ado, a Big Beach House-y Happy Birthday to you Lee!

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I made some chocolate brownies, blueberry slices and some of Lee’s brazil nut and spelt chocolate chip cookies from ‘Peace and Parsnips’ for the special day! Lee is working today so they had to be gorgeous but transportable and that’s why I opted for the kind you can cut into squares and share around…. Roll on the 10 o’clock tea break down at the Retreat Centre!

Spelt chocolate chip cookies from 'Peace and Parsnips'

brazil nut choc chip cookies from ‘Peace and Parsnips’

Cooking these cakes was so much fun, and I had such a great time covering the kitchen in flour(!) while sieving and grooving to a very cool album… not so much fun clearing up, but I felt compelled to share with you the experience anyway and post some pictures so that you can be with us from afar!

I love baking, and I tend to start with a recipe from a cookbook and see what happens…. Sometimes I go way off-piste and create something totally new, other times I stick to the recipe religiously. Both are interesting and produce unexpected results…!

The blueberry slices recipe originally came from ‘The Vegan Baker’ by Dunja Gulin and I changed it in a couple of places, but gosh I recommend you try it! I munched on a quick slice with a cup of tea this afternoon (pure research you know, checking to see if they were cooked properly..!) and they were delicious!

Lee’s birthday blueberry spelt slices

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The bits

260g/2 cups unbleached spelt flour

65g/ ½ cup plain wholemeal / wholewheat flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

a few pinches of ground turmeric

250ml plain soya yoghurt

30ml soya milk

170g / 2/3 cup maple syrup

100g coconut oil

freshly squeezed juice and zest from one lemon

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups blueberries

Do it!

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together (that’s the flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla powder, cinnamon and turmeric).

Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl (that’s everything apart from the fruit, because that goes on top). You may need to mash the coconut oil with a fork a little to get it to mix.

Mix them together really gently keeping the air inside the mixture, if it looks a little dry here you can add a tiny more soya milk.

Gently spoon into a baking pan (23cm x 30cm is best) and get it fairly level without squashing the mixture down (the aim is to keep the air in the mixture). Scatter the fresh blueberries over the top making sure there are gaps between to stop the cake going soggy.

Put the cake into pre-heated oven (180 degrees, gas 4 or 375 farenheit) for 30-35 minutes and when it comes out it should be golden on top.

Allow it to cool in the pan and once it is nearly cold gently lift onto a wire rack. When it has cooled completely you can cut it into squares. Mine were nice big squares and I got 16.

serve

Drizzled in maple syrup…Yummm!

Enjoy the pictures, and if you have a chance and would like to leave Lee a message that would be fabulous!

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Have a great Day,

Love Jane Xx

Ps Thanks Dunja for great recipe idea from your book :) Love it!

Categories: Recipes, Special Occasion, Treats, Uncategorized, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

 

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat – bowls of sun in The Beach House Kitchen

I’m conscious that on a day like today, Monday, time is more precious than at other times of the week.  I am very much, in the same boat.  I made tonight’s soup as easy as possible, but did not want to compromise on deliciousness!  The roasting part here adds unmistakeable sweetness and the bharat brings a spicy edge to the soup.

You may ask the obvious question, “but Lee, you are in a hurry and yet you take pictures of your food and write a blog piece?!”  It does seem like a strange way to behave, I admit this, but such is the ways of the food blogger.  We are those people in the restaurants who unabashedly whip out their camera when presented with a particularly nice slice of cake while the rest of the table pretend they aren’t with you.  Its a passion/ affliction.  Once you blog, you can’t stop……

We are in the middle of some very stormy and chilly days up here in the Beach House and soups seems like a very good idea.  I love the bright colour of this soup, with added radiance from the turmeric.  Its sunshine in a bowl and is a real lift when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

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We’ve been celebrating a little after the release of ‘Peace & Parsnips’.  Jane and I took a trip down to Criccieth, a local beach and went down to Black Rock Sands for a proper bag of chips.  There is an amazing chippy in Porthmadog that we frequent on rare occasions.  Chips = celebration!  We sat on the flat sands, a rare place where you can actually drive cars around on a beach without the imminent danger of sinking like a stone.  Black Rock Sands reminds me of beaches in Australia, or what I imagine the tip of South Africa to look like. You can look out over maybe a kilometre of flat sand before you see the sea.  A truly beautiful place to scoff chips!

Us.  Catching some well earned rays...

Us. Catching some well earned rays on Criccieth beach

BAHARAT

Is basically a spice mix from the Middle East, as well as Turkey and Iran.  Although the ingredients may vary, some usual suspects are: black pepper, cardamom seeds, cassia cark, nutmeg, chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds.  The baharat we use is very much a Middle Eastern style, in Turkey they add a lot of mint and in Tunisia they make a mix with rose petals, cinnamon and black pepper.  There are an almost infinite number of combinations of spice mixes, but most of the baharat sold in large shops in the UK is similar.   More a warming spice mix than a turmeric or chilli driven one.

If you don’t have any Baharat around the kitchen, use the same amount of Rae El Hanout or Garam Masala.  They will add a similar spice kick to the background of the sweet peppers and squash.

This soup is as easy as roasting a tray of very roughly chopped vegetables and blending.

The Bits – For 4 small bowls

1 medium butternut squash – 1kg (cut into 1/4 lengthways)

1 head garlic (skins on)

2 yellow peppers (deseeded)

1 large onion (sliced)

3 teas bharat

2 teas turmeric

2-3 teas salt

Olive oil (for roasting and frying)

 

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC.

Grab a large baking tray and rub a little oil over the squash and peppers.  Pop them in the oven for 20 minutes.  Rub a little oil into the garlic cloves and take the tray out of the oven and scatter the garlic cloves onto the tray.  Pop back into the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.  Take the garlic and pepper out, check to see if the squash is nice and soft, if not, put back in for another 10 minutes.  Set the garlic and pepper aside to cool, do the same with the squash once it is lovely and softened.

In a large sauce pan, add 1 tbs olive oil and fry the onion on a medium heat for 6 minutes, until translucent and soft.  While the onions are on, peel the skin off your peppers, garlic and squash.  Chop them all roughly.  Add the spices to your soft onions and stir for a minute, then add the squash etc.  Pour over 1 ltr of hot water and check seasoning (add salt as needed).  Leave it to simmer for 5 minutes before blending the soup with a stick blender or using a food processor (leave the soup to cool a little beforehand for this).

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Serve

A nice idea, for added richness is to stir some tahini into the soup.  Tahini is also packed with goodness, so nutritionally the soup becomes a real shiner.  If you are going all out tonight (it is a Monday after all!!!) chop up some coriander leaves and finish with little sprinkle of baharat.

Foodie Fact

Butternut squash is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat.  It is much lower in calories than potato and leaves you feeling nice and full after eating it.  Calories are of course only one part of the dietary picture, counting calories is definitely not our thing (big bags of chips and all!)  You can tell by the colour that its loaded with some good carotenes, which are ace anti-oxidants.  Squash is also good for vitamin C and is high in dietary fibre.

Our car off in the distance, Black Rock Sands, North Wales

Our car off in the distance at Black Rock Sands, North Wales

And who can forget......CHIPS!

And who can forget……the glorious CHIPS!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

PEACE & PARSNIPS – Published TODAY! Plus my top 11 recipes from the book

It’s a bit like Christmas morning in the Beach House today……..Peace & Parsnips goes on sale across the world.  There are people selling it in Germany, France, Spain, Czech Republic (we think), Japan, Korea, Russia….all over…..Its very cool indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peace & Parsnips is finally out in the shops. It seems like an age since I first sat down to begin writing it and dream up the recipes and how best to showcase vegan food. “How can I make vegan recipes appeal to everyone?”  Make them outrageously tasty I think is the answer!

The process has been long and fascinating and I must thank all at Penguin Books UK for their amazing support and enthusiasm.  Peace & Parsnips was written in India, Spain, Turkey, Italy, Wales and various family and friends houses in England. It has been a wonderful experience getting this cookbook together and seeing it morph and change, finally creating a gorgeous vegan tome.  I still can’t believe it happened!!!!  The shoots in London and Wales especially were a real laugh and the photography in the book is just stunning.

Peace & Parsnips have been a labour of love for sure.  It really is ‘vegan cooking for everyone’ and I have packed as many tantalising recipes into the 350 pages as possible.  No filler, all foodie heaven.  There are many recipes I love, so many great memories of friends and family are linked to them.  Food is so important to Jane and I, we believe it links us all and goes a long way to representing who we are.

PEACE & PARSNIPS Sausage sandwich

Chestnut, Millet and Sage Sausage Sarnie with Homemade Ketchup

 

If I had to do a top 11 recipes that I’d make right now for lunch.  It would be (drum rollllllllllllllll  pllleeaassseee):

–  Portobello Pecan Burger with Roast Pumpkin Wedges

–  Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake

–  Shiiitake Tempura with Wasabi Mayo

–  Seitan and Sweet Potato Kebabs with Mango Barbecue Sauce

–  Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi with Spinach Pesto

–  Smoked Chocolate and Beetroot Beans with Baked Chilli Polenta

–  Pakistani Beetroot and Pumpkin Bhuna with Banana and Lime Raita

–  Puy Lentil and Walnut Burger with Parsnip Clotted Cream

–  Chargrilled Chorizo Pinchos with Pistachio and Coriander Pesto

–  Okra, Corn and Black Eyed Bean Succotash with Chilli Cornbread Crust

–  Spiced Apple and Date Pie

 

Peace and parsnips recipe slider, by Healthista.com

Portobello and Pecan Burger, Raw Blueberry and Macadamia Cheesecake – a few shots from Peace & Pasrnips

 

In the book, Jane and I share with the world what it is to live up here in the Beach House and cook in our lovely kitchen.  The book revolves around our little cottage and the beautiful landscape around.  There is, of course, some shots of us on the beach and me trying to catch some little waves on our surfboard.  Unsuccessfully!  We also take in local waterfalls, lakes, valleys, mountains and of course, our local glorious veg and fruit farms.  Wales sparkles and shines in the book.

Burgers, curries, many sweet treats, bakes, salads, sauces and dips, tapas style little plates, mammoth style big plates, hot drinks and smoothies, its all here in P & P.  All superbly healthy and naturally vibrant.  I hope you love it as much as I loved writing it!!!

I’m off for some Champagne on toast!

BUY PEACE & PARSNIPS (Available globally)

Thanks to PETA UK and Hodmedod’s for supporting the launch today.

Categories: Books, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , | 14 Comments

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia) with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels (Ta’amia)

Falafels are a simple ‘go to’ in any kitchen, the addition of fava beans changes things up a bit.  Chickpeas are awesome, but fava beans are at least an equal.  They also happen to be indigenous to the UK.

Anyone can eat falafels (almost), no matter what the food allergy or persuasion (carnivore or otherwise) EVERYONE loves a well crafted falafel with lashing of creamy yoghurt and preferably a warm wrap somewhere on the scene.  They are almost always gluten free, dairy free, almost saturated fat free (depending on the oil  usage) but packed with the flavours and textures that we adore.

The idea for Egyptian falafels made with fava beans came from one of my old bosses in London, Henry Dimbleby, and his ever tasty Guardian column.  I used to work with Henry at Leon Restaurants and had a ball down there in the big smoke making healthy food for happy people.  His article claims ‘the worlds best falafel recipe comes from Egypt’, something I whole heartedly agree with.  I had some magical falafels over there in Cairo and surround, having said that, I am yet to visit Lebanon or Israel.  There seems to be alot of competition in the falafel/ hummus stakes in this whole region.  I have heard many a heated debate between various nations over bragging rights to the worlds finest chickpea creations.

Henry’s article is a quest to find the perfect falafel recipe and shows a great deal of passion for the subject.  I remember Leon’s sweet potato falafels bringing about a u-turn in my falafel habits and opinion.  I had once thought them late night, bland and stodgy, kebab shop fodder.  I came to realise that a day without a Leon sweet potato falafel, was a day wasted!

The great British outdoors - Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

The great British outdoors – Up a Welsh hill, Snowdonia

FAVA BEANS – AS BRITISH AS A BEAN CAN BE

Really, they are.  Fava beans have been growing in the UK since the iron age and would have probably been made into bread back then.  Something I’d be interested to try out.  They are Britain’s original bean.  Its strange how these things just come up, but I was in our local shop and saw a new brand Hodmedod’s, I liked the look of them and noticed they were selling Black Badger Peas.  Intriguing stuff.  I bought some and loved their full flavour (like a big pigeon pea, normally used in Caribbean cooking).  British peas and beans.  How marvelous is that!  I then noticed that they do split and whole fava beans and this recipe had to be made.

Split fava beans are perfect in in stews, dips, curries and can easily be made into a very flavourful daal.  They are like lentils in many ways, they don’t need soaking which is perfect if you’re in a wee rush.   Hodmedod’s have got some creative, global recipes on their site HERE.

Henry’s original recipe is brilliant and very easy to make.  I, of course, had a little play and added a few tantalising twist and tasty turns.  I’ve also toned down the oil usage to make them even shinier and healthy.  Hodmedod’s have a really nice looking Egyptian Falafel recipe HERE.

Plenty of variations to try, but I think falafels are so easy and delicious, once you’ve made one batch, you’ll be hooked and want to try them all!

The falafels may seem a little crumbly when yo handle them, but they firm up in the fridge and pan.  The ground coriander and gram flour help with this.  Just “try a little tendernessssssssssss……”

The Bits – For 12 falafels

250g fava beans (soaked overnight, or at least 6 hours, in loads of water)

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion (finely diced)

1 carrot (grated)

1 ½ teas cumin seeds

2 ½ teas ground coriander

1 teas turmeric

1 teas dried mint

½ teas bicarb soda

2 tbs gram (chickpea) flour

1 big handful fresh coriander (soft stems and all – finely diced)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Coating

2-3 tbs sesame seeds

Extra oil for frying

 

Cucumber Yoghurt Sauce

6 tbs soya yoghurt

1/2 medium cucumber (grated)

½ lemon (zest)

1 tbs lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

½ handful fresh mint leaves (finely sliced)

The carrot mix with all those gorgeous, spicy aromas....

The carrot mix with all those gorgeous, spicy aromas….

Do It

In a large frying pan, on a medium heat, add the oil and warm, followed by the cumin seeds.  Allow them to fry for 30 seconds and then add the onions and carrot.   Stir and cook for 6-7 minutes, until they are soft and just getting caramelised.  Add the ground coriander (not fresh) and turmeric to the pan, stir in and warm it all through for a minute.  Take off the heat and leave to settle and cool a little.

Once cooled, add the carrot mix and the rest of the falafel ingredients to a food processor/ blender and blitz until almost smooth, but still ‘grainy’ and coarse.  This will take a few goes, you will need to scrape down the side of your blender with a spatula.

Scatter the sesame seeds onto one plate and have another clean plate ready.  Using your hands, make small, golf ball sized globes of falafel.  Press them gently down into the sesame seeds, flip them over and get a decent coating.  Pop the finished falafel on your clean plate and continue.  Once the mix is finished, cover the falafels and place them in a fridge for an hour or more.

Mix all the yoghurt ingredients together in a nice bowl.  Check seasoning.  Jane loves lemon, so we are liberal with citrus.

Preheat an oven on a low heat (160oC) and line a baking tray with parchment and pop it in to warm.

Clean out your pan and warm on medium heat, then add roughly 1 tbs of olive oil.  In a large frying pan, you should be able to fit 5-6 falafels comfortably.  Don’t over fill or it becomes fiddly.  Fry the falafels for 2-3 minutes each side.  Using a flat spatula, loosen the falafels a little and flip them over.  They will firm up in the pan, but need be handled gently.  Place the falafels onto the warm baking tray and keep warm in the oven.  Once the batches are finished, leave the falafels in the oven to warm through for 5 minutes.  Moderate the amount of oil in your pan, you will need to add a bit more as the falafels love soaking it up.

Playing the Preserved Lemon waiting game (they take at least four weeks)

Playing the Preserved Lemon waiting game (they take at least four weeks)

Serve

We made some Peanut and Lime Hummus (recipe coming very soon) and a big salad to accompany these lovelies.  A warm flat bread would also be nice.  We would serve this with some of our Preserved Lemons, but they need another week.

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt (vegan and gluten free)

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels with Cucumber and Lemon Yoghurt (vegan and gluten free)

Foodie Fact

Fava beans are used all over the world in dishes, especially in the countries around the Med.  For some reason, they are not so popular in Britain, but I think that is going to change.  Fava beans are more British than baked beans!!!

When legumes grow, they actually enrich the soil with nitrogen, fixing it.  This means that they actually benefit the fertility of the soil as opposed to drain it.  Legumes and pulses are incredible in that respect.

STOP THE PRESS – I’ve just read that Hodmedod’s are supplying British grown Quinoa.  HOORAH!  Quinoa is back on the Beach House menu.

(Just for the record, we only promote products we really like and will say if anyone has sent us freebies.  Hodmedod’s, we just love the whole ethos and have received no bean-based bribes to promote their brilliant pulses.  We want to support the good guys ’tis all!) 

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blueberry and Hemp Muffins

Mighty MUFF - Blueberry and Hemp Muffin (gluten free)

Mighty MUFF – Blueberry and Hemp Muffin (vegan/ gluten free)

I love playing with vegan and gluten free food.  It’s a challenge.  How can we make a muffin taste, look, feel as good as a ‘normal’ muffin without the things that can muddle our bodies.  So many people are giving gluten a miss, it seems like a good idea as many people struggle with it.  I love bread, but its a treat and not an everydayer nowadays.  I did make a tasty loaf the other day using predominately ground sunflower seeds, it worked a treat.  I feel a shift, things are changing in the foundations of how we eat.  The next generational food norms will be very different indeed.  Gluten free and vegan will be as normal as fish and chips or black forest gateau.

I cook in a place called Trigonos, an idyllic retreat centre and organic veg farm.  It’s a blessing.  There I encounter all sorts of dietary requirements, every group that I cook for has a long list of specific dietary needs.  The most regular are vegan and gluten free (we are a pure veggie place), but there are so many people out there waking up to food intolerances.  We are all unique and beautifully different, what works for me, might not work for you.  But eating less gluten and animal-based saturated fat can only be a good thing for your health.  That is a widely held, universal, food understanding.  So these muffins are nice…..  They can be enjoyed by almost anyone and there is no sacrifice in the taste or treat departments.

Nobody who eats these muffins would think they are vegan or gluten free.  They are really quite healthy but very delicious.  Any berry can be used here, depending on the season.  We managed to get some blueberries and I admit, they are one of my favourites.  The berries sort of explode in the muffins, creating lovely fruit pockets of happiness.  There is plenty of richness from the coconut oil and a little bit of bite from the polenta flour (very fine polenta that is, not the course grain stuff we use normally).

GLUTEN FREE BEHAVIOUR

We tend to make our own gluten free flour mixes, we still haven’t got round to making the definitive Beach House Bread Mix.  But its coming.  I always like to have buckwheat flour around, one of my favourite grains/ seeds.  In moderation, it makes for a light addition to baking with a good hearty flavour.  Banana helps with the binding here, but you can use stewed apple instead.  This is also very nice and works well when using blackberries in this recipe.  We’ll be doing his later this year for sure.  The brambles are already winding their wicked way all over the back of the garden and in Autumn, it will be an oasis for big, juicy blackberries.

FLAX EGG?(!)

Making flax eggs is so easy. Grab some flax/ linseeds and grinder them in a coffee grinder, blender, something like that.  You are looking for a fine powder, but a few whole seeds is absolutely fine.  You can also buy ground flax seeds or flax meal.  This can then be added to all baking shenanigans in order to add a very nutritious binding agent.  In the absence of eggs, I find them the best.  They even have a vaguely egg-like texture, very gelatinous and gloopy.  For 1 tbs of ground flax, I add 1 1/2 – 2 tbs water, stir and leave for a short time.  You’ll see the change very quickly.  Ground flax is also an amazing way of adding nutrition to your morning cereal, yoghurt or smoothie.  Ground flax also helps to make a substantial and chewy loaf of bread or pizza crust.  Fibre is so, so important to a healthy diet.  It cleans you out in more ways that one!!!!

See here for more about flax eggs and other vegan baking substitutes.

 

I love using hemp seeds although they are a little rare.  You could try sunflower seeds here, but the hemp seeds (hulled ones anyway) are so creamy and light.  They seem to blend into the muffin adding richness.  Sunflower seeds will be more of an  obvious presence.  Tasty non-the-less.  Hemp is a wonderful plant and is becoming more and more popular for its uses in making fabric and even paper.

On the beach, with a shell

On the beach, with a shell

What with promoting our new book PEACE & PARSNIPS (out tomorrow I may add)  and cooking, cooking, cooking…..there seems little time to squeeze in blogging, let alone glorious beach walks.  Which is a shame.  We will hopefully get some more of our recipes up on the B.H.K very soon.  It is almost impossible to keep up.  I love writing about food, but I must say, I love cooking much, much more.  I’m an out of balance food blogger.  Forgive me!!!!  I just bought a new computer to replace my ancient little Filipino net book gadget, hopefully this will make me vastly more efficient.  You never know!

These muffins are light and fruity…..healthy and delicious….give them a whirl!!  All of your guilt-free dessert dreams are coming true….right here:

Fresh from the oven- THE SMELL!  THE AROMA! (yum)

Fresh from the oven- THE SMELL! THE AROMA! (yum)  PS – I ran out of mix so the top left muff is a bit of a half-ling

The Bits – Makes 6 muffins

50g buckwheat flour

50g rice flour

25g polenta flour (not coarse polenta, it should be fine like flour)

(or try 125g of a pre-mixed gluten free flour)

30g hulled hemp seeds

2 tbs coconut oil (softened)

½ teas bicarb soda

½ teas apple cider vinegar

¼ teas sea salt

1 teas vanilla extract

1 banana (mashed)

4-6 tbs rice syrup (depending on how sweet your tooth is; I’m a 3 and Jane’s an 8 – on this scale)

30-50ml soya milk

1 flax egg (1 tbs ground flax seeds mixed with 1 1/2 tbs water and left for 15 minutes)

100g blueberries (or berry of your choice)

When baking, always have a tea towel thrown over your shoulder.  It makes you look like you know what you're doing!

When baking, always have a tea towel thrown over your shoulder. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing!

Do It

Set the soya milk aside and then mix together the dry and wet ingredients separately.  Then mix both together until just combined, adding the soya milk as need.  The batter should be sticky, but not wet.  Gently stir in the blueberries without popping any if poss (no drama if you do, they will have cool purple streaks).

Spoon the batter into oiled and lined muffin trays.  Use muffins cases if you like, I prefer cutting out squares of baking parchment, oiling them and using them.  They look far cooler.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean and not sticky.  Remember, a little moisture in a muffin is a good thing of course, over baking them would be a shame.  Use your muffin-sense here.

Leave to cool in the tray for 20 minutes before enjoying liberally with mugs of your favourite chai.

Blueberry and Hemp Seed Muffin

Blueberry and Hemp Seed Muffin – Difficult to be this close without taking a bite…..

Foodie Fact – Flax Seeds

Flax seeds contain soluble fibre, a gel forming substance called ‘mucilage’.  This means that they are brilliant for slowing down the release of sugars into our bodies, helping us absorb more nutrients from our foods and resulting in us being fuller for longer.  2 tbs of flax seeds contains 4 grams of dietary fibre.

Flax seeds are also the very best source of lignans, which provide the body with anti-oxidant and fibre-like benefits.  In fact, flax seeds are actually higher in anti-oxidants (polyphenols) than blueberries!  Not bad for a little grass seed.

Flax seeds are also ridiculously high in Omega 3 fatty acids, probably the highest to be found in nature.  Omega 3’s help to keep our hearts healthy.

Categories: Baking, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

PEACE & PARSNIPS – Behind the scenes at the photo shoot

Peace and Parsnips climbed Snowdon recently

Peace and Parsnips climbed Snowdon recently

Only a couple of days until the BIG DAY!!!!! No, I’m not talking about the election (which surely must be a little refreshing), I’m talking ‘PEACE AND PARSNIPS‘!!!!!!!

‘Happy, healthy and hearty – it’s time to cook vegan…discover the delights of eating meat- and diary-free recipes, bursting with vitality and taste. Using fresh produce, Lee celebrates this incredibly healthy way of eating through recipes that are varied, nutritious and utterly delicious. From curries, burgers and bakes to show-stoppers….’

Preparations are almost complete, like Christmas Day, all of the vegan elves and parsnip fairies have been working overtime to get the book ready and on Thursday, all the good veggie (and non veggie) boys and girls of the world will wake to a massive slice of vegan deliciousness.  It’s a real tome, over 350 pages packed with recipes and gorgeous pictures of North Wales, many of which are gluten free (or with options for GF).  Its the full montilado!!!!

Here’s a little look behind the scenes of the shoot where I’m trying to keep my cool in the middle of a heatwave and full on cookathon:

Here’s an interview here:  The Happy Foodie

PLUS

An article in the lovely Healthista

There will be some very exciting things happening in the press over the next couple of weeks.  Watch this space or twitter (below) for updates.

The first vegan cookbook ever to climb Mount Snowdon - clever thing!

The first vegan cookbook ever to climb Mount Snowdon – clever thing!

I’m new to twitter, but am sharing loads over there; pictures, recipes and all – @lee_the_vegan or check out #peaceandparsnips

Categories: Books, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Foragers Salad – Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion Leaves

Foragers Salad - Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion

Foragers Salad – Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion

Here is something we found growing under our apple tree, with a few bits from the rockeries and surround.  Free food!  And highly nutritious leaves.  Like gifts from the ground, they come to grace our garden with edible happiness.

This may well be rabbit food to some, but these leaves are actually nutritional powerhouses.  They are full of calcium, protein and iron, minerals and also have bags of vitamins.  The only thing they really lack is carbs (but some people quite like the idea of that anyway).  Gorillas, elephants, buffaloes, the strongest creatures on the planet eat leaves.  Not just for rabbits!  Leaves (with a nice dressing) are meal in themselves.

FORAGING

Primroses are everywhere at the moment, and although they are not particularly nutritious, they make salads look amazing.  Primroses carpet our garden every spring, so when we found out we could eat them, it was a good moment.  I am thinking Primrose Tempura soon?

Dandelions are best in spring and early summer and the leaves should be picked preferably before there is a flower.  The leaves are really bitter when the flowers have bloomed.

Sorrel is a real trooper and thrives like a weed.  It has such a distinct flavour, like a very bitter apple, that is best used sparingly in a salad.  Just one leaf per mouthful will give you a really pleasing zing!  Sorrel grows everywhere and is easily harvested, the leaves are very distinct and even older leaves taste lovely.

Always forage in areas that are away from industrial agriculture, train lines….generally clean and natural spaces.  Nasty chemicals, pesticides etc can be present on plants close to these places. Remember that if industrial waste etc has been dumped in the ground, pollutants will be absorbed by the ground (and subsequently the plants).

THE BEACH HOUSE GARDEN

The weather has actually been quite nice recently, so we’ve been out in the garden getting our hands mucky.  The veg patches are ready for action and all of our seeds are in the planter of strooned around the house.  We are growing all sorts this year; a few varieties of beetroot, fennel, salad leaves, rocket, cauliflower, kale, chard, cabbage….radish.  We’ll see what pops up!  No potatoes this year as we had a bit of blight last year and think its best to leave this fallow for a while.

Our fruit trees seem to have had a good winter and our new rowan is hanging in their.  Raspberries have blossomed and we’re looking forward to them!  Also our wold strawberries are looking mighty fine.  The herb garden has taken a wallop and will need some tlc.  Rosemary is indestructible!  May is my birthday month, so we have a new tree lined up.  A Snowdon Pear Tree, the fruit has dark green skin with a light pink centre and a feint fennel taste.  Wow!

Weeding the veg patch, the seeds are in, we are going for many varieties this year.  Too ambitious?!

Weeding the veg patch, the seeds are in, we are going for many varieties this year. Too ambitious?!

Our friend Shira is the real inspiration for this salad.  She has been going through our foraging books and identifying all the local plants that we can munch on.  There are so many and its only April/ May.  We are looking forward to raiding the hedgrerows and fields this year and seeing what we can find.  Plenty of sloe gin, blackberry whiskey, rosehip cordial, elderberry jam, elderflower cordial etc.  Not to mention much fun and games with gooseberries.  We will hopefully sniff out some edible mushrooms this year, we’ve been tipped off about a special little place.  Maybe a cep or two for the pot?!

We love this time of year, nature is waking up and the earth is warm again.

The Bits – For 4 (as a side salad)

2 handfuls primrose flowers

3 handfuls sorrel

3 handfuls dandelion leaves

4 handfuls young spinach leaves

2 handfuls red cabbage (grated)

 

Apple and Mustard Dressing

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs dijon mustard

1 1/2 tbs apple juice concentrate

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic (crushed)

sea salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Do It

Wash and drain the leaves well (use a salad spinner for best results). Gently toss all the leaves together and arrange on a nice big plate.   Scatter the flowers over the salad  in a pleasing design.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Foragers Salad

Foragers Salad

Serve

With a small jug of dressing on the side, some fresh bread and maybe something like bean puree/ hummus would be nice.

Foodie Fact

Dandelion leaves are hugely nutritious, they are very high in calcium and iron.  In fact they have more calcium than kale and more protein than spinach.  They are also full of anti-oxidants, mainly vitamin C and A.  They are also great for supporting the liver, the ultimate detox green!

Little lambs - cute now, in a couple of months they'll be invading our garden!

Little lambs – cute now, but in a couple of months they’ll be invading our garden!

Categories: Detox, Dressings, Foraging, Garden, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Lee’s Happy Foodie Interview – Robert Plant, First Time Vegans and Mum

rsz_bw_picture_of_lee

 

BY ELIZABETH YOUNG – 28 APR 03:28 PM

Meet Our New Author Lee Watson

With his debut cookbook Peace and Parsnips coming at the beginning of May, we decided to catch up with our new author Lee Watson. Dynamic about vegan food without being preachy, Lee Watson is the man set to revolutionize the way we think about veganism…

Can you tell us a bit more about your book Peace and Parsnips?

It’s a chunky slice of vegan vibrancy; packed with colourful plant based dishes that will appeal to absolutely everyone. There are recipes here for every occasion and every taste. Vegan food takes a fresh and creative approach to cooking anything from burgers and bangers, to luxurious curries, creamy soups, hearty bakes, zesty salads, funky nibbles and a whole host of gorgeous drinks. The dessert section is packed with richness and decadence and also loads of healthy sweet treats. I wrote the book with my friends and family in mind, who are mainly rampant carnivores; they regularly gobble up the recipes and loved ‘em! ‘Peace and Parsnips’ shows that veganism in primarily delicious and secondarily, brilliant for you and the plantet.

If you had to pick one recipe to show off what Peace and Parsnips is all about, which one would it be?

I think there are quite a few corkers in here, but the ‘Pecan and Portobello Mushroom Burger’ is a real hit. Carnivores and vegans alike rave about it. It even looks like a normal burger and has fooled many, it has an intense taste and is super rich and flavourful. Vegan food is always surprising; it feels so fresh and new, even though the term ‘Vegan’ has been around since the ‘40’s. Veggie burgers have a bad rap for good reason; they are generally not the best. In ‘Peace and Parsnips’ I’ve really focused on making the burgers something special and to top it all off, they are very, very healthy! It’s a win, win thing.

What advice would you give to someone looking to cook vegan food for the first time?

There is really no great difference in cooking vegan dishes, except that they are roughly a third of the price to shop for! I guarantee that if we went into your kitchen together, you’d have all we needed to make a vegan feast. There are generally a few more ingredients to play with as we can’t just rely on meat or cheese to give us flavour. We are drawn into creative corners and this leads to all kinds of wonderful new things. With just a few key ingredient switches and a focus on glorious vegetables, fruits and legumes, you’re well on your away to becoming vegan. The possibilities in a well-stocked veg basket and a handful of cashew nuts are endless. Having an open mind to trying something new is key.

Do you come from a long line of great cooks or are you the first passionate foodie in your family?

My family has always appreciated good, honest, home cooked food. We hardly ever ate out and all love to cook. The Watson’s are from a small mining village in Durham and my granddads would always be outside with a hoe and fork, getting busy in the veg patch. I learnt alot about beetroots and radishes from them. We had a lot of meat, but Mum was always health conscious and was the first person in the village to try making a homemade cheesecake. Even when my sister and I were ungrateful teenagers, Mum always prepared fresh dishes and put loads of effort into feeding us a balanced diets. I owe it all to Mum (you knew I was going to say that though!)

Here at The Happy Foodie, we’re somewhat obsessed with cookbooks. Can you tell us a bit about your favourite?

I’ve only recently been buying cook books; I used to just pick recipes up like a happy magpie, scribbling them into my notebook in libraries or book shops. I was given Oh She Glows recently, a brand new vegan cookbook from the US. Its one of those books that you want to cook every recipe right now! Its gorgeous. There are actually so many inspirational vegan cookbooks from the US; it really is a hot bed for very creative cooking (which happens to be plant based). The ‘Veganomicon’ by the brilliant Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a massive hit state side, but then again, all of her books are interesting. Hopefully ‘Peace and Parsnips’ can bring a British/ European take on all things vegan and veggie. It’s a style of cooking that is evolving very quickly, always looking to the future.

Who would be your dream dinner party guest and what would you cook for him/her?

I would say the Dalai Lama, but he likes early nights, so it would be Robert Plant who just lives a few valleys away up here in North Wales. I’d invite him around for the Kashmiri Turnip Curry with Beetroot Raita (in the book). Then we could have an after dinner sing song around the fire pit with some spicy chai’s.

Is there an ingredient you are really enjoying cooking with at the moment?

I was cooking loads of plantains recently in South India and I love their versatility. Mashed, fried, roasted, boiled…always delicious.

I also love turmeric, its tastes like a peppery orange, crossed with some ginger. It seems to sneak its way into far too many of my dishes and there is no mistaking it! It has some supreme health giving properties; it’s a very, very powerful anti-oxidant. Really things like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, coriander etc. are more like medicines than simply food. Potently wonderful foods. Try adding a teaspoon to a smoothie. Quite a transformation.

I also love flax seeds. I think many vegans do. They are miraculous little pockets of radiant nutrition. They are ridiculously high in fibre and omega 3 fats and are packed with anti-oxidants, even higher than things like blueberries. Ground up, they can be added to bread or cakes, or easily sprinkled onto cereal or to thicken stews. I love ’em!

What excites you about the British food world at the moment?

Its openness, diversity and creativity. We are well placed, having one foot in Europe, so we are grounded in many old and brilliant food cultures, but are now freely spreading our wings to the farthest reaches of the globe. British food is not dogmatic and we are open minded to new flavours and ideas. I think that’s why Britain produces so many brilliant chefs. With the internet and more options to travel around, Brits are becoming well versed in all sorts of magical and remote food cultures. The British food world is a vibrant kaleidoscope of global flavours and influence, the restaurant scenes in our cities and towns reflect this. There is never a dull moment and vegan food incorporates this enthusiasm with a positive ethical and environmental twist, as well as whole new dimensions of deliciousness.

Buy Peace & Parsnips

happyfoodie.co.uk

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Healthy Eating, Inspiration, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Press, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | 3 Comments

Braised Maple Parsnips with Young Nettles

 

Pan Roast Maple Parsnips and Young Nettles

Braised Maple Parsnips with Young Nettles

An ideal, quick and easy side dish and we are quite partial to the odd parsnip at the moment!  Throw some grains into this recipe (like millet or buckwheat) and a couple oh handfuls of walnuts or hazelnuts and you’re looking at a fine lunch.

Don’t let the bristly stings put you off, nettles are one of natures greatest gifts to Brits, they come just after winter and are packed with brilliant nutrients (see the ‘Foodie Fact’ below) that will help us get over our long winter blues. You can make them into a soup, stew, smoothie, pan fry them as they are; in fact these prickly lovelies are good in most things.  Nettle cupcakes may be pushing it however!

Nettles have a lovely flavour, quite unique, a little like spinach but with a unmistakable nettle tingle to them.  Nettles really feel alive, they are certainly a feisty plant and grow everywhere when given the chance.  The worst  thing you can do with nettles is cut them and leave them on the ground.  More will grow!  This is a good thing for us but can wreak havoc on your Dahlias.

HARVESTING NETTLES

Harvesting nettles is so easy, just handle with care.  We have been walking loads at the moment, reacquainting ourselves with all the local flora and fauna.  We normally stash a plastic bags in our pockets and use it for nettle picking.  A rubber glove, like a marigold or garden glove, can also be very handy.  If you are walking on a path, where people walk dogs, pick high.  For obvious reasons!!!  Some people even pick the nettle bare handed, apparently if you grab them quickly, it doesn’t hurt.  We have obviously not mastered this technique. OUCH!

Jane feeding our neighbourly horses - mid Nettle pick

Jane feeding our neighbourly horses – mid Nettle pick

Nettle season is coming to an end, but it seems that there are still many tender young plants around the Beach House.  Just pick the first four leaves down, anything below will be a little tough and coarse.  As with most leaves, don’t eat nettles when they have started to flower.  Something happens chemically and they lose their nutrients and become tough on the belly.

Fill your boots.  Now is the time of year to get your last batch of nettles and dry them for later in the year.  You can use dried nettles in soups and stews, but its really best as a tea.  Nettle tea is packed with nutrients and tastes delicious.  Free food!  We’d be silly not to!!!!  You can also make a load of tea and then cool it, strain it and keep it in the fridge and drink throughout the summer as an awesome, chilled infusion and full-body tonic.  Trust us, nettles are magic and will keep you shining!

One of the easiest ways to dry herbs, if you don’t have a dehydrator (they are becoming cheaper and more popular), is to lay your leaves out in the boot (for estates) or seats of a car and roll the windows up.  On a hot summers day, your herbs will dry out in no time at all.  You can dry herbs in a warm oven, but this can be energy consuming and hit and miss.  Sometimes they can burn.  Ideally, you live in a hot and dry part of the world, where drying means putting things outside in the sun.  In Wales, we have to be a little more creative!

I like to add a little lemon juice at the end, just to lift a little of that intense sweetness.  It gives a bit of a sweet and sour finish to the dish.  If you love sweet things straight up, you don’t have to bother with the citrus.

The Bits – For 4 (little plates), 2 (big plates)

5 medium sized parsnips (lightly scrubbed, but not peeled.  Cut into 3 inch batons or as you like)

6-8 big handfuls young nettles

1 tbs rapeseed oil

2 tbs maple syrup

1/2 tbs lemon juice

Sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Do It

Pick all the stems, insects etc off your gorgeous nettles (use your gloves for this), give them a good rinse.  We just want the small, tender, fuzzy leaves.  Get a small saucepan of salted water boiling.  Add the nettles to the water and blanch them for 30 seconds or so, then plunge into some cold water (keeping them vividly green).  Drain well just before serving.  If you want them warm, just blanch them before you serve the parsnips and don’t bother with the ‘plunge’.

In a large, heavy frying pan, warm the oil on a medium high heat.  Add the parsnips, toss in the oil and fry for around 7 minutes, until they begin to go golden and caramelised.  Then add roughly 2 tbs of water and cover with a lid, lower the heat to medium and leave them for 7 more minutes.

Then whip off the lid and turn the heat back up.  Pour over the maple syrup, gently toss the parsnips in the syrup and cook until you are happy with the beautiful, dark, caramelised glaze, a few minutes will do, then squeeze in a little lemon juice.

Braised Maple Parsnips with Young Nettles

Braised Maple Parsnips with Young Nettles

Serve

Stack the parsnips onto a nice plate, surround with a nettle ‘nest’ and tuck in.  You may fancy a little more salt and pepper.

Foodie Fact – Nettles

Nettles are actually more nutritious than Broccoli or spinach.  And they are free.  How cool is that!  I wonder how long until one of the big supermarkets starts to bag them up and sell them as a ‘niche’ product?

Eating nettles helps to keep our kidneys and adrenal glands up to speed.  Nettles are the perfect detox food, as they assist our bodies in expelling toxins.  These lovely leaves have also long been used as a diuretic and to treat joint pains.

Nettles are very high in Vitamin A (bones), K (blood clotting) and Calcium.  In fact, just 100g of nettles contains 1/2 your daily calcium requirement.  Calcium can help to alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, headaches, mood swings and bloating.

Nettles are also rich in minerals like Iron and Magnesium and are packed with dietary fibre.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Detox, Foraging, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes, Side Dish, Spring, Wild food | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

‘Peace and Parsnips’ on Youtube – Vegan Myth Buster

Peace and Parsnips was a full-on shoot, Sophie and I worked our socks off getting the food looking scrumptious for the camera and Al, the photographer, did the rest….

Mythbustin’…..

HERE is our little article about the book.

Categories: Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Caramelised Garlic with a Red Lentil Sauce (No fuss extravagance)

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Leeks with Caramelised Garlic and Red Lentil Sauce (Quite a mouthful in so many ways!)

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Leeks with Caramelised Garlic and Red Lentil Sauce (Quite a mouthful in so many ways!)

We are really giving it to you here!  A restaurant-ified dish made at home with very little mess and fuss.  Our kind of food!  It also happens to be outrageously good for you.  This is utter, guilt-free indulgence.

These stacks sound quite complex, but are actually anything but. In fact, it would be a good restaurant dish for the same reasons. It’s simplicity. A few ingredients speaking nicely together all wrapped up in a creamy lentil sauce.

If you meet a vegan/ vegetarian who says they don’t like Portobello mushrooms, look them right in the eye and repeat the question very slowly and slightly suspiciously. “Are you sure????” They may be an undercover carnivore. All veggies like Portobello mushroom, they are so flavoursome and have a magnificent texture. They can be used in all sorts of ways to sate even the most ferocious of carnivores. Some whack them in a burger, other use them as a base for stacking fun and games (that’s me).

Hazelnut tofu is not that easily sourced, but you can always use firm tofu instead. I’d recommend marinating it in a fridge for a while.  Press the tofu to get rid of most of the excess moisture and then glug a little tamari (or good soya sauce) over the top. Toss the tofu in the tamari and leave for a couple of hours before use. Hazelnut tofu can be bought in health food shops and the like, it can also be ordered online and is one of Jane and I’s favourite treat bites.

You would like the lentils quite thin, it is a sauce by name after all. Add a little more water to make it the consistency of a thick gravy.  Leeks, how we have missed them. Most of our recent dishes have revolved around the mighty leek.  Wales does many things well; sunsets, leeks and hail stones and you can only eat one of them.

Cookin' up a stack!

Cookin’ up a stack! (Fleece essential)

The Bits – For 2 (as a big plate) or 4 (as a little plate)

Red Lentil Sauce

1 tbs olive oil

3 garlic cloves (peeled and finely sliced)

2 tomatoes (roughly chopped)

200g red lentils (well washed and rinsed)

1/2 teas dried thyme

750ml water

Leek Greens (finely sliced, see below)

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Stacks

1 pack hazelnut tofu (roughly 250g, cut into 8, 1 cm thick slices)

4 large Portobello Mushrooms

2 leeks (washed well, green part cut off and finely sliced, white part cut length ways into quarters and then sliced into 4, 3 inch pieces/ chunks)

1 whole head garlic (seperated into individual cloves, skins still on.  Use three of the cloves for the lentil sauce)

A good drizzle of olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Garnish

Something green (preferably a little fresh thyme, parsley or even finely sliced spinach – as I used here)

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Do It

Wash your lentils well, cover them with fresh water and drain.  Keep doing this until the water is clear.  Grab a medium sized saucepan and add 1 tbs oil, warm on a medium heat and then add the sliced garlic, stir and fry for a minute, then add the chopped tomatoes, stir well.  Pop a lid on and allow to bubble on a fast simmer for 5 minutes.

Now add the lentils and water, turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Drop a lid on and lower the heat to a steady simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Stir in the leek greens and the thyme, place the lid back in and cook for a further 20 minutes.  Adding more water to make thick, gravy like consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Keep warm.

Preheat and oven to 180oC.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment, drizzle over a little oil and rub over the tray with your hand.  Then lay out all of your veggies onto the tray, including the tofu.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, remove the mushrooms and tofu, turn over the leeks and garlic, place them back into the oven for 10 minutes (if they need them, they should be nice and soft with the occasional caramelised hue).

Assembly job – in a warm serving dish (or you can serve each stack individually on warm plates).  Cut your tofu in half lengthways, pop the garlic out of their skins (they should not need much encouragement).  Now place two pieces of leek and two cloves of garlic onto a mushroom and top those with four nice slices of tofu (criss-crossed looks cool).  You can put these back in the oven on a low heat to keep warm until serving.

Serve

Pour a thick layer of lentil sauce over your serving dish/ plate and gently place one of your towering stacks on top.  Sprinkle with something green, a little more seasoning with salt and pepper and a slight drizzle of good olive oil.

Stacked P........YUM!

Stacked……..YUM!

Foodie Fact – Leeks

Leeks can be a little overlooked from a nutritional point of view, their more popular cousins the onion and garlic get all the attention.  This means there isn’t as much nutritional info out there about them.  However, we know that leeks are champions of Vitamin K (see our last article, No-Knead Everyday Loaf, for more on ‘K’).  We also know that they are high in Manganese (good for bones and skin) and Folates (Vitamin B’s that keep our cardiovascular system in order).

Probably the most interesting thing  about Leeks are their history.  They originate from Central Asia (not Wales) and were highly revered by the Romans, in fact Emperor Nero used to eat alot of leeks to help give him a strong voice.  Leeks were in fact introduced to the UK by the Romans and are probably most famous for being worn in the helmets the Welsh army, who defeated the Saxons in 1620.

Read more excellent nutritional info here.

Jane on a walk in the hills, the gorse is right out in bloom (lovely honey smells)

Jane and I on a walk in the hills, the gorse is right out in bloom (lovely honey smells)

Follow all the Beach House Kitchen shenanigans and updates on whats going on with the new book Peace and Parsnips on Twitter.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Healthy Eating, Photography, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Energy Efficient Eating…..What a bright idea!

ONE OF THE BEST, AND SURELY THE MOST DELICIOUS, WAYS TO SAVE THE PLANET AND ANIMALS IS TO GO VEGGIE!

Eat yourself green with a vegan diet, saving animals and the planet, whilst making yourself slim and healthy. One of the most effective ways of saving the planet is to become energy efficient eaters. Changing our diets can change the world!

LAND

Biodiversity is becoming a huge problem. Vast swathes of land across the world are being used by the meat industry, the amazon forest for example is being decimated to produce land where cattle can be reared and soya can be grown to feed them. Every year 7.5 million (!!!) hectares of rainforest is destroyed, this is the equivalent of an area of TWICE the size of PARIS being cut down everyday.

Regularly choosing to eat vegan means that you are directly reducing the amount of land cleared to rear cattle. You are saving millions of animals both wild and farmed. Nothing cuts your carbon footprint like going vegan! Nothing!!

OCEAN

Our oceans are at great risk. Many fish stocks are running low, many on the brink of extinction.  Fish farming is not the answer, for every tonne of farmed fish, four tonnes of wild fish need to be caught and fed to them.  Eating fish is still eating meat, no matter how you look at it, eating less or no fish is the way forward.

GREEN HOUSE GASES

The livestock industry is responsible for more green house gases than the entire transport industry!  All those billions of cars, planes and trains…..  It contributes 18% of the harmful gases, compared to 13.5% by transport.  This means that a vegan driving a gas guzzling 4×4 causes less harm to the environment that a push bike-riding meat eater.

Every year 2.4 billion tonnes of CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere because of the meat industries land use, including slash and burn techniques in deforestation.  Livestock produces 65% of nitrous oxide emissions (296 GWP).   86 million tonnes of methane (which has 20 times the global warming potential as CO2) is belched and farted out of ruminant animals, like cows every year, with their manure adding a further 18 million tonnes.  Massive figures, but we can do something.  By minimising our meat and dairy consumption, or even better, going vegan, we become environmental activists just by choosing what we put onto our plate.

LOCAL AND ORGANIC

Eating a local, vegan diet is one of the most environmentally friendly ways of living.  Meat eaters, even local meat eaters, produce on average 1.2 million tonnes more global warming gases a year than pure veggies.  Local means much less pollution in transportation and is the way forward.

Vegan organic means a plant only diet without any chemical pesticides, fertilisers etc.  This is much better for the earth and ourselves.  Millions of animals also die due to consuming pesticides, especially when they leech into rivers and seas.

WATER

Agriculture uses 70% of our fresh water supplies.  Meanwhile 2.3 billion people live in water-deprived areas and 1.7 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water.  The livestock industry is by far, one of the worlds worst water polluters via chemicals used in the rearing, feeding and processing of meat.  2/3 of the nitrous oxide and ammonia , which causes acid rain, is produced by manure alone.

FEED THE WORLD

Meat is a highly energy in-efficient food.  Cut out the middle man and go veggie.  The UN has warned that if we continue to consume the planets resources at the current rate, we will need TWO EXTRA PLANETS because our population will rise to nine billion by 2050.  A vegan/ vegetarian diet could feed the world many times over, without any great fuss, since it requires dramatically less land and resources.

A piece of land the size of a football field can feed only two people on meat.  But it can feed ten people on maize, 24 people on grains and 61 people on soya!!!!

EAT MORE TO FEED THE WORLD

Eating a hearty vegan diet is highly energy efficient and means that valuable resources can be utilised to feed the world.  Minimising your household food waste will also have a huge effect on this (see ‘Waste Not, Want Not‘) or even better, check out these guys in Brazil.

Go green. Go veggie.  Go vegan.  It is a huge step, a massive leap towards a brighter and better world.  Tell your friends, this is the future of eating and it is delicious!!!!

eatgreenorg

vivaorg

vivaactivists.org.uk

All of the above was taken from a recent Viva!  magazine – see links above

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

‘Peace and Parsnips’ is really taking off!!!!

'Peace and Parsnips'  our new cookbook, taking off!

‘Peace and Parsnips’ our new cookbook, taking off!

 

We went up to the top of Tiger Hill and it turned into a full power ‘Peace and Parsnips’ fest, with various pictures of me goofing around with our brand new cookbook (out on May 7th!).  Forgive Jane and I, we are little excited about it all.

Our friend Shira was amazing at catching me in mid air, looking like I’d just been dropped out of a passing plane.

I also went back to cooking at Trigonos Retreat last week, which is always a real pleasure.  You could call this my day job, cooking vegan fare for meditators and yoga folk.  I am a very lucky chap indeed.  It is the place where many of the cookbook recipes were tried and tested.

Playing with food, back cooking at Trigonos Retreat Centre, Nantlle, Wales

Playing with food, back cooking at Trigonos Retreat Centre, Nantlle, Wales

Once more, just for kicks.....

Once more, just for kicks…..

rsz_p1170801

‘Peace and Parsnips’ is coming to get yaaaaaah! (Its all in the hips)

We’re also sticking loads of new Beach House Kitchen stuff on Twitter and Facebook.  Check.  It.  Out.  Xxxx.

If you haven’t bought the book yet (tuttututututututututtttttuuuut), HERE is a great place to pre-order your very own copy for a superbly reasonable price.  Over 200 vegan/ gluten free recipes straight from the Beach House Kitchen.  How cool is that!  Priceless…..  The books contains chapters like: Nuts About Nuts!, The Vegan Larder, Eating from soil, shoot or branch, Seasonality, A Very Meaty Problem, Homemade Milks, The ‘Whats Up’ With Dairy and of course the recipes:

Breakfast, Smoothies, Juices, Steamers and Hot Drinks, Soups, Salads, Sides, Nibbles, Dips and Little Plates, Big Plates, Curries, Burgers, Bakes and Get Stuffed, Sweet Treats and finally Sauces, Dressings, Toppers and Other Stories.   

That’s quite a plateful of vegan fare.   It’s a tasty vegan tome.

Friends, family and loved ones (everyone) I will even sign your copy for no extra charge!!!!  Expect many more gratuitous ‘Peace and Parsnips’ plugs coming in the next couple of weeks.

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.”  HH Dalai Lama

Viva Vegan (peaceful, bright and bountiful food)xxxx 

 

 

Categories: Books, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lime, Coriander and Yellow Pepper Juice

Off to a flyer - Lime, Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juie

Off to a flyer – Lime, Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juie

The ultimate Sunday morning reviver (or at least one of many potential juice combinations that will make you sparkle and sing in the morning.  There are a vast and glorious number).  Joyful and juicy.

Its a glorious morning in North Wales, the wind is blowing and the small birds are singing.  Rocky Robin especially seems to be filled with the joys of spring.  Perfect shining juice conditions we feel.

This may sound like quite an unusual, savoury, mix of ingredients for a juice, but they all work brilliantly together.  Carrots and apples are the base for most of our juices, they are relatively inexpensive and highly nutritious.  This juice boasts outrageous levels of vitamin C (pepper, lime), K (coriander) and of course A (carrots).  Basically, this is a juice that leapt out of our veg basket.  The glory of juicing is that, you can dream up any combination of fruit and vegetable and whack them together in a juicer to sensational results.  Celery however, should always be enjoyed in moderation.  Its very potent.

Juicing is the perfect way to offer your body a serious hit of sparkling vibrancy in the morning.  Juicing does take away most of the fibre from your fruits and veggies, so we like a balance between smoothies and juices.  Or just eating loads of fruits and veggies in their raw state.  You then get to enjoy all the textures of gorgeous plants.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ORGANIC JUICING

If pesticides are used during growing fruits and vegetables, they will normally be more concentrated in the skins.  We never peel our fruit and veg when we juice, so this means that we must try to seek our organic produce when we can.  Otherwise, we’re taking in all of those chemical pesticides/ fertilisers that are inevitably used in shop bought produce.  Its a bit of a downer, but the benefits of drinking vibrant juices are tempered when pesticides are involved, they are very hard for our bodies to deal with.

We normally juice citrus fruit with the skin on, but I must say that oranges can be a challenge.  Try them out, but if I’m using more than one in a juice, I normally peel them.  One pithy orange is enough per juicing session.

Jane and I took our Canadian pal, Shira, up Mount Snowdon the other day. It was truly astonishing.  Wales was sparkling, crystal clear and radiant.  All cloaked with the most beautiful, shimmering light.  We walk up the back route, the Rhydd Dhu way, and it is one of my favourite hikes.  So varied, it goes from a ambling Welsh countryside feel, to rock hopping, then almost a scramble up loose scree paths until you hit the top with is like a castle of jagged rocks and tiny winding trails.  You cannot help feel a little like Frodo on some kind of quest.  Anyway, I’m telling you all of this because we had a juice that morn and all felt supercharged.  I’ve even climbed Snowdon powered on just a Beetroot and Apple Juice (see Primitive Juice Man Scales Mighty Mountain!).  I am yet to discover why exactly, but it felt good at the time.   If I was running the London Marathon today, I’d love to down this beforehand.

Jane and I on top of Snowdon

We made it!!!!  The top of Snowdon

The Bits – 4 Small Glasses, 2 Big ‘Uns

4 apples, 4 carrots, 1 yellow pepper, 1/3 cucumber, 1 handful fresh coriander, 1 lime

Do It

Place the coriander and lime in the juice first, on high speed and follow with the rest. We like to put the carrot in last as it seems to flush any lingering leftover goodness.

Serve

In a Guinness glass and a leftover gherkin jar.  Or glassware of your choice.

Lime. Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juice

Lime. Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juice

Foodie Fact – Coriander (or Cilantro)

Coriander does not grow so well up here, too windy and a little cold.  We have had success with coriander in our little grower or indoors.  Once it goes, it goes wild.  A good one for the indoor window box.  Is that normal?  We have them.  Mainly to try and keep our precious, fragile plants out of the whipping Irish Sea winds.  Growing your own coriander means that you can use loads of it in sauces like Salsa Verde or in juices like this.  Those little packets you can buy, for a pretty price, just don’t quite give you enough to play with.

Once picked, use your coriander quickly.  The leaves are very gentle and discolour easily.  If you need to store coriander, we find the best way is wrapped gently in a damp cloth or kitchen towel.

Use the stems, coriander stems are soft and packed with flavour.  They can be used just like the leaves, I normally stir them into a soup/ stew and use the leaves as garnish.  Double coriander can never be a bad thing.

Coriander is a super star.  You may call it Cilantro and are also right.  Originally from the Mediterranean.  It contains outlandish amounts of Vitamin A and K with high levels of vitamin C.   It is also a good source of iron.

VITAMIN K?

Vitamin K is something a little obscure, but its essential for healthy bones and keeps the brain healthy.  Two parts of the body I’d like to keep ticking over.  Vitamin K is even used in treating Alzheimers disease.  Coriander is one of natures best sources of ‘K’

Our local phone box, looking good in the April sun

Our local phone box, looking good in the April sun

Categories: Detox, Healing foods, Healthy Living, Juices, Nutrition, Organic, Photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , | 3 Comments

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

Risk free, no brainer baking.  Perfect!  If you have never made bread before, start here…….if you’re a pro kneader, give this one a whirl, you’ll be surprised by the results.

This is bread making without all the fuss and mess.  In fact, its as simple as; combining, baking, eating.  This is a light loaf, with a slightly crumbly finish, like an Irish soda bread (without the faint twang of soda).  You can really taste the yoghurt which is a nice addition, giving richness to the loaf.

This is a bread that we make regularly and is perfect for a quick loaf in a hurry.  There is no proving or hanging around with this one.  Mix it up, whack it in the oven and before you know it, your whole house is fragrant with the joys of imminent warm bread.  Homemade bread is the only way to go and with recipes like this, its hassle free.

Adding sparkling water to your baking really adds a lightness to proceedings.  Normal water works fine here also.

Jane nibbling on a Tostada con Tomate - One of the recipes in our new cookbook - Peace and Parsnips

Jane nibbling on a ‘Tostada con Tomate’ – One of the recipes in our new cookbook – Peace and Parsnips

Modified from the awesome vegan baking book ‘The Vegan Baker’ by Dunja Gulin

The Bits – Makes a 1/2kg loaf (around 8-10 slices)

275g unbleached white flour

125g wholewheat flour

2 teas baking powder

50g rolled oats

1 ½ teas salt

250ml soya milk

225ml water (sparkling water is best)

4 tbs soya yoghurt (unsweetened)

2 tbs olive oil

Everything in neat bowls, probably the tidiest bread making recipe (no flour everywhere for a start)

Everything in neat bowls, probably the tidiest bread making recipe (no flour everywhere for a start)

Seed Mix

3 tbs rolled oats

1/2 teas caraway seeds

2 tbs flax/linseeds or sunflower seeds (any seed will do….)

Loaf ready for the oven

Loaf topped and ready for the oven

Do It 

Preheat an oven to 220oC (425oF).

Sift the white flour with the baking powder, then stir in the oats and salt.  Mix well.

Mix in the wet ingredients and combine well with a trusty wooden spoon until a sticky dough is formed.  It should be easy to spoon, add a touch more water if needed.

Line a loaf tin with oiled baking parchment, the neater, the better.  Sprinkle half of the seed mix on the base and then spoon in the bread mix.  Level with a spatula (a wet one works best) and sprinkle over the rest of the seed mix.

Pop in the oven and lower heat to 200oC (400oF) and bake for an hour.  If you’re using a fan oven, check after 30 minutes that the top is not burning (our oven is a beast and tends to burn tops).  Cover with more parchment if this is happening.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin. Turn out and peel off paper.  Leave to cool further on a wire rack, the crust will now crisp up nicely.

Store as you do, this bread lasts well, 5 days.

We let it cool outside, meaning you can start eating it sooner!

We let it cool outside, meaning you can start eating it sooner!

Serve

Warm with Marmite and good olive oil or some of Jane’s lovely Apple and Tomato Chutney (coming soon on the B.H.K).  This loaf is a good toaster.

Foodie Fact

Oats are a concentrated source of fibre and nutrients, a pocket battleship so to speak.  They are very high in minerals like manganese, phosphorous and copper.  It contains beta-glucan, which is a special type of fibre that actually lowers cholesterol.  Isn’t nature kind!  Have loads of fibre also means that oats help to stabilise our blood sugar level, meaning a better metabolism and less freaky weight gain.  Oats are very cool.

Sunset last night from the BHK window

Sunset last night from the BHK window

 

Categories: Baking, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mindful Eating – The Top 5 Good and Bad Mood Foods

Foods that make you go ZING!

Foods that make you go ZING!

MOODS

Moods. What can we do? Sometimes you’re up and then for no reason whatsoever, your down. Can food help? Most people realise that moods affect what we eat, but does it work the other way. Do foods effect our moods?

There has been much research into the matter which has shown a link between moods and the food we eat. A recent survey has shown that a large proportion (over 80%) of people felt better when they changed their diet. Eating healthier makes us feel better inside and out.

SCIENCE BIT

From what we can tell this is down to serotonin, the happy chemical, produced in our brains. Serotonin cannot be produced without tryptophan (an amino acid), so its a good idea to eat foods high in trypophan to make us happy. Simple enough!? Low serotonin levels are blamed for anxiety, cravings, mood disorders and IBS. The concept of eating foods high in trypophan is similar to that of taking an anti-depressant like prozac. Holistic anti-depressants.

Moods cannot be gotten rid of, but can be brought under control. The extremity of the ups and downs can be lowered, meaning you feel more centered and grounded in a good place. Eating and living well can be essential in maintaining not just our physical, but also our mental health.

TOP 5 GOOD MOOD FOODS

1) mung beans

2) nuts

3) tofu

5) bananas

Taken from the e-book The Serotonin Secret, Dr Caroline Longmore

After too many 'good mood' foods Jane sometimes tries to fly!!!!

After too many ‘good mood’ foods Jane sometimes tries to fly!!!!

WHAT MAKES THEM FULL OF ‘HAPPY’?

Foods high in fibre, wholegrains and protein can also help boost moods. Food with a low glycemic index, like oats for example will help the brain absorb all of these happy amino acids. Tryptophan absorption is boosted by carbohydrates.

These foods should be combined with lots of clean water and fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating regularly and not skipping meals also boosts our mental health. A balanced diet is always the best way forward.

Foods that have the opposite effect are sometimes called ‘Stressors’, the main culprits are listed below:

STRESSED FOODS

– Sugar

–  Caffeine

– Alcohol

– Chocolate

– Wheat-containing foods

– Additives

– Dairy

– Saturated Fats

Provided by the ‘Food and Mood Project’, backed by the mental health charity ‘Mind‘.

A diet heavy in the ‘stressors’ can lead to all sorts of problems including anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, lack of concentration and unfortunately, many more…

Sugar has a powerful effect on our sense of well being, if we eat too much, we can get into a sugar roller coaster, which is never nice. Our blood sugar levels are all over the place and we feel drained and fatigued when the sugar is lessening and high as a kite when its peaking.

OVER INDULGING

If you do over indulge (who doesn’t?!) one of the worst things that you can do is feel guilty about it. Feel great about it! You have just treated yourself and you deserve it. Move on and make efforts to eat better and feel better, step-by-step, slowly slowly. It’s a long road without any fixed destination.

Apparently we all have ‘triggers’, foods that can take us up and down. This depends on you, have a little experiment. If you are feeling a bit sluggish and down, think about what you have eaten that day or the night before. Trends will inevitably form. We found it really helpful to take the plunge and go for a full raw, vegan diet. Just for a month or sometimes just a week or so.  Our bodies became sensitive to what we ate and we learned alot about what makes us feel good and otherwise.  There seem to be definite trends in the foods that take the shine off things, and in our experience, most of them are all noted above as ‘Stressors’.  You don’t have to go this far of course, just cut out certain foods for a period of time and see how you feel.  Many people are doing this with gluten at the moment and feeling the benefits.

The occasional treat can never be a bad thing!!!!

The occasional treat can never be a bad thing!!!!

MINDFUL EATING

Eating well is one thing, but thinking well is another level completely. They both tend to rise inclusively.  Once we are feeling more stable and peaceful in the mind, our eating habits seem to change.  We become more aware of how we are fueling our bodies, the effects that the foods we eat have a profound effect on health, both mental and physical.  We all have a good idea of how to make our bodies fit and lean, but how is our mind shaping up?  Are we happy and content?

Thinking positively is the key, a good place to start.  If we can practice thinking only positive thoughts for a minute at a time and build on that. If this is done whilst meditating, even better.  Meditation doesn’t need to be done on a Tibetan cushion, you can do it anywhere.  On the bus or train or even when walking or simply sat in a waiting room.  The days are filled with moments of potential mediation, windows of unexplored peace and rejuvenation.  In our opinion, meditation is the most important practice in creating/ maintaining a more peaceful mental outlook. Once your thoughts are flowing in the right direction, the body tends to follow.  The cookies you crave one day are the carrot sticks you cannot live without the next.  Habits change very quickly.  It is really surprising.  We have been through all of this ourselves and being ‘mindful’ requires discipline and dedication.  But it does have incredible, trans-formative rewards.  Add that to your new found passion for mung beans and you’ll be shining away for all to see.

Here is a meditation clip for those interested.  Jane and I recently attended a Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat up in Dharamasala, India.  This is there style of doing things, but there are so many styles and methods of meditating.  The most important thing is feeling a sense of peace.  That’s it!  Whatever works for you is the way.

We have a very soft spot for Tibetan Buddhism, so here’s how they focus the mind (this Rinpoche has the most lovely, smile-inducing voice):

If meditation is not your thing, how about some good exercise, get the blood pumping; a long walk in the countryside or a park, turning the computer off and doing some gardening, turning the mobile phone off and cooking your loved one the most beautiful feast, painting, writing, putting up a shelf with care and attention.  Anything that gets you away from the tidal waves of thoughts and ‘thinking’ will no doubt rejuvenate.  Taking care of ourselves, being gentle with ourselves, nourishing mind and body.

For more information on mood foods, check out theMind site. There is information here for Brits on how to contact dietitians and nutritionists to get started on a new diet plan and lifestyle.

Take it easy, have a handful of sunflower seeds, meditate peacefully and shine onX

Bananas always make me smile!

Bananas always make me smile!

This piece is a revised version of something we wrote a few years ago.  We just love the idea that foods can have such a profound effect on our sense of wellbeing, or otherwise…  

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Waste Not, Want Not – Our Top Larder Tips

Beach House Maramalade (made en Espana)

Beach House Maramalade (made en Espana)

Maintaining a decent larder/ store cupboard can be tough. The larder is really the backbone of any passionate cooks foodie arsenal.  We need our dried goods, spices, grains, magic potions etc to be in special, pristine condition to produce wonderful food.  It takes time and some amounts of dedication to get it right.  It’s certainly not the most spontaneous, vibrant aspect of the joys of cooking, but its highly worthwhile, pretty much essential.  We have just cleared ours out after returning from India and a few top tips came to mind:

It’s all about rotation – keeping new things at the back and ‘to use’ things near the front helps loads. Its a visual thing, you can’t remember everything that is lurking in the larder shadows. Spend a few minutes, regularly, opening jars and inspecting the contents. Sniff and occasional taste tests may be required. Ditch what looks like its past its best and if there is a whiff of mustiness, definitely escort it to the bin. Nuts especially should be cared for and used quickly. If they are in their shells, they keep for a long time. Otherwise, keep an eye on them. A rancid nut is no fun and can be quite bad for you.

Have a good stash jars handy – keep loads of empty, clean jars or plastic containers (ex-yoghurt pots etc) to decant spices, grains, sugar etc into. They keep better, we try not to leave anything in packets once opened. Unless they are those clever re-sealable ones. But…….

Keep some pegs handy – Pegs are great. They come in really handy sealing things when you inevitably run out of jars and platic pots.

Tea bags keep powders dry – If you pop a tea bag in with salt and sugar, this will help to keep them dry.

Buy spices as seeds or whole – and then grind them yourself using a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder. You can even make your own spice mixes. Buying whole spices seriously lengthens their longevity. Ground spices should really be used quickly, within weeks, even when stored in a air tight container.

Bardsey Island Apple and Plum Chutney

Bardsey Island Apple and Plum Chutney

Buy local and in bulk – we buy most locally if we can, generally this means the produce is always in good condition and hasn’t been messed with on long journeys and in storage. We are lucky to be surrounded by some wonderful producers and suppliers, as I’m sure you are also. They are everywhere!

We also like to use the co-operative Suma for all larder items. They will deliver, but it needs to be over a certain amount. Get a load of friends together is our advice. A sack load of chickpeas keeps well and will make you feel wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.

Label Things – This may sound like a step towards librarian-hood, but having a few blank stickers handy means knowing you’re cumin from your coriander and importantly, your chilli from your paprika at a glance. It also means that you can be creative and decorate your jars and pots with imaginative doddles that make people smile. Labelling also means that you don’t double up on buying things.

Dry/pickle your own – This can be lots of fun, but a little hectic in the glut months of Autumn when piles of precious berries, fruits and veggies are filling the kitchen.  Some late night jammin’ and picklin’ may be in order.  A few pickling/ preserving techniques and basic chutney/ jam recipes up your sleeve can make this time of year a joy.  Preserving the beauty of harvest time for later months when blooming nature seems very distant.  Homemade raspberry jam (we make it sugar free) in January is one of life’s great treats!

Here are a few recipes for picklin’ and preservin’ from the B.H.K library:

Beachu Kimchi

Beetroot, Apple and Caraway Sauerkraut

Apple and Plum Chutney

Chilli Onion Marmalade

5 Minute Fig and Prune Compote

Simple Blackcurrant Compote

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Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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