Here’s some of our favourite recipes to go with this heatwave. We spend plenty of time in tropical and steamy places, so we know how to keep things cool when the thermometer starts to rocket. There are even rumours right now of people in North Wales wearing shorts!
Focusing on cooling ingredients, especially things like cucumber and watermelon for example, will help keep you chilled. Also, hot drinks. Sip some tea like the desert bedouins do, they know it works! Although a nice long drink, with ice and all the trimmings is the perfect treat.
Try freezing fruits like watermelon, any melon actually, berries, mango, pineapple etc and simply blend them. Very refreshing, the healthiest slush puppy you’ll ever try!
Also, you can freeze fruit like gooseberries and pop them in a drink, fruit ice cubes. We also love juicing vegetables and fruits and pouring it into an ice cube tray, or even better, lollipop moulds. Just add sticks (cocktail sticks are fine for the ice cube tray) and you’ve got gorgeous, healthy coolers waiting for you in the freezer. Try freezing one layer of juice first, then adding another, and another, until you get a very cool rainbow effect. Looks amazing!
If you like these recipes, please feel free to comment below and share with friends and curious cooks!
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Chill out! It’s getting to that time of year when we need something cooling and delicious. We’re in Spain right now and this is exactly what we feel like, everyday, all day.
This is something like the classic zingy gazpacho given a twist of fruity sweetness with the watermelon and a tickle of chilli and not to mention avocado. This soup cries out to be enjoyed on a beach, or at least in a sunny spot/ garden.
This is the kind of light, tasty, no-fuss food that I love come summertime, making the most of the awesome summer fruits and veggies on offer. The thermostat is being cranked up all over and we need something that’s going to tantalise our tastebuds, hydrate our bodies and not overload our stomaches.
Some people are still a little off with chilled soups, this may be the one that turns them! Because it’s high in nutrion and things that make us shine, we only need a small bowl and our body gets all we need, we’ll be sated and energised.
You probably know that Jane and I are nomadic sorts. We like to wander, and nibble while we go. We were passing through the local port, over here in Spain, and decided on lunch in one of our favourite little spots, a place called Bar Fizz, where they cater nicely for vegans and the cooking is really good. Jane had this soup for starter and we all loved it, everyone wanted a spoonful, I think its just the little twist of watermelon that makes things interesting here.
I’ve re-created it in the BHK, with a little help from some of my favourites; ginger, garlic, avocado and red pepper. Not to mention the radiant, fruity, local tomatoes (the BHK has nipped over to Spain for a while, like Dr Who’s tardis but laden with blenders, pots and many kilos of random spices/ seeds). We figure, whereever we are, wherever we lay our chopping boards, that’s our BHK! Could be the Himalayas or a Thai beach, streetside Mexico City, in fact, wherever we’re invited/ allowed, we cook and bring the BHK love!
Perfect bowl of summertime chill! Watermelon Gazpacho with a tickle of chilli, peppers, cucumber and avocado
We hope you love this colourful soup, let us know below in the comments, and keep in touch by signing up to our newsletter here (only takes a couple of clicks).
Stay cool and enjoy the summer sun!
Instead of bread or croutons, why not try serving this with fresh, crisp salad leaves to dip in.
Add as many chillies as you like, we made it very mild. Jane’s tongue is anti-chilli.
Add a little sweetener maybe if your tomatoes are not gorgeous and ripe.
You”ll need a decent blender to get this nicely smooth. It’s ok a little chunky, but silky smooth is best.
If there are lots of black seeds in your watermelon, takes as many out as you can. You don’t need to be mega picky here.
This is a flavourful soup, if it tastes bland, just keep adding pinches of salt until the flavours erupt.
The toppings can vary here, avocado is nice, but use what you have.
Watermelon Gazpacho – Vegan, Low-fat, Sugar-free For 6 large bowls
1.5 kg ripe tomatoes
1 large red pepper (deseeded and sliced)
½ cucumber (peeled)
1 inch fresh ginger (finely chopped)
1 small onion (peeled and sliced)
½-1 red chilli (deseeded and chopped)
4 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
3 tbs red or white wine vinegar
1-2 teas salt
Several twists of black pepper
Place all the soup ingredients into a blender and blitz until the soup is smooth. This may take a couple of batches which is fine. Pour into a large bowl and taste, adjusting the seasoning as you like, a sprinkle more salt, a tickle more chilli.
Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving topped with colourful, delightful things.
Watermelon is hydrating, low in calories, plus high in Vitamin C and A. It helps to keep our skin and hair healthy. Some nutrients in watermelon even help to protect us from sunburn, it’s the ideal summer snack!
After a strong nettle tea this morning, I feel supercharged and inspire to share the wealth of our green and bountiful friend. The nettle plant is much misunderstood, yes it stings a bit, but there is so much more to nettles than that. It is one of the healthiest plants that grows in temperate areas and is something we could all benefit hugely from incorporating into our diets. Nettles are one of natures multivitamins (and the rest)!!
We love drinking nettle tea, its a complete health tonic and ideal first thing in the morning. The way we start our days is so very important, what we choose to put into our bodies after many hours sleeping can have a huge effect on our day and health in general. Nettle tea is the perfect start! It’s just one of those infusions that you know is doing you the power of good. Then you read a little into it and you’re certain. Nettles are packed full of pure plant power.
Nettles have historically been regarded as a superbly healthy food in many different cultures. Milarepa the famous Tibetan sage and saint ate them when meditating for ten years in a cave, eventually turning green and gaining the ability to fly (I love these legends). Sometimes I think we feel like exotic foods, with cool names, are our only source of sparkling nutrition. However, there are so, so many super foods on our doorsteps (or nearby).
Milarepa – Green after a few too many nettles
The nettle picking season is just around the corner and we’re very excited. Hopefully a few will be ready before we head over to the States. North Wales is quite a tough place to grow things however nettles love it and we go on massive picking sessions each year, drying them in our dehydrator or in the boot of our estate car (on very warm days). We can then store the leaves for tea and adding to soups and stews throughout the year. You can even pan fry the leaves or use them fresh, just like spinach. Its a way of stocking up on essential minerals, vitamins and a whole host of sparkling nutritional properties, not to mention that the tea tastes wonderful. Its in the realm of green tea with a few added nuances. Some say its an acquired taste, but I think most are?! When the leaves are fresh, they have a lighter flavour. Free wonderfoods fresh from the hedgerow, now you’re talking!!
Nettles grow prolifically throughout the temperate areas of the world. They actually thrive on the waste we produce and interestingly, large patches of nettles may be used as sign of previous settlements that are now long gone from our countryside.
THE POWER OF NETTLES
One of Jane’s teachers, Susan Weed, is a firm advocate of all things nettle and writes about them extensively. Nettles are also known as the devil’s leaf and even wild spinach, they are certainly equally delicious and even more nutritious. There are literally hundreds of health properties attributed to this wonder plant, here are a few:
Nettles strengthen the kidneys. Their Greek name is Urtica Dioica, ‘Uro’ meaning urine.
They are a powerful tonic, anti-anaemic, diuretic, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergenic, decongestant, anti-arthritic, laxative, antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, anti-asthmatic, expectorant……..the list goes on and on.
Nettles are ideal for women, especially during pregnancy, childbirth and lactation. Nettles help with menstrual cramps, nausea and bloating.
A general relaxant that helps with hypertension.
Fresh nettle juice is antispetic and can be used as a kitchen spray, for washing skin.
Nettles infusions can be used to wash hair, leaving it shiny and thick. They are also said to prevent hair loss.
Helps with gastrointestinal diseases, IBS and constipation.
Cures the common cold.
They can also help with hormonal, adrenal and energetic imbalances and the circulatory system.
They can be taken as an anti-histamine, which over a period of time, can cure ailments like hayfever.
Reduces gingivitis and prevents plaque when used as a mouthwash.
Nettles are known as a digestive restorer and consistent use of nettles strengthens lungs, intestines, arteries and kidneys.
Even the nettles sting has been shown to alleviate joint pain!
And many, many more……
It’s even been said;
“The seed of nettle stirreth up lust……”
You can definitely say that nettles are an all-rounder!
It is worth mentioning that if you are taking certain pharmaceuticals, you should seek a doctors advice before taking nettles regularly.
Nettles are especially high in calcium, vitamin C and iron. They are also high in protein and fibre, a whole host of minerals and many more vitamins.
The whole plant is basically a powerful medicine, from roots to seeds. It is especially good for ‘pale and pasty types’. I like this little rhyme:
“If they would eat nettles in March and drink Mugwort in May, so many fine maidens would not go to the clay” (Funeral song of a Scottish mermaid)
We seem to have lost touch with so many of natures gifts that surround us throughout every season which are there to give us health and vitality. I believe that in each environment we can find the nourishment we need to thrive, that is, if we have the knowledge and are inspired to seek them out.
Brewing nettles for tea
Nettles are easily identified by most, we’ve all had a little incident with them as children. Like any plant, if you are not completely sure, don’t pick it. There are many different types o nettles, this is especially true if you’re traveling to other countries. Some have a very nasty sting.
We travel with marigolds and bags in nettle season and when we see a good patch, we harvest. For eating fresh and drying, take the tender, young leaves from the top of the plant. The first four is a good rule of thumb. Like many plants, the growing energy is concentrated in the upper plant, this is what we after. Nettles become more fibrous as the season goes on, so get in there during early spring although some young paler nettles will grow in shaded areas until late summer. Always pick nettles, and any edible plants, away from man made signs of poisons and ground contamination. This means away from roads, railway lines etc. Many foragers also avoid plants near popular dog walking areas, or at least pick above leg cocking height!
Nettles are easily transformed into a delicious edible green leaf vegetable. Simple blanch them in boiling water, this breaks down the formic acid which stings. You can leave them to steep to make a lovely tea or use as you would any leafy green. Try a Nettle Aloo or Nettle Soup. We love them in smoothies and iced teas. Nettles make for a great pesto and can be used in place of basil and we especially like nettle hummus an stirring the leaves into hot pasta.
Rinse young leaves and stalks in water, place in a mechanical juicer or place leaves in warm water and leave to steep for 30 minutes. Place in muslin cloth and wring out the bright green juice. The juice will keep in a fridge for one day.
Blanch the nettles leaves in just boiled water. Save the water as a stock or drink it. Strain the leaves well. In a frying pan, add some oil and garlic followed by the leaves. Fry for a minute and served topped with pine nuts or almonds.
Jane also makes a wonderful nettle tincture, basically pop lots of leaves into a kilner jar and cover with vinegar (you can also use alcohol like vodka or gin). You should use young leaves, dried or fresh are both fine. Leave for a month or more (the longer left, the stronger the tincture) and then strain with muslin cloth. Place in small bottles and use the tincture for eczema, psoriasis, allergic rashes, rinse in hair to treat dandruff, taken internally it is known to treat hayfever. Take 1 teas poon every morning as a preventative or three times a day to treat ailments.
Dry the leaves without blanching them. As I mentioned, you can do this in a warm car with a couple of windows slightly opened. On a very sunny day, thinly lay out the nettle leaves on news paper. Leave for a day and check that the leaves are nicely dry and crisp. If you are lucky enough to have a dehydrator at home, dry as you would kale or other leaves. It won’t take long.
The strong fibres of the nettle plant have been used to make paper, sails, bags, cloth (think a silky linen) and makes a very strong string or rope (fifty times stronger than cotton). Nettles have been cultivated in Mexico for 8000 years for these purposes. Nettles can also be made into a dye, the leaves for green and the stalks for yellow.
Nettles are a gardeners delight. They are hugely nourishing to the soil and are amazing on compost heaps. They can be brewed into a homemade plant fertiliser packed with nitrogen compounds (this stuff stinks by the way) and can be grown as a companion crop with tomatoes and aromatic herbs.
I still think that it’s incredible that nettles are not sold in greengrocers or markets. It is a shame that more people are not benefiting from this stunning plant. I’d say if you’re taking multivitamins, why not try nettles instead. They’re perfectly natural and free!
Drinking nettle tea and eating fresh nettles in stir fries, soups etc will ease and energise the circulatory, immune, endocrine, nervous and urinary systems. Like I said, an incredible overall tonic and they literally grow on trees (or in small bushes). If we all used nettles wisely, pharmacies would go out of business! Nettles are good for us in ways that we don’t really fully understand yet. The nettles season is coming, don’t miss out!
If you are interested in foraging or taking courses in the UK, www.wildforage.co.uk is a good place to start.
I’ll be demonstrating the joys of vegan cooking. Delicious, creative and healthy (with loads of treats along the way).
COME JOIN US!
Jane and I are excited to announce our first full retreat this December at Trigonos, located in beautiful Snowdonia, the retreat centre where I cook. We’d love to welcome you there for a revitalising weekend with great food and much, much more! Find details of the retreat below:
Discovering Vegan Cooking – Workshop and Retreat
with Lee Watson, Trigonos Chef
11th – 14th December 2015
The pleasures and benefits of a vegan diet are open to all. This workshop and retreat shows you how.
Join Lee Watson, Trigonos Chef (author of the vegan cookbook ‘Peace and Parsnips’ and presenter of ‘Meat vs Veg’ TV Programme) for a rejuvenating and instructive healthy vegan cooking adventure. The ideal mid-winter, pre-Christmas pick me up!
Here is your five a day in just a few gulps! Juicing is the easiest way of supercharging your day and getting loads of shining fruits and veggies into your diet.
I love experimenting with new flavour combos in our morning juice. What do we have available and will they sing together in a glass?! This one is backed up by a hit of ginger and lemon (whole, the zest is awesome in many ways), apples, carrots and a handful of mint. Its a feast and a massive wake up call to the immune system. When you juice, you can forget about the need for expensive supplements, vitamin pills etc. Nothing can compete with a fresh juice. Juicing also helps in weight loss and makes you much sexier!!!
SUPERCHARGE YOUR DAY
Our favourite way to start any day is a glass of freshly made juice. It just seems to make perfect sense. Our bodies have just woken from (hopefully) a nice long sleep, when we have basically been fasting for many hours. We’re dehydrated and a little depleted, we need a serious boost of something nutritious and preferably, charged with vitality and vibrant flavours. Juicing is the easiest way to get loads of essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc) down the hatch, very easy on the digestion and we can feel the benefit soon after. Energy levels rise and we get a healthy glow about us.
The contents of this juice are a sign that things are really flying now this summer. You could call this our ‘Veg Box Nectar’, basically whatever we get from the farm in a juicer with a little consideration for overall flavour. Really though, all these sensational veggies and fruits cannot taste bad in a glass. There are probably a few guidelines to a good juice; go easy on the cabbage, turnip or swede, too much whole citrus (with pith on) can be a little challenging.
We always try to add greens, like Kale, Chard or Spinach, to our juices as they are the bodies best friend. Greens contain so many amazing nutrients, not to mention things like protein, calcium, iron….the list goes on and on. They also contain bags of chlorophyll which helps the liver detox and purifies and rebuilds blood cells, also helping with high blood pressure. Eating a lot of greens regularly, daily if possible, is our number one suggestion for staying healthy and feeling amazing.
TOP JUICING TIPS
EAT YOUR FRUIT AND JUICE YOUR VEGGIES – As a basic rule, this works a treat. Many fruits are high in sugar and unless they are packed with fibre, can make your blood sugar levels rocket. Its best to drink a balanced juice, with sweet fruits as a sweetener and not a base. Some root vegetables can also be high in sugar, worth bearing in mind. Having said that, a pure fruit juice is an awesome treat!
PREP WELL – Get everything cut down to size and peeled (if needed) before you start. This will make juicing a breeze. We always fill our juicer shoot up (wide funnel juicers are best) before turning the machine on, this is more efficient. Wash up before you drink the juice, for some reason, this seems to make it less of a chore!? Not juicing because of the washing up is a very poor show.
DON’T HANG AROUND! – Juices are highly perishable and are best drank as soon as possible to get maximum flavour and health benefits.
REASONS TO GET JUICY
INTENSE NUTRIENTS – Juicing condenses down produce into a glass, you can cram so much goodness into a juice. One glass can contain 5 carrots, 3 apples, 1 lemon, 5 kale leaves…….whatever your imagination can come up with! To eat all of those in one sitting would take a long time and lot of chewing….
DIGESTION – Juices take almost no digestive energy, meaning the body is getting loads of nutrients and expending very little in return. That energy can be used for other things like replenishing and rejuvenating.
LOSE WEIGHT, LOOK GOOD – Juices can really help here, accompanied by a good, balanced diet (we’d of course recommend a vegan diet) and regular exercise. The intense nutrient hit you get from juicing helps keep the skin shining and hair and nails strong, it will also help to make you feel and look younger.
There are two main types of juicers, cold press or centrifugal. We have always used a centrifugal juicer and if they are well made and powerful, produce good results and extract plenty of juice (you can check this by pressing out the waste pulp – this pulp can be made into tasty burgers or muffins).
Centrifugal juicers basically extracted the juice using a spinning blade. Cold press (or masticating) juicers normally extract more juice and at low temperature, maintaining all of the nutrient content. They are quieter and can be used to make nut milks, however, they are more expensive.
We’ve tried out many juicers and our favourites are Sage. They sent us a juicer over a year ago and its been brilliant since then. Very well made, easy to clean and powerful. They are not the cheapest, but if you are serious about getting into juicing, its well worth the investment.
First Summer Strawberries
BERRY NICE SUMMER:)
We just ate our first wild strawberries from the garden and they were so sweet. The song ‘Summer Wine’ by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra sprang to mind. A classic with a proper retro video. Lee knows how to wear a moustache! A perfect tune for strawberry munching in the sun. Jane and I have been playing it recently on guitar and it’s a cheeky tune that makes people smile. The raspberries are coming at Trigonos and we’ve been inundated with gorgeous gooseberries (so sweet) and blackcurrants (potently purple). This time of year is just one long celebration of sensational seasonal produce, even the cauliflowers are making an appearance!
FAT, SICK AND NEARLY DEAD
This documentary came out a while back and has influenced loads of people and certainly spread the good juicing word around the globe. Going on a juice fast can have wonderful health benefits, incredible transformations, as highlighted by the personal stories in this film. Some friends of ours are going to try it out, although a shorter version, it will be interesting to see the results. Jane and I feel that juice fasts can be an incredibly cleansing and revitalising opportunity, although we’d not recommend carrying them on for too long. Juicing does take fibre out of your fruits and veggies and we love fibre in the BHK. Its essential for maintaining good health and digestion.
Along with a healthy balanced diet, juicing can be a brilliant habit to get into, the benefits of which are best experienced to be believed!!!!
Here’s a recipe for a seriously tasty juice, full of zing and good things:
The Bits – For 2
3 kale leaves (with stems)
3 large carrots (scrubbed)
1-2 inch fresh ginger (peeled – with a teaspoon is easiest)
2 large apples (halved)
1 large beetroot (scrubbed – with leaves if you’ve got any)
1 green pepper (deseeded and halved)
1 small lemon (whole)
Pop all into a high speed juicer, leaves first, then ginger and lemon. The carrot and apple will flush everything through.
In your favourite glass (or jars if you are trendy, or poor, or both) with a smile.
Beetroots are in the same family as chard and spinach. The beetroot leaves (greens) are exceptionally high in iron, calcium, vitamin A and C.
Many athletes are now getting into beetroots. Apparently it lowers muscle fatigue and is of course, amazingly nutritious with huge amounts of beta carotene and a good hit of sugar to keep you well fuelled for a workout. Beetroot is also ideal for detoxing, as it kick started the detox process in the liver. Ideal for a morning juice.
TOP BEET TIP – If you have beetroot fingers, all purple, try rubbing some lemon juice over them. This helps. Or wear gloves in the first place.
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.
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?!
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)
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.
With a small jug of dressing on the side, some fresh bread and maybe something like bean puree/ hummus would be nice.
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, but in a couple of months they’ll be invading our garden!
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 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
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)
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
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.
Here’s a mid-belter to get the taste buds zinging, full of the things we need with winter just around the bend. When the nights draw in (our clocks have just gone back in the UK which means it gets dark at around 4-5pm already!) we naturally turn to comfort foods rich in carbs to put some padding on for winter. Stir fries are the ideal way of avoiding really heavy, stodgy grub at this time of year and because the ingredients are cooked quickly, at high heat, they retain more of their health giving properties. The winter wok is a star and our bodies need a decent kick start to get us through this physically arduous time of year.
Stir fries are always and intense affair, its at the exciting, adrenaline rich end of the cooking spectrum. You need to be organised, with a very hot pan and trusty spatula at the ready. If you turn around to grab something, things can go horribly wrong! This one it ever-so easy to get together and wok, with the pleasing addition of a few superfood-stylee trimmings. Trust me, the name of this dish sounds far more complex than the cooking.
WHAT’S TEMPEH AND WHY?
Tempeh is so easy to prepare, highly fuss-free and packed with all the protein a vegan needs to sparkle. Soya is best kept wholebean and the thing I love about tempeh is you can actually see the beans (see below). Tempeh originated from the Indonesia area and is eaten extensively as a meat substitute, although it is surely appreciated for just being highly tasty (I prefer this approach). It is whole soya beans, packed together and partly fermented which leads to the health benfits of soya being accentuated. Our body can utilise its goodness more directly.
Tempeh is now relatively easy to track down in the UK and you can of course find it on line. I like to eat it regularly, normally as an alternative to tofu. It always seems like a treat when the tempeh is cracked open. You can buy it frozen in long logs in some Oriental shops/ supermarkets. The tempeh we use here was in ‘log’ form. You can steam this tempeh for 10 minutes to revitalise it before cooking. Frozen tempeh is alot drier than jarred tempeh (which is suspended in brine) so it will absorb much more marinade. Like most of these vegan, pulse based curd-like creations, it does need a nice, slow marinade to impart wonderful flavours. Tempeh and tofu are really just ridiculously nutritious launch pads for high charged flavour rockets!!!! I’ve gone for a straightforward marinade here and 30 minutes should do the trick, marinade wise, on a busy week night, although a couple of hours would be quite awesome.
Soba noodles are well up there in my noodle league. They have a firm texture and loads of nutritional perks. Just check the quantity of buckwheat to wheat if you’re keeping things low gluten. Pure buckwheat noodles are available, but ‘soba’ noodles are normally a mix.
AUTUMNAL ANTI-OXIDANT FIX
Are we all familiar with goji berries? They seem to have been a superfood for at least 3000 years now, originating somewhere in ancient China and always very highly regarded for their potent nutritional properties. Goji’s are the ideal autumn/ winter defence blanket for all kinds of cold/ flu invasions. Highly charged with anti-oxidants and happy chemicals, a handful of goji’s a day, keeps the snotty, coughy zombie man at bay. You can pick them up all over the place now and they are the perfect winter salad/ stew ‘sprinkle’ of choice. If you’re in the UK, try a rosehip as a more local substitute. They have very similar properties, but would have looked a little incongruous on a highly Oriental style stir fry!
We also have peppers in the mix, which are very (very), very high in vitamin C. One of the best sources in the vegetal world in fact. Then we have our friend rainbow chard which is a green and we all know what they do. Anything green and leafy is our bodies best friend, packed with vitamins and minerals (for more chard -based info – See the ‘Foodie Fact’ below).
If you are looking from serious detox properties from this wok wonder, I’d recommend taking it easier on the shoyu and mirin due to sodium and sugar (respectively) contents. Our kidneys and liver are never happy to see high levels of salt and sweetness.
A WORD ON COOKING CHARD
Chard contains some funky acids (oxalic acids), whilst not harmful, it is best to avoid them. Our bodies can absorb the goodness of chard easier when the acids are out of the way. The best way to do this it to steam or boil them for a few minutes. Do not use this cooking liquid for soups or stocks.
Last night, we fancied something like a chow mein style dish, low on sauce and high on noodles. To make this more of a soup, just add some shoyu/ tamari or miso to the water when cooking your noodles (taste the broth to decide how strong you like it) and serve ladled over the final dish.
The Bits – For 2
200g tempeh (cut into chunks, we like big ones, most people go for small 1 cm by 3cm oblong shapes)
1 tbs sunflower oil
1/2 teas toasted sesame oil
3 teas tamari or good g.f. soya sauce (ie not heavily processed)
2 teas mirin or sake/ cream sherry with a pinch of sugar
1 1/2 teas sesame oil
4 large stems rainbow chard (finely sliced) – spinach, kale, savoy cabbage etc..any green leaf is cool
1 bell pepper (diced)
1 medium carrot (cut into thin batons, or sliced)
1/2 inch ginger (finely diced)
1 red chilli (if you like it hot)
175-200g gluten-free noodles
1 handful goji berries (soaked for 30 minutes in water)
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
1 teas lemon juice
Marinade the tempeh, pour over the ingredients, cover and leave in a fridge for 30 minutes or longer.
I like to start with the noodles, bring 1 ltr of water to a boil and submerge the noodles whole (try not to break them up). Stir with a fork to keep the noodles seperated, adding a splash of oil if they start sticking. Cook them for a few minutes (follow what the packet says), drain them (or make a broth – see above) and pop them back into the warm pan. Shake the noodles gently to make sure they’re all happy and seperated, pop a lid on and set aside.
If you are a highly accomplished wok master you can start stir frying whilst the noodles are on their way.
Warm up a wok/ large frying pan and add 1/2 of the sunflower/ sesame oils, on a medium high heat, add the drained tamari and stir fry for 5 minutes, trying to get your chunks coloured on all sides. Gently play with them as not to break them up. Set aside and keep warm. I put a plate on to of the noodle pan and cover it with another plate, using the heat from the noodles to warm the tempeh!
During the entire stir frying process, the pan can get too hot and leading to burnt bits. Sprinkle a little water into the pan to avoid this, slightly lowering the temperature. Just a s sprinkle is enough, overdoing it will lead to limp veg.
Wipe the pan if it needs it and add the rest of the oil, on a high heat, add the carrots and ginger stir fry until softened, roughly a minute, then add the other veggies and keep stir frying until they are wilted, softened and delicious. Remember we want crunch and vitality with a stir fry, so slightly undercook the veggies (they continue to cook when you are preparing to serve). Add a splash of your marinade ingredients to the pan towards the end of cooking to add a little pizzazz, followed by a little lemon juice to cut through all that salty tamari-style behaviour.
Pour the veggies into the noodle pan and combine them nicely together.
Pour into warm shallow bowls and top with the tempeh and sprinkles of gojis and sesame seeds.
As an option – mix a little more of the marinade ingredients together and people can season their noodles as they like.
Chard is a member of the chenopod family, with beetroot, spinach and surprisingly, quinoa! It is native to the Mediterranean where it has been honoured for its medicinal properties since ancient times, Aristotle even wrote about it!
Chard is packed with phyto nutrients, in fact there are 13 different types of these beneficial chemicals in chard leaves. Abnormally high! They can help the heart and regulate blood sugar levels. Chard is also high in the betalians, like beetroot, the yellow stems have many more than the red and these wonder nutrients help us with detox, inflammation and are a powerful anti-oxidant. Chard boasts many health giving properties that aid the nervous system, especially the eyes (bags of vitamin A). High levels of vitamin K and magnesium mean that chard is also aids strong bones.
Green leafy foliage should make regular appearances on our plates if we are looking for optimum health with minimum fuss/ expense.
Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils
There is just the hint of winter in the air as we move through autumn and this slight chill always gets my soup bells ringing. Here is a soup that ticks all of the autumnal boxes, tasty and utterly loaded with healthy things, even (almost) locally made Welsh Miso.
This recipe takes care of all of our seasonal fare on Tiger Mountain, all of them green and when simmered together for a time, transform into a tasty health elixir. The flavours are hearty and comforting with a tinge of ginger and miso in the background to keep things interesting and offer a little Japanese style twang.
My Dad, John (aka the big yin, aka ‘heed’, aka Johnnie Boy) has been visiting for a week and he knows how to enjoy himself, Jane and I struggle to keep up! We’ve had a week of wonderful times but lets just say that many of them were not exactly beneficial to the health. Our wine rack is bare (a very grim sight) and our ale stores seriously depleted. After waving Dad off at the station, we both decided that our bodies needed some kind of green wake up call and nothing comforts and revitalizes more than a decent bowl of soup.
The ‘Big Yin’ at Aber Falls, near bangor
Cabbage is the backbone of this soup, and a good cabbage is essential late autumn behaviour. Not the most glamorous of ingredients but when handled with care, one of the tastiest and versatile veggies. I love wrapping things in cabbage leaves and baking them, or even blanching the leaves and using them as an alternative to something like a spring roll. One things for sure, in north Wales, we’ll never be short of cabbages, they love it up here and at work the other day (I cook in a retreat/ alternative learning centre), I had the privilege of tackling the largest cabbage I have ever seen. Judy (farming genius and very much more) wandered into the kitchen bearing a green globe at least 2 feet across!!!! I swear there must be something magical in the soil over there, we can hardly eke a Brussel sprout out up here!!!! If you can’t get hold of a good organic cabbage, you may need to add a little more stock to the mix, your taste buds will be the guide…….
We have been building up to making our own miso for a while now, but are fortunate to have Welsh miso being produced almost on our own doorstep, give or take a few hundred miles, in the same country at the very least. They guys at Source Foods seem like a very decent bunch and their products are top. We recently got hold of a pot of their hemp miso (thanks for forgetting it Helen!) and its a wicked addition to their fabulous fermented offerings. They use all organic ingredients and without sourcing bits from Japan, which has been very unfortunately effected by the Fukushima tragedy. Welsh Miso, quite randomnly, is our amazing stuff!
Miso adds unmistakable vitality and deliciousness, but comes with bags of sodium. If you are serious about making this a detox soup, give your kidneys a break and take it easy on the miso, 2 tbs is enough. There is however new research coming out that highlights the difference between salt and miso, they are handled differently and have different effects on our bodies. Salt leads to higher blood pressure and for some miraculous reason, miso does not. This is backed up by the rate of heart problems in Japan, where high levels of miso is consumed regularly. We used light miso here, but you can use a darker variety, just use less. See the ‘Foodie Fact’ below for more info on marvelous Mr Miso.
This soup falls into the bracket of ‘a meal in itself’ and we regularly eat it like a stew, without much liquid and plenty of lumps. In this state, it will be wonderful with brown rice, but we find it filling enough by itself.
The Bits – For 6 good bowls
1 teas olive oil
1 teas toasted sesame seed oil
1 leek (finely sliced)
1 1/2 inch fresh ginger (finely diced or roughly grated)
2 celery sticks (finely sliced)
1/2 medium savoy cabbage
1 cup green/ puy lentils
1 small head broccoli (cut into small florets)
6 handfuls spinach leaves
600ml warm organic vegetable stock (use only water if you trust your veggies to be amazing)
1 teas dried rosemary
2-5 tbs light miso (to taste)
sea salt (if needed)
Drizzle of olive oil (optional)
The Bits – pre-prep
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat, drizzle in the oils and when warm add the leeks, ginger and celery. Stir and fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft. Add the cabbage, lentils, stock/ water and rosemary to the pan. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a steady simmer, pop a lid on and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are soft.
Add the broccoli and spinach, stir into the soup and pop the lid back on, cook for a further 5 minutes on a low simmer. Stir in the miso to taste. Pulse a few times with a stick blender, or add a quarter of the soup to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Pop a lid on and leave the soup to stand for a couple of minutes. Miso is really like salt with benefits, it will enhance and deepens the flavours.
Definitely looks healthy!!!
Straight away, add a little splash of olive oil for added richness. If its a very special occasion (or a Tuesday) you could stir in 2-3 tbs of hazelnut butter to add silky creaminess. Inevitably, Jane’s Easy Seeded Wholemeal Loaf, lightly toasted would be a belter of an accompaniment.
‘Miso’ is Japanese for ‘fermenting beans’ and miso can be made with any grain/ bean. We used soya based miso here but you can find barley, rice, buckwheat, wheat, hemp seed….the list goes on. Obvious what the miso is made of will alter the nutritional benefits but soya beans are normally used as a base in the process.
Miso involves fermentation, which of course means funky mould (or fungus if you will). The fungus in question is the brilliantly named ‘Aspergillus oryzae’ and its highly magic!The key discovery made in the production of miso was how to keep these spores alive and transportable.Miso on the move. People have been fermenting foods in Japan and China for thousands of years (its also traditionally made in Indonesia and Korea), it was referred to as ‘Koji’ and they were well aware of the health benefits brought about by these amazing moulds. This is the same process used when making sake, soya sauce tamari etc.
To make miso, you basically add the Aspergillus (or other sometimes other bacteria’s/ micro organisms are used) to soaked and cooked soya beans to get things started, this is in turn added to soaked and cooked grains/ beans and the miso is left to mellow and mature. Miso comes in all sorts of shades and colours, normally white, red and dark brown, the fermentation process dictates the depth of flavour and colour. Normally the darker the colour, the more intense the flavour, red and brown miso can be matured for three years and ‘Hatcho’ Miso, which is famous in Japan, is matured in 200 year old vats for three winters.
Buy organic miso when you can and ensure that no MSG has been added, cheaper makes will do this. Miso is very nourishing and is a good source of fibre and protein, it is a very tasty way of adding legumes to your diet, 2 tbs of miso normally contains the nutrition of 2 cups worth of legumes. The fermentation process of miso means that some of the beneficial chemicals present are already broken down by the magic fungus, giving our digestion a break and allowing our bodies to easily absorb all the goodness. Misos main attraction, from a health point of view, is its outrageous list of beneficial anti-oxidants, our free radical scavenging friends.
We also just like the word ‘Miso’ and have decided that if another cat decides to move in with us, there are few appearing round our way, we’ll name it ‘Miso’. Could we get away with calling a child ‘Miso’?! Hmmm…..
Somethings we’ve cooked with our friend mighty Miso:
Jane and I are very conscious of the power and cleansing attributes of a full-on raw food diet. We have tried it out for the past two years for at least a month (normally stretching to two) and have felt amazing; energy levels through the roof, body and mind happy and content….. Coupled with no alcohol, gluten or caffeine we were incredibly virtuous for a while and (almost) literally floated around in a state of exalted well-being. It was nice. We became converts by going through the process of learning to be more experimental with raw produce and the latent potential of the humble nut. See more of our writing on the topic here Why Raw Food? and more and even a little more (Raw Earth Month – Moving Back to Nature) for good measure.
The raw food movement does seem to attract a certain amount of food extremists, which puts alot of folk off. Its not all about being super skinny and living a veg obsessed, semi monastic existence. Jane and I do not fall into this bracket, we just love to experiment with foods and our bodies and really get a buzz from succulent, vibrant raw food dished. Check it out!
Raw – Vegan Golden Courgette Lasagna with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta
RAW FOOD VS COOKED FOOD
So the food can be inspiring and creative, but what about the health side of things. Most fruits and veggies are best served raw, but those containing lycopene (tomatoes, red pepper and other reddish fruits and veg like watermelons, red guava etc) are best served, from a nutritional point of view, slightly cooked. Lycopene is a very potent antioxidant. When cooked, tomatoes for example, show a boost in lycopene levels. The drawback however, and this goes for most vegetation, is that when cooked for lets say 30 minutes, the Vitamin C levels of tomatoes decreases by 30%. Basically heat increases the rate of degradation of food or ‘oxidisation’, which is bad for foods and bad for our bodies (hence the name ‘anti-oxidants’ which help against it). Boiling foods results in loss of valuable nutrients which leech into the water (more reasons to use it as soup stock!?) The healthiest way to cook food is to gently steam them and not to overcook them. Firm is fine. This will preserve much of their nutritional value.
So its a bit of a balancing act really, gain lycopene and lose Vitamin C. Some people say that Vitamin C is more prevalent in the plant world and we are better served to boost the lycopene levels, which is rarer. ‘Raw food vs Cooked Food’ is a complex comparison and I’d say that mostly raw is best for optimum health (if that’s what you’re driving at). We are still not sure of all of the benefits of raw food, but each year, science is discovering more reasons to get excited about salads and carrot batons!!!!!
Cooked – Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Smoked Tofu
Here is an interesting article I just read about the importance of enzymes to overall health, our bodies cannot thrive without them!
Importance of Enzymes
Enzymes are the sparks that start the essential chemical reactions our bodies need to live. They are necessary for digesting food, for stimulating the brain, for providing cellular energy, and for repairing all tissues, organs, and cells. Humbart Santillo, in his book, Food Enzymes, quotes a Scottish medical journal that says it well: “Each of us, as with all living organisms, could be regarded as an orderly, integrated succession of enzyme reactions.”
There are three types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and food enzymes.
Metabolic enzymes catalyze, or spark, the reactions within the cells. The body’s organs, tissues, and cells are run by metabolic enzymes. Without them our bodies would not work. Among their chores are helping to turn phosphorus into bone, attaching iron to our red blood cells, healing wounds, thinking, and making a heart beat.
Digestive enzymes break down foods, allowing their nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and used in body functions. Digestive enzymes ensure that we get the greatest possible nutritional value from foods.
Food enzymes are enzymes supplied to us through the foods we eat. Nature has placed them there to aid in our digestion of foods. This way, we do not use as many of the body’s “in-house” enzymes in the digestive process.
This is important to remember. Dr. Edward Howell, who has written two books on enzymes, theorizes that humans are given a limited supply of enzyme energy at birth, and that it is up to us to replenish our supply of enzymes to ensure that their vital jobs get done. If we don’t replenish our supply, we run the risk of ill health.
In the Enzyme Nutrition axiom, Howell postulates that “The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential.”
In other words, the more food enzymes you get, the longer, and healthier, you live.
The key is to remember that food enzymes are destroyed at temperatures above 118 F. This means that cooked and processed foods contain few, if any enzymes, and that the typical North American diet is enzyme-deficient. When we eat this type of diet, we could well be eating for a shorter and less-than-healthy life.
This points back to the importance of eating raw fruits and vegetables because they are “live foods”; that is, foods in which the enzymes are active. The more enzymes you get, the healthier you are. And the more raw foods you eat, the more enzymes you get.
One of the roles of enzymes in the body is detoxification — breaking down toxic substances so that they are excreted and cannot build up to possibly cause harm. Although this is done by metabolic enzymes, research shows that enzymes found in the foods we eat — although not food enzymes — may help our bodies do this.
This has such potential that the U.S. Army is looking into it. The U.S. Army Edgewood Research, Development, and Engineering Center has isolated enzymes that neutralize chemical warfare agents. The center’s Dr. Joseph J. DeFrank believes the enzymes can be used to rapidly decontaminate facilities, equipment, and vehicles.
The Frank M. Raushel Research Group is looking at ways to exploit the properties of enzymes for a variety of chemical and medicinal uses. One project is studying enzymes that catalyze the detoxification of organophosphate insecticides.
Other research points in the same direction. Research at the University of California — Davis is showing that green barley extract may accelerate the body’s breakdown of malathion, an organophosphate insecticide used heavily throughout the world.
Six different experiments measured the ability of barley leaf extract to “detoxify” this insecticide. All revealed positive results.
Interestingly enough, one more test was run after subjecting the green barley extract to high heat. This, the researchers believe, denatured and removed the proteins. Detoxification ability was again measured, and this time, did not take place. This indicates that the detoxifying agent in green barley is an enzyme, and when heated, the enzymes are destroyed. It also points out that green barley extract is “alive” — that is, that the enzymes are intact.
This info taken from the AIM International Partners Magazine, July, 1997
If you fancy trying out a raw food diet, you will find loads of recipes on the B.H.K. and if you need any advice, just drop us a line. The more raw food you can incorporate into your diet, the better. With the sun shining on our beautiful little island, I can think of no better time to drop the wok and pick up the grater. Go Raw!!!!!!(mostly) But most of all, have fun and enjoy cooking and eating!
We have the distinct pleasure of giving a Sage Nutri Juicer a new home. As regular BHK readers will know, Jane and I are partial to a morning juice. Actually, without it we feel a little under nourished and lack the incredible zing! that a fresh juice gives you in your waking hours. We had researched juicers and made up a shortlist, Sage where somewhere close to the top and definitely offer awesome value for money. So when one arrived on our doorstep, delivered by the juice crane we presume, we unpacked it with joy and then things got really juicy!
Juicing is so very good for us its almost outrageous. We find that a glass of good juice in the morning sates us until lunchtime at least. We also feel cleansed and energised by the whole process. Most fruit and vegetables can be juiced to good effect and this means that juicing is seasonal. We find that broccoli for example makes a wonderful juice and the stalk even tastes a little like egg (which is more appetising than it may sound!). We are also experimenting with recipes to utilise the pulp, normally discarded in the juicing process. Nothing is wasted!
You cannot beat a fresh juice, preferably with organic fruit and veg when possible. Please do not be fooled by processed juices or even worse, juices from concentrate. Many of these popular juice brands are just vehicles for added sugar to enter your diet and we don’t need any more of that. Fresh juices can also be high in sugar and it is worth balancing high sugar fruits and veg with lower sugar varieties, greens are a perfect example of this and bursting with nutrients and flavour. They also make your juice look very cool indeed.
One more word on juicing and we’ll get on with our review. Juices can be high in acid, that may, over a period of time, damage teeth. Its worth bearing in mind. Maybe brush your teeth after your morning juice (using non-flouride toothpaste por favor).
Our last juicer died in a dramatic flaming fashion, possibly due to one too many beetroots! We think it was a little under powered and couldn’t really handle the hard stuff, root veg and all. The Sage has no problems on this front, when you start it up, it sounds like an out-board motor and the high setting (there are two settings, high and low) cuts through hard vegetables like carrots like a knife through cashew butter. We are also very impressed with the amount of juice extracted, the pulp is very dry and even on high setting (think helicopter taking off on your work surface!) the extraction of juice is brilliant.
The Nutri Juicer is easy to assemble and take apart and relatively simple to wash up (the bug bear of many a non-committal juicer). The actual juice basket is as sharp as you’d imagine (like an uber grater), so taking care when washing it is important. Sage have provided a great little scrubbing brush for this purpose. There are a few parts that come apart with ease and fit together with the help of a reassuring metal fitting. It has a very solid feel when in use and is well balanced, no leaning or buzzing off around the work surface like some other juicers. The discarded pulp flies out of the juicer into a purpose built bucket, which when lined with a compostible bag, makes for very easy disposal in the compost bin, no scraping or blocked sinks here.
The juicer basket and pulp bucket
The Nutri Juicer comes equipped with its own jug, which even acts as a measuring jug for the pedantic juicer or doubles up around the kitchen when baking etc. As mentioned, the Sage is a powerful little contraption and this means that the juice comes out at a rate of knots, so the lid and rubber pouring spout are a must. There is nothing worse that walls covered with fine drops of beetroot juice! This power also means that the juice gets nicely whipped up and when extracted into the jug has a decent head on it. We like to swill this around and combine it with the juice, but if you leave the lid on when pouring the juice, it will separate the froth from the liquid.
A large chute on a juicer is essential and the circular chute on this machine is perfect. We have not found an apple that will not fit in there whole. This juicer will take care of whole apples without breaking sweat. Even if you are having a particularly hectic juice morning and the Sage overheats, it has a safety device which means that it will cut off and can then be used after 15 minutes of cooling down.
Mid juice – see the handy little rubber spout and cosy fitting jug.
This Sage is a centrifugal juicer and we had originally thought about a masticating juicer, which is alot slower and really squeezes the life force out of things (which we then drink!) They are generally more costly and there are only a handful of companies who make them, most based in the U.S. This means added shipping miles and cost to the equation. In the future, we’d love to try and ‘masticator’ but have been pleasantly surprised by the Nutri Juicer performance. One criticism of a centrifugal juicer is that it heats the juice and kills some of the enzymes and goodness, but Sage have got around that with some very clever design.
The Nutri Juicer is a real looker, with a shiny metallic finish and simple design, it sits nicely on the kitchen surface. Heston Blumenthal is involved with these guys and he seems to be a man who knows his way around a quality gadget. The Sage juicers were also used in the documentary ‘Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead’, I haven’t seen it, but people in a bad way use juice to help them get fit and healthy. I can see why they chose Sage, it is a well-priced juicer with brilliant overall performance.
Sage Nutri Juicer – Quite a looker!
For reference, we have a BJE410UK.
Juice, glorious juice.
Beetroot, Apple, Ginger and Lemon Juice
Makes 2 glasses of purple morning sunshine
1 large beetroot, 3 carrots, 4 small apples, 2 inch cube of fresh ginger, 1/2 lemon (juice only)
Scrub your veggies, do not peel. Cut the very ends off your veggies, they can get stuck in the juicer. Ensure no soil or woody stems get into the juicer.
Get your juicer up to speed, higher setting is best as these are quite hard veggies.
Add ginger, beetroot, carrots and apple in that order. Most flavourful and colourful to least seems to extract more flavour and colour. Makes sense!
Squeeze your lemon juice separate and stir in at the end.
This was written for our raw food time last year, but is a timely reminder of what we are putting ourselves through!!!! Fortunately, its all good!
Raw June is here for the Beach House. Jane and I are going cold veggie (and fruit) for the entire month and we both cannot wait to get going.
It really has come around quickly this 100% raw/vegan June adventure. We have both been working quite a bit lately and have had less time to plan for the big plunge than we would have liked, hence the lack of any ‘build-up’ posts. As with most things, we’re going straight in there!
I have a strange excitement in the pit of my stomach and I don’t know why. I know that I will feel alot better and have bags more energy, focus and vitality, but there is the feeling that this could be something very big in my life. It could be a huge lifestyle change for the better, no matter how unconventional it is and no matter how many people call me a ‘weirdo’ (there have been quite a few already) I going for this new diet and looking forward to experimenting with my body and mind in a good way. We are what we eat, well, we shall see.
The main reason for eating raw is that cooking kills nutrients in food. Vitamin C and B are heat sensitive, enzymes are also destroyed when food is cooked, which are essential to the function of the body. If enzymes are not replenished in the body, we can age quickly and loss health. Raw foods have been used for years to treat ailments and illness, most famously by Dr Ann Wigmore,who set up the Hippocrates Health Institute. The truth is that we are exposed to more pollutants than previous generations and our food has less nutrients, even organic food is grown on soil that is less rich than is was in previous times (normally due to bad farming techniques).
Ecologically, if we all ate more raw foods there would be a relief on the planets resources. No cooking conserves energy, there is less packaging (hopefully non) with raw foods, there are no emissions created no processing, the waste is compostable and biodegradable, meaning no rubbish.
Below is the Raw Food Pyramid (thanks to the Almost Raw Vegan for this), this replaces the average diet with meat, dairy etc and will give you an idea of what we will be munching on in June. We are eating no dairy, refined foods, wheat etc and no alcohol or caffeine. Our diet will consist of many different types of salads, smoothies and juices and another host of interesting raw foods that you will seldom find, especially in the UK where raw food is still a relatively new thing. In the States and Australia for example, raw food seems to be very popular. Many people say that raw food will become the new vegetarianism for this generation, I have already seen restaurants with raw options on the menu.
We have always eaten alot of raw food, we just didn’t necessarily call it ‘raw’, just a salad or a smoothie. We will try and be as close to 100% raw as possible, but aren’t really too fussy about things. We’ll still be drinking herbal teas and if our new lovely looking olive oil is not certified raw, we’ll still use it. The same goes for nuts, seeds, dried fruits, pastes etc which are all borderline raw foods. We love these items too much and deem their nutritional values to be too important to eliminate from our diet.
We hope to open a few people’s eyes, minds and palates to the joys of raw food. Raw food is nutrient rich, meaning you don’t need to eat or digest as much. When you are eating a bag of crisps, or packet of biscuits, the reason you are not getting full is because they are devoid of nutrients. Your body needs the right fuel! A raw diet puts that fuel in and makes it readily available. We have had a few days almost raw already and the we have been buzzing! I went for my normal jog and needed to extend it a little, up the mountain. I couldn’t stop! With raw food, your body needs less energy for digestion, which can be utilised in other beneficial ways.
The body has clearly define cycles or natural rhythms:
12pm-8pm Digestion cycle
8pm-4am Absorption cycle
4am – 12pm Elimination cycle
The raw diet will help to cleanse our system of toxins and bring us into balance. After gradually eating healthier for a number of years (we are not just diving in here, we have been eating well for a while now) my body is quite sensitive to toxins and rich foods. I sometimes get what is called a food ‘hangover’ after a cheese or chocolate binge, I will be glad to be free of them. Raw food is devoid of toxins and packed with nutrients. There is a popular raw slogan, ‘stop counting calories and start counting nutrients’. It makes perfect sense to me that what we eat has a profound effect on our bodies and minds. What we consume affects us on ways that we cannot see or know. Raw food seems like a stepping stone for me to a greater understanding of my body and what makes me tick, what makes me truly happy.
Raw food will also free up so much time, as I mentioned we are both busy this summer with work, so not cooking will allow us to do other things. The garden is definitely looking like it needs some TLC.
We will be taking alot of inspiration from our fellow bloggers of the cyber world and also have some good books. ’Eat Smart, Eat Raw’ by Kate Wood being one of the main ones. Written by a Brit for British folk, mainly important because we don’t have the plethora of fruits and veggies that many countries enjoy. We also have the long cold, dark winters, where soup is our best friend and a chilled smoothie seems like a difficult proposition.
We will be supplementing our diets with a few superfood-type bits. Jane picked up some Barley Grass at the health food shop and that is supposed to be super charged stuff. We will also be drinking propolis daily, which is a bee resin with amazing properties. We’ll be writing about it soon. We will also be sure to drink plenty of water, as this seems to be important no matter what foods you are eating. Become more fluid! It is worth noting that many mineral waters are not organic and the best water you can drink is water that has been treated by reverse osmosis, this is pure H2O. You should also not drink water, or any liquid with meals, as it affects digestion and absorption (diluting stomach acids).
So we are going out in a blaze of intoxication tonight. We said we wouldn’t, but we are. It is a relatively decadent evening with some smoked stilton with sparkling wine planned, followed by some of the finest chocolate I have ever tasted (post coming soon..).
Raw June, a time when we in the Beach House gain a greater awareness and respect for the foods we eat and the bodies we inhabit; a time when we gain a new insight into the world of nutrition and the impact it has on us.
Jane and I are both very positive about all of this, which we feel is crucial, as our mental state has a more profound effect on our health than anything else.
The ultimate early morning kickstart! This juice will definitely get you wide awake and feeling wonderful.
The combination of kale and a whole lemon here (zest and all) make it a real eye opener, very different and refreshing flavour. You can also use something like a savoy cabbage here which also has great flavour. Who knew that cabbage juice could be so tasty?!
You will need a juicer to make this green and lean juice, and if you don’t have one, this juice is the perfect excuse to get one!
Jane and are glad to be back in the Beach House and eating our favourite foods. After our experiences last summer with the raw food diet, we are planning another venture into crunch this year, probably starting in late June (after Jane’s birthday). Last year we celebrated in a windy tent on the Pembrokeshire coastline with a salad and raw starwberry tart. Delicious, but lacking bubbles!
If this doesn’t wake you up of a morning, then I would advice you go back to bed and try again tomorrow.
PS – This is serious detox territory too.
Make two glasses:
1 apple, 2 handfuls of green leaves (savoy cabbage or kale), 3 good sized carrots, 1 inch cube of ginger, 1 lemon (whole)
Morning juice smiles
Pop all in the juicer, we add the lemon first, then ginger and normally finish with the carrot. It is dense and juicy and seems to flush out any lingering bits.
Straight away with smiles.
We Love It!
Jane and I are not really morning people, our bed is normally the only warm place in the beach house! But this juice will drag us out and with the ginger kick, wakes and warms! Its a beauty.
Kale is one of natures most amazing gifts. Kale helps the body detox, lowers the risk of the big ‘C’ and actually lowers cholesterol (I love these types of food). Kale is packed with Vitamin K, C and A, Kale also has ‘unusually’ high levels of flavanoids and carotenoids which highly reduce oxidative stress (which is definitely not good for you). Read more.
I can think of no better soundtrack to this juice, Mungo Jerry:
Lemons are a staple of many detox diets, and there is good reason for this. Firstly, lemons are packed with antioxidant vitamin C, which is great for the skin and for fighting disease-forming free-radicals. Furthermore, the citrus fruit has an alkaline effect on the body, meaning that it can help restore the body’s pH balance, benefiting the immune system. Try starting your day with hot water and a slice of lemon to help flush out toxins and cleanse your system.
If too much fatty food or alcohol has caused problems for your digestive system, it may be worthwhile adding some ginger to your diet. Ginger is not only great for reducing feelings of nausea, but it can help improve digestion, beat bloating and reduce gas. In addition to this, ginger is high in antioxidants and is good for boosting the immune system. To give your digestion a helping hand, try sipping on ginger tea or adding some freshly grated ginger to a fruit or vegetable juice.
Garlic has long been known for its heart benefits, however the pungent food is also good at detoxifying the body. Garlic is not only antiviral, antibacterial and antibiotic, but it contains a chemical called allicin which promotes the production of white blood cells and helps fight against toxins. Garlic is best eaten raw, so add some crushed garlic to a salad dressing to boost its flavour and your health at the same time.
Artichoke If you have recently been overindulging in fatty foods and alcohol, adding some steamed globe artichoke leaves to your meals is a great way to help get your body back on track. Globe artichokes are packed with antioxidants and fibre and can also help the body digest fatty foods. On top of this, globe artichoke is renowned for its ability to stimulate and improve the functions of the liver – the body’s main toxin-fighting tool.
For those needing a quick health-boosting shot of nutrients, you can’t do much better than beetroot. Packed with magnesium, iron, and vitamin C, the vegetable has recently been hailed as a superfood due to its many reported health benefits. Not only is beetroot great for skin, hair and cholesterol levels, but it can also help support liver detoxification, making it an ultimate detox food. To enjoy its benefits, try adding raw beetroot to salads or sipping on some beetroot juice.
While it’s not technically a food, no detox plan would be complete without regular consumption of essential liquids. Fluids are essential for keeping our organs healthy and helping to flush toxins from the body, and drinking green tea is a great way of boosting your intake. Green tea is not only a good weight-loss drink, but it is extremely high in antioxidants. Research has also suggested that drinking green tea can protect the liver from diseases including fatty liver disease.
Many celebs have resorted to the cabbage soup diet to help lose weight and get in shape quickly before a big event, however cabbage is not only good for weight loss – it is also an excellent detoxifying food. Like most cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli and sprouts), cabbage contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which helps the body fight against toxins. Cabbage also supplies the body with glutathione; an antioxidant that helps improve the detoxifying function of the liver.
Fresh fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre= and are also low in calories, making them an important part of a detox diet. If you’re after brighter eyes and skin, shinier hair and improved digestion, try boosting your intake of fruit and eating from a wide variety of different kinds. The good news is fruit is easy to add to your diet, so try starting your day with a fresh fruit salad or smoothie and snacking on pieces of fruit throughout the day.
If you want to cleanse your system and boost your health, it is a good idea to cut down on processed foods. Instead, try supplementing your diet with healthier whole grains such as brown rice, which is rich in many key detoxifying nutrients including B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. Brown rice is also high in fibre, which is good for cleansing the colon, and rich in selenium, which can help to protect the liver as well as improving the complexion.
Like most green herbs and vegetables, watercress is an excellent health-booster and detox food. Firstly, watercress leaves are packed with many vital detoxifying nutrients, including several B vitamins, zinc, potassium, vitamin E and vitamin C. Secondly, watercress has natural diuretic properties, which can help to flush toxins out the body. To reap the benefits of this nutritious food, try adding a handful of watercress to salads, soups and sandwiches.
Eat your greens. Now they are real words of wisdom.
A clean and fresh smoothie that feels so good on the way down. A green smoothie a day is a huge step in the right direction for a zinging, healthy approach to living, especially in the morning time when our body needs some real t.l.c.
This was a part of my little detox spell which went incredibly well. It always amazed me, when we inhibit or restrict our diet in anyway the cravings or desire for that food just slips away. That’s me anyway, I think I’m a lucky one! When I make a clear decision to give up something that is blatantly not doing me any good (we all know what they are……booze, coffee, lots of fatty, processed foods) my body respects that decision and responds in a very positive way. It is such a reassuring step in the right direction.
Smoothies do most of the breaking down that our bodies would normally do, making nutrients readily accessible to be snapped up by our bodies and make us shine. This is why they’re such a wonderful thing early in the day.
This smoothie is so simple and effective for a morning super boost. You can play around with the fruit and veg, just keep the quantities the same and don’t add and citrus fruit (remember the Raw No No’s!).
I always try and pack as much spinach into the blender as possible, I normally add the spinach last as it does not blend well. As a rule, add your juicy bits first to the blender.
This smoothie recipe is taken from the raw food book ‘Live Raw’ by Mimi Kirk which I can recommend highly. Mimi is a real foodie and some of the dishes would grace any fine dining restaurant (not that they have anything to do with real food).
GOOD MORNING to you all……….
2 bananas, 4 stalks of celery, 1 apple (quartered), 3 handfuls of spinach, 1/2 cucumber (cut in half), 1 1/2 cups of filtered water (add to your liking, ice will be nice in hot places)
Add all to a blender and blitz until nicely smooth.
In your finest glassware, add a slice of fruit of vegetable to give it that special finish, you can use it to scrape out the leftovers in the glass.
A good tip with fruits is, freeze them. If you have a glut of something, get it in the freezer and use it whenever you like. Great in smoothies as it gives them that lovely chilled touch.
This may be the healthiest dish we have ever eaten. I can only see stew this doing wonderful things for us and it tastes amazing (always a bonus).
I love the name ‘gigglebeans’, it’s is what Jane’s friend Alex calls chickpeas (or garbanzos, they have so many names!) What ever we choose to call them, they are fine legume and a welcome addition to raw June at the Beach House.
We had tried previously to soak and sprout chickpeas. I don’t think we have the heat here. It has been a very strange season this year, our plants are not sure whether its winter or summer. I know the feeling! This may have affected the chickpea sprouts, as they don’t seem to like sprouting, they just swell up. After soaking the chicks for 12 hours, we have discovered that they are delicious, even without a sprout. It has been a revelation. Nothing adds bite and vitality to a salad like a crunchy chickpea, jam packed full of nutrition and protein, they are a real gift from nature. They are just like nuts, without the fats.
I am always compelled to add the flavours of India or North Africa/Middle East to a chickpea. It just seems correct. I have restrained myself this time as I am having a few days detox before raw June ends. I feel quite amazing! I have never been a fan of the word detox, but I’m really enjoying it. I’ve dropped nuts and oils (fats in general) from what I eat and my energy levels have gone through the roof. You wouldn’t imagine that, but it is true. I went for a jog last night and I felt positively turbo charged. I’m not sure if it is wise as a long term diet, but who knows. I feel magic now.
This raw stew came together from the idea for a dressing. It is definitely more of a stew, mainly due to the lack of leaves and the quantity of dressing. The dressing itself can be used on most vegetables and you can add some olive oil and salt, if you are not having fun experimenting with the raw things.
In future I may add some fresh herbs to the dressing, a handful of mint of basil would be delicious. But as I said, I’m trying to restrain myself at the moment and keep things relatively simple for the palate.
The combination of texture and colours here are a real feast for the senses, the flavours are light and understated, with the odd kick of chilli to liven things up. Using apple cider vinegar here adds a nice tang to the dish. Overall a salad fit for any table and certainly fit for any body.
This will make a big bowl of salad, leftovers will get better in the fridge when left for a little marinate.
We use the food processor for the grating
Stew – 1 cup grated swede, 1/2 cup chopped mangetout, 1 sweet potato (chopped), 2 cups sprouted (swollen) chickpeas, 1 cup grated courgette.
Dressing – 2 cloves garlic (one more if you are a garlic fiend), 1 inch of grated root ginger, 2 tbs apple cider vinegar, 1 apple, flesh of 1 orange, 1/2 cucumber, 1 red chilli (of your choice, be careful with the heat!), 2 tbs olive oil (optional), pinch of sea salt (optional)
Cover the chickpeas well with water, they will swell up to more than double their original size. Leave for 12 hours then drain. You can eat them now if you like, if you would prefer them softer, add more water and leave for a further 12 hours.
Dressing – Add all dressing ingredients to a food processor and blitz up well. Stew – Arrange/mix the salad and dressing in a big bowl.
For the final, super healthy boost, top with a generous handful of sprouts (mung bean or green lentil would be great).
We Love It!
After eating this salad, we felt our bellies sing! Such a vibrant thing and full of only goodness. The chickpeas really fill you up and you are left with a deeply sated feeling after this, no need for dessert or nibbles between meals.
Chillis are originally from Central America and are such a mainstay of Mexican food. I remember eating raw chillis with my ‘Huevos Rancheros’ most mornings there. My body seemed to get used to their potent effects.
Spanish and Portugese explorers (conquistadors) were originally responsible for making the chilli a hit on the world stage. Chillis are well reknowned for their medicinal and health benefits.
Chillis contain an impressive number of plant based compounds that help to prevent disease and promote health. The spice in chilli, a compound named capsaicin, is a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic and lowers cholesterol levels. Chillis are also rich in vitamin C, A and Beta-carotene, these help us counter the effects of free radicals created when the body is under stress or disease.
Chilli heat is measured by ‘Scotville Heat Units’. Your average sweet pepper will get a 0, tabasco sauce rates at 2,ooo-5,000, a mexican habanero weighs in at 200,000-500,00, but the hottest chilli in the world is the Naga Bhut Jolokia (or Ghost Pepper) rating at a whopping 1,041,427. Not surprisingly, the NBJ has been used in manufacturing weapons, being placed in hand grenades and pepper spray!
This is not exactly Asian, not your average back street Shanghai fare; we lack some ingredients but do our best in the hills of Wales! This recipe boasts all the flavours you would expect from a classic Asian dish, with the raw touch of sprouting buckwheat and the richness of cashews. It really is a revelation that this food tastes so good cold and is so satisfying. Who knew?
We live quite remote, the nearest decent shop being 30 mins drive. For a cramped island like ours, 30 mins is quite a distance. If you can believe it, there are no fresh fruit and veg markets in the entire area. It is strange, we are quite unique. We therefore use what we have locally, there is a shed over the hill that sells the occasional organic vegetable, at this time of year, local produce for sale is quite sparse. Hence we make do and blend!
We have been missing our Thai curries, stir fries etc, so this was my attempt at adding a new set of flavours to this Beach House raw June. I like adding cucumber to dishes, it freshens and lifts things.
These recipes are known as ‘living food’ due to the sprouting going on. Anything sprouting is full of life and nutrients and is serious super fuel for your body (and mind/well-being…..).
Sprouting buckwheat has a lovely bite to it and reminds me of a fuller quinoa in flavour. It tastes and looks like a grain, but is gluten and wheat free. It can also be blended up into a lovely porridge (more of this to come). Buckwheat sprouts well and only takes a couple of days. The technique is simple enough, soak for 24 hours in fresh water, drain and wash, leave for 24 hours, drain and wash etc. Until sprouts begin to appear. It is then ready to eat.
This stew has a lovely rich feel and is very satisfying, which you need on the grey island (Britain) were it is currently summer/winter in just one day. The storms may rage outside, yet we are warm inside and dreaming of the East….
Veg – 1 large tomato, 1 small onion, 1/3 cucumber, 1 carrot, 1/2 red chilli (check for heat)
Sauce – 2 cloves garlic, 2 inch cube of ginger, juice of 1 lime (finely chopped zest if you like a real tang), 2 teas honey, 3 tsp sesame oil, 2 tbs tamari (or light soya sauce)
Stew – 2 cups sprouting buckwheat, 1/2 cup whole cashews,
Topping – 1 1/2 cups chopped green beans, 2 teas sesame seeds, handful of broken cashews
Mid blitz aka carnage
Add all veg and sauce bits to the blender blend to a fine salsa like mix, taste check for balance of flavours, then add your stew bits and pulse a few times to break up the buckwheat and cashews slightly. Not too much, you need a little bite there. Chop up your greenbeans and scatter on top in any fashion that takes your fancy (we normally mix half into the stew).
Finish with a few sprinkles of sesame seeds (we were out of stock here) and some broken cashews.
Raw Asian Buckwheat Stew
We Love It!
This beats a sloppy Chinese takeaway any day of the week! Bursting with vitality and nutrients, this is one of our favourite raw recipes thus far.
Buckwheat is one of the most complete grains globally and contains all eight essential amino acids (meaning you can basically live on it!). It is great for diabetics as an alternative to sugary wheat and also alkalizes the blood. Buckwheat even boosts the brain, it contains high levels of lecthin and 28% of the brain is made of lecthin which also purifies the blood and actually soaks up bad cholesterol. Wonder food!
Nettles are here and we are loving them. They are like a cross between mint and spinach and one of the first green leaves of the summer. Some call them weeds, we call them feed!
Nettle leaves can be dried and enjoyed later in the year, or just thrown straight in a pan of boiling water. They can also be stir fried to great effect as a spinach substitute.
Nettle tea can also be made for your garden, it makes great plant feed. You just need a load of nettles in a large container covered with water. Every day, stir them. This will stink after a while, keep going for 4 weeks and you have some seriously good feed that can be used on tomatoes. Great natural fertiliser.
You can even throw some nettles leaves in a bath of hot water, it apparently helps to relieve aches and pains. We haven’t tried this one out, please check that the sting is long gone before diving in!
Brewing the nettles
For the drinking variety:
Nettle leaves (1 cup of leaves makes 2 cups of tea), Water
Boil water in a pan, add leaves.
Homemade Nettle Tea
In your finest mug.
We Love It!
It literally grows on trees (well bushes).
Nettle is a natural elixir, invigorating the body in preparation for the busy summer time. It is a strong blood purifier and helps to dissolve kidney stones. It is ant-inflammatory and can help with arthritis, high blood pressure and helps to clean out the digestive system.
Learn more about nettles and sustainable living on this great site, earth easy.
I’ve heard loads of people talking about the benefits of Aloe Vera Juice, in fact, I nearly had a job selling the stuff! The only problem is that I knew very little about it. This was until we were given a bottle of the wonder pulp. It is made by Pukka; organic, ethically sourced, comes in a nice glass bottle, we thought we’d give it a go.
Pukka Aloe Vera Juice
The Aloe plant originates from Northern Africa and it has been used in herbal medicine since the 16th century BC. The flavour is what you’d call an acquired taste (you can flavour it with juices etc) but you’re not drinking this for a Dom Perignon moment. This is all about getting you feeling good from the inside out. Having said that, Aloe Vera is also amazing when rubbed on the skin and has incredible healing effects for burns, scars and many skin conditions like eczema. You get used to the flavour and it does have a very soothing texture and quality.
The Aloe Plant looks alot like the Agave plant, the famous succulent (that’s a type of plant) that is used to make tequila. So technically you are drinking a distant cousin of raw tequila. That’s about as ‘rock and roll’ as the health food industry gets really! You ain’t going to look like Keith Richards drinking this stuff (which is surely a good thing).
Some technical info:
Pure Aloe Vera juice can be extracted by cutting the leaf, collecting the juice and then evaporating it. When used for drinking, the juice provides many benefits. This is due to the fact that it contains 12 vitamins (including A, B1, B6, B12, C and E), 19 amino acids and over 20 minerals, with most of these being essential to the body.
Aloe Vera Plant
In Ayurveda, the Indian health system, Aloe Vera is known as Kumari (‘The Princess’) because of its positive effect on the menstrual cycle and female reproductive system. It is also known for its ability to cleanse the liver and protect the digestive system by reducing intestinal inflammation.
With ‘Raw June’ coming to the BHK, we are stocking up on all things healthy, revitalising and nutritious, it seems like Aloe Vera juice ticks all of these boxes and then some. This bottle of Pukka Aloe Vera Juice now graces our fridge door shelf and we will soon be taking a few teaspoons a day to give us a boost, especially in the first week of the Raw diet, which we hear can be tough.
Just to clarify that we are in no way health experts and all of the medical claims above are exactly that, claims. It is difficult to prove these things conclusively.
Here is today’s beverage of choice, fit for a summers day (with a gentle chill in the breeze):
Iced Yogi Tea (Ginger, Orange, Vanilla and Honey)
I’ve always loved Yogi Tea. They make an intense brew, packed with flavour and a lovely vibe permeates everything they do. I like the little inspirational message on the end of the drawstring. Todays read “take time to contemplate and deliberate”……..great advice when sitting in the garden, confronted by some bluebells and a pond wriggling with tadpoles.
I’ve tried a new one today, the Ginger Orange with Vanilla. It is a delicious blend and makes a revitalising hot brew. But with the sun out, I decided to cool things down a little.
This will work with many herbal tea bags. You don’t just have to use black and lemon variety.
I made Jane and I a teapot full:
Nice clean tea pot, 2 Yogi Orange Ginger with Vanilla Teabags, 1 spoon of your favourite honey (size of spoon and which hive you visit depends on you), chopped ginger (we don’t peel), 1 juicy orange (1/2 wedged, 1/2 sliced into rounds and all de-seeded)
Brew your tea using near boiling water for around 10 minutes (good to get all the flavour out of these beauties), add as much honey as you need at this stage. Then leave in a cool place to chill out for a while (doorsteps are good for this). If you like vanilla, add a teaspoon of good vanilla extract.
Get some nice tall glasses ready, fill 1/2 way with ice, add your chopped ginger (big slices are best here) and a wedge of orange (squeezed, juice over ice), the fill glass 2/3 with ice.
When fully cooled (this can be stuck in the fridge overnight if you like) pour into your gorgeous glasses and top with your orange slice and maybe one more slice of ginger.
We Love It!
This has inspired me to get rooting around my tea tin and being more creative with my summer refreshments. Watch this space…..
Any drink made with vanilla is supposed to have aphrodisiac qualities. Meow!
Its a shame, this looked and tasted brilliant, but my computer is not happy today and won’t upload photos, so here is one I found on google images. You get the idea!