Superfoods

Top 10 Cooling Summer Recipes – Healthy, Plant-based, Delicious!

Here’s some of our favourite recipes to go with this heatwave.  We spend plenty of time in tropical and steamy places, so we know how to keep things cool when the thermometer starts to rocket.  There are even rumours right now of people in North Wales wearing shorts!

Chill Out!

Focusing on cooling ingredients, especially things like cucumber and watermelon for example, will help keep you chilled.  Also, hot drinks.  Sip some tea like the desert bedouins do, they know it works!  Although a nice long drink, with ice and all the trimmings is the perfect treat.

Try freezing fruits like watermelon, any melon actually, berries, mango, pineapple etc and simply blend them.  Very refreshing, the healthiest slush puppy you’ll ever try!

Also, you can freeze fruit like gooseberries and pop them in a drink, fruit ice cubes.  We also love juicing vegetables and fruits and pouring it into an ice cube tray, or even better, lollipop moulds.  Just add sticks (cocktail sticks are fine for the ice cube tray) and you’ve got gorgeous, healthy coolers waiting for you in the freezer.  Try freezing one layer of juice first, then adding another, and another, until you get a very cool rainbow effect.  Looks amazing!

Here’s our top 10 summer cooler recipes:

Cooling Watermelon, Tofu & Mint Salad

This is the perfect salad for a sweltering day.

Gado Gado – Indonesian Seasonal Salad with Kickin’ Zesty Peanut Sauce

Use whatever mix of veggies you like here, its the dressing that’s the superstar!

Moxarella – Homemade Vegan Mozzarella

The perfect centre piece for a summer ploughmans or salad platter, of course, goes amazingly well with basil and ripe tomatoes.

Watermelon Gazpacho – Cooling, Raw

Very chilled, very simple.  Plus, lots of vibrant colours and flavours.

Charred Fig & Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

I love chargrilling or barbecuing figs at this time of year.  Perfect!

Coconut Pad Thai Salad with Almond Dressing

A taste of Thailand.  Light, but packed with nutrition, ideal at this time of year.

Summer Berry & Chocolate Cheesecake – Vegan, Gluten and Sugar-free

When eaten not long out of the freezer, these mini cheesecakes are cooling and so delicious.

Lebanese Halva Choc Ices – Tahini, Rose, Almonds & Figs (Sugar-free)

Our favourite choc ices, a must try and sugar free!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Ice Cream (Sugar free)

This recipe comes all the way from India, Tamil Nadu, where it reaches nearly 50oC in the summer.

Mango & Coconut Lassi

Coconut + Mango can only = one thing.  YUM!

 

If you like these recipes, please feel free to comment below and share with friends and curious cooks!

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Stay cool!

Categories: Desserts, Detox, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Lunch, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Salads, Summer, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: | Leave a comment

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

Dark Chocolate & Chilli Brownies – Vegan & Gluten-free

Chocolate & Chilli Brownies – Gluten-free and Vegan

An interesting twist on a classic chocolate brownie, made with black beans and given a lift with a little chilli and coffee kick!

Please don’t be put off by the whole bean thing, give them a go.  You would never be able to tell and these brownies have a lovely rich texture and all the benefits of black beans, meaning that they’re healthy and gluten-free.

They’re also pretty fuss-free creations, pop all the bits in your trusty blender, blitz, bake, enjoy!  Dessert sorted!!  I don’t know who originally started to make cakes with beans, but I hope you’re very proud of your genius.

Rich and very chocolaty, they’re a real favourite of ours at the minute.  We normally served them with our Dulce de Leche, it compliments the dark chocolate perfectly with its sweet caramel.  If the Dulce de Leche is warmed, even better, then, a nice bit of vanilla ice cream.  That’s some kind of perfection right there disguised as a gorgeous dessert!

Mexican Style Chocolate Brownies – Quick, healthy and very chocolaty

I feel these brownies have a hint of Mexico about them, with the cinnamon and chilli.  I just like a little chilli tickle, but I know some of you are chilli heads, so add as much as you fancy.  A friend recently tried these with chipotle chilli flakes and enjoyed them, a little smokiness that could be interesting, but I’m not convinced.  I’m going to try it soon, but smokiness in desserts seems like a taste bud twister to me.

There is a lot of cocoa/ cacao in these brownies, which gives them a lovely deep and rich chocolate flavour, with a nice bitterness.  We prefer dark chocolate, this is definitely one for the dark chocolate lovers and when served with dulce de leche, you’ve got the whole sweet and bitter chocolate combo going on, which is a sensation! (So good, I mentioned it twice;)

The best black beans yet! Straight from Mexico City.

Black beans are one of the most incredible plant based foods based nutrition wise, and they taste mighty fine too.  Some people call them ‘turtle beans’ because of their hard shells.

I talk about their nutrition properties below in the ‘Foodie Fact’ bit, but they trample all over beef for example in almost every conceivable nutritional way.  All we need are beans!   We use a load of black beans in the Beach House, you can see by the recipes at the bottom of the page.

Chocolate & Chilli Blender Brownies

What’s your favourite bean?  That’s a tough one I know.  I’m definitely going through a black bean phase, with occasional butter bean relapses and a week rarely goes by when I don’t fall for a kidney bean.  The world of beans are diverse and, in my eyes, there is no downside to beans.

I was once on BBC Radio Wales with Eleri Sion, how lucky am I!  One of the first questions about us vegans was if we fart all the time!!  Due to the bean thing.  I don’t really get windy with beans, but I think the presenter was a little sensitive to pulses.  I wasn’t expecting this question on national radio, it was a laugh and led to a chuckle of an interview.

Recipe Notes

These brownies are delicious without the chilli, if you’re not a big fan.  The nuts and chocolate are luxury touches really, again, without them, the brownies still rock!

I think pecans are my favourite nuts for these brownies, but really, most nuts would love this brownie.

You can dare to slightly under bake these brownies.  Much better that than over baking them.

EAT ME

Dark Chocolate & Chilli Brownies – Vegan & Gluten-Free

 

The Bits – Makes 12 Brownies

235g or 1 tin black beans (rinsed and drained)

2 tbs ground flax (mixed with 5 tbs water)

3 tbs coconut oil or vegan spread

75g dark brown sugar

75g cocoa/ cacao powder

¼ teas sea salt

1 teas vanilla extract

2 teas instant coee

1 teas cinnamon

1/6-1 teas chilli powder

1 teas gluten-free baking powder

½ teas g.f. bicarb soda

35g dark chocolate (chopped into small chunks)

35g chopped pecans/ cashews/ peanuts 

 

Do It

Preheat fan oven to 180°C. Oil and line a small oven tray with baking parchment.

Mix your flax seeds with the water and leave for 5 minutes to thicken.  

Add all the ingredients to a food processor (except chocolate and peanuts), blitz for a minute. Scrape the sides of the blender down and repeat blending until a smoothish mix is formed.   

Now add the chocolate and nuts, pulsing a few times to combine. Pour/ scrape the batter into your lined tray and press down flat, around 2/3 inch thick.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops and edges are just crisping up. Test with a toothpick or skewer; the insides should be a little sticky still. That’s what brownies are all about!  Leave to cool in the tray and they will firm up. 

Serve topped with dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of nuts.  Or as they are with a nice cuppa or if you fancy, serve with some whipped coconut cream for a real treat.  

 

Serve with our Dulce de Leche – Coconut Caramel Sauce

Foodie Fact

This is the low down and figures on the super charged hero that is the humble black bean.  They’re full of healthy surprises!

Black beans contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc and can help to maintain strong bones and lower blood pressure.  They are very high in fibre and protein, with much more protein and iron than beef, and they also contain selenium which is a quite rare in the plant world and very, very good for us.    Eat beans, be merry!!

 

 

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Superfoods, Vegan, Wales | Tags: | 4 Comments

2-Minute Vegan Chocolate Sauce – Only 3 ingredients!

Quick and easy vegan chocolate sauce – good on anything!

We love this one!  3 words, easy, rich and delicious, plus 3 ingredients (and a wee twist of salt).  On our fantasy dessert island, this sauce would be the ocean.

We make this all the time and put it on most things really.  Sometimes though, if you’re going wild, the only accompaniment needed is a big ol’ spoon.  Of course, there is officially over a million ways to make chocolate sauce (no, more!!) but this is the easiest, apart from opening a packetbottlejar-thing.

February seems to be one of those months.  Most people are feeling the winter pinch right now, we’re bang in the middle of Feb (sort of) and I think we all need as much sweetness as possible to get by at this time of year.  This is not food, this is survival!!  Cacao is really high in anti-oxidants so you could kind of say that this is a flu remedy.

RETRO MAGIC

This sauce will also solidify when poured over cold things like ice cream, or those ice cream sandwiches made out of cookies which are just awesome.  Pouring over very cold things will result in a really nice crack and crunch, like the retro chocolate sauce we both had as kids (although Jane is querying the brand here).  I think it was called Birds Ice Magic (see below).  The mint flavour was my favourite, Jane’s was chocolate flavour.  Which is no surprise.  Ice Magic was some kind of revolution.  Anyone remember it?

Ideas for this sauce are of course, ice cream, drizzle over your favourite biscuit/ cake/ pancake/ toast/ fruit/ you get the idea.  This sauce rocks on anything!!

The great thing here is that with three ingredients, you can balance the chocolate sauce how you like it.  Some like it really dark (more cacao/ cocoa), some are sweeties (more sweetener).  You may also like to flavour this sauce with things like ginger, cinnamon, mint, orange, vanilla, butterscotch, brandy (just a dash;) this list goes on.   Let us know if you try it out.

Cacao is unprocessed, well, cacao, which eventually makes chocolate.  Cacao powder is a little more expensive but has loads more nutrients and we think the taste is better.

 

Recipe Notes

We prefer to use coconut oil in this sauce, you can get coconut oil that is low on coconut flavour, if you’re not into that.  At a push, you can use other lightly flavoured oils, but we haven’t tried this extensively.

Maple syrup is our favourite but any liquid sweetener, like brown rice syrup, agave etc will work nicely.

This sauce will keep nicely in the fridge, but its so easy to make and eat, there will be little need for leftovers;)

The coconut oil should be melted, liquid, but not really hot.  Let it chill a bit.

 

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2-Minute Vegan Chocolate Sauce

The Bits – One small bowlful 

2 tbs cacao / cocoa powder

2 tbs coconut oil (melted and cooled a little)

1 tbs sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup etc)

Pinch sea salt

 

Do It

Stir together the ingredients in a bowl until a smooth sauce forms.  That’s it!!

 

Foodie Fact 

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 antioxidants 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 monounsaturated 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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Categories: Desserts, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, plant-based, Recipes, Sauces, Superfoods, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Roast Carrot & Ginger Hummus

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Roast Carrot & Ginger Hummus – Get dippin’!

This is a lively one; zesty, colourful and filled with spice.  Ideal for a winter party, sure to brighten things up!  Playing with hummus flavours is something I believe all vegans enjoy, absolutely nothing wrong with the classic, but hummus is one of the tastiest vehicles imaginable for fabulous flavours!  Hummus is important!!  It’s one of those things that we can all cook, and we all have our own take on, some prefer a little more tahini, some more garlic…..

This hummus is not only a great combination of flavours, it’s also filled with all we need at this time of year to keep us shining, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, citrus and of course tahini (we love it!)  I have added a small amount of oil here and think its rich enough, but by all means, add more to make it a really rich treat.  Just sub the water for oil.

I’ll be sharing some more festive recipes soon…..

The Bits – One medium bowlful, For 4-6 for dipping

500g chickpeas (cooked, drained and rinsed)

2 large carrots (roasted and chopped)

1 1/2 teas turmeric

1 teas ground cumin

1/2 teas cinnamon

4 tbs light tahini

2 tbs heaped ginger (finely diced or grated)

2 limes (juice)

50ml olive oil

50ml water

Salt

 

Do It

Add carrots, chickpeas, spices, lime juice, ginger, 1/2 teas salt and tahini to a blender and blitz for a while.  As it’s going, pour in the water and oil.  It is fine a little chunky, but blend for longer if you like a really smooth hummus.  Taste and add salt if needed to really bring out those zingy flavours.

Foodie Fact

There is so many vibrant and healthy ingredients packed into this hummus, it’s difficult to know where to begin with this foodie fact.  Shall we talk about turmeric?  Why not!  Turmeric is a colourful root, that looks a lot like ginger in it’s raw state.  Most of us know that turmeric is an incredible ingredient from a nutritional point of view, here’s a quick low down.  It full of beneficial bits and pieces, loads of iron, vitamin C, magnesium and good amounts of protein and fibre.  I like to sneak turmeric into meals, smoothies etc whenever I can.  Turmeric is also known as an anti-inflammatory and has been said to cure a whole host of ailments.  It is also a very cool colour (which is important;)

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Everyone’s Lovin’ Jack! Ten interesting facts about jackfruit

A giant jackfruit, found dangling by a restaurant in Goa which cooked up an amazing jack and coco curry

Everyone is loving Jackfruit at the minute, all those pulled jack fruit sandwiches and have you tried jackfruit ice cream? It’s incredible! But how much do we know about this strange fruit? Don’t let the spikes put you off, this is a super fruit in every way!!  I’m lucky on my global wanders to have tried many varieties of jackfruit and different dishes. I’ve never met a jackfruit dish I didn’t like!

Here are 10 facts about this strange, spiky and wonderful fruit:

1) Jackfruit, the yellow bit we eat, is actually called an ‘aril’. It’s a flower and we eat the edible petals. One jackfruit contains hundreds of flowers and one tree can grow 250 fruits per year.

2) Jackfruit seeds are edible and healthy most people roast them. You can also boil them up and make a lovely attempt at hummus. Comes highly recommended.

3) It is said to smell and taste like a cross between very ripe bananas and pineapple, with a twist of apple and mango. It’s a confused fruit! I think that’s quite accurate but there is definitely a custardy, juicy fruit gum-ness there too.

4) There are many varities of jackfruit, some are pithy inside and some are very sweet and tender.

5) In Indonesia, they make chips out of jackfruit, called Kripik.  You can buy them and eat them like crisps.

6) Jackfruit seeds, when roasted, taste like brazil nut crossed with a chestnut. You can boil, bake and roast them.  They can also be ground into a flour.

7) Using jackfruit as a meat substitute is nothing new. In Thailand it’s sought after by vegetarians and historically called ‘gacch patha’ (tree mutton!)

8) In Indonesia, the wood of the jackfruit tree is used to maked the famous ‘gamelan’ drums.  Popular in Bali (see video below).  The leaves are also fed to cattle, but also make a nice alternative to other greens.

9) Every part of the jackfruit tree is medicinally beneficial, the bark, leaves, pulp, skin and roots.  It is also antibacterial and anitviral.

10) Jackfruit is the heavyweight of all fruits, growing to four feet long and weighing in at over 35kgs.  That’s a lot of burger right there!

Cooking wise, the main attraction to Jackfruit for me is the interesting texture, when unripe, nothing else gives that stringy, chewiness when cooked. It is meat-like and an ideal plant-based dish to serve meat eaters.  Also the flavour is totally unique, in fact, Jackfruit is a very strange fruit indeed, like nothing else.  As the world goes meat free (it’s happening!) we’ll be increasingly familiar with Jack.  It’s going mainstream!  Great news as the production of meat is one of THE main causes of global warming.

Delicious Indonesian jackfruit dish ‘Gudeg’ – actually being served at breakfast

I’ve been in Goa for a while and jackfruit grows everywhere.  Jackfruit has been hailed as a ‘future food’, due to the fact that it grows so easy and is high in nutrition. It requires minimal fuss and pruning. One jackfruit can feed many and some say it will help to ease the issue of global hunger/ food security.

For me, the country who does jackfruit the best is Indonesia. I’ve never been to a country where it is used so frequently. Almost every meal I had in a proper place had at least one dish using jackfruit. The dish ‘Gudeg’ is a stand out staple. Of course, it makes for a great dessert. It’s a very useful plant, although I have been warned that in places like Brazil, it can be invasive. This is probably not such a problem in rural Wales as it will only grow in warm places.

Fairly standard Indonesian lunch! You have jackfruit and it’s leaves here, plus tofu and tempeh.  Woah!

I also tried a ‘Pulled Jackfruit Burger’ in quite a cool little place in Yogayakarta, Indonesia. This is a contemporary twist on things and its great. You’ve probably tried one yourself?  I’ll be cooking it when I get back to the UK for sure. Unfortunately, up here in the Himalayas, it’s not a Jackfruit zone. Great organic veggies though.

You can eat ripe Jackfruit raw, I love it like that, but they have to be ripe. It’s also interesting when it pops up in a salad. Jackfruit originated in India and in the South you can find people selling it as a street snack and, of course, in parts of India it’s made into a curry. I know they sometimes make candies/ sweets out of the juice.

Jackfruit is easily confused with the pungent freak that is Durian (see below). Popular in South East Asia and banned from public transport there (it reeks like something gone way rotten and wrong). Durian is an acquired taste and once (or if) you can get over the stink, has an incredible flavour.  When I did the TV show ‘Meat vs Veg’ I was tasked with wandering around the streets of London, trying to get people to try it.  Some did and liked it, but most just looked sickened!  Again, something totally unique. Go to Thailand, try it out. The Thai’s adore the stuff. Durian looks different, bigger spikes and doesn’t grow as large.

Pulled BBQ Jackfruit Burger, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Nutrition wise, for something quite starchy, its got lots to offer. It’s low in calories with good levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6 (which is quite rare). Its also a reasonable source of minerals and a good source of carbohydrates, fats, protein and has plenty of fibre.  The seeds have plenty of vitamin A.  

Although it’s not exactly local (and you know we love our local produce) I guess there is little difference tucking into a pineapple or mango. Jackfruit is a treat and when you look at the quite high prices in the UK, this makes it even more so. I think for a every now and again, taste of something different, you can’t beat Jack!

Cambodian Jack Vendour
https://goo.gl/echunh

You can buy jackfruit canned in most countries and if you buy a whole jackfruit, be warned, they can be a trick customer.  They ooze a white sticky liquid when cut into and it takes ages to pick out the little fruits, seperate the seeds etc.  It is well worth it, the texture of a fresh jackfruit is different from the tinned.

Have you tried Jackfruit? How did you cook it? It seems like a fresh and new ingredient in the UK and beyond that everyone is falling for.  We love it!

To avoid confusion, this is Durian. Bigger spikes. You normally smell it before you see it.
Evidence of its putrid odour. Banned on public transport in Thailand and other countries. Phew!

Finally, some fascinating and hypnotic ‘Gamelan‘ music from Indonesia:

Categories: healthy, Music, Nutrition, photography, Superfoods, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

The Healing Power of Nettles

Nettle tea - 2015 vintage Nettle tea – 2015 vintage

After a strong nettle tea this morning, I feel supercharged and inspire to share the wealth of our green and bountiful friend.  The nettle plant is much misunderstood, yes it stings a bit, but there is so much more to nettles than that.  It is one of the healthiest plants that grows in temperate areas and is something we could all benefit hugely from incorporating into our diets.   Nettles are one of natures multivitamins (and the rest)!!

We love drinking nettle tea, its a complete health tonic and ideal first thing in the morning. The way we start our days is so very important, what we choose to put into our bodies after many hours sleeping can have a huge effect on our day and health in general.  Nettle tea is the perfect start!  It’s just one of those infusions that you know is doing you the power of good. Then you read a little into it and you’re certain. Nettles are packed full of pure plant power.

Nettles have historically been regarded as a superbly healthy food in many different cultures.  Milarepa the famous Tibetan sage and saint ate them when meditating for ten years in a cave, eventually turning green and gaining the ability to fly (I love these legends).  Sometimes I think we feel like exotic foods, with cool names, are our only source of sparkling nutrition.  However, there are so, so many super foods on our doorsteps (or nearby).

Milarepa - Green after a few too many nettles Milarepa – Green after a few too many nettles

The nettle picking season is just around the corner and we’re very excited. Hopefully a few will be ready before we head over to the States. North Wales is quite a tough place to grow things however nettles love it and we go on massive picking sessions each year, drying them in our dehydrator or in the boot of our estate car (on very warm days). We can then store the leaves for tea and adding to soups and stews throughout the year. You can even pan fry the leaves or use them fresh, just like spinach. Its a way of stocking up on essential minerals, vitamins and a whole host of sparkling nutritional properties, not to mention that the tea tastes wonderful. Its in the realm of green tea with a few added nuances. Some say its an acquired taste, but I think most are?! When the leaves are fresh, they have a lighter flavour. Free wonderfoods fresh from the hedgerow, now you’re talking!!

Nettles grow prolifically throughout the temperate areas of the world.  They actually thrive on the waste we produce and interestingly, large patches of nettles may be used as sign of previous settlements that are now long gone from our countryside.

Pan Roast Maple Parsnips and Young Nettles Pan Roast Maple Parsnips and Young Nettles Recipe

THE POWER OF NETTLES
One of Jane’s teachers, Susan Weed, is a firm advocate of all things nettle and writes about them extensively.  Nettles are also known as the devil’s leaf and even wild spinach, they are certainly equally delicious and even more nutritious.  There are literally hundreds of health properties attributed to this wonder plant, here are a few:

  • Nettles strengthen the kidneys.  Their Greek name is Urtica Dioica, ‘Uro’ meaning urine.
  • They are a powerful tonic, anti-anaemic, diuretic, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergenic, decongestant, anti-arthritic, laxative, antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, anti-asthmatic, expectorant……..the list goes on and on.
  • Nettles are ideal for women, especially during pregnancy, childbirth and lactation.  Nettles help with menstrual cramps, nausea and bloating.
  • A general relaxant that helps with hypertension.
  • Fresh nettle juice is antispetic and can be used as a kitchen spray, for washing skin.
  • Nettles infusions can be used to wash hair, leaving it shiny and thick.  They are also said to prevent hair loss.
  • Helps with gastrointestinal diseases, IBS and constipation.
  • Cures the common cold.
  • They can also help with hormonal, adrenal and energetic imbalances and the circulatory system.
  • They can be taken as an anti-histamine, which over a period of time, can cure ailments like hayfever.
  • Reduces gingivitis and prevents plaque when used as a mouthwash.
  • Nettles are known as a digestive restorer and consistent use of nettles strengthens lungs, intestines, arteries and kidneys.
  • Even the nettles sting has been shown to alleviate joint pain!
  • And many, many more……

It’s even been said; 

“The seed of nettle stirreth up lust……”

Gerarde-Johnson 1633

You can definitely say that nettles are an all-rounder!

It is worth mentioning that if you are taking certain pharmaceuticals, you should seek a doctors advice before taking nettles regularly.

NUTRIENTS

Nettles are especially high in calcium, vitamin C and iron.  They are also high in protein and fibre, a whole host of minerals and many more vitamins.

The whole plant is basically a powerful medicine, from roots to seeds.  It is especially good for ‘pale and pasty types’.  I like this little rhyme:

“If they would eat nettles in March and drink Mugwort in May, so many fine maidens would not go to the clay” (Funeral song of a Scottish mermaid)

We seem to have lost touch with so many of natures gifts that surround us throughout every season which are there to give us health and vitality.  I believe that in each environment we can find the nourishment we need to thrive, that is, if we have the knowledge and are inspired to seek them out.

Brewing nettles for tea

HARVESTING NETTLES

Nettles are easily identified by most, we’ve all had a little incident with them as children.  Like any plant, if you are not completely sure, don’t pick it.  There are many different types o nettles, this is especially true if you’re traveling to other countries.  Some have a very nasty sting.

We travel with marigolds and bags in nettle season and when we see a good patch, we harvest.  For eating fresh and drying, take the tender, young leaves from the top of the plant.  The first four is a good rule of thumb.  Like many plants, the growing energy is concentrated in the upper plant, this is what we after.  Nettles become more fibrous as the season goes on, so get in there during early spring although some young paler nettles will grow in shaded areas until late summer.  Always pick nettles, and any edible plants, away from man made signs of poisons and ground contamination.  This means away from roads, railway lines etc.  Many foragers also avoid plants near popular dog walking areas, or at least pick well above leg cocking height!

COOKING NETTLES
Nettles are easily transformed into a delicious edible green leaf vegetable.  Simple blanch them in boiling water, this breaks down the formic acid which stings.  You can leave them to steep to make a lovely tea or use as you would any leafy green.  Try a Nettle Aloo or Nettle Soup.  We love them in smoothies and iced teas.  Nettles make for a great pesto and can be used in place of basil and we especially like nettle hummus an stirring the leaves into hot pasta.

NETTLE JUICE

Rinse young leaves and stalks in water, place in a mechanical juicer or place leaves in warm water and leave to steep for 30 minutes.  Place in muslin cloth and wring out the bright green juice.  The juice will keep in a fridge for one day.

RUTH’S NETTLE SOUP

Recipe here.

NETTLE TEA

Recipe here.

PAN FRIED NETTLES

Blanch the nettles leaves in just boiled water.  Save the water as a stock or drink it.  Strain the leaves well.  In a frying pan, add some oil and garlic followed by the leaves.  Fry for a minute and served topped with pine nuts or almonds.

The strong fibres of the nettle plant have been used to make paper, sails, bags, cloth (think a silky linen) and makes a very strong string or rope (fifty times stronger than cotton).  Nettles have been cultivated in Mexico for 8000 years for these purposes.  Nettles can also be made into a dye, the leaves for green and the stalks for yellow.

Nettles are a gardeners delight.  They are hugely nourishing to the soil and are amazing on compost heaps.  They can be brewed into a homemade plant fertiliser packed with nitrogen compounds (this stuff stinks by the way) and can be grown as a companion crop with tomatoes and aromatic herbs.

I still think that it’s incredible that nettles are not sold in greengrocers or markets.  It is a shame that more people are not benefiting from this stunning plant.  I’d say if you’re taking multivitamins, why not try nettles instead.  They’re perfectly natural and free!

Drinking nettle tea and eating fresh nettles in stir fries, soups etc will ease and energise the circulatory, immune, endocrine, nervous and urinary systems.  Like I said, an incredible overall tonic and they literally grow on trees (or in small bushes).  Nettles are good for us in ways that we don’t really fully understand yet.  The nettles season is coming, don’t miss out!

If you are interested in foraging or taking courses in the UK, www.wildforage.co.uk is a good place to start.

Categories: Detox, Foraging, Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Inspiration, Local food, Nutrition, Recipes, Spring, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Quick Carrot and Ginger Pickle plus Five Health Benefits of Ginger

Quick and easy - Carrot and Ginger Pickle Quick and easy – Carrot and Ginger Pickle

This is the perfect accompaniment to your Saturday night curry feast!  Curry makes any weekend extra special.

I like shop bought pickles, it’s generally what you eat in restaurants in India. Although the very best pickles I’ve ever eaten have been home made (no surprises there then!) Mango, lime and mixed pickles are my favs but I had a few nice carrots in the kitchen, so I thought I’d give this a go. The spice combination and method can be used for most firm, sweet veggies, pumpkin or squash for example also work very well. This is very much a milder pickle don’t expect that eye-popping and taste bud tickling saltiness.  Its mellow like a mango pickle with spicy bells on with a nice sweet and sour chilli-ness.

The drawback of most shop bought pickles is the salt. In India I have noticed pickles are used sparingly, a couple of teaspoons per meal. In Britain, I think we can overdo it sometimes and all that salt is just not cool. The lovely thing about taking a wholefood approach, making an effort to cook much of your food at home, is that you know whats going into your dishes. We can moderate the sugar and salt levels here accordingly.

FIVE HEALTH BENEFITS OF GINGER
Really ginger is more like a medicine than a food!  It is just so good for us.  Some people get a little freaked out when I start talking about the health properties of food, but I can’t help myself!!  I love to know that the food I enjoy is actually doing me some good, not just tasting amazing, but filling me with nutrition and vitality.  Healthy food is not the worthy, boring grey slop of old, its the bright and very tasty future for us all!

  1. Anti-oxidant – Ginger contains a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory called gingerol.  It is one of the natural oils in ginger which gives it such a powerful aroma.  Ginger may also help to prevent cancer and helps to fight infections.
  2. Helps Nausea – Many people use ginger to treat nausea like morning sickness and sea sickness.
  3. Lowers Cholesterol – Ginger has been shown in many studies to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol and has even been shown to lower blood sugar levels.
  4. Helps the brain – Studies show that ginger can help to prevent age-related damage to the brain and improve brain function in elderly people.
  5.  Can help to treat chronic indigestion and pre-menstrual aches – Food containing ginger leave the stomach quicker, beneficial for people who suffer from indigestion.  It may also help reduce pre-menstrual pains if taken at the start of the menstrual cycle.  It has shown to be as effective as taking drugs like Ibuprofen.

Ginger is most certainly one of those foods worthy of the ‘superfood’ name!

Back to pickle.  Enjoy this tangy, spicy pickle with flat breads and of course, a curry or two for company. It also goes down well in sandwiches and I even like it on toast in the morning. Remember, I also eat chillies for breakfast on occasion. I understand that it’s a slightly more intense affair than strawberry jam.

 

The Bits – Makes 1 jar or serves 4-6

450g carrot (peeled and cut thin half moons – slice anyway you like really as long as its thin)

1 onion (finely sliced)

3 tbs ginger (finely sliced or grated)

3 tbsp oil

½ tsp fenugreek seeds

1 1/2 teas cumin seeds

1 teas coriander seeds (the smaller ones are best)

5 whole dried red chillies (cut in half length ways – more if you love chilli)

1 ½ tsp turmeric

2 tsp salt

5 tbsp unrefined sugar

1/2 lemon (juice)

Very simple recipe:) Very simple recipe with brilliant results:)

Do It

If you are jarring the pickle and looking to preserve it for a while, sterilise the jars by either boil the jar and lid in a pan of water or bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Add the oil to a large saucepan on medium heat and when hot pop in the fenugreek, cumin seeds and dried chillies. Fry until they pop, a minute or less, then add the carrot, onion and ginger, fry for five minutes.

Add the salt and turmeric, stir and lower heat, cover the pan and leave to cook until the carrot is soft, 20 minutes. Add the sugar and lemon juice stir, warm through for a minute and then leave to cool.

This pickle can be enjoyed once cooled or preserved for later tasty times. It will keep nicely in a sealed container for three days.

Quick Carrot and Ginger Pickle Quick Carrot and Ginger Pickle

Serve

With your favourite curry or like I said, good on toast!

Foodie Fact 

See above – we’ve got ginger covered.

We've been loving the winter sunshine down on the beach. We’ve been loving the winter sunshine down on the beach.
Categories: Chutney, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Side Dish, Superfoods, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Dischi Volanti with Avocado and Kale Pistou, Broccoli and Slow-Roast Tomatoes

Dischi Volanti with Avocado and Kale Pistou, Broccoli and Home Sun Blushed Tomatoes

Dischi Volanti with Avocado and Kale Pistou, Broccoli and Slow-Roast Tomatoes

‘Dischi Volanti’ translates as ‘Flying Saucer’ and this dish is supernatural in loads of ways!  A dish that is easy to prepare, with ingredients that can easily be swapped and changed.  The basis is a vibrant ‘pistou’ (very similar to a pesto) made creamy and rich with avocados.  I love this side of plant based cooking, always looking for creative ways of adding richness and texture to traditional dishes.

WHAT ARE SUPERFOODS?

There’s a lot of talk about superfoods at the minute in the UK. In fact, its a buzz word all around the globe. I sometimes wonder what actually constitutes a ‘superfood’?  It used to be only foods with purely radiant health properties, but this seems to be getting looser nowadays.

Really all plant foods are ‘super foods’.  They all contain some form of incredible nutrition (except maybe Jerusalem Artichoke, beautiful when roasted though!)  The huge advantage of a plant based diet is very low cholesterol and saturated fats along with a complete lack of animal protein.  All of this will result in better health.  I also think we need to look at the way our ‘superfoods’ were produced or grown, how they were transported, who profited from them…….  I wish things were simpler to fathom, but a superfood to me has greater implications than just our own health.

There is no wonder cure in foods, a harmonious approach to eating and nutrition is important, a balanced diet is ever the way to proceed; rich in wholefoods, variety and plenty of fresh, seasonal ingredients.  We like to think that the plant-based way is a ‘super diet’.  Ticks all the boxes for a healthy way of being.  Food can be our medicine after all!

In the BHK we like to look close to home for our super magic wonder foods and find the sparkling health properties in what some may see as normal fruit and veggies. This dish highlights a few of these superstars; Broccoli, Rocket, Tomatoes, Kale…..to name but a small cluster of shiners.

REAL EVERYDAY WONDER FOODS

Broccoli – probably one of the healthiest and tastiest vegetables. Grows like a dream in the UK and is available for most of the year. Packed with vitamin C, calcium, protein. It really is one of the most amazing things you can eat.

Kale – a leafy green that is obvious a little en vogue at the moment, but rightly so. Its been making people shine for years and all our Holywood/ famous types are not averse to looking and feeling at their best. I guess they get some pretty good nutritional advice. Kale is high in iron, calcium, protein, vitamin C.

Rocket – is one of natures best sources of calcium. I bet you didn’t read that on a milk carton! In truth, there are many better source of calcium in the plant world that milk. Milk is just a source of calcium, certainly not the source (as I was led to believe for much of my adult life). Good to know these things!

Avocado is of course not so local, but we wrote an article about it recently highlighting our love and appreciation for all things avo – Avocado – Friend or Foe?!  It’s a treat.

Pistou is like pesto without the pine nuts, I’m taking real liberties here by calling this creamy, plant-based sauce a ‘pistou’ but I think you’ll agree that it works well whatever the name. You won’t find this type of pistou in the south of France, that is for sure! I thought about using blended cauliflower to add richness and that creamy touch, but avocado is easier and sensational (and green to match the colour scheme of the dish).

You can use shop-bought sun blushed tomatoes for this one, but we have plenty of tomatoes coming from the Trigonos farm and in our organic veg box at the minute and this is one way of making them shine.  The slow roasting process does take a while in the oven, so maybe you’d like to whip a cake up or some muffins while the oven is one.  We made some Blackberry and Almond Flapjacks while our tomatoes were slowly drying out. Thin, tray bakes are perfect at a low temperature so are the ideal fit when drying out your gorgeous toms.

We would have used spelt pasta here, its our favourite at the moment, but we had a bag of Volanti left over from our Italy trip (seems like many lifetimes ago now) so decided to put it to very good use.  Also eating ‘Flying Saucers’ makes us feel like kids again, playing with Alphabet Spaghetti and the like.  Fun and games with serious flavours!

This dish will only take a short time to get together, the homemade sun blushed tomatoes do take a while in the oven, but otherwise its a matter of blending up the pesto and cooking the pasta.  That’s it!  It is ideal for people who are averse to green food and we know a few (naming no names……Dad).  This is a plate to get everyone into the green revolution!

Recipe Notes

Try to leave your tomatoes in the oven for as long as possible after cooking has finished.  Ideally leaving them to cool down with the oven.  This really helps to get them dried gently.

If you are doing a load of slow-roast tomatoes, keep them in a jar covered with oil.  This means they will last much longer.  Even better if you flavour the oil with fresh herbs and a little garlic.

Some subs – Broccoli for runner beans, green beans, mangetout, snow peas.  Kale for spinach.  Rocket – Watercress.  Cashews – Pine Nuts, Almonds, Hazelnuts

Slow-roasting in the Beach House Kitchen

Slow-roasting tomatoes in the Beach House Kitchen

The Bits – For 2

6 tomatoes (cut in half)

250g Dischi Volanti pasta (or pasta of your choice)

1 medium broccoli (florets cut in half, stem thinly sliced)

 

2 ripe avocados

2 handfuls kale (finely sliced)

14 basil leaves

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1 lime (juice)

2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional – for added savoury cheesiness in the pistou)

 

3 handfuls rocket leaves

 

Garnish

1/2 red chilli (finely diced)

1 big handful cashews (toasted is nice)

 

Slow-roasting tomatoes at Trigonos (you can see the scale goes up a little!)

Slow-roasting tomatoes at Trigonos (you can see the scale goes up a little!)

Do It

The slow roast tomatoes can be done well in advance.  Start the tomatoes off a couple of hours before you want to eat.  They take a while to dry well, intensifying the flavours.

Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F.  Place them skin-side down on a lightly oiled baking tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.  Place in the oven for at least an hour, checking after 45 minutes.  Now press them gently with a fork or spatula to release some of the juices.  Turn them over and pop back in the oven for 20 minutes more.  Turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes in there until needed.

When your tomatoes are approaching deliciousness, blitz together the avocado, kale, basil, garlic and lime juice in a food processor.  Season with salt, pepper and nutritional yeast flakes if you have some.  Add a splash of water, until a thick, smooth sauce consistency is formed, roughly 50ml will do it.

Cook your pasta in a large sauce pan, remembering to add salt to the boiling water.  Three minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broccoli to the pan.  This will result in nice crisp florets.  Drain when the volanti is al dente and pop back into the warm pan.  Pour over the pistou and combine gently.  Stir in the tomatoes and rocket.

Serve

Serve immediately topped with a scattering of cashews and chilli, a drizzle of good olive oil for added richness and a nice green side salad with a racy dressing.

Dischi Volanti with Avocado and Kale Pistou, Broccoli and Slow-Roast Tomatoes

Dischi Volanti with Avocado and Kale Pistou, Broccoli and Slow-Roast Tomatoes

Foodie Fact

(I think we pretty much covered it above today.)

Snowdon yesterday looking stunning in the September sun

Snowdon yesterday looking stunning in the September sun

Categories: Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad – Original Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad - Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

Fragrant Wild Rice, Curly Kale and Pistachio Salad – Recipe from Peace & Parsnips

A rich, zesty and highly nutritious salad that is ideal for an early Autumn lunch.  This is packed with ‘superfoods’ although I think most plant-based foods are superfoods (bar maybe the Jerusalem artichoke, which I love, but lacks much nutritional oomph).  So plants are all superfoods and it seems that being a vegan, no matter what you choose for dinner, your body and mind is going to thrive on it!  That is of course if you keep things natural and whole food.  We are what we eat and I don’t want to feel like a processed vegan hotdog.  Ever.  Just doesn’t appeal!  Radiant health is just one of the coolest things about being a plant muncher.  The other benefits are well documented, many times on this blog.  But I’m a cook, so lets talk food…..

This salad is a filling centre piece dish and can be made even more so by the addition of tofu/ tempeh or even a scattering of pulses/legumes.  To be honest, that’s a little OTT.  This fragrant number is already loaded with nutrition; protein, calcium, iron, vitamins, healthy fats….  For this reason, it is very satisfying and filling.  I love dill, its such a distinct herb that is seldom used.  In this salad it is not overpowering, but mingles in with the other strong flavours.

I love to create salads and toy with texture, colours and flavours.  Salads are the perfect medium to express the freshness and vitality of seasonal produce and tomatoes, carrots, kale are bang on season up here in the wild Welsh hills.  We’ve had a poor year weather wise (you may have heard me mention many times over!) but we’re hanging in there are getting some beautiful cavolo nero and curly kale and down on the Trigonos farm, we have a massive poly tunnel laden with a variety of sensational tomatoes.  Some of which weigh over 1 kg!  All are bursting with sweetness and fragrance.  Experimentation on ways of preserving tomatoes is under way, our own sun dried tomatoes lack one very important element.  So we are going to slowly dry them overnight in the oven, it will take several nights.  Needless to say, this time of year is filled with jar hunting, lots of roasting and creative twists and freezers fit to burst.  I’m a lucky fella to be cooking with such produce on a daily basis.  Thanks to Judy and team for producing the most amazing vegetables and fruits.  A cooks dream!

That's what I call a tom!

That’s what I call a tom!

KALE! WHATS ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?

As mentioned above, we’re in a ‘sea of green’ kale at the minute and not dreaming of complaining.  As we all know, many times over, eating greens is the quickest and most effective way of becoming a super happy wonder being.  It is (sort of) that easy!  Kale is a star for so many incredible reasons:

  • Kale is high in good fats.  Omega 3’s that is.  Good for the heart, brain and can reduce Type 2 diabetes.
  • Kale contains a huge amount of vitamin A.  The highest of any green leaf.
  • Gram for gram, kale has more calcium than milk.
  • By weight, kale has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange.

Eat your greens, live the dream……………

Sea of green. Kale harvest is going very well at Trigonos.org

Sea of green. Kale harvest is going very well at Trigonos

“HEY, WHAT’S HAPPENIN’?!”

(Any Marvin Gaye fans out there?)  The BHK is, of course, not just solely about food.  We do other things and like to keep you abreast of what’s happening in our lives up here on Bryn Teg (Fair Hill), North Wales.   We are going through renovations of the cottage and have recently built a deluxe wood shed, which could comfortably sleep a young family.  We need a lot of wood over the winter!  We have also been building a slate path out the front, all from local slate that we have scavenged and traded for.  Its looking like something out of the Hobbit at the minute.  Quite rustic, but very cool.  Add to that, loads of painting, gardening, oh working for a living and wandering around the hills, our summer has been packed.

We are now starting food festival season and this weekend we have two, Ludlow (Saturday 12th) and Beaumaris (Sunday 13th).  We will be doing cooking demonstrations, all recipes from Peace & Parsnips, and then book signings.  We are really looking forward to kicking things off this year and will be attending a load of food festivals around Britain.  Maybe see you there! (See ‘Contact and Press’, top right of the screen, for more details).

The Nantlle Valley, where we wander and work (looking great with the new heather growth, everything is going purple!)

The Nantlle Valley, where we wander and work (looking great with the new heather growth, everything is going purple!)

We have been sharing a much more on Twitter and Facebook these days and this has meant a few less BHK posts.  Its nice to mix things up a little!  Although Instagram is a step too far at the moment (I don’t have a mobile phone!)

This recipe has also recently featured in Your Healthy Living Magazine and posting it was inspired by Janice over at the wonderful Nourished by Nature blog, celebrating plant based food and natural health magic!  Thanks Janice.

This salad is great warm, just don’t let the rice cool fully and watch all those flavours come to life!  You can play around with the veggie components of this salad and keep it seasonal.  We are using sorrel loads at the moment, it growing in patches all over the garden and even likes to grow in the cracks in or front garden slates.  I can think of worst ‘weeds’.  Sorrel is delicious.  ‘With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue, the only thing I ever got from you, was …….’

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

The Bits – For 4-6

•250g wild rice
•1 carrot, grated (if you have any carrot tops, finely chop them and add)
•5 leaves of curly kale, cut from the stems and very finely sliced
•3 tbsp raisins, soaked for two hours and roughly chopped
•½ a handful of roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
•6 radishes, trimmed and finely diced
•6 sun-blush or sun-dried tomatoes, including any oil, finely chopped
•4 spring onions, finely sliced
•½ a handful of fresh dill, chopped
•½ a handful of chives, finely sliced
•A handful of sprouted mung beans or green lentils

For the dressing

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
•3 tbsp olive oil
•Juice of 1½ limes
•Zest of ½ lime
•½ tsp sea salt
•½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the garnish: •A handful of roasted pistachios
•3 tbsp chopped fresh dill

Do It

Rinse the wild rice in cold water a number of times until the water runs clean. Place in a pan, pour in water to cover by 3cm, then bring to the boil and put a lid on the pan.

Reduce the heat to its lowest possible and cook for 45-50 minutes, until the rice is soft and all the water has evaporated. Fluff up gently with a fork and allow to cool fully. Spreading the rice out on a plate will help here.

To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to mix evenly. Add the dressing, spoon in the rice and combine well.

Serve

In shallow bowls, garnished with the extra nuts and herbs.

Foodie Fact

The fats in this salad (oil) and the citrus (lime) will help the body to absorb the nutrients available.  They work in harmon together and carotenoids (part of the Vitamin A family) are fat-soluble and the high levels of iron in the kale are made more available by the acid in the lime.  Not only are they tasty, but all these ingredients are working together to keep our bodies shiny and happy.

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Salads, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

What’s in a vegan’s larder?

The Larder – The Land of Large Jars

Being a vegan does not make mean a massive life change or larder clear out.  Vegans eat the same as anyone else (bar a few major exceptions), you don’t necessarily need to raid your local health food shop.  Most of these items can be bought in markets, high street shops, supermarkets etc.  A regular non-vegan remark may be, “I’ve never tried vegan food”, a possible vegan response could be “Have you ever had an apple?!” We all eat vegan food everyday, its nothing new.

Being vegan does not mean a total revamp of your shelves and cupboards, although you may want to ditch that block of funky Stilton.  We like to keep them well stocked and raring to go…….  If you have the space, buying in bulk is the way forward.  Remember we are mad about food and keep far too much, buying little and often is a good idea.  You don’t need every spice/ condiment under the sun, buy a few and use them, the treat yourself to a bag of Ras El Hanout or Georgian Spice Medley.

This larder list represents a raft of ingredients that have been built up over time, many store very well, but things like spices must be kept in a well sealed jar away from sunlight and used reasonably quickly (when ground especially).  We are quite stringent about our spice cache.  We take better care of them than we do most other things (sorry about that pot plants).  Spices just lose their flavour and pizzazz otherwise.  There is nothing quite as pathetic as a pinch of lacklustre spice.  Whats the point!  We will be posting some ‘Waste Less – Top Tips’ very soon.

So, the vegan larder is almost the same as any other larder, but we have listed a few things that you may like to stock to keep things plant-based:

VEGAN STAPLES – None are necessary, but nice to have around.  Here are some of the stars of a vegan diet, all bursting with magnificent health giving properties.

Note – Some of these must be kept in the fridge.

Nutritional Yeast Flakes (add extra, cheesy flavour to dishes, comes with added B12)

Tahini (light or dark) and nut butters (like almond, brazil, peanut, macadamia or hazelnut)

Tofu, Tempeh (like chunky tofu), Seitan (also called ‘mock duck’)

Non-dairy milks (soya, almond, cashew, coconut, oat)

Flax seeds and oil (delicious, amazingly nutritious and full of omega oils and vitamin B12)

Coconut milk (very handy always)  

Vegan butter (aka non-hydrogenated margarine)

A variety of Olives (a great source of richness)

Some kind of seaweed, like dulse or nori, is always handy and delicious

Plus lots and lots of amazing fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds.   The staples for any amazing vegan diet.  

So nothing too weird and wild eh?!  Here are other bits we regularly keep in our larder/ cupboards/ drawers/ random jars that act as launch-pad for the Beach House dishes.  “Houston!  We have turmeric!”

SPICES – We are mad about them, ground or seed, in a good way.  Stay spicy!!!!:

Cumin, coriander, ras el hanout, sumac, turmeric, chilli, cayenne,  garam masala, cinnamon, fenugreek, fennel seeds, cardamom, mustard seeds (yellow, red and/or black), asafoetida (hing), clove, ajwain seeds, star anise, nora’s (dried spanish peppers), paprika (smoked and sweet), good curry powder, nutmeg, good black pepper.  Normally a few odd spice mixes we’ve picked up along the way.  

PASTES/ PRESERVES/ BOTTLES – This set of beauties pack a real flavour punch:

Tahini, molasses, peanut butter, other nut butters like brazil or hazelnut, barley extract, marmalade, marmite, good red wine, white and sparkling wines, sherry, port, tequila (you get the idea……), orange blossom water, rose water, wasabi, tamari, mirin, teriyaki sauce, sushi vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red and white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar.

DRIED FRUITS – Such sweet things and so much tastier and nutritious than simple sugar:

Date, raisins, figs, prunes, apricots (unsulphured), apples, sun dried tomatoes, mulberries (if we’re lucky), cranberries, blueberries.

OILS – Richness, good fats and vital lubrication:

Light olive oil, great Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), vegetable/ sunflower/ rapeseed/ groundnut oil (for frying at high temp), good cold pressed rape seed oil (for dips and drizzles), walnut, toasted sesame, avocado, chili.

PICKLES/ JARS – Gherkins, capers, OLIVES, chutneys and jams, always marmalade, dijon, English and wholegrain mustard

SNACKS – Things that make you go mmmmmm!

Dark, dark chocolate, nachos, wasabi peas, bombay mix, baked chickpeas, japanese rice crackers, the occasional crisp

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POWDERS – Funky coloured things in bags and boxes, which are normally super healthy:

Nutritional Yeast Flakes, wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina, cacao, live yeast, baking powder, bicarb of soda, organic and low salt vegetable stock, rock or sea salt, whole peppercorns

GRAINS/ OTHER DRIED STUFF – Where would we be without stodge and ballast?!

Pasta (brown, green and/or multi coloured – beetroot is cool), polenta (rough and fine), brown rice, many different beans, millet, barley, oats (rolled and Scottish), quinoa, cous cous, bulgur wheat, wild rice, wheat groats, muesli, buckwheat, rye flour, wholemeal flour, gram flour, spelt flour, coconut flour, corn flour, loads of different lentils, mung beans, alfalfa, soba and udon noodles, rice noodles, porcini/ shiitake mushrooms (dried), powdered seaweed, nori sheets

NUTS/ SEEDS – We are very nutty and seedy here in equal measure:

Sunflower, flax/ linseed, sesame, pumpkin, linseed, hemp, poppy seed, chia

Almond, walnut, cashew, hazelnut, peanut, macadamia (if we’re flush), pine nuts, pecans, pistachio, coconut, Brazil.

‘ERBS – Where would we be without these leaved wonders?!:

Rosemary, thyme, basil, chervil, tarragon, mint, ginger mint, dill, curry leaves, Thai basil leaves, oregano, dried mixed herbs, sage, bay leaves, marjoram, dried nettle, wild garlic, sorrel

As I said, you don’t need all of this, but the Beach House is in the middle of nowhere, so we keep a decent, old fashioned larder.  Jane loves drying herbs and I love grinding spices.  An essential part of cooking is of course the ingredients, not only buying them, but keeping them in tip-top condition.  A good larder is the sign of a happy cook!

We write alot more about spices, grains and vegan larders in general in our new book, Peace and Parsnips.  Its packed full of vegan deliciousness.  Coming soon in May 2015.

Out in May!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Categories: Healthy Eating, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spirulina – What is it and why we should all be munching it?

What may look like swamp thing is actually one of the worlds healthiest foods

Spirulina, the funkiest of green powders on the block.  Something Jane and I love dearly and take regularly to perk up our bodies and give us a super energy and health boost.

We recently visited Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India.  A community based on free expression, virtue and peace.  Its actually a difficult place to explain in an article like this, best to check it out for yourself here.

Jane worked opposite the Aurospirul Farm, a place we have bought Spirulina from in the past.  It was amazing to be so close to a fine producer of many varieties of organic spirulina. We love the spirulina mixed with Amla (like a gooseberry) which has potent levels of vitamin C which helps with the absorption of nutrients.

The Aurospirul Farm in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India

We are spirulina converts and have been for a while now, mainly due to the fact that it contains 60% easy to digest complete vegetable protein without the bad fats and cholesterol of meat.  It also contains loads of Vitamin B12, which is a vitamin generally lacking from a vegan/vegetarian diet.  Considering all of this, many people still look at us strangely when we pop the bright green pills (or powders) of a morning, so we thought we’d share some things that we know and get us excited about spirulina.  An ancient source of  brilliant nutrition that we hope will be used much more in the future and is one of the only food ‘supplements’ that we’d whole heartedly recommend.

What exactly is Spirulina?

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a tiny blue-green algae in the shape of a perfect spiral coil.  Biologically speaking, it is one of the oldest inhabitants of planet earth.  Appearing 3.6 billion years ago, it provided an evolutionary bridge between bacteria and green plants.  This water plant has renewed itself for billions of years and has nourished many cultures throughout history, in Africa, in the Middle East and in the Americas.

Spirulina grows naturally in mineral rich alkaline lakes which can be found on every continent, often near volcanoes.  The largest concentration of Spirulina today can be found at Lake Texoco in Mexico, around Lake Chad in Central Africa and along the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.

For many generations, Kanembu women have passed from mother to daughter the traditional methods of harvesting spirulina from Lake Boudou Andja in Chad

“Let your food be your medicine

and your medicine be your food”

Hippocrates 460-370 BC

Spirulina is called a super food because its nutrient content is more potent than any other food.

Many of the essential nutrients needed by the body are concentrated in spirulina.  It is comprised of of at least 60% all vegetable protein, essential vitamins and phytonutrients such as the rare essential fatty acid GLA, sulfolipids, glycolipids and polysaccharides.

Spirulina is a low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie, vegetable protein containing all the essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body but are needed to synthesize the non-essential amino acids.  Spirulina has no cellulose in its cell walls and is therefore easy to digest and assimilate.

Whats it got in it then?

Natural Beta Carotene (provitamin A)

Spirulina is the richest source of natural beta carotene, ten times more concentrated than in carrots.  Beta carotene is a very important anti-oxidant, some studies show it reducing the risk of cancer.

Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA)

This rare essential fatty acid in mothers milk helps to develop healthy babies.  GLA is the precursor to the body’s prostaglandins, master hormones that control many functions.

Spirulina is the only know food, other than mother’s milk, to contain concentarted levels of GLA.

The best natural iron supplement

Iron is essential to build a strong system, and yet iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency.  Studies have shown that iron in spirulina is absorbed 60% more efficiently than from iron supplements.

High in Vitamin B-12 and B Complex

Spirulina is the richest source of B12, richer than beef liver.  Because B-12 is the most difficult vitamin to obtain from plant sources, vegetarians have taken to spirulina.  B12 is necessary for the development of red blood cells.

Phytonutrients

The polysaccharides in spirulina are easily absorbed with minimum intervention of insulin.  Phytonutrients provide quick energy without ill effects on the pancreas.

Sulfolipids

In blue green algae can prevent viruses from attaching to cells or pentrating them, thus preventing viral infection; they are ‘remarkably active’ against the AIDS virus, according to the NCL.

Pycocyanin

Is the most important pigment in Spirulina; it has both magnesium and iron in its molecular formation and therefore may be the origin of life, common to both plants and animals.

Chlorophyll

Is known as a cleansing and detoxifying phytonutrient.  Spirulina contains 1% chlorophyll, among the highest levels found in nature and the highest chlorophyll A level.

Cartotenoids

Are a mixed carotenoid complex functioning at different sites in the body and working synergistically to enhance antioxidant protection.

All the pills and funky green potions made by Aurospirul (our favourite Spirulina heroes)

How to use Spirulina?

Spirulina is a perfectly safe natural food which provides quick energy and nourishment.  Spirulina powder can be added to fruit or vegetable juices or to dishes to enhance the nutritional content.  It is tasty in soups, salads, pasta and breads or mixed into yoghurt.

There is no way around it, Spirulina tastes a little like very healthy ponds.  It is an algae after all!  Aurospirul make a crunchy capsule that can be eaten straight up and is actually very pleasant.

Special tip – Make a fresh lemon juice and stir in Spirulina.  The vitamin C in the lemon will help in the absorption of minerals like Iron.  

Do not cook spirulina as this affects its nutritional value.

Dosage – 1-5 grams per day to result in significant health benefits. Take it everyday for best results.  You cannot take too much spirulina, there are no side effects at all.

Spirulina nutritional composition

General Analysis

Protein 60%

Lipids (fats) 5%

Carbohydrates 25%

Minerals (ash) 7%

Moisture 3%

Values per 100g spirulina

Energy 387 kcal

Phycocyanin 1.37g

Total caroteniods 0.19g

Chlorophylls 0.97g

Vitamin B12 16.41ug

Gamma Linolenic Acid 0.02g

Iron 37.73mg

Spirulina grows naturally in alkaline lakes around the world

All info taken from a the lovely people at Aurospirul.  

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Winter Zing Salad

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Winter Zing Salad

A salad for the lovers of all things green and healthy. A real cold buster! The winter zing will beat the heck out of all those winter blues and ailments that hang around at this time of year.  It’s designed specially to make you fly into Christmas time feeling superb!  All that decadent scoffing is just around the corner and our bodies need a helping hand.

It’s that time of year when salads should be eaten more, with the dark and gloomy weather, everyone is getting colds and run down. You just need to flip your head around a little here, salads are not just for summertime. Trust us, your body will thank you for this one.

We all need some food medicine sometimes and a boost, this salad boasts all of this and some funky green stuff to top it off.  I like the idea of using food for healing the body (mind and soul too), a preventive measure to illness, something that benefits the body and actually gives energy freely, without taking it away.  All ancient civilizations knew about this, especially the Indias, who through Ayurveda, have a complete method of food science created thousands of years ago! It is mostly still relevant today and modern science seems to be catching up!

Most foods we eat at this time of year are stodgy, rich and satisfying, it seems natural to be drawn to them when it’s raining and miserable outside. These foods are the exact opposite to what our bodies actually need, we end up feeling heavy and bloated, our bodies energy is mainly used to digest the food being eaten and not keeping us in tip-top shape, fighting bugs and all.

In wintertime the body needs a boost, an influx of nutrients, alkaline foods and a vitamin kick to keep them clean, light and healthy. With salads like this you’ll be the only one at work who doesn’t get that cold!

This bowl of goodness is basically lots of green leafy bits and other hard colourful veggies chopped up finely and given a wonder dressing. It is hearty and rich, with the addition of olives and a good glug of olive oil which gives plenty of fats to keep you well padded in colder climes. You can use different combos of hard veggies and leaves depending on what you have in the fridge, but this bowl works wonderfully. We have been experimenting extensively in the super zing salad field; too many baguettes and lumps of cheese in France has left us feeling in need of some quality salad time.

The idea here is to chop everything up into small chunks, so that you can get many different flavours on your fork/ spoon at the same time. Mingle the zing! You don’t want a mouth full of just spinach, you want it all mixed up and coated in your magic dressing.

Jane on the each with Robbie (the dog)

Jane on the beach with Robbie (the dog)

This recipe uses raw garlic, we love it and so do our nearest and dearest. You may want to moderate the quantity if pungent garlic breath is not you thing, although trust me, your body will thank you for the garlic buzz (it’s pretty powerful stimulant).

We topped this salad with some treats from the health food shop that you may not have in the cupboard. Nori and all of the seaweed family are just amazing for you and also add a distinct flavour to each dish they grace. For vegetarians, they are almost essential, the more green things in your diet the better and the seaweed family is full of chlorophyll and anti oxidants that make you zing and shine. As a substitute you could use wheat grass powder, spirulina or some finely chopped green herbs. Basil would be rather nice and is a special leaf.

The blob of miso on the side here acts as your salt for the meal, it is full of sodium but also many, many other goodies and cold fighting friends. You can regulate how much you fancy or need.

We are getting back into our food combining behavior and feeling all the better for it. Usually we wouldn’t eat dried fruits with this salad, but those fresh dates a too fine to ignore and of course add a lovely sweetness to proceedings.

Makes one large bowlful for one very lucky salad muncher.

A decadent salad for beating dark long days…….

The Bits

All veggies should be chopped into fine cubes (approx 2cm):

1 handful spinach leaves, 1 handful chard leaves, ½ cup brilliant green olives (pitted easier to eat), 1/3 cucumber, 1 gorgeous tomato (we used a black kumato), 1/3 head of broccoli and stem, 1 small carrot, ½ red pepper, 3 fresh dates (chopped), 1 tbsp nori sprinkles, 1 teas barley grass powder, 2 teas mixed seeds, small blob of brown miso (on the side)

Dressing – 1 garlic clove, 3cm sq cube ginger (both finely diced), 1 1/2 great olive oil, 1 tbsp coriander leaves (finely chopped), ½ tbsp lemon juice

Do It

Rinse all your veggies in a bowl of water, chop it all up into little pieces, we don’t peel anything unless absolutely necessary.

If you are presentation conscious, layer the salad (green leaves first) and top with olives, dressing and green sprinkles. Otherwise, mix all your veggies and olives in a bowl with the dressing and then top with your sprinkles.

Serve

Your finest salad bowl, although you could serve this salad in any pot or dish and it would light up your day.

Winter Zing Salad

Winter Zing Salad

We Love It!

Taste amazing, full of crunchy bits and many surprising flavours, one moment a date pops up, then a little miso, then an olive. This is fun food and always interesting to eat!

Foodie Fact

Cold busting 101:

Exercise, eat healthy, avoid excessive boozing, get some sun (if you can!!), treat yourself, relaxxxxxxxxxx, embrace the beauty of winter, get social and most of all, catch plenty of ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ’s.

Winter is a tough time for body and mind, eat more salads!

Categories: Ayurveda, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Raw Asian Buckwheat Stew

Sprouting Buckwheat

This is not exactly Asian, not your average back street Shanghai fare; we lack some ingredients but do our best in the hills of Wales!  This recipe boasts all the flavours you would expect from a classic Asian dish, with the raw touch of sprouting buckwheat and the richness of cashews.  It really is a revelation that this food tastes so good cold and is so satisfying.  Who knew?

We live quite remote, the nearest decent shop being 30 mins drive.  For a cramped island like ours, 30 mins is quite a distance.  If you can believe it, there are no fresh fruit and veg markets in the entire area.  It is strange, we are quite unique.  We therefore use what we have locally, there is a shed over the hill that sells the occasional organic vegetable, at this time of year, local produce for sale is quite sparse.  Hence we make do and blend!

We have been missing our Thai curries, stir fries etc, so this was my attempt at adding a new set of flavours to this Beach House raw June.  I like adding cucumber to dishes, it freshens and lifts things.

These recipes are known as ‘living food’ due to the sprouting going on.  Anything sprouting is full of life and nutrients and is serious super fuel for your body (and mind/well-being…..).

Sprouting buckwheat has a lovely bite to it and reminds me of a fuller quinoa in flavour.  It tastes and looks like a grain, but is gluten and wheat free.  It can also be blended up into a lovely porridge (more of this to come).  Buckwheat sprouts well and only takes a couple of days.   The technique is simple enough, soak for 24 hours in fresh water, drain and wash, leave for 24 hours, drain and wash etc.  Until sprouts begin to appear.  It  is then ready to eat.

This stew has a lovely rich feel and is very satisfying, which you need on the grey island (Britain) were it is currently summer/winter in just one day.  The storms may rage outside, yet we are warm inside and dreaming of the East….

The Bits

Veg – 1 large tomato, 1 small onion, 1/3 cucumber, 1 carrot, 1/2 red chilli (check for heat)

Sauce – 2 cloves garlic, 2 inch cube of ginger, juice of 1 lime (finely chopped zest if you like a real tang), 2 teas honey, 3 tsp sesame oil, 2 tbs tamari (or light soya sauce)

Stew – 2 cups sprouting buckwheat, 1/2 cup whole cashews,

Topping – 1 1/2 cups chopped green beans, 2 teas sesame seeds, handful of broken cashews

Mid blitz aka carnage

Do It

Add all veg and sauce bits to the blender blend to a fine salsa like mix, taste check for balance of flavours, then add your stew bits and pulse a few times to break up the buckwheat and cashews slightly.  Not too much, you need a little bite there.  Chop up your greenbeans and scatter on top in any fashion that takes your fancy (we normally mix half into the stew).

Serve

Finish with a few sprinkles of sesame seeds (we were out of stock here) and some broken cashews.

Raw Asian Buckwheat Stew

We Love It!

This beats a sloppy Chinese takeaway any day of the week!  Bursting with vitality and nutrients, this is one of our favourite raw recipes thus far.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is one of the most complete grains globally and contains all eight essential amino acids (meaning you can basically live on it!).  It is great for diabetics as an alternative to sugary wheat and also alkalizes the blood.  Buckwheat even boosts the brain, it contains high levels of lecthin and 28% of the brain is made of lecthin which also purifies the blood and actually soaks up bad cholesterol.  Wonder food!

Categories: Detox, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Nutrition, Raw Food, Recipes, Superfoods, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Raw Carrot Dip

Raw Carrot Dip

It was time to wish Savannah goodbye and good luck for her trip to Spain, so we made her a beach house special raw lunch.  Over the last few days I have come to realise I LOVE preparing food raw.  It is a new found passion for me! It’s so quick, easy, the washing up takes two minutes, and I am learning about some amazing ingredients that make everything SO tasty.  Plus the herb garden herbs are becoming so bushy of late they are just perfect.

This makes a jam jar full 🙂
The Bits
3 large carrots, half an onion, chopped parsley, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp tamari, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 4 tbsp tahini, 2 tbsp water
Do It
Chop the carrot and onion (we used the grater blade in our blender which grated everything perfectly), put everything into the blender and blend for a couple of minutes and then have a little taste – YUM!
We Love It!
This adds a nice bit of richness to our salads and can be used for dipping or spreading on your favourite things.
Foodie Fact
Tahini has an incredibly high nutritional content, full of most of the vitamin B’s and calcium.  In most diets, calcium is taken in via cows milk which is not great for the digestive system, potentially leading to irritation and other difficulties.  Many people believe that tahini has the highest calcium content of any food.

Fresh coco and nut yogurt

We thought we’d add this little snack on, we made it as a fatty number to be eaten 3 hours after our sugary morning fruit salad and before dinner (see our Raw Food No No’s for why?)  We chopped up fresh coconut, a handful of mixed nuts (unroasted) and a good blob of soya yogurt.
Happy dippingX
Love, JaneXXXX

Sunshine lettuce

 

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Sauces, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sava’s Elephant Garlic Flower Salad

Sava’s last lunch at the BHK

Here was this lunch offering, made by Jane and Sava.   A crunchy wonder, with bucket loads of veggies, topped with the ever intriguing, elephant garlic flowers.

This was Savannah’s last meal with us and we wanted it to be special.  We rustled up a few different salads, dips and even a piquant beige guacamole.

Sava is originally from South London, but is currently masterminding world domination (Sava style) which means spreading love, happiness and vibrant energy to all corners of the world.  Sava is also an ace vegan chef and was the perfect house guest during this raw time at the Beach House.  We have spent most of our time sitting around talking about food and travel, two of our most favourite chat topics.  Its been a gas….

Sava has an brilliant travel website, all about travelling the world and living your wildest dreams.  Its called travel butterfly.  Sava has just returned from travelling around Central and Southern America and there are loads of wonderful tales, images and tips to be found there.

These garlic flowers have thick stems with a potent garlic punch (the whole house stank of garlic after chopping a few up).  The flowers seem edible, with small yellow petals.  One bunch has lasted us quite a few days as its best used sparingly.  Warning, if you are worried about garlic breath, do not approach these flowers (and stop worrying).

You may like to add some spirulina, wheat grass or barley grass powder to the topping if you are raw, or even if you aren’t, this would give you a serious boost.  These are three heavyweight contenders of the superfood world.  It is said that you can live on these green powders (the barley grass actually tastes of dried fish) but not even I will venture this far down the road of cleaning my internals up.  The barley powder we have is labelled as a ‘powerful’ food and should be eased into, you wouldn’t want to over do it (this all seems very tame compared to my tequila slammer days, but unimaginably healthier!).

These salads are always super easy to get together, we’ve made them per person so you can just have it yourself, or share with the people you really, really like.  This is a big salad and designed to be a main meal so there is a lot of ingredients in it.  We realise this goes against some of our ‘The Big Four Raw Food No No’s’ but we are trying to be good!  We topped it with the elephant garlic flowers so we could measure the amount we ate with eat spoonful, it also looked great.

Elephant garlic flowers

The Bits

Per person – Handful of baby corn, 1 carrot (chopped), handful of mangetout, 1 ripe tomato, 1/2 courgette (chopped), 1/2 apple (green and sour is best, chopped), 1 stick of celery, handful of cucumber (chopped), handful of cos lettuce (chopped), 2 teas linseeds, 1 handful of mung bean sprouts, 2 teas alfalfa sprouts.

Topping – Handful of elephant garlic flower (chopped), handful of sunflower seeds, splash of olive oil.

Elephant Garlic Flower Salad

Serve

Layered with a creamy Miso, Tamari and Tahini Dressing, topped with the chopped elephant garlic flowers.

We Love It!

Mainly because Sava made it and she is very lovely indeed.  The elephant garlic is amazing and well worth seeking out, it explodes in your mouth and adds a spot of romance to the plate.

Foodie Fact

Native Americans believe wild garlic to help against ailments such as high blood pressure, asthma and scurvy.

Our Morning Juice Routine

Is stuttering along.  We are still getting into the routine of a mid-morning juice.  I used to have  a nice jug of coffee, now its a yogurt pot full of fresh juice.  I know which one my body prefers (bit sometimes I miss that aroma).

Jane made a magic juice this morning with the trusty Magimix.  Simple and not really worth a separate post, its similar to a couple we have done before.  It was a zesty Apple, Carrot and Ginger.  The perfect balance of sweetness with a kick of ginger.  Here is Jane mid juice:

Jane making morning juice

We aim to be drinking at least one juice per day and are finding that we are not hungry in the mornings.  This would make sense, all of our nutritional requirements are being met, so the absorption cycle of the body doesn’t really kick in until 12pm.  That’s when we whip out the salads.

We plan on getting a 25 kilo bag of carrots from a farm down the road and really getting juicy next week.  Apparently, if you drink too much carrot juice, you actually turn orange.  Watch this space, will make for interesting pictures I’m sure.

Happy days aheadX

Categories: Breakfast, Friends of B.H.K, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Sauces, Side Dish, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rainbow ‘Slaw and Rosehip Tea

Beets and 'Rots

Today the sky is the deepest of greys, the washing nearly blew away and Jane poured a pint of water all over her computer.  We both held the stricken machine in our hands, then noticed the water pouring out of the side with the plug still in the wall…the penny dropped…we placed it in-front of the fire and thanked our lucky stars for not getting frazzled.

We put on some Vashti Bunyan and started to make lunch……….

Out of this peaceful state came this wonderful combination of vibrant colours and flavours.  The salad is an old friend from past summer days, the beetroot, carrot and orange is a tantalising combination and packed full of good things.  Preparation could not be easier, this is a real raw food delight.  The tea is fairly straightforward also!

From a potential near-death experience, to a rainbow lunch and ‘Rosehip November’ (in April).  Happy days at the Beach House.

The ‘Slaw

The Bits

1 large beetroot, 1 large carrot, 1 large chunk of butternut squash (optional, just increase the carrot by one), juice of half an orange, handful of chopped coriander.

Do It

Grate all veggies, we used a hand grater, or plug-in your food processor.  I appreciated the exercise actually.  I peeled the beetroot and the squash.  Squeeze in the OJ and throw in the greenery.  Add the finely chopped pith of the orange for even more of a citrus POW!  Mix up and leave at room temp for a while, let the flavours mingle a little.

Serve

We made a lunch out of it with some toasted leek oatbread (recipe soon to appear on the blog) and cucumber raita.  This is a versatile ‘slaw that will brighten up any plate.

We spiced it up with a couple of pinches of Ras El- Hanout spice and a splash of olive  oil.  Our raw life starts in June, why not live dangerously for a while!

The Tea 

Clipper Rose hip (and Hibiscus)

It’s a Clipper Tea.  An organically grown infusion, fruity, with a deep colour and plenty of vitamin C.  The good people of Clipper are in all of our supermarkets in the UK and always good value.

They use unbleached bags and have an awesome range.  Their black tea is a winner with a splash of soya milk (and lashings of honey, B.H.K style).  We have also tried the tasty Dandelion and Burdock Tea, which took us back to our childhood days, drinking the fizzy sweet version out of glass bottles in bracken, near streams.

Buy the Rose hip tea here:

http://shop.clipper-teas.com/teas/fruit/organic-rosehip-infusion

And check out the new Clipper Green Room, for offers on the range of teas and loads of top giveaways:

http://www.clippergreenroom.com/

Foodie Fact

Rose hip has been used for years for its health properties, the fruit of the Rose is especially good for the joints.  The Vikings used it on long sea voyages to ward off scurvy, its packed with Vitamin C.  It also contains most of the B vitamins and the mighty vitamin K, with antioxidants and rich fatty acids surely making this a real superfood.

Rosehip November/ April

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Infusions, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Organic, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Tea, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Omega Seed Sprinkles

Or what my Dad calls ‘bird food’.

Not really a recipe, but a necessity for our kitchen and definitely a Beach House Favourite.  These sprinkles will crunch up any salad, yoghurt, cereal, bread, etcetcetc there are so many uses for these wonder seeds.  I normally nibble them, sparrow-like, throughout the day.  They are a lot cheaper than nuts and have bags of energy, nutrients and omega oils.

Seeds are one of those things that, if eaten regularly, are best bought in bulk.  The small packs you are likely to find are normally quite costly.  Have a look online, you can get bulk bags of seeds, rice, pulses etc and the delivery is normally free (if it’s over a certain amount).  Order for a month.

It saves so much time and resources, when you consider the driving to the shops and time wasted standing aimlessly pondering a desirability/cost = happiness equation for a packet of Moroccan spices.  I do this.

I struggle with British supermarkets on many levels, but the myriad choices of everything is incredible.  I go into a cold sweat as I approach the muesli section!  We are such a refined consumer society.  I can tell you, it’s very different in Spain!  No muesli for a start.

If I ever have the distinct displeasure of visiting a hyper-market environment, I go into some sort of consumer trance.  Like a zombie, occasionally grabbing a shiny product.  I do like wine sections though.  It’s like travelling, in bottles.

These sprinkles will work with most seeds and if you feel like nuts, stick a few in.  The linseeds and flax seeds don’t add a huge amount of flavour, but are very, very good for you.  They are all toasted together to give a richer flavour and add a bit of crunch.

You can blend these seeds up, add a dash of water and make a brilliant seed butter (this is a real winner).

You will need a frying pan full of seeds, just enough to cover the bottom.

The Bits

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds and flax seeds

Do It

Heat the frying pan on a medium to low heat, add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds first (or larger seeds/nuts).  Heat and toss for around ten minutes, keep them moving, don’t hurry them.   Then add the flax and linseeds and heat for another couple of minutes.  They may pop a little and will darken in colour.  The key is not to burn them, if they are getting too hot and dark, tip them onto a large plate and spread them out to cool.

Cool fully and keep in a jar.

We Love It

They go on anything and are a great, nutritious snack on their own.

Foodie Fact

These little gems are packed with super omega oils and energy.  Russia is the leading producer of sunflower seeds globally.  One sunflower head contains hundreds of seeds.  They are full of energy in the form of poly unsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats which can lower cholesterol.  They have one of the highest levels of complex vitamin B group and vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant)…….These little beauties are will keep you shining.  Put them on everything!!!!

Categories: Budget, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Salads, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sprout! The evolution of the mung

Heres something that could change your life.  Maybe extend it a little also.

Sprouts!

Mung bean sprouts this time.

These little wonders are a gift from nature. They are packed with nutrients, very, very good for us and best of all, easy and cheap to prepare at home.

My sprouting guru is a wandering flautist named Yanny, he is in his late 70’s and fit as a fiddle.  Yanny even sprouts on his travels in hotel rooms and in backpacks.

There are a few companies selling sprouts in the U.K. at inflated prices. They need not be a costly ‘health’ food.  They can add an incredible range of flavours to salads.

Many prices in ‘health’ food shops are appalling, some necessary, but many seem to go against the ethos of the ‘good life’, where money (you would hope) plays a secondary role to living well and helping others.

We are fortunate to have many good people living around us, giving us inspiration and positive examples of methods and practices that are sustainable, meaning that we can move away from the mass food movement (Tesco’s et al) or prohibitive ‘Health Food’  Shops.

You don’t need to spend a small fortune to eat healthy.  All you need are sprouts!  Mung beans are the easiest, but once you get into it, there are so many avenues of sprouting joy.

So head to the hills, of your windowsill and start sprouting.

The Bits

Mung beans (any variety works well, we used the green ones)

Filtered water

Do It

Acquire a receptical (see the evolution of the sprout), a spare plastic tray (recycled normally), a large water bottle with vents cut into it (be creative) or a proper sprouter.  I was so lucky to pick up a sprouter from a charity shop for two quid!  They should not be costly bought new.

The important thing is that the sprouts get air and are not in direct sunlight, they also need to be kept warm.  Optimum conditions will result in a quicker sprout.

The evolution of the sprout (tray, to bottle, to sprouter)

Soak the beans in filtered water for 24 hours, empty water and place in your sprouter.  Keep them damp for the next 48 hours and then leave them dry (rinsing regularly if you can).

After a couple of days, they should start to sprout.  Younger sprouts are sweeter and large sprouts have a fuller flavour.  Experiment on which you prefer.

You won’t get them all to sprout, so try to sort out the hard un-sprouted beans.  They can be a little crunchy and some hard as rocks.  Beware.

It’s as easy as that.  They keep well in the fridge.  Once one batch is finished, get the other one started and you have a rolling harvest on your hands.

Serve

Put them on anything, of course salads are best.  If you are feeling decadent, or need a serious boost, mix up an unadulterated sprout salad.  ZING>

Foodie Fact

Mung beans are one of the most cherished foods in Ayurveda, full of vitamins, minerals and vital veggie protein.  They are said to balance all three doshas (making you more stable and relaxed) and make absorption of nutrients easier.  When sprouted, very high levels of Vitamin C become available (rising by 60%).  Most importantly, Mung Beans contain a low quantity of the sugar molecule that make you fart!

It is simple, if you avoid speeding buses and eat more sprouts, you’ll live longer.

PS – Yanny is a wood sculptor, this video show the life of a true artist and dear soul:

Categories: 'The Good Life', Ayurveda, Healthy Living, Raw Food, Salads, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The B.H.K Awards – Top 15 Seasonal Superfoods (Winter)

Beat those dark winter nights. Blow away those frosty morning blues. Hah! These foods give your body a super kick and are packed full of a feel good vibes. Spring is getting closer, but these beauties will help you across the dark season finish line.

Everybody seems to love a ‘Top 10’.  So surely a ‘Top 15’ is better?!  I was looking into healthy eating and came across several sites claiming to have the definitive selection of ‘Top 10 Superfoods’. I don’t know who or when the term ‘Superfood’ was created, but I like it. It simply suggests food that is super packed full of goodness.

Superfoods come into their own in the busy modern world, when we don’t always have time to prepare meals. They can be grabbed and munched, giving a nutritious boost.  This is especially important during winter when the sun retreats early and the cold can chill you to the bone. It’s a strenuous time for body and mind.

I’ve compiled my own Winter ‘Top 15’ (better than 10) below. The criteria are simple. Is it tasty? Is it also super healthy? Do we eat it regularly? Is it local(ish) and seasonal? I haven’t added things like spirulina, goji berries, wheatgrass etc, although they are very healthy they don’t have the delicious-ness. They are just not your everyday hero.

Our selection will inevitably change towards summer, expect another instalment.

All of these contenders are packed with goodness and if eaten with other healthy bits and some regular exercise, will keep you shining all winter.

15) Red Wine – Dodgy start you may say.  Well yes and no.  I’ve managed to stem the tide of wine in recent years.  Everything in moderation.  Grapes provide vitamin C, vitamin  B1 and vitamin B6–red grapes also contain powerful phytochemicals (especially  phenolics) that may help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. These compounds are housed mostly in the skin of the red grapes, which gives red wine its colour. Resveratrol, found in the skins of red fruits has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory activity.

14) Green tea – Not exactly a local crop, but this brew has a serious ‘feel good’ effect in the mornings.  Green tea contains polyphenols, which may reduce heart disease, cancer and stroke risk. Green tea also supports brain health and memory, likely due a key compound in green tea called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a flavonoid. EGCG is thought to boost the immune system and prevent tumors. Aim for at least two cups daily.

12)  Whole grains (whole wheat, barley) – Bread and beer, not healthy really, but ever so British.  Two of the myriad of uses for the humble, yet essential whole grain.  Whole grains help stabilize blood sugar and insulin and may protect against heart disease. They include all three parts of a grain kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm. Whole wheat flour, brown rice and barley are all whole grain foods. Look for the words “whole grain” on the label, and the word “whole” immediately before the name of the grain in the list of ingredients.  Contrary to popular perception, the benefits of whole grains go well beyond fiber and fiber’s role in digestive health. Whole grains contain vitamins B and E; the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc; phytonutrients; that appear to work together in powerful ways.

Panamanian Bean Mix (Good name for a band)

11) Beans –  A staple.  Anybody who knows me, understands my passion for these little beauties.  A fabulous source of vegetarian protein and fibre, two nutrients that help you stay full and satisfied.  Important to feel fully sustained in winter.  The protein and fibre in beans also tempers the rise in blood sugar that occurs after a meal, which can help stabilize mood. The fibre in beans helps keep you regular. Beans are low in fat and a good source of magnesium and potassium, nutrients that work together to lower blood pressure and keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Added bean bonus: They’re cheap and when growing add vital nitrogen back to the soil.

10) Pumpkin – Orange veggies are all loaded with Vitamin A, vital in the winter when the sun is so shy. We are lucky to have two different varieties growing locally to give us some variety.  Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients that will help your heart, bones, eyes, and skin shining.  Beta-carotene and potassium are the two standouts here: Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps rejuvenate skin, protect your vision, and may even reduce risk of arthritis. Potassium is a mineral involved in lowering blood pressure and maintaining healthy bones.  There is nothing sweeter than a well roasted pumpkin?

9) Oats – Are technically whole grains, but get their own section in these parts.  Britain, this windswept little island, has been fuelled on the stuff since early man first landed here.  I don’t think any food better sums up our predicament and history.  The oats in porridge acts as central heating for your body, one bowl in the morning and you’ll be simmering all day.  Eating oats is good for those with high cholesterol.  Whole grain oats are one of the best sources of soluble fibre, which, in addition to lowering cholesterol, helps keep blood sugar levels under control.  No peaks and troughs, just plain sailing.

8) Olive oil – Reminds me of my other home in Spain.  My heart generally resides there, as my body does the rounds.  The freshly pressed oils of Murcia are hard to come by here, but with our uber consumerist ways, good olive oil is easy to find.  One of the best types of fat you can opt for in your diet.  Olive oil helps to protect against heart disease and cancer. Recent research shows that heart-attack survivors on a Mediterranean diet had half the death rates of those on an ordinary low-fat diet.  Nice to know.  Spaniards do eat a lot of fish, which keeps them healthy, but normally drink like one too.  However olive oil is also high in antioxidant activity.  Is there nothing this golden amritar is not capable of?!

7)  Crucifers (broccoli, kale, cabbage) – This family thrives around here.  They are so tasty and versatile.  Trigonos (our organic veg farm) grows the finest red cabbage and kale imaginable.  In fact, all of their vegetables are rather special.  Cruciferous vegetables contain indole alkaloids that may help prevent the big C.  They are high in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Foods from the cruciferous and cabbage family (including broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards and turnips) may help bolster memory as you age.  Something I need help with right now!

6) Tomatoes – Grown in a local poly-tunnel.  We are so blessed to be surrounded by die hard green fingers.  These wonderful orbs contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant shown to help stimulate the immune system and protect from certain cancers, especially prostate. Lycopene is more highly concentrated in cooked tomato products including tomato paste, passata or tomato sauce.

5) NUTS (Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, cashews etcetc)Generally, limit yourself to a handful of nuts per day.  But what a handful!  Nuts are so precious.  They are not local, but are one of our favourite treats.  Adding a dose of almonds daily helps the intake of key nutrients, lowering the intake of dietary detractors like trans fats, excessive sodium, sugars and cholesterol. Eating nuts may help protect against heart disease and inflammation, enjoying 11 walnuts daily reduces total cholesterol by up to 4 percent.  Walnuts also look like a brain, so are good for your brain (Ayuvedic wisdom).  They are a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a compound called ellagic acid that has been shown to reduce artery-forming plaque.  Love NUTS!

4) Leeks – It goes without saying that this gorgeous Allium would crop up.  We are in Wales after all.  Regardless of that fact, leeks are one of my favourite vegetables.  Packed with flavour, vitamins, minerals and flavanoid anti-oxidants.  They are low in calories and contain both soluble and in-soluble fibre.  They contain lots of folic acid, essential in DNA synthesis and cell division.   Vitamin wise the are packed with A (hooray) and C, which not only protects against infections, but also harmful free radicals.  Wear your leeks with pride!  So much tastier than a rose (not to mention a thistle).

3) The Cuppa (Tea) – Another tea?  Why not!  The elixir of the B.H.K.  Without it, we’d be lost and flaccid. The caffeine content in tea is useful for stimulating alertness, mood and motivation, but is also a rich source of the antioxidant called catechins. Studies suggest that catechins protect the artery walls against the damage that causes heart disease and prevents the formation of blood clots. It also does wonders for the spirit on a dark winters day.  Avoid drinking too much milk, try a slice of lemon or drink good quality tea black.  It’s one of those things that will grow on you.

2) Dark Chocolate – The finest of news.  Believe it or not, chocolate is a healthy treat, as long as you choose wisely. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and boost overall heart health. Choose chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao or cocoa to optimize the antioxidant power and health benefits. Dark chocolate may even boost your mood. The rich taste and sensuous mouth-feel of a decadent piece of dark chocolate may be to thank (remember the Flae advert Brits).  Just don’t eat a whole bar. Our favourite is Green and Blacks.

1) Beetroot (or beta vulgaris) – King Crimson!  The dark purple avenger!  Anything that comes out of the dark soil this colour, is bound to be packed full of good.  The pigment that gives beets their super-beautiful fuschia depth (betacyanin) is a powerful cancer-fighting agent. Beets’ potential effectiveness against colon cancer, in particular, has been demonstrated in several studies. Beets are also particularly rich in the B vitamin folate (see above) and the mighty vitamin C.  If you’re lucky enough, use the leaves.  They are higher in vitamin A and anitoxidants than the root.  We roast them up, put them in cakes, pickles, pies…..They add amazing hues of purples and pinks to anything they touch (including your chopping board) and generally brighten up any day.  Truly our winter king.

So Beetroot is the winner.  What drama!  I wonder who it will be in the summer (strawberries).

Heart of the 'root

Categories: Ayurveda, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, photography, Superfoods, Tea, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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