Raw Food

Watermelon Gazpacho – Cooling, Raw, Vegan, Delicious!

Cooling Watermelon Gazpacho – Vegan

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!

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Recipe Notes

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)
350g watermelon
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

 

Topping

Broccoli sprinkles (aka finely chopped broccoli florets)

Chia/ pumpkin seeds

Herbs – Basil or Coriander

Chill, fennel, pepper, cherry toms, sliced radish, cucumber shavings, sprouts, edible flowers

Tofu feta or avocado

 

Do It

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.

 

Foodie Fact

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!

This soup goes very well with beaches…………..

Categories: Detox, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Raw Food, Recipes, Soups, Summer, Superfoods, Vegan | 14 Comments

The big chocolate tasting and the thrills of real cacao

Mid chocolate scoff/ tasting

In the library at Trigonos – Mid chocolate tasting

Come join our chocolate feast!!!!  A group of dedicated chocolate enthusiasts (and keen amateurs) gathered together and tasted some of the best chocolate around.  We tried the finest single estate cacao, raw chocolate and some delicious milk chocolate and I’d like to share our findings and the thrills and joys of real cacao!  Definitely not your average chocolate.

There is a huge difference between a quality chocolate and what we normally find in the shops and we had the rare privilege of trying them all back-to-back and finding out what kind of chocoholic we were!  Some like chocolate with caramel notes, some prefer cacao with a hint of summer berries and we pretty much all loved the wild orange flavour.  Here are the results of an intensive tasting session involving some of Jane and I’s favourite chocolate producers.

One of the cooking demos at the vegan cooking retreat

One of the cooking demos at the vegan cooking retreat – Photo by Ashley Duckerin

We were lucky enough to host this chocolate tasting at our recent vegan cooking retreat.  Having assembled some of the most brilliant chocolate around we all tried to eat a small breakfast in preparation for the chocolate onslaught that lay ahead.  How could we fit it all in!?  There is no spitting chocolate out a la wine tasting (that would be way too gruesome and messy).  This was a stamina event for serious chocolate fanatics and aficionados only.

So much glorious chocolate on one table!!!

So much glorious chocolate on one table!!!

In reality, it wasn’t quite that dramatic.  There was a lot of nibbling going on and plenty of uuuuuuuuming and aaaaaaaaahhhing (in a good way).  A variety of ecstatic yelps and the occasional ooooooooh (thats normally a very good sign).  One thing is for sure, we had some clear winners that shone through and brought much smiles and happiness.

This choc-a-thon saw us taste a variety of chocolate from Willie’s Cacao, Ethicoco, Pana Chocolate and Choco Mama.  These guys are making some of the very best chocolate available in the UK.  I’d also like to mention Essy & Bella’s chocolate, who were definitely going to feature (we love em!) but time caught up on us.

Willie's Cacao specialise in sourcing amazing cacao beans and allowing their individual characters to shine through.

Willie’s Cacao specialise in sourcing amazing cacao beans and allowing their individual characters to shine through.

So let the tasting begin…..

DARK CHOCOLATE WINNER – WILLIE’S CACAO PERUVIAN GOLD ‘CHULUCANAS 70’

We started with unflavoured, unadulterated dark chocolate.  Pure, simple and potentially, absolutely sublime.  For me, as a slight chocolate snob (I am a cook after all) this is where chocolate begins and ends.  I love all chocolate, but this is its purest expression.  All the flavour of the cacao is there (hopefully) and we were lucky enough to be in contact with the wonderful Willie’s Cacao who supplied some sensational, single estate, chocolate bars especially for the purpose of sampling a range of cacao from different regions and countries.  We could really taste how the specific location of the cacao estate affected the flavour of the final bar.

It was clear that Willie’s had the dark chocolate comp covered with bars from Peru, Venezuela, Madagascar, Columbia and Indonesia.  Willie compares good cacao beans to fine wines, each estate capable of producing beans with unique, stunning and individual flavours.  Willie’s Cacao uses just raw sugar cane and natural cacao butter, no soya lecithin that can impair flavour.  Willie even owns a cacao estate in Venezuela and visits all the farms that supply his beans.  I love his approach and passion for chocolate.

It is a rare privilege to taste high quality products back to back, you can really appreciate the difference in flavours and textures.  Willie’s range of dark chocolate it stunning and it was difficult to pick a winner.  Eventually the Peruvian Gold ‘Chulucanas 70‘ came out on top with its distinct raisin-like flavour and deep, dark cacao taste.  A tiny piece is like a taste explosion in the mouth!

Really, all of Willie’s chocolate is a delight, with the pure taste of exceptional cacao in each bar.  He really does make chocolate from ‘bean to bar’ which many producers talk about, but few are scouring the jungles of Latin America and the world seeking new and interesting cacao beans.  Picking a favourite, well it really just depends of how you feel that day, there are flavours like caramel, nut, berries, fruits in each bar.  You’ll just have to have your own chocolate tasting to try the all!

(I have to say that my favourite Willie’s chocolate is the Indonesian Gold ‘Javan Dark Breaking 69’ which didn’t even make it to the tasting.  Very irresponsible of me, it just disappeared somewhere on route. In the car. YUM.)

The intrepid group of chocolate tasters and ace vegan cooks! Photo by Ashley Duckerin

The intrepid group of chocolate tasters and ace vegan cooks! Photo by Ashley Duckerin 

RAW AND FLAVOURED CHOCOLATES – WINNER PANA CHOCOLATE FIG AND WILD ORANGE

We then dove straight into the raw and flavoured chocolates and this was an equally difficult and exhaustive process, with repeat tastings needed to decided a winner (nobody seemed to mind this at all!)  Extra tea was drafted in….  We liked Choco Mama’s Mulberry Crunch flavour an interesting texture and dried mulberries are rarely seen in the UK.  Choco Mama is a small company based in glorious North Wales and we love trying their range of chocolate from our local health food store.  Their chocolate is hand made in small batches with fair trade cacao form co-ops in Bali and Peru.

choco mama

An interesting range of raw and fair trade chocolate made in Wales

However the clear winner in this section was Pana Chocolate’s Fig and Wild Orange.  They already produce a wonderful selection of chocolates with creative and surprising flavours and it seems that there are even more coming soon (I just checked out their website, Hemp and Nib is looking good).  The Fig and Wild Orange flavour received the the most votes by a long way and like all Pana Chocolate is so rich and silky.  We all loved the fragrant orange flavour coming from the orange essential oils.

Pana Chocolate make 'Chocolate that loves what’s within, as well as the earth it came from.'

Pana Chocolate make ‘Chocolate that loves what’s within, as well as the earth it came from.’

Ethicoco’s rich and creamy bar did gather quite a few votes but the majority of people were part of the dark chocolate persuasion and it was always up against it.  As a change, we will definitely be buying a few bars for a rainy day.  I also love the sound of their Chai Latte Flavour and at VegFest this year in London, I tried their range of dark chocolate which was also delicious.  We found that the oat milk makes this bar so creamy and it is not overly sweet, something I cannot forgive in a chocolate bar.  I like to taste the cacao not the sugar!  Ethicoco know their way around a top bar of chocolate for sure.

An aerial view of Trigonos taken from a drone (piloted by one of the course attendees), the retreat centre where the cooking workshop was held - North Wales

An aerial view of Trigonos taken from a drone (piloted by one of the course attendees), the retreat centre where the cooking workshop was held – North Wales – Photo by Ashley Duckerin

HOT CHOCOLATE HEAVEN

To top everything off with yet another dollop of chocolaty happiness, during our story telling evening with Claire, we made a massive bubbling pot of hot chocolate using a block of Willie’s 100% Venezuelan Black Cacao.  You basically grate the entire block (if you’re making for fifteen) over a pan of water and bring to a simmer.  The cacao does need cooking through for a while to allow it to melt and become silky smooth.  You can add some almond milk, but it’s creamy and rich as it is and is packed with pure cacao goodness.  As Willie says “Coffee is a poor mans hot chocolate” and when you try this hot chocolate, you can really see why.  The flavour is intense and the aroma, totally sensational.

I love using cacao in savoury cooking like stews and pies.  There is a ‘Smoked Chocolate and Beetroot Beans’ recipe in Peace & Parsnips which contains very dark chocolate.  You can try adding a few teaspoons of cocoa to a Mexican-style stew, it brings a new and interesting flavour to a bowlful of your favourite beans and goes especially well with smoked paprika or chipotle chillies.

cyl-venezuelan-carenero--e1427891943355

There is a rumour going round that bottles of rum where planted around the library at strategic points and this somehow made it into the hot chocolate.  I have no idea how that happened?!  So the scene is…..an open fire, a group of new friends, a wonderful story unfolding and a mug of rum laced hot chocolate from Venezuela…….it was a very special evening and the best possible way to spend the last night of our retreat.  We all had rosy cheeks and slept like babies.

So tasting chocolate is a hit (we thought it might be!) We couldn’t think of a better way to round off our vegan cooking retreat, with all those whoops and occasional sounds of sheer delight!  Great chocolate does that!!  Highlighting the power that brilliant, plant-based food can have on us.  It can bring so much joy and I’d like to thank all the chocolate suppliers for packing so much flavour, care, love and happiness into each little bar of chocolate.  It was all very much appreciated.

A cacao pod

A cacao pod – where every chocolate bar begins…

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF REAL CACAO

Cacao has been known as the ‘Food of the Gods’ for centuries in the Americas and it’s easy to see why.  The cacao tree produces big pods, where the cacao beans hide and grow.  Inside each cacao bean there is a cacao nib (for chocolate) and cacao butter (for chocolate, cosmetics etc).  Most chocolates are made with extra cacao butter, or things like soya lecithin, added to make the bar smooth.

Cacao is very high in anti-oxidants and essential nutrients although many of these can be lost when processed into chocolate or cocoa.  Some of the apparent health benefits of eating cacao are lowering high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, asthma, diarrhea, preventing wrinkles, liver, bladder and kidney disorders and many more.

The cacao bean is packed full of antioxidants, good fats, carbohydrates, protein, minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron, zinc and potassium.  They also contain oleic acid which is a heart-healthy essential mono unsaturated fat, fiber and vitamins E, B2, B1, B5, B3 and B9 as well as small quantities of vitamin A and C.  We think it’s incredible that something as decadent as chocolate, especially raw chocolate, is so wonderfully healthy.

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FULL CHOCOLATE TASTING RESULTS – TRIGONOS 4/3/16

Pana Chocolate – Fig and Wild Orange – 15 points

Willie’s – Peruvian Gold ‘Chulucanas 70’ – 5 points

Willie’s – Venezuelan Gold ‘Rio Carabe 72’ – 2 points

Choco Mama’s – Mulberry Crunch – 2 points

Ethicoco – Ugandan Oat Milk and Raisin – 2 points

Pana Chocolate – Nut – 2 points

Willie’s – Venezulean Gold ‘Las Trincheras 72’ – 2 points

Willie’s – Madagascan Gold ‘Sambirano 71’ – 1 point

Willie’s – Columbian Gold ‘Los Llanos 88’ – 1 point

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Willie’s – 100% Venezuelan Black Carenero Cacao (as hot chocolate) – Many, many points…….(plus extras with a glug of rum)

Thanks again to Willie’s Cacao, Ethicoco and Pana Chocolate for sending chocolate across to the BHK.  It is always wonderful to sample on the blog the products that we enjoy so much.

PS – Although Willie’s is not certified as vegan, I have spoken to them and they assure me that their dark chocolate it totally vegan.  

Categories: Cooking Retreats, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

When the Welsh sun is out and proud, salads suddenly become highly relevant, essential and a playground for all things fresh and seasonal.  They become a palate for vibrant colours and fresh textures.  This recipe has a real taste of South Asia about it, with the chillies, sesame, ginger, orange and tamari.  Certainly a wake up call for the taste buds!  I love to take gorgeous British produce and jazz them up with some global flavours.

We are getting the first stages of our glorious organic veg bounty from the hardworking local growers and its truly a beautiful time of the year!  Spring has bowed out to full on early summer (with the occasional patch of dramatic storms) and things are starting to leap from the ground in the most wonderful ways.  Even our garden is waking up and every fertile day sees growth.

ORGANIC VEG FARMERS ARE REAL HEROS

Tyddyn Teg is back up and running with a new gang of lovely folk at the helm, they even have a facebook page this year! The farm is looking incredible which means we are going to be a busy one in the BHK, in the best possible way.  Loads of fresh and lovely local produce (you can probably tell we’re a bit excited about this!!!)  The farm is 10 acres and a huge under taking.  These guys are real hero’s, nothing to do with money and profit and all to do with integrity, promoting organic farming practices and ensuring folk around here have healthy affordable food.

John and Pippa have been growing organic veggies near Bethel for many years and have taken a well earned step back, it has taken six young people to replace them!  We’ll be showcasing their beautiful produce throughout the year.

BOK CHOI LOVES WALES!

Succulent Bok Choi is something that thrives in poly tunnels up here and we use a lot of it at Trigonos and in the BHK.  Trigonos have many different varities growing at the minute.  My favourite is the crunchy, peppery, purple Mizuna Leaf (surely a close relative?!) a real surprise package in salads and stir fries.  Does anyone really, truthfully, know the real difference between bok and pak?  It’s a size thing no?  I feel that flavour and texture wise, there is very little between the two.  They sound so exotic and yet thrive here in North Wales, as does our brassica buddy Mr Kohlrabi with his alien tendrils.  Its basically a turnip/ cabbage crossed with an extra terrestrial space craft.  Sometimes called a German Turnip.  We love them grated in slaws, roasted whole or just chopped simply into a salad.

THE WANDERERS RETURN

Jane and I’s wandering summer got off to a flying start in Durham and Newcastle this weekend.  We both made talks at the brilliant Vegan Festival Newcastle which took  place in the lovely, historical Assembly Rooms.  We met loads of inspiring people, vegans and non-vegans alike, and really enjoyed our first speaking engagements.  Afterwards we enjoyed a cool drink high above the River Tyne, perched in the Baltic Art Gallery Restaurant.  Newcastle looked glorious with the setting sun and glittering river, even the roaring gangs of stag-do’s seemed to mellow out as the light became richer.

Delicious vegan salad with avocado on toast - Flat White, Durham

Delicious vegan salad with avocado on toast – Flat White, Durham

On Sunday we whizzed over to beautiful Durham (where my family are all from) and spent a morning at Flat White Cafe with the ace Patrick and his gang of merry baristas.  Its such a buzzy little place, tucked in a nook, packed with style and surely the coolest place to enjoy a coffee in the North East of England.  You get a proper mug of intense Americano!

So its been a weekend of meeting kindred spirits and plenty of celebrating so returning to the little Beach House on the hill seemed like a very peaceful, healthy proposition indeed.  This salad certainly brightened things up, its insanely nutritious and fresh.  We are looking forward to more food and chat-based adventures this summer mixed in with our usual raw food month (probably in September this year).  This salad gave us a flavour of what is to come……(minus the toasty sesames!)

Jane and I in Durham at the weekend.  We had a book signing at Flat White Cafe.

Jane and I in Durham at Flat White is Durham, signing books and sipping sensational coffee.

The Bits – For 2

1 large head of Bok Choi (leaves trimmed from the heart)
1 handful red cabbage (finely diced)
1 courgette (cut into long thin slices or thin ribbons using with a French peeler)
1 orange (cut into segments, without pith preferable)
1/2 small red chilli (thinly sliced)
1 tbs fine capers
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
2 tbs fresh coriander (finely chopped)

Ginger and Orange Dressing
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs orange juice
2 teas cider vinegar
1/2 teas tamari
1/4 teas finely grated ginger
1/2 teas agave syrup
1/4 teas orange zest

Do It

Peel the pith off your orange with a sharp knife, following the shape of the fruit, to leave very little pith.  Then, holding the orange in one hand, gently cutting each segment out, using a sawing motion, just inside the pith of each segment.  When you are finished, squeeze out the juice from the left over orange piece to make your dressing.

In a nice shallow bowl or large plate, scatter your bok choi and then courgette ribbons/ slices and orange.  Sprinkle over the red cabbage, chillies, capers and finally the coriander and sesame seeds.

Whisk up the dressing in a small bowl and drizzle over the salad.

Serve

This crunchy number makes for a very colourful side dish and just by adding a little chopped firm tofu or a handful of nuts and serving with some bread, a brilliant summery main course.  Adding the tofu and nuts are an obvious protein addition to most plant-based dishes, but there are so many ways of getting good, healthy, plant protein onto our plates:

We have oodles of fresh basil at the minute and feel that a couple of handfuls of basil leaves would be quite sensational (and probably highly excessive in a good way!)

Foodie Fact

Sesame seeds have a higher calcium content than milk!  In fact, they are a great source of so much!  Read more nutritional info here.

Random little fact, Myanmar is the top producer of sesame seeds in the world.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Summer, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Foragers Salad – Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion Leaves

Foragers Salad - Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion

Foragers Salad – Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion

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

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

FORAGING

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

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

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

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

THE BEACH HOUSE GARDEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bits – For 4 (as a side salad)

2 handfuls primrose flowers

3 handfuls sorrel

3 handfuls dandelion leaves

4 handfuls young spinach leaves

2 handfuls red cabbage (grated)

 

Apple and Mustard Dressing

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs dijon mustard

1 1/2 tbs apple juice concentrate

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic (crushed)

sea salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Do It

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

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Foragers Salad

Foragers Salad

Serve

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

Lime, Coriander and Yellow Pepper Juice

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE IMPORTANCE OF ORGANIC JUICING

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

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

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

Jane and I on top of Snowdon

We made it!!!!  The top of Snowdon

The Bits – 4 Small Glasses, 2 Big ‘Uns

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

Do It

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

Serve

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

Lime. Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juice

Lime. Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juice

Foodie Fact – Coriander (or Cilantro)

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

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

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

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

VITAMIN K?

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

Our local phone box, looking good in the April sun

Our local phone box, looking good in the April sun

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

Israeli Salad (The Indian Traveler Classic) and Tribal Vegans

 

Israeli Salad

Israeli Salad

B.H.K. IN JODPHUR, INDIA

I actually had our homestay’s version of this for breakfast today, sitting on a roof terrace feeling inspired, taking in the massive Mehangarh fort and early morning city skyline with black kites hovering overhead.  The perfect breakfast setting!  I had forgotten about this traveler classic salad.  I enjoyed it so much, I’m having it twice today!  This type of salad is so quick and fresh , apparently hailing from Israel.  Salads like this are almost naked, stripped down and a showcase for glorious veggies.  They have this kind of salad in many countries, Morocco, Turkey, Iran etc, it’s one of the world’s finest side salads that compliments almost any meal.

Any traveler around India will recognise this salad, it’s served in most traveler/ backpacker style restaurant or cafes.  India is a home for many hybrid style world cuisine dishes.  For example, German Bakeries are everywhere selling bready croissants and random biscuits.  I guarentee that from Pushkar to Rishikesh, Gorkana to Leh, Varkala to Darjeeling travelers will be eating this salad right now with grins on their faces.  Salads are rare and normally a very small deal in India.  I am not sure exactly how Israeli it is, there are obviously some missing ingredients in India, like the gorgeous olive (which I miss deeply when on the road in the East).  I’ve been totally spoilt for olives in Spain over Christmas, we have our own olive man down the market who always sorts us out with a local and diverse range of those delightful orbs of oily goodness.

So I whipped my version up tonight for dinner (well Dad added an omelette to the mix, but he’s doing amazingly well to steer away from meat and embrace veganism).  I love making dishes in hotel rooms and always travel with my trusty little knife and a couple of plates and spoons.  Add to that two big tin cups and you have all the apparatus needed for a salad smorgasbord.  Jane and I have traveled with a grater before and other such bits, but space is at a premium in my backpack this time.  Making things in your room means you know exactly what went into it, sometimes in India they stir a little curd or cream into this salad.

I miss the crunch and vibrancy of a massive bowl of salad, all that raw food goodness.  I adore curry, but making my own fruit salads and veggie salads in my room is a real treat.  When I’m eating it, I can almost hear my body thanking me.  Keeping yourself topped up on nutrients and vitamins especially when travelling is a must to stay on top form.  I even have Dad taking part in my morning spirulina ritual, you can buy it over here inexpensively and organic.  Adds a touch of zing to proceedings!

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Dad striding through Sadar Market, Central Jophur with the giant Mehrangarh Fort in the background.

So, here I am with Dad, Jodphur, in Rajasthan.  A wonderfully historic city, I am typing beneath the giant fort, fantastically lit each evening.  In fact, it reminds me a little of an old Spanish town, dominated by a medieval fort.  The streets are small and windy and the people wonderfully friendly, something I find all over Rajasthan.  We are staying with a incredibly hospitable family (the Hill View Guesthouse), headed by the laugh a minute Zafran, who is also a member of the local government…..I could go on at this point for a long, long time, but Dad and I are starting a blog called ‘The Jalebi Express’, coming to wordpress very soon (aka when we can get a decent blast of reliable internet access).  It’s going to be a hoot, with all of Dad and I’s adventures around this truly awesome land.  For regular Beach Housers, the other half of the BHK, Miss Jane Legge, will be joining up with us in Delhi in some 5 weeks time.

VEGAN INDIA

Being vegan is a serious challenge in India, normally involving turning down sumptuous looking food and regular boughts of impromptu fasting.  I like yoga, I believe fasting to be very good for the health, but if you’re not expecting to go hungry it can be just plain pants!  Trying to explain not eating ghee to an Indian is a little like going into an Italian Mama’s kitchen and saying “What are you doing with all those rank tomatoes and this wine is like a poor man’s Vodka and Red Bull and as for that dodgy mouldy looking cheese, I’m going nowhere near that, smells like feet, and as for those dodgy noodle things.  Sorry, just not my thing at all.  I’m English you know.  Our food’s great etcetc…….”  I approach with hopefully a little more tact but the ghee issue constantly rears its head and seems to sneak into the most unexpected things.  I will soldier on and still have plenty of oatcakes left from Lidl!  Turning down things like camel milk tea, traditional village cooked dishes, constant streams of delicious looking steaming masala chai, basically all Indian sweets is one of the most difficult part of being a vegan.  It’s well worth it though, this is after all, very much my own choice. It’s just when cultures shift, so does the ethical playing field and in India, the cow is Holy and what comes from the cow, the milk and even the poo has sacred connotations.  I have started to go for the approach of lots of laughing and pointing at my head with a zany look in my eyes, trying to convey that I am slightly mad.  Lots of shrugging and confused looks ensue.  It rarely works.  Any ideas?

Down at the market, Jodphur

Down at the market, Jodphur

I had a magical time down at the market today gathering a few bits.  I have been to Jodphur before and love the little veggie market near the stately Victoria Clock Tower, a hopelessly British looking thing poking above the skyline of Maharaj buildings, Mosque Minauret’s and an enormous palace.  I always get local price there and meet so many characters.  The salad, with plenty of leftovers, cost around 1 pound to amass.  The experience of chatting with characters selling fruit and veg (market vendours are always a hoot all over the world, why is that?), local folk who are interested in my nationality; reasons for visiting India, marriage status, occupation, age, university back ground, next destination (a very standard range of questions fielded on average 30 times per day) and having a laugh is of course quite priceless.  I gently elbowed my way past many a ferocious, single minded house wife.  In the market, they mean business.  When buying veg I have regularly been elbowed out of the way or body checked away from the freshest looking produce.  It can get a little hectic.  All part of the fun.  For my quid I also got 6 small lemons and a wedge of ginger for morning beverages.  Not a bad price all considered!

TRIBAL VEGANS!

In fact today I’ve been quite busy in the kitchen.  Earlier on Dad and I visited a Bishnoi Tribal village, a very interesting branch of Hinduism (see here).  They are vegans!  The Bishnoi’s do not believe in harming nature, no cutting of trees, no animal products at all.  They eat grains and vegetables grown in local forests and this philosophy of life can only be found in Rajasthan, just 28 villages in fact.  You’ll see me busy below grinding millet to make flour which is them mixed with a little water and made into lovely, toasty chapattis.

Grinding Millet for chapati, Bishnoi Village, Jodphur

Grinding Millet for chapati, Bishnoi Village, Jodphur

Tomorrow, Dad and I are helping with the food preparation for a engagement party, some 300 guests are expected!  Fortunately Dad is an ace carrot peeler and garlic basher.  Indian’s love a wedding and this is wedding season.  We went to visit the brides house last night, Dad and I carrying plates of fruits and nuts down through the winding blue walled lanes of Jodphur.  The bride to be lives beside a large white mosque and we were welcomed like long lost family.  Dad has some tender looking mutton, I opted to nibble on roti (flatbread).  Tomorrow night, the brides family come to visit our homestay, with Raja (the amazing, 18 year old son of the family) taking centre stage.  Zafran is organising the feast and it sounds like a mutton affair again.  I’m looking forward to getting behind the scenes of mass Indian wedding catering.  The pots are normally the size of a small jacuzzi.  Maybe I could rustle up a salad?!

The Chef at Raja's Brides House (lovely fellow, cooking on wood fires for hundreds of hungry party goers)

The Chef at Raja’s Brides House (lovely fellow, cooking on wood fires for hundreds of hungry party goers)

I have made a few wee embellishments to the classic Indian/ Israeli salad.  You knew I would.    They are not really taste based, more with nutrition in mind.  I cannot live for long without green things in my belly.  So I’ve added loads of coriander and mint which is plentiful over here and 10p for a massive bag.  You could also use spinach or even watercress, and if you love parsley, parsley.  Flax seeds are one of my favourite things.  They are powerhouses of all sorts of nutrition.  I’ve added flax seeds which I bought in Dilli Hart in South Delhi (a wonderful craft market if you’re ever in the area).  In a classic Indian twist, these flax seeds turned out to be deep fried and smothered in salt and masala spices.  My diet flips on its head in India and after a week, my belly is just about coming up to speed.  Lots of carbs and a huge decrease in vegetation.

Dinner time, Dad and I getting ready to eat off newspaper on the roof of a Jodphur Blue House.

Dinner time, Dad and I getting ready to eat off newspaper on the roof of a Jodphur Blue House.

A (VERY) BRIEF HISTORY OF CARROTS

In North India, carrots are a shade of deep pink, potentially red.  Striking looking things and ours today was a whopper, about 2 foot long.  It stuck out of my ‘man bag’ like a baseball bat.  Originally carrots in Europe were black (it was the orange loving Dutch who changed the colour to and trend, the Dutch are excellent market gardeners and the British were not.  Many of our techniques for market gardening, meeting our supply of veggies in cities etc, we’ve borrowed/ bought from the Dutch.)

I say things like extra virgin olive oil and sea salt almost in jest.  There is very little of that touching our lips here.  I am sure there is a hotel in Jodphur serving these types of delicacies tonight, but not on our budget!  A miniscule sacrifice for travelling India, but would have embellished this salad very nicely indeed.  Instead we use two sachets of olive oil that Dad had pocketed from our dinner on Turkish Airways from Istanbul.  Genius!

Remember this a traditional Indian Israeli salad and if you decide to make it, you will be joined by thousands of travellers over here, chowing down on exactly the same crunchy, vibrant goodness.

Make this salad super fresh, straight off the chopping board, just like they do in Marrakech, Tehran, Jodphur and  Istanbul.

The Bits – For 4 as a side salad

2 carrots (black, red, orange…….white I hear are quite tasty)

5 tomatoes

1 large cucumber (peeled or non peeled, some say that the skin is hard on the digestion)

1 small, sweet red onion (finely sliced in half moons, nice for presentation)

1 green pepper (finely diced)

3 big handfuls fresh coriander leaves

1 big handful fresh mint leaves (finely sliced)

4 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 tbs flax/ linseeds

½ lemon juice

Sea salt (to taste)

Do It

Chop your carrots, cucumber and tomato in similar sized 1-2cm chunks.  Arrange your coriander leaves around the edge of a serving plate.  I like to add texture and layers to the salad so mix the mint, tomatoes and onion together (holding back a little onion for topping).  Pile as a base layer between the coriander.  Now mix the cucumber, carrots and pepper together.  Scatter/ pile on tip of your tomato layer.  Scatter the flax seeds and a few thin slices of cucumber on top.

Israeli Salad (The Indian Traveler Classic) ready for action

Israeli Salad (The Indian Traveler Classic) ready for action

Serve

When ready to serve, simply drizzle the oil over the salad and squeeze the lemon on top (watch those pips!)

In India, you can serve this with warm chapatti in most other parts of the world, crusty bread is nice.  Or keep it purely raw for optimum nutritional benefits.

PS – Carrots are of course a bit crunchy.  Maybe you’d prefer slightly more refined, smaller chunks.

Foodie Fact

FLAX SEEDS = PROPER ‘SUPER FOOD’, CHEAP, LOCALLY GROWN (It pretty much grows everywhere)

Flax seeds have outrageous amounts of Omega 3 fats, they are superb for anit-oxidants and have plenty of vitamin B.  You will also find them to ease and assist digestion.  They are also cheap to buy, no ridiculous ‘super food’ price tag here.  Not bad for a humble brown grass seed.

Happy muncher!

Happy Muncher!

Categories: Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Beetroot, Apple and Caraway Sauerkraut

Great jar, inaccurate label.  It should read 'Beetroot, Apple and Caraway' Sauerkraut

Great jar, inaccurate label. It should read ‘Beetroot, Apple and Caraway’ Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a well disguised super hero. Cloaked in cabbage and a fermented glow, Sauerkraut is a dish that is not only delicious, but is very easy to make and gives us some very pleasant nutritional boosts.

China, with its amazingly rich and ancient food tradition seems the source of picklin’. It is said that traders brought many of their tasty pickles and fermented fare from the Far East to Europe. ‘Sauerkraut’ is the German name for fermented cabbage, the French call it ‘Choucroute’ and British people just call it “Fermented YUM”.

The fermentation of Sauerkraut involves a number microbial species; one creates an acid environment for another to thrive and the process continues until the ph is acid and we are left with the perfect conditions for pickling a cabbage. You just need to form a decent brine, cover the vegetable with it and leave it until you like the texture and flavour. Any kitchnen will have the equipment necessary to produce a decent ‘kraut and you can play around with the veggies, mixing and matching different combos.

This time of year, early Autumn in North Wales, is the perfect time for Sauerkraut making. All the ingredients we use here are bang on seasonal and we’re stocking up our larder for another long winter time, when vividly coloured sauerkraut is a pleasant surprise to unearth (not that we’ll be here, we’ll be in Turkey!!!!!!!). A ray of purple light in the chilly grey gloom. We like the addition of apples here, it gives a hint of sweetness. Beetroots are also doing well up here and a little caraway is always welcome to the party, giving things an unmistakeable, East Europe feel (where this kind of preserving behavior is very popular). Red cabbage makes an appearance to add even more colour and a backbone.  Proper cabbage-ness.

The process may seem a little long winded, but I’ve tried to simplify it down and make it accessible to the ‘kraut curious.

Buster (always interested in the smell of sauerkraut)

Buster (always interested in the smell of sauerkraut)

This recipe is lifted, with a few BHK modifications, from the brilliant book ‘Wild Fermentation‘ book by Sandor Ellix Katz. We are really getting our teeth into all things fermented at the minute, coming soon, the easiest Apple Juice Hooch imaginable (you almost have to do nothing to make home crafted booze!) and a really simple Kimchee recipe.

If you are avoiding salt, there are many salt-free sauerkraut recipes out there. We are yet to try them, but they will definitely be interesting!

You can add virtually anything to sauerkraut and it tastes good (this is not a challenge!); different herbs, spices etc.  We’re just sampling an Indian spice stylee version (you will not be surprised to hear!!!!) Can’t wait for the pokey results.

Fermenting and conserving vegetables using brine is something that once picked up, will be a constant source of inspiration in the kitchen. Making things like the glorious Kimchee or pickled onions/ gherkins is a not to dissimilar technique and of course, homemade stuff tastes leagues better than our shop bought friends. Once you start picklin’ and preservin’, its hard to stop (strange as that may sound).

Get your ‘kraut on!

The Bits – Makes roughly 1 kg of ‘kraut

1 medium-sized red cabbage
2 beetroots
1 red onion
(roughly grate these)
1 apple (cored and sliced)
2 teas caraway seeds
2 tbs sea salt

Grated and ready for action

Grated and ready for action

Do It

In a deep bowl or pan (preferably with straight sides), add the grated bits, caraway and sprinkle over the salt. Mix in well with your hands, pack down as well as you can.

Pick a lid/ plate that fits snugly over the sauerkraut and place a weight on top. Use kitchen weights, bottles of wine, whatever is handy and weighty. This weight will force the liquid from the veggies and fruit, the salt takes care of the rest via osmosis. The brine will begin to form. As the liquid gradually rises, keep pressing the lid down regularly until the brine covers the sauerkraut (this may take 24 hours). This is what we want. You can now cover this with a kitchen cloth and leave for 2-3 days and let the microbials do their work.

Some cabbages contain less water than others, if after 24 hours the brine is not covering the veggies, add salted water (1 tbs salt per 250ml water). Check the ‘kraut every day or two and skim off any ‘bloom’ that may form. This is technically mould, but is rare and does not affect your sauerkraut as it is protected by the brine.

The sauerkraut is normally ready after 3 days, depending on the heat of the room (the hotter the less time it takes to mature, the cooler the longer it can be left). It should be tangy and crisp.

You may like to scoop some out and keep it in the fridge when it is young and leave it for a few more days to mature, noting the flavour difference and what is your preference. We like ours funky and leave it for 5 days-ish. If the sauerkraut is getting soft, its probably passing its best and should be eaten pronto.

Serve

We’ve been having ours all over the place.  Great for picnics and packed lunches, on toast and a nice little surprise package on a plate of salad.

Foodie Fact

Fermented cabbage and other Brassicaceaes (Bok choi, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mustard, kale, spring greens and many more) have been shown to help against cancer. When the cabbage breaks down, it goes through a chemical shift and the resulting isothiocyanates have been shown to fight the big C.

Sauerkraut juice is also a magical tonic, regarded as a digestive aid second to none.

Hell's Mouth Beach, Llyn Peninsula - Ideal picnic spot for sauerkraut scoffing

Hell’s Mouth Beach, Llyn Peninsula – Ideal picnic spot for sauerkraut scoffing

Categories: Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Side Dish | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Raw Food vs Cooked Food and The Power of Enzymes

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!

The desserts are something truly heavenly, Raw Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Icing  or Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake.  Even the inventive way that salads are used is something to get the taste buds whirling, think Sprouted Wheat Grain, Apple and Mustard Salad or how about a Crunchy Thai Salad with Green Coco Dressing?  OK, now I’m on a roll, how about a Raw Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta?  In fact its probably best just to check out our Raw button in the tags section (top right of the page)….

Raw Vegan Lasage with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

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!!!!!

Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Walnuts

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.

DETOXIFICATION

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!

Categories: Detox, Healing foods, Raw Food, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake with Fig and Poppy Base (Raw/Vegan/Gluten-Free) + The Best Way To Wash Your Veggies

Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake with Fig and Poppy Seed Base (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake with Fig and Poppy Seed Base (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Please don’t be put off by the sound of tofu in a dessert, it is a truly wonderful addition.  Vegans wouldn’t get very far without it!!!!  Tofu has a bad rep, this cake will change it all…..Tofu is a real hero and if bought organic, is a nutritional wonder to boot with a smooth as silk texture.

It really is amazing what you can do with a blender.  This is a light, refreshing take on a cheesecake, only frozen and with the added interest of being made with tofu.  It takes minutes to prepare and sits happily in the freezer.  This has to be one of the healthiest desserts we’ve made at the BHK with bags of strawberries and only a small amount of figs in the base.

Raw desserts are amazing, but some hide huge quantities of sugar, normally in the form of dried fruits (primarily dates).  It is natural sugar, but it is still sugar.  This dessert is lower in sugar than most, the strawberries go a long way to sweetening the cake.  Raw desserts are not always healthier than other desserts, its worth bearing in mind.

Silken tofu is a vegan staple for dessert, baking and all sort of textural fun.  Tofu is high in protein and is a wonderful vehicle for flavours, of course by itself it is bland, its like a blank canvas for a creative cook.  We have used it in cakes to substitute eggs and it does an admirable job.

The base of this cake goes all seedy.  We have found that going raw can cost alot more, a main contributor is nuts.  You can get through alot of them, especially when making desserts.  Instead of flour, you use cashews.  In fact, many of our staples ie rice, cous cous, pasta etc go out of the window on raw and are replaced by fruit and veg.  Certainly not a bad thing for the body, but it can hit you in the wallet/ purse/ piggy bank.  Seeds are the answer and almost equally as flavourful.  For a crunch base like this, they are perfect.  We have also been making butters with them and they are just as tasty as their nutty compadres.  Go seed!

8 REASONS TO LOVE STRAWBERRIES (EVEN MORE)

–  Big C, very big C.  Super packed with Vitamin C (8 strawbs =150% rda)

–  High in fibre (meaning that even though they are beautifully sweet, they have a low GI index)

–  Member of the rose family (how romantic!)

–  Virtually fat free (for those who think that matters. Fat doesn’t make you fat, to be covered in a later post.  Fat is actually very cool.)

–  Full of manganese=great for bones and growth.

–  They fight the big C (Cancer) with something called anthocyanin.

–  Some scientists have said that strawberries are actually anti-aging.

–  Super high in the vitamin B’s, which help metabolism.

Beauty Strawbssss!

Beauty Strawbssss!

CLEANING YOUR FRUIT AND VEG

We’d always recommend that you give strawberries a good wash.  They can attract all sorts of wonderful creep crawlies and dusty dirt.  Here are some top tips for cleaning fruit and vegetables, especially those bought in supermarkets (i.e. not particularly fresh and probably covered with chemicals and pesticides)  This makes a HUGE difference:

This cake is not made with an ice cream maker, so expect a few ice crystals if eaten frozen.  We find it best semi-thawed.  Take it out the freezer an hour before serving and it should soften up nicely.

Makes one large tart, enough for six slices.

The Bits

Topping: 1 punnet strawberries, 1 box silken tofu (350g), 2 tablespoons of sweetener of choice (we used a cane sugar syrup), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ cup of soaked cashews

Base: 1 cup of dried figs (soaked), ½ cup ground flaxseeds, ½ cup sunflower seeds, ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Fresh from the freezer

Fresh from the freezer

Do It

Easy as pie (cake)!

Put all the filling bits in a blender and blend so that you get a thick double cream texture.

Put all the base ingredients into a blender and blend so you get a sticky clumpy mixture that can be rolled into balls.  This will take a few goes, make sure you scrape down the side to incorporate the chunks.

Press the base into a 9” dish circular tart dish lined with cling film.  Pour in the filling and pop in the freezer.  We decided to make two small fat ones, so we could eat one who cake between the two of us.  Some call this greed, we call this the good life!!!!!

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Serve

Take it out of the freezer before service and it will have a soft scoop ice cream feel with a nice crunchy base.  You will no doubt have some strawberries or other berries lurking around your fruit bowl, this cake is great with them.

We Love It!

The closest we’ve come to a really healthy dessert that doesn’t taste healthy (you know what we mean here).  This is the perfect summer cooler and has a nice richness even though dairy has not entered the building.

Foodie Fact

(Yawn)  Where do you get your protein in a vegan diet? (Yawn again)  The question on the tip of most carnivores tongue could be simply answered with TOFU.   Tofu is an amazing plant based source of protein and is now readily available in most parts of the world.  It has no cholesterol, is low in fat and contains a similar amount of protein to dairy and meat.  Firm tofu is also high in calcium.  As I mentioned above, just make sure it’s organic and not GMO.

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Raw Vegan Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta (Gluten-free)

Raw Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta (Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Raw Vegan Lasagne with Avocado Lemon Ricotta, Red Bean and Walnut with Tomato and Basil Sauce (Vegan/ Gluten Free)

This is one of those dishes that really stands out.  A dish that just makes perfect sense and falls into place perfectly on the plate and palate.  All those yummy layers, one on top of another.

Meat eaters beware!  This is a ‘converter’, one fork-full and you’ll join the lighter side.  A dish that dis spells the ludicrous myths that vegetarians are merely ‘rabbit food’ munchers.

We have found vegan raw food presents a simple equation:

Raw Vegan Food = Shiny and Zinging Life of the Highest Order + Awesome, Creative New Flavours and Combinations

Granted its not the simplest of equations, but its a fine one non-the-less!  This dish is full, full, full of delicious flavour, nutrition and vegetarian protein power (see top 5 veggie sources of protein here).

Jane was typing whilst I made this and here is what I said about it, hot off the press:

“So good for you and tasty, I can see this stuff really catching on!  I see this as the future of food.  Its a simple as that.  Pasta without the carbs, supercharged full of colour and nutrition, all the flavours of Italy.  Fascinating combination of flavours only ever seen in vegan cooking, using all whole foods, nothing jarred – this is what we are going for in the BHK.”

Reading this back again, I completely agree with what my former self uttered.  This is the future of cooking (and non-cooking).  We all want the best for ourselves and raw vegan food gives us just that.  This is a trend that is actually positive for mind and body.  Can you imagine how much the National Health Service would save if we all decided to eat vegan raw food, or incorporate more of it into our diets.  We’d all live to 150 and hardly ever darken the door of a hospital or doctor.  We believe that nutrition and the food we eat is that important.  Call it preventative medicine if you will, but taking care of yourself and eating amazing food doesn’t sound like too bad a deal.  No compromise on taste either, just look at this wonder plate!

Semi-rant over for now, back to the recipe.  Its not totally raw this one, but could be very easily.  Because Raw Earth Month has now officially ended (yes we are using the odd light at night and the occasional square of chocolate is disappearing from the cupboard) cooked beans have re-entered our diets.  How I missed them.  I love a bean.  Without even thinking, I added red kidney beans to the ‘meat’ layer of our lasagne.  They are perfect colour wise and they add a great texture.  I also love them with walnuts, no idea why?

We are lucky to have a raft of inspirational friends and the original idea for this lasagne comes from the sparkling Sava over at Travel Butterfly.  Sava is a constant source of inspiration on many levels for us at the Beach House and some of her vegan/ raw recipes really hit the wonder mark.

This lasagne, and lasagne in general, has a few components to sort, it takes a little time.  Its well worth it though and would definitely be classed as a special occasion dish.  This dish has the whiff of wow factor about it, one that looks almost as good as it tastes (after all, food that looks better than it tastes is such a let down).  I am always interested to find that most people who don’t cook much still know how to make a decent lasagne.  Its quite a tricky and time consuming thing to get together, especially the art of a non-lumpy bechamel.  I generally think people are alot better at cooking than they claim to be!

Raw Vegan Lasage

Raw Vegan Lasagne

Good tomatoes here are essential.  We had some in our veg box this week and they blew us away, when I tried the sauce, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t added a sweetener to it.  That’s it reaction you need!  Gorgeous tomatoes are hard to find.  Some tomatoes just need a little love, leave them in a bowl, ripen them just like a fruit and sometimes they come good, at the very least, they will get better.  A chilled tomato is just no good.  There is a soup we made a little like this, found here.

If you are completely raw, we’d probably substitute the beans with more seeds and nuts.  Maybe a little dried apricot to bind things together.   I am sure you have your own ideas, as being a raw vegan really pushes your creativity to the limits.  We know how it is.

We use amino acids of tamari here because most soya sauce is just no good.  Soya is a funny thing and unless processed properly, can be of detriment to the body.  Tamari and something like Braggs Liquid Amino Acids are perfect replacements and tamari especially, even tastes finer.

We top this all off with some Nutritional Yeast Flakes.  I know we all don’t have them in the cupboard, but they are brilliant little flakes to add an almost cheesiness to dishes.  They have a unique savoury taste that must be tried to appreciate and are a vegan lifesaver.  For me, they are little like a vegan parmesan.  That intense!

A few other raw recipes that may tickle your tastebuds:

Black Prince Tomato and Coriander Soup

Crunchy Thai Salad with Green Coco Dressing

Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake

Hazelnut and Lentil Hummus

 

Now, lets non-cook!

 

The Bits

Tomato and Basil Sauce
3 cups plum cherry toms, 1 cup soaked sundried toms (finely chopped) with ¼ cup of oil from the jar), 1 cup fresh basil leaves, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 clove crushed garlic (crushed)

Bean and Walnut Layer
250g red kidney beans (cooked) or 1 tin-ish, 1 cup of walnuts, ½ cup of pumpkin seeds (add bite), 2 x teaspoon Braggs Liquid Aminos (or tamari), Pinch of salt and pepper

Pasta Layers
1 gold courgette, 1 green courgette (or two green is fine)
Cut in half width-ways and finely sliced into layers

Avocado and Lemon Ricotta
1 ripe avocado (must be ripe), 250g firm tofu (drained well, save a few thin slices for the topping), 2 tbls olive oil, ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes, 1 small clove garlic (crushed), ½ lemon juice and zest, pinch of salt

Topping
Thinly sliced tofu, olives (finely chopped), sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Do It

This raw game is an easy one.  Just whack it in the food processor and voila!  Gorgeous Lasagne.

Tomato and Basil Sauce – Pop all in a FP and whizz until smooth.  Set aside and clean blender.

Bean Walnut Layer – Pop all in a FP and blitz until smooth but with lots of chunks (similar to mince I guess).  Set aside and clean blender.

Avocado and Lemon Ricotta – Pop all in a FP, blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Pop all in the fridge for an hour to chill and thicken up a little before the layering.

Raw Lasgane ready for stacking

Raw Lasgane ready for stacking

Make sure that you slice you courgette/ zucchini carefully.  You want them to be almost as thin as pasta sheets.  A mandolin is perfect for this, but a big beware here!  They love to slice fingers also.

Now to layer the beast.

On your chosen serving plate (a square one would be perfect), lay out your first layer of courgette. Depending on your chopping skills, you may need to put two layers of courgette (if wafer thin style).  Carefully spread on your bean and walnut layer and a thin layer of the tomato and basil sauce.

Next, add another layer of courgette, slightly smaller in diameter than the first, pressing down gently to make the layer stick.  This is mainly a presentation thing, you can see the layers better when they are not overhanging each other.  Once the layer is neatly placed, spread on your vegan ricotta.

First layer underway

First layer underway

The final layer, once more press down gently and arrange a nicely overlapping mosaic of your wonderfully sliced courgette, top with a layer of tofu (which can’t help but look a little like mozzarella), a good layer of tomato and basil sauce, sprinkle on your chopped olives and a good sprinkle of yeast flakes.  Top with some basil that you will no doubt have hanging around your glorious kitchen.

That’s it!  As simple or as difficult as you make it!  We think its medium in the ‘fiddle scale’.

Raw Vegan Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta - A taste explosion waiting to happen.

Raw Vegan Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta – A taste explosion waiting to happen.

Serve

Immediately.  The salt will gradually release liquids in the lasagne, which are very tasty, but don’t look the best.  This lasagne can be sliced as usual and the layers will stay intact and look amazing.

We Love It!

A dish in the locker that will impress friends and family for many years and make us look very clever indeed when actually its leisurely walk in the park.

The flavours mingle and merge in some form of Italian perfection and you will be amazed at the reaction from meat-eaters.  Try it!  They love it too!

Foodie Fact

Courgette (zucchini to some) is a summer squash, they are said to have originated in Mexico and come in all shapes and sizes.   Courgettes are very low in calories and have no cholesterol or fat, the peel is full of dietary fibre and it is also a good source of vitamin A and has high levels of heart friendly potassium.

Jane's been making dollies out of wheat again.  This is Trevor.

Jane’s been making dollies out of wheat again. This is Wild Johnny.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Umami Flax Seed Crackers and Veg Box Salad (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers

Umami Flax Seed Crackers

 

These crackers came out of the blue, as an afterthought, they appeared in a bowl, I stirred them, decided to dry them and hey pesto!  Umami Crackers came into the world.  CRUNCH!

The real reason for these flax crackers was the desire to make a superbly healthy cracker, something to idly munch on without care.  Jane and I can put away vast quantities of oat cakes/ crackers at one mid-sitting, its something to do with the texture.  Most crackers aren’t exactly packed with nutrition, we’ve found that after a couple of these we are sated.  Its all the good stuff in them we reckon.

Flax (or Lin) Seeds are a special little thing, one of the finest things for our digestion.  When you pop a little water on them, you’ll see why.  Flax takes on a gooey, emulsion-like property which the belly and below loves, this is the exact property that makes these crackers ‘gel’.  Just add a little water to flax, leave them for a few minutes and they become a vehicle for all sorts of flavours and once dried/ baked they make crunchy biscuits to get excited about.  There is absolutely nothing negative about these crackers, nutritionally, they are food for super humans (that’s all of us then!!!!)

Umami is the fifth taste, along with bitter, sweet etc.  Umami means ‘yummy’ in Japanese and the Umami spectrum was opened up by a Japanese fellow.  Umami is a delicious savouriness, think MSG but natural.  MSG is not the baddy that many think, it is present naturally in foods like parmesan, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms.  Added to this, umami just sounds like alot of fun!

I used a splendid Halen Mon product here, Umami powder.  Its a mixture of their awesome sea salt (from the Menia Straits just outside the Beach House) and some seaweed and dried mushrooms.  Seriously savoury and brilliant for perking things up, stews, risottos, soups…..you get the picture.  Its a wonder condiment.

The Veg Box Salad is a Jane speciality that we enjoy on numerous occasions per week (especially when Janes cooking/non-cooking).  It consists of loads of veggies and other special bits from the fridge and larder (seeds, olives, dried fruits…..), you never know what to expect from a Veg Box Salad, but you know that it will be massive and super tasty.  The exhaustive list of ingredients of this particular salad are below, but feel free to empty your own fridge or veg box into a bowl and enjoy the spoils!!!!!   There is an alarming amount of awesome veg to be found here.

A good salad is all about combining textures, flavours and colours, all topped off with a kickin’ dressing.  Ingredients don’t matter here, this is free-flowing fare, changing with the seasons and your whims.

Crackers

Makes around 10 crackers

1 1/2 cup flax (lin) seeds, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sunblushed tomatoes (finely chopped), 1 teas umami powder, 2 tbs black sesame seeds, 2 cloves garlic (crushed, minced or mashed up)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers (Raw/ Vegan)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers (Raw/ Vegan)

Do It

Mix water into flax seeds and leave for 10 minutes, the seeds should be sticky, but not too wet.  Add the rest of your ingredients and stir well.  Spread out onto dehydrator tray or baking tray, oiled.  1/2 cm thickness is good and any shape that take you fancy.  Cracker size!?

Dehydrate for 6 hours until crispy, bake for 10-15 minutes at around 1800C or until crispy.

Be gentle when handling the finished crackers, they are sensitive little guys.  Use a flat spatula for the sake of a decent sized cracker.

Veg Box delights!

Veg Box delights!

Veg Box Salad

One massive bowlful 

3 stems swiss chard (finely sliced), 1/4 green cabbage (shredded), 1/2 white onion (finely chopped), 2 stems celery (chopped), 2 handfuls chopped parsley, 1 avocado (roughly chopped), 1 green apple (diced and cored), 1 small courgette, small cucumber, small broccoli (all diced), 2 handfuls of olives, 2 handfuls of pumpkin seeds, 3 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional but very tasty)

Dressing

1 handful of fresh mint, 1 handful of fresh basil, juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup fruity olive oil, 1 cup soya yoghurt, 1 teas sea salt, 1 teas bharat (spice mix, or garam masala), 1 tbs apple juice concentrate (or honey), 1 tbs white wine vinegar

Blend all together in a food processor, adding the olive oil slowly to for a good emulsion.

Serve

We broke up some of the crackers and added them as a topping which worked out nicely.  Big bowls.  BIG bowls!

We Love It!

Every Thursday (that’s today) we pick up our veg box and are consistently surprised by the wonderful veg produced by the magical John and Pippa.   There is no better way to celebrate good vegetables than very, very simply.  Salad style definitely works here.

The flavours of these organic vegetables light up the bowl, a dressing almost seems like overkill.  The crackers make a decent accompaniment to such a bounty of veg goodness.

Foodie Fact 

Flax seeds are unique in many ways.  Firstly, they provide the highest levels of Omega 3 oils found in a vegetarian diet (hundreds times more than the nearest competitor!) and these abundant oils are not altered by cooking at high heats.  Which is great news!

Flax seeds are also insanely high in lignans, which act like fibre and have antioxidant effects on the body.

As mentioned above, flax seeds have mucilage properties, which means they form a ‘gum’ like substance in the body which helps the absorption of many nutrients in the intestines.

Some Beach House leaves picked yesterday

Some Beach House leaves picked yesterday

 

Categories: Local food, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Raw Chocolate, Hazelnut and Goji Cookie (Gluten Free/Vegan/No Added Sugar)

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Raw Chocolate, Hazelnut and Goji Cookie – The Worlds Healthiest Cookie

The worlds healthiest cookie!?  Very probably, certainly one of the dang tastiest.

These beauties are so easy and satisfying, not to say as addictive as broad beans fresh from their little green sleeping bags (lunch today, once you pop……) and we all know how addictive the world of fresh podding can be!?

Healthy cookies!!!!??^*^#**^*#  What!!!!!!  I know, but really, they are not laden-ed with spinach or spirulina, but are an amazing treat for the tastebuds that is also amazing for the body and I dare say the soul.  Eating one of these will have you soaring in a world of food goodness.

These cookies boast raw cacao (super, super food), nuts (just plain super) and tahini (seriously super); all raw, with no flour, no added sugar or dairy in sight, but oh so rich and sweet.  Add to this the odd goji berry and you are flying in cookie heaven.  Ground control to major biscuit!

Lunch - what a great time of year!

Lunch – what a great time of year!

Gojis are cool for many reasons, primarily it’s down to the name.  GOJI, or as some call them ‘Wolf Berries’ (almost equally as cool), they are popular ingredient in the East, especially China.  Goji berries can normally be found in Asian food stores for a fraction of the price of your average ‘health food’ shop and most I have found are not ‘organically’ grown anyway.  Gojis have a pleasant flavour eaten alone, but for some reason, really compliment nuts.

THE ESSENCE OF NON-BAKING

Is it just me or is there something quite Zen about this whole non-cooking thing.  Today, we are non-baking.  Baking, without baking…….Heating very gently, maintaining goodness.

Non-baking/cooking is basically keeping everything below 46oC (or thereabouts) over which vitamins and enzymes simply die, never to enrich thy body.

Non-baking is so much easier and generally alot simpler than conventional baking.  The food processor is the key piece of equipment for getting things together and then the dehydrator takes over, replacing the oven.

They could be baked on a gentle setting, we are looking for a cookie with a moist centre and a crisp outer layer.  Something like 150oC for 45 minutes (I am guessing).  We used our little dehydrator to get the cookies nice and crispy and we even had the pleasure of eating some straight from the dehydrator, like fresh bread from the oven, you can’t beat it.

I remember reading of raw food people eating ‘warm’ things from the dehydrator and thinking it quite odd, but its strange how quickly things change.  Like the wind.  We now love our dehydrator and use it daily for all sorts of things.

WHAT IS RAW CACAO?

Tastes like chocolate and really it is unprocessed chocolate, with all the superb health qualities of the worlds favourite treat preserved.  Cacao is the cousin of the roasted and processed bean that is used in the vast majority of chocolate making.  Raw cacao has a mild stimulant, theobromine, which helps to cure depression and does give you a little buzz (similar to coffee, but without the come-down).  Traditionally in the Americas, chocolate (cacao) has even been used as a medicine.

Raw cacao has alarming levels of anti-oxidants and plenty of dietary fibre.  Having said all of this, eating too much chocolate is not a good thing.  It can irritate the kidneys and liver and can even lead to sexual dysfunction.  Ouch!!!!  Still, nutrition news morphs fast, its hard to keep track sometimes.  A few, peaceful squares on chocolate on a comfortable couch is something whole-heartedly promoted (and practiced) by all in the BHK.

A COOK DREAMIN’ OF SWEETER ONIONS

Last night I looked up and saw our pots hanging there and remembered that cooking is possible in the house.  I am not missing the washing up I can tell you!   I do however miss frying onions and garlic, reducing sauces until they’re thick and potent, I miss roasting spices, roasted and sweet veggies in general and the joys of homemade bread.

I have been cooking loads recently and playing with many recipes, mostly vegan.  I have reached the unenviable stage of actually dreaming about food.  It has become quite serious, dreaming of recipes.  The main problem being that when you wake up you either forget them, or they turn out to be complete nonsense.  Fortunately, in last nights dreamland, I was lost in India on pretty funky looking bus, then in Delhi getting my palm read by an old, toothless gypsy crone.  Then a cobra!  A welcome return to dreamland form.  Food just doesn’t fit in other astral plains, its surely just a humanoid pass time.

So cooked dishes will be returning to the BHK shortly, but raw food is still a real blast!  Raw food will always play a major role in our diet, but some cooked goodies will be incorporated.  Some things are actually better for you when cooked, tomatoes being one.  Raw food is awesome, whole food is awesome, all food is awesome!  What a wonderful way of giving our body energy, breathing and eating (not at the same time please).

Treat yourself, go a little Choco Nut Tahini today.

Makes 8 decent cookie sized cookies:

The Bits

1 1/2 cups cashews (soaked 3 hours), 1 cup almond (soaked 3 hours), 3/4 cup chopped dates, 1 cup almond milk (or your favourite milk), 2 tbs dark tahini, 2 tbs goji berries, 4 tbs raw cacao, 1/2 cup whole hazelnuts

Mash it up!

Mash it up!

Do It 

In a food processor, blend your cashews, tahini, cacao, goji, dates and almonds to a rough paste (scrapping down the sides regularly).  Begin to add your milk slowly until a sticky, dough-like paste is formed.  You want it to be a little wet, as this will dry out in the dehydrator/ oven and leave a nice moist middle.   At the end, add your hazelnuts and pulse a few times to incorporate, but not break up too much.

Spread into your dehydrator shelf for a tray bake approach or as we do, cut out squares of baking parchment (lightly oiled) and form small balls in your hands (like a slightly small squash ball).  Pat them onto the baking parchment until it resembles a cooking, they will shrink a little when dehydrated, but not much.  Pop a whole hazelnut on top to finish things off nicely.

Pre-non-bake

Pre-non-bake

Leave to dehydrate for around 5 hours for a moist centre of for 8 hours for a crisp cookie.  Whichever you prefer.

Leave to cool in the rack for 30 minutes, then place in a tupperware to keep them nice and crisp.

Serve

Ideally warm, we had ours with a magic ‘peach melba cream’ (raw vegan, recipe to follow).

Raw Choco, Nut and Goji Cookies

Raw Choco, Nut and Goji Cookies

We Love It!

Because when you can have your cake and eat it, it is always best to do so with gusto and smiles!

Foodie Fact

I think all berries are good for you, except those deadly nightshade things (although they did look enticing as a child even with that name!)

Goji berries have long been heralded as a ‘super’ food, mainly because they contain ridiculously high levels of vitamin C (some say the highest around).

They contain 18 amino acids, 21 minerals, glyco-nutrients for cell communication, and more beta-carotene than any other food on earth.  They also contain a substance that stimulants the release of growth hormones in the body, making them an anti-aging gift from nature.

Categories: Baking, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Blooming Marvelous! Garden Update

The Queen of Salads!

The Queen of Salads!

Well, well, well……I mean really.  We had a summer, a proper stint of sun.  We woke every morning expecting it to be sunny.  How rare, how brilliant!  The garden has appreciated the warmth and light, things are blooming like never before in our little mountain abode, we can’t keep up with the progress, most of the time just letting nature do its thing and appreciate what comes from that.  This generally hides our lack of discipline with gardening and confirms our inherent feeling that nature cannot be contained in a plant pot, or bossed around.  Our potatoes seem to appreciate the approach!

The Potato Patch

The Potato Patch

Courgette Flower

Courgette Flower

The Beach House Garden is quite big and wild, after not strimming for a while it was resembling a Welsh jungle and wild things lurked out towards the horse field.  Fortunately they were just frogs and the occasional mole, although the rabid sheep have been making unwanted appearances in the garden.  Feral lot that they are.

So this year we have some decent looking beetroots, rhubarb chard, cavolo nero and even courgettes coming along.  The herbs have gone wild (which we always enjoy) and as I said, we have three varieties of potatoes leaping from the ground at an alarming rate.  Come early August and freak storms permitting, we should have a reasonable bounty to play with in the BHK and share amongst our nearest and dearest.

'Erbs running wild

‘Erbs running wild

Raw Earth Month marches on bathed in sun and good vibrations.  I have to say, the food has been grand and we are trying our best to post more recipes.  Our month of total raw/ vegan-ness ended yesterday, no booze, coffee, consuming, chemicals, lights, washing machine etc for over a month now and going strong.  Once you start this and feel good about it, it’s always hard to get back off it.  I am sure one day a scone will come along and that will be it!  Until then we are thinking another two weeks are in order.  There are two bottles of cava primed for the closing ceremony, we’ll have a picnic in the back garden on the stone circle and eat sandwiches and a lemon drizzle cake (Jane’s favourite) and get slightly sozzled in the sun (hopefully).

Yellow Lilly's (I think) growing in the pond

Yellow Lilly’s (I think) growing in the pond

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

We are so lucky to have wild strawberries growing this year, if we can grab them before the birds take their share!  They are the sweeetest, fragrant little things.  Just one tiny strawberry can change your day, much better than their big brother variety.

Wild Strawberries

Wild Strawberries

My hayfever has taken a back seat now that Jane’s magical herbalist friend has sent some little sweet pills through.  I can now enjoy the garden without fear of pathetic dribbles and sneezing fits taking over.  Hoorah!  This has made a huge difference to my enjoyment of the dramatic transformations in these green and golden hills.

We are being battered by odd humid, tropical storms at the moment, but somewhere behind those grey clouds, there’s a sun waiting to get busy.

On a walk near the Beach House

On a walk near the Beach House

Some classic George (you saw this one coming surely!):

Hopefully you’ll be seeing some of our garden produce in our recipes very soon, there is nothing quite like cooking with your own veg.  I am lucky enough to be working at a wonderful retreat centre at the moment and cook with alot of veg grown on the land.  There is something intangible and whole heatedly enjoyable about cooking with such produce.  It makes all the difference and the flavours are spectacular!  Eating the stem of a rhubarb chard recently is a food experience I will never forget!

Enjoy the heat wave (while it lasts)!

Categories: Garden, Raw Food, Summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cashew, Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

Cashew, Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

Cashew, Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

A bit of crunch to a Raw diet, you can’t beat it. Things like these biscuits add a much needed bite to the gorgeous raw salads and soups that we are munching at the moment. We love ’em!

Jane and I appreciate a good oatcake, but these biscuits are something else!  Fat and dense with loads of flavour they are something quite substantial and of course, you have all the nutrients and enzymes still there so they fill you up even more.

These Cashew Biscuits are also green which is my favourite colour. Do you find this attracts you to certain foods? I know I like purple things, there is an ice cream in the Philippines called ‘Ube’ which is one of the worlds most amazing foods. I believe this is known as a tangent…….

Ube Ice Cream – a worthy summer tangent

You will need a dehydrator for these, or some say that you can put an oven on low heat and leave the door open slightly, although I don’t like the sound of this practice.  Dehydrators are relatively cheap and if you’re into this kind of thing, are a worthy addition to your kitchen arsenal.  They are basically a small hair dryer with a big plastic box attached, you can change the temperature on them, our’s goes up to 700C but we keep it below 45oC.  Keep it raw!  They are also handy when foraging, dry excess herbs for future use.  We have been making alot of mint tea, using a glut of apple mint and storing it in jars for later.

Mustard is one of my favourite things to be found in a jar (horseradish also).   I will be making my own very shortly in the BHK such is my passion for the stuff.  Well made mustard also happens to be very good for you and has many health giving properties (see the Foodie Fact).

Biscuits, crunch, raw and YUM! Give them a whirl.

Makes 8 big biscuits:

The Bits

2 cups cashews (soaked overnight), 1 cup sunflower seeds, 2 cloves garlic (mashed up), 2 cups spinach leaves, 1/2 cup flax seeds (soaked), 1 celery stalk (chopped), 1/4 cup fruity olive oil, 2 teas dijon mustard, 1 teas salt, 2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional, but will make them nice and cheesy), 1 teas dried sage, 1 teas cracked black pepper

Do It

In a food processor, blend your cashews first to form a thick paste.  Reserve the oil and add all other ingredients, begin to blend and add the olive oil gradually until the paste is sticky but not wet.  You will need to scrape down the sides of your FP and blend again to make sure all is combined well.  If it’s too dry, add a little more water, if it’s too wet, add more flax seeds.

Ready for the dehydrator

Ready for the dehydrator

Dehydrators differ, but ours does not have a non stick shelf.  We cut greaseproof paper into suitably sized squares.

Grab a decent sized ball of your mix with oiled hands, shape it a gauge the size (ours were around 6 inch discs, nice and chunky), place on your greaseproof square and pat down until you are happy with the size.  Use a cupped hand to push in any untidy bits and form a nice edge.

Pop in a dehydrator for around 12 hours on 440C, we left our’s overnight and in the morning, we had crunchy biscuits.

Cashew. Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

Cashew. Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

We Love It!

We can see ourselves eating alot of these and even, on occasion, replacing our oatcake habit with these green wonders.  They are alot more than a biscuit and from a nutritional point of view, are real powerhouses disguised as a dried up looking disc.  What a pleasant surprise.

Foodie Fact

Mustard seeds are related to Broccoli, the cruciferous family and there are over 40 different varieties of the plant, but they are mainly grouped into black (the spiciest), white and brown.

Brown mustard seeds (which are actually dark yellow in colour) are the acrid ones used in making Dijon Mustard.

Mustard has been shown to battle cancer and has lots of selenium, which helps with asthma and arthritis.  It also boasts plenty of magnesium which helps with sleep patterns, migraines and also good levels of omega 3 fatty acids.

Categories: gluten-free, Raw Food, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Primitive Juice Man Conquers Mighty Mountain!

Primitive Juice Man - on the way up

Primitive Juice Man – on the way up

I did.  Two days ago I climbed the second highest mountain in Britain, Snowdown, which is just behind our house.   I climbed it in record time (for me) fueled only by a beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger juice.  Wahee!  Juice power.

Super Juice

The Super Juice

As many of you will know, the Beach House is tucked away in the valleys of Wales, overlooking Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula.  We have the most spectacular views and on days like today, when the skies are clear, I can see some of my favourite landscape anywhere.

Britian is experiencing a  heat wave at the moment and we are getting some of it, with temperatures in the mid 20’s for the past two weeks.  The garden is loving it (post to come soon) and our veg patch is looking amazing.

RAW EARTH MONTH UPDATE

The weather has come at the perfect time for our Raw Earth Month and it is definitely salad and smoothie weather at the moment. The only down side to a proper British summertime is that I get chronic hayfever, which is a huge drag.  We have consulted Jane’s homeopathic/ magician friend and she is sending up some remedies as we speak, hopefully this will stop my sniffles.

We are going to extend our Raw Earth month by two weeks, we are loving it!  The candle light at nights is perfect as it doesn’t get dark until 10ish anyway.  It adds a very peaceful feel to the house and there is something timeless about reading by flickering candlelight.  Handwashing our clothes has been interesting.  It takes a while and a little effort, but with the sun out and a special herbal soap, we are getting great results.

We have been making once a week trips in the car to pick up our amazing veg box from some wonderful people a couple of valleys away, full of the finest organic produce and the courgettes are coming thick and fast at the moment!

 

One thing we are using alot is the dehydrator.  Jane is taking full advantage of the abundant herbs and wildflowers at the moment and we are drying them for use in teas and infusions.  We realise that it uses a bit of electricity, but know that we will have to buy less in the long run.  It seems to at least balance out.

We watched an interesting documentary recently ‘No Impact Man’ about a guy giving up many things in a one year project, in the centre of New York.  We can draw alot of parallels with Colin and his family, but we are lucky to live in the country and have no TV anyway!  We are well from many temptations up here on the hill, no restaurants, bakeries or cafes.  No cinemas, shops, pubs!   It would be alot more difficult to do this kind of thing in a city.  Hats off to Colin and his family for sticking to it and setting an amazing example, his project became huge and was all over the media.  I am sure it made a big impact and they seemed to be having a good time doing it, which is surely the main thing!

I think we’d do this all again, especially the raw food part.  We are consuming alot less, recycling most of our water on the garden and generally life has slowed down.  So far, the experiment is going well and the sun is shining.  What more could you want!

View from the bottom - Snowdon, Nantlle Side.

View from the bottom – Snowdon, Nantlle Side.

View of Nantlle Valley from Snowdon

View of Nantlle Valley from Snowdon

What has this got to do with food you may ask?  Very good question.  I guess it highlights the fact that you don’t need a full English/ Welsh breakfast and 5 mars bars to go walking in the hills and that juices are super cool and full of energy.

I also realise that the weather is chilly in some parts of the world now (Tasmania especially I hear!) and it is surely nice to look at little wet Wales bathing in glorious sunshine for a change!  Long may it continue…..

OK, heres something food related, todays smoothie.  It’s a:

Green Banana, Coconut and Almond Smoothie

Makes one large jugful, enough for three glasses:

The Bits

2 bananas, 2 cups coconut milk (watered down), 1 apple, 1 cup cucumber, 3 cups spinach, 1 cup soaked almonds, 2 teas green powder (barley powder, spirulina), 1 cup grapes, 1 lime (juice and zest)

Do It

In the blender and blend, scrape down the side, blend, scrape down the sides and blend…….repeat until all is smoooooth.

Banana, Coconut, Almond and Spinach Smoothie

Banana, Coconut, Almond and Spinach Smoothie

We Love It!

Very sweet and filling smoothie, packed full of nutrition.  Anything green is great.

Foodie Fact

Spinach is regarded by many as the best thing you can eat.  Ever.  We agree.  Not only does it taste so, so good, it contains more iron than beef, pound for pound.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Healthy Living, Raw Food, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Avocado, Coconut and Apple Breakfast Pudding + THE Best Way to Start the Day

(Sorry guys, we had problems with the photos for this one and they now seem to be lost.  Recipe is still delicious though!)

This makes for a sweet and super nutritious start to the day.  Who says pudding is just for later in the day anyway!  We like to mix things up over here on the hill and this is dessert first thing, what a way to start the day!

A serious combination of goodness this avocado and coconut, to some a pair of fat filled fiends, but to those of us in the nutritious know, two full blown detox powerhouses of legendary proportions.  Am I exaggerating, very probably!!!!  But seriously, don’t be put off by all that fat talk, good fats doesn’t even make you fat anyway!  It’s all that refined sugar aka bad carbs, aka breakfast cereals…….  We haven’t even got started on how these actually taste, a mixture made in heaven for certain.

THE BEST WAY TO START THE DAY

The coco water here is a brilliant re-hydrator due to its high quantity of electrolytes, beats any ‘sports drink’ hands down, and we all need a good dose of hydration in the morning.  This is a dense pudding so get the body fully woken up before you attempt to spoon it down.  We’d always recommend starting the day with a pint of warm water with a squeeze of lemon or a tbs of apple cider vinger (avec mother) in it at least 20 mins before having your breakfast/ pud.  This is the best way to start the day with plenty of good clean fluids which will get the system well oiled, hydrated and sparkling early on.  A pint of water can only help at anytime, especially in the morning when our body has being shriveling up whilst we sleep.

This ‘pudding’ is utterly guilt free!!!!!  It has a firm kick of greens, with some wonder green powder, spinach (or kale, or cabbage leaves, whatever you have handy) and the wonderfully gelatinous linseeds.  This is what gives the coco pudding its super thick texture and pudding-ness.

Naturally sweet and creamy, this could probably be frozen and made into a splendid summer ice cream.  We haven’t tried this though.  Has anyone frozen an avocado?

Good Mornin’s and BHOM!

The Bits

1 avocado, ½ fresh coconut plus coco water (chopped in chunks), 2 sweet apples (halved and seeded), 1 tbs ground linseeds/ flax seeds (soaked for 20 minutes in 3tbs water), 1 cup creamy coconut milk, ½ lime (zest and juice), 1 handful spinach leaves, 1 tbs barley powder/ wheatgrass/ spirulina

Do It

Blend it, all of it, until thick and creamy.

Serve 

Sprinkle things on top if you like, but its great just as it is and as always, not too cold please, set the flavours free!

We Love It!

What a way to get things going in the morn!  Its fair to say that Jane and I are not natural morning birds, we tend to blossom later in the day, especially when we’re feed some AM dessert!  Hoorah!  What a concept, this could be the next big thing (way bigger than the last big thing, which was just medium/large in comparison.)

Foodie Fact

Coconuts are one of the most nutritious fruits on earth.  It contains a load of lauric acid, which is known for antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial properties and also boost the immune system.

Coconut water (the stuff in the nut) has a huge amount of electrolytes, making it an ace in preventing dehydration.  In some parts of the world they use it intravenously to hydrate critically ill patients.

Coconut, although being high in fat, actually helps you loose weight!  Its good for the heart, rejuvenates the skin (keeping wrinkles away), increases metabolism and actually lowers cholesterol.

Only downside is, they don’t grow in Wales!!!!!

Yesterdays breakfast - eaten in the garden!!!!!

Yesterdays breakfast – Blueberry and Mango Salad with a Banana Tahini Sauce eaten in the garden with the sun!!!!!

Categories: Breakfast, Raw Food, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Cool Cucumber, Basil and Cashew Soup (Raw)

Cucumber, Basil and Cashew Soup (Raw)

Cucumber, Basil and Cashew Soup (Raw)

This soup is a real summer cooler, not something you can regularly say about a soup.  Its creamy (without cream) and hearty (without potatoes and butter), all down to our raw friends the cashew nut.  What a wonderful thing they are.  They make great cheese, milk and add wonderful richness to all things they grace.

Raw soups can be very hearty actually, adding sprouted grains helps and a few nuts or seeds go along way to building a full texture, bags of veggies also make a big difference.  It always impresses me how much goodness you can squeeze into a soup/ smoothie/ juice.  My juice this morning had around 10 different fruits and vegetables (beetroot, carrot, orange, lemon, parsley, basil, spinach, apple, ginger, sweet potato YUM!)  I have to say, afterwards, I was feeling quite high on the stuff.  High on food!  Juice on an empty belly is a magical thing and gets the ZING going in the AM.

This mornings super juice

This mornings super juice

This soup has so many good flavours in there (we love the horseradish especially) as well as being superbly nutritious.  We have been using olives a lot this month instead of adding more salt, they add a natural saltiness to dishes.  So this is a salt-less soup.

COOL AS A CUCUMBER

Cucumber in anything is cooling, it has that lovely quality which is perfect for a sweltering summers day.  I am a hot blooded creature and therefore the British summertime is a little tepid, but yesterday did  seem quite steamy. This soup made for a perfect dinner.

The cooling effect of cucumber is put down to cucurbitin and fatty oils found in the seeds that has a soothing effect on the body.  Cucumber is great for sunburn and can also have a cooling effect when made into a juice.   So drinking cucumber juice is just like putting coolant into a car!

THAT ‘RAW FOOD’ FEELING

Now that we have been eating raw food for over two weeks, our appetite has generally decreased, more accurately our cravings for sugar have decreased.  I find myself better balanced and not snacking hardly at all, certainly not craving coffee or alcohol or sweet things.  I forgot how powerful the raw diet is and how it impacts much more than just what you eat, you feel very different also.  Its like your charged with loads of clean energy and your brain is working at its optimum level and your body is thanking you all the time for being some damn good to it.  Its a pleasant place to be.

RAW FOOD EQUIPMENT

The only thing about getting started with a raw food diet is that you need the equipment.  We’ve gathered ours over a period of two years and are still short of a few bits and pieces.  We have added a dehydrator recently, which we have been enjoying.  A juicer is fairly essential and a food processor is important for all those soups and smoothies.  You could be raw without these gadgets, that is probably the next step for us!  Eating things that fall from trees and gathering berries from hedgerows.  That would be a really natural existence!  Without this equipment, I’d imagine it would be difficult, especially in Britain, to get a decent variety of textures and keep things interesting.  Munching on a raw carrot does have its limits.

Raw food equipment

Raw food equipment

Having said that, one of the best bits of equipment that we use is a humble peeler.  Known as a French peeler, it is vital in sorting out all these fruits and vegetables quickly and makes almost perfect ribbons of produce that can then be popped into salads or made into a raw pasta-style dish.

French Peeler – The Best!

Makes two big bowlfuls:

The Bits

1 1/2 cucumbers, 2 garlic cloves, 2 small green apples (cored and chopped), 1 lime (juice), 1 cup cashews (soaked for 2 hours or longer in filtered water), 1 cup green olives, 1 cup parsley, 1/2 cup basil, 1 tbs horseradish, 2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes, 2 cups filtered water (more if needed)

Do It

In a food processor, blend your cashews first, until a thin paste is formed (add soaking water a little at a time), add the rest of the ingredients and a cup full of water.  Blend for 30 seconds and check consistency, it should still be a little chunky in places, add more water and blend again if required.

Serve

With a splash of brilliant, fruity olive oil and a pinch of cracked black pepper.

Foodie Fact

Cucumber has many beneficial properties, it is anti inflammatory and moisture regulating, as mentioned above, it also has cooling properties.  These are the reasons that cucumber is used in beauty products and the like, it smooths the skin and gets rid of dead skin cells.

Cucumber is also full of dietary fibre and is great for people suffering from heartburn, ulcers,acidity etc, for this reason it also helps with constipation.  It’s good for the joints, the kidneys and helps in the digestion of proteins.

Cucumber also has plenty of vitamin C and folates and like the vast majority of veggies, it contains a vast amount of other nutrients.  Overall, cucumber is a serious superfood!

Homemade Cucumber Pickles

Homemade Cucumber Pickles

Categories: Raw Food, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Summer Berries and Rocket Breakfast Salad (Raw/ Vegan

Summer Berries and Rocket Breakfast Salad

Summer Berries and Rocket Breakfast Salad

OK, it doesn’t have to be for breakfast, but it’s a beautiful thing to tantalise the palate and get the body singing in the AM.  This salad gives you plenty of nutrients to play with and a great detox kickstart.

We love the combination of sweet fruits and rocket (arugala to some), a contrast of sweet and sharp that will wake your taste buds up first thing.  We are watching the foods that we combine at the minute and diary and nuts with this salad would go some way to lessening the bodies ability to absorb all that goodness.  I find that its force of habit to stick seeds and nuts on breakfast, but have realised that if I don’t, I feel great after an hour, very full with bags of energy.  There is a noticeable difference.

‘Tis the time for berries and we are reaping the nature’s bounty with big smiles on our faces.  We have had this sort of salad with all sorts of berries and ran into some particularly splendid cherries recently which will live long in the memory.

Eating a berry salad is a little decadent some may say, no filler here, just berries and a little greenery.  But its a treat and we’re well worth it! Make it a Sunday morning treat instead of a waffle, or even a Monday morning treat instead of a bagel!  Whatever takes your fancy of course.

All berries are rammed with vitamins and all are ‘super’ foods, the also happen to be sweet and luscious.  Over doing berries is probably not good for you, but it’s that time of year when sitting in the garden and devouring a punnet of strawberries per person should be a national pass time.  We’ve earned them after enduring all that grey drabness.  Lets enjoy these open blue skies and toast them with some vivid red berry action.

Steering away from dairy and grains in the morning is good practice and they tend to slow things down, clog you up a little.  Fruits and greens are the perfect way to get things rolling in the right direction.

Serves two lucky fruits.

The Bits

1 cup strawberries, 1 cup raspberries, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup rocket leaves

(de-stoned cherries would be awesome!)

THAT’S ITS!

Do It

Wash all the berries and rocket, dry on some kitchen paper.

Summer Berries and Rocket Salad

Summer Berries and Rocket Salad

Serve

You can add some soaked chia seeds, which are great for the digestion.  The also have a gloopy, porridge-like texture to them.

We Love It!

5 star breakfast!  5 stars!

Foodie Fact

Raspberries are not only pink and fluffy, they help you burn fat quicker due a phytonutrient.  Raspberries belong to the rose family; as do apples, strawberries, apricots, plums, pears etc and are best bought organic as they have been shown to contain greater antioxidant levels, this means lots of vitamin C.   How cool!

Categories: Breakfast, Detox, gluten-free, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

What a thing!  What a wonderful thing!  RAW CRACKERS have arrived with a crunch at the BHK!  We managed to pick up a dehydrator for half price which has inspired us to play with many ingredients in new ways, generally making them all crispy.

This crispiness is something you can miss when you go full-on raw (I believe it is known as mouth feel in some circles, but that sounds too technical for a humble cracker), the odd bit of toast, bread, crackers, oat cakes, you know the drill.  You fancy something to balance the crunch and zest of all the magic veggies and fruits you’re eating.  This is where the raw cracker comes into its own and this one boast not only dried onions (massive flavour here) but also brown miso for a cracker that tastes as stunning and moreish as anything dusted with chemicals and the like.

These buckwheat crackers were a real surprise, we had no idea they’d taste so dang good!  The only issue is not eating them all at once and they do take a good 12 hours to dehydrate.  Dehydrating is a great lesson in being prepared and most importantly patient.  You can’t rush the process, but the end result is normally more than worth the wait.  It’s best to dehydrate over night and then you just forget about whats going on until you wander down in the morning and find some crispy wonders awaiting you.

The dehydrator also makes soothing buzzing noise and warms a room quite nicely, just a couple of add- on benefits.  It actually sounds like your on a plane when you sit beside it, that gently humming and whistling, you can close your eyes and imagine your off to somewhere exotic to behave in wonderful ways.

Buckwheat is one of those things that we don’t eat enough of, we have to go to the health shop to get our hands on it.  When we have it around we love having a play with it using it as a substitute for grains in salads and stews.

Buckwheat is actually a berry (along the lines of quinoa) and has nothing to do with wheat etc, so its gluten free and great for the body/ digestion.  Buckwheat flour is also perfect for a full flavoured, dense pancake or flatbread.  We love wheat, but it generally doesn’t love us.  When you start giving things up on a raw diet, you really get to know your digestive system in a new way (promise not to get too graphic here!).  You also realise how much strain you have been putting it under and wheat/ gluten for us is a real drag on the belly and below.  Still, the smell of toast is something quite special and we’ll always nibble our way through a couple of slices.  It’s a pleasure-pain thing and the pleasure is well worth the gurgling insides.

There is something about miso that is quite special also, it’s got that healthy bacteria thing going on and just feels very, very right.  It is high in sodium, but it is used by the body in a different way to plain old salt.  Japanese people eat alot of it and Japanese people live for a long, long time and have significantly less disease than us Western varieties.   It could be the miso!?

We used slightly oiled baking parchment to dry these babies out, it works quite well, but in proper dehydrating circles, you’d use a special non-stick tray.  If you are gentle with a spatula, you should be able to get them off in one piece-ish.

Makes eight medium sized crackers.

The Bits

300g sprouted buckwheat, 1 1/2 tbsp brown miso (use more if you are using white or yellow miso), 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp fresh parsley (we didn’t have any), 1/4 onion (finely sliced), 2 tbsp boiling water, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, 1 tbsp sunflower/ pumpkin seeds (optional)

Do It

Blend all together to a thick, spreadable paste.  You’ve got to love this raw food prep, its a blend-fest, but oh so simple.

Just add......avocado?

Just add……avocado?

Serve

We like ours with a crunchy salad, the contrast of textures is something to behold and its raw, and all the nutrients are there AND its superbly healthy.  How about lathered in avocado!!!!!  Its one of those raw/ vegan food no lose situations that we coming to love in the BHK.

We Love It!

Full of nutrition and raw crunch, we can’t wait to get started on a new batch.  Flax and sprouted oat next up….

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is a berry related to rhubarb and sorrel, it helps to slow down the absorption of glucose after a meal making it good for diabetics.  It contains all of your amino acids, not produced by the body and also contains lysine and many minerals which are great for the immune system.

Categories: Raw Food, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Raw Food?

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.

Happy Days!

Categories: Detox, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Raw Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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