Plant-based protein – It really is everywhere!! The question is more, which plant-based foods don’t have protein in them? It’s so abundant. There are NO worries at all on the protein front if you are a vibrant vegan or rockin’ a plant-based diet.
I still get asked the protein question regularly and these graphics are a good reminder. Thanks to Meow Meix for this one. Please share if you like. Let’s get the message out there once and for all. A balanced plant-based diet is THE way to go!
Switching to a plant-based/ vegan diet is easier now than ever. There is so much nutritional support out there and of course, plenty of tasty, wholesome recipes to get you started. I’ve added a few of our favourites below.
We are here to help also, any questions you have, just fire them across or the Vegan Society is always a great source of bang on nutritional information.
Even desserts can be high in protein! This is our Lebanese Choc Ice recipe, made mainly with tahini which is choc-a-bloc filled with protein.
All veg and fruit contain small amounts of protein, here are the better sources; broccoli, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, avocado, artichokes and yes, even Brussels Sprouts. Bananas, blackberries, nectarines are fruity sources.
Also high in protein are; tofu, most beans, tempeh, soya milk, oats, wild rice, nut butters, nuts, seeds, seitan, spelt, quinoa, amaranth, nutritional yeast flakes (nooch), chia seeds.
Mexican Chocolate Brownies – Quick, healthy and very chocolaty. Gluten-free, made with black beans, which are very high in protein.
So, really, don’t sweat the plant-based protein question! Eating a balanced diet based around fresh fruit, veg, legumes/ beans, whole grains, seeds and nuts and you’re well on the way to a super healthy, whole hearted diet.
Green Pea Hummus – A delicious twist on chickpea hummus. Full of protein and so simple.
Travelling around, meeting and cooking for new vegans and the vegan-curious, reminds me how tough it can be at first. Many people ask me for some tips to get started, so here’s my top ten.
Changing the way we live and have eaten is not something that happens overnight for most of us. There are may ways of approaching this transition, but here are a few tips from my experience that can make things easier and result in a new healthy and positive lifestyle.
VEGAN FOR ALL
Eating a vegan diet has never been so accessible and popular. Many of us now realise that it can be such a healthy and vibrant way to feed ourselves and our loved ones. Eating vegan minimises the suffering of animals, drastically cuts pollution and can open up a lifestyle that is based on compassion and greater awareness. Yes, we do have to read the ingredients on packets and meal planning will take a little more thought at first, but these things seem minor when we take into account how much benefit we can do for animals, the planet and, with a balanced vegan diet, ourselves. Vegans generally have lower cholesterol, body fat, risks of type-2 diabetes, cancer and blood pressure. It’s a no lose situation and it doesn’t have to be difficult.
I was a vegetarian for years before becoming vegan and the transition was an instant thing. I watched a documentary and that was it. I was down to only occasionally eating cheese, but when I realised that there is no major difference between the meat and dairy industry as far as the cruelty to animals, I dropped the Christmas day Stilton for good. It just didn’t seem worth it. As things go, looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I hope these tips help in your transition to a more peaceful and totally delicious way of living.
Going vegan seems to be infectious, I look around me, years later, and see many people I know and family members giving the lifestyle a go or at least cutting back on meat and dairy. I didn’t have to say anything, I just cooked!
So here’s my Top 10 tips:
1 – Easy does it… – I think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we all go vegan overnight. For most people, a transition period is needed. Start to incorporate vegan staples into your life and try out your new batch of vegan staple recipes, things that are quick, healthy, easy and filling that can replace all your favourites; things like lentil spag bol, shepherd-less pie, macaroni cheeze, bakes/ casseroles, stews, salads, soups, curries, omelettes, pizza, cakes and cookies. These are the old school favourites that are easy to prepare and we know, most people love. They are also awesome when made vegan, everyone loves them!
Also, try out some vegan staple ingredients like nutritional yeast flakes, tofu, tempeh, nut butters, sweet potato, hummus, seitan, jackfruit; these are all interesting new additions to anyones diet and with the correct cooking, are delicious and nutritious. Of course, who doesn’t love a bit of avocado on toast. Avocado is an ingredient I find most vegans love to use.
If you are struggling at first, maybe start with one day at a time and expand on that. Say, Tuesday I’m all vegan, see how it goes and if you run into issues, see how you could avoid them. Most people find it easy at home, but at work or when travelling/ eating out, slip up. Slipping up is cool, don’t beat yourself up about anything, but there are lessons to be learned there and it normally involves planning a little better. Calling restaurants in advance to check about vegan options, travelling with vegan snacks, taking out packed lunches/ dinners. It’s also sometimes a case of just being happy with whats on offer, if its only chips and a salad, no problems. By mentioning that you are vegan, the staff/ management will become aware of their growing need to adapt. Sometimes I may write an email if there are no vegan options and it’s a restaurant that I like.
2- Try a plan – I’m no great planner, but I know they can help and will certainly assist with your weekly shopping, as you begin to seek out and buy new ingredients. A vegan diet is in no way more expensive than any other, but you may need to gradually re-stock your cupboards with some new and exciting ingredients, keeping a good stock of fresh fruit and veg, dried fruit, nuts/ seeds, wholegrains and beans. Plan a little extra time for cooking vegan dishes, it will take time to learn new techniques and there can be a few more ingredients to play with in the kitchen.
You could think about trying out Veganuary, I know many people who have used it as a base to go vegan long term. There is loads of support and inspiration there. Also, the Vegan Society have a 30 day vegan pledge that is well thought out and has all the nutritional information you could need. For the record, a balanced vegan diet, based around fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts, dried fruits and whole grains is going to give your body and mind amazing nutrition, but I’d recommend your read more about vegan nutrition on the Vegan Society website. The information there is easy to follow and practical.
I don’t know about you, but I love to learn more about the foods that I eat, the fuel for my body, and how it affects my health. Nutritional deficiencies are an issue across the board, not just solely for vegans, there is a lot of misleading studies and articles out there; calcium, iron, omega fats and protein can all be readily found in a vegan diet. Read up on Vitamin D, Iodine and B12 would be my advice.
3- Fill up – When you’re getting used to a vegan diet, many people say that they feel hungry. This is where I’d say fill up on high protein and carb foods. Things like pulse/ legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa etc are all high in protein. I guess the idea is to not just drop the meat or dairy from meals, but replace it with something nutritious and plant-based.
If you feel fatigued and weak at first, this will pass, remember that many athletes are now vegan and praise the diet for enhancing their recovery times and overall performance.
If you eat a lot of dairy, meat, drink alcohol and coffee etc, then just drop it all, your body will go through a detox period that can lead to fatigue, nausea and generally feeling rough. Again this will pass, but unless you’re on a planned and even supervised detox, I wouldn’t recommend just dropping everything at once. Meat and dairy also contain lots of fat, your body may crave it, maybe up the plant fats in your diet for a while.
You will most probably get cravings, stay strong and satisfy them in plant based ways. After all, things like vegan chocolate, pizza, burgers and crisps are just as amazing as the other stuff. The cravings go, hang in there!!
4- Find alternatives – This is becoming ever easier. Cheeze, sausages, burgers, pizzas, yoghurt, milks, mayo, single cream, even creme fraiche are all available in most supermarkets. You can also make your own if you have time, that is of course, our way, but the vegan diet is now convenience friendly for sure. We all need a little convenience sometimes and this can help make things more sustainable in the long run. Once you’ve found where everything is in your local shops, there will be vegan options in most places now, you can get into a new routine and whizz around in no time.
You’ll find that substituting the vegan options into your favourite recipes works. There is cheese now that melts, cream that is creamy and mayo that hardly anyone can tell the difference between. With the increased vegan market, there has been a general increase in vegan food quality.
Check out cereals and milks fortified with vitamins and minerals, these can be a great source of what we need. Most new vegans I speak to mention how much more they think about their diet and the choices they make revolving around food, for me, this is one of the added bonuses of going vegan. Educating ourselves and eating in new ways, it’s all fresh and creative.
5 – If at first…. – You think tempeh and seitan are uurgh and tofu is not your thing, all is well. These things need to be cooked right, and when they are, I find that most people love em! However, a vegan cooks options are huge and they don’t need to be based around the classic vegan staples. There are so many ways of making plant-based ingredients shine and you will get the hang of it. Tastes change with time and who knows, maybe soon you’ll be digging seitan?!
6- Hit the umami – The big, savoury flavours, that we are used to in a meat/ dairy diet may not always be there for you when you are learning your new vegan recipe repertoire. I say, go umami! Giving up our favourite foods is not easy, we’ve enjoyed them all our lives. Things like mushrooms, yeast extract, olives, balsamic vinegar, fermented foods (kimchi!), sun dried tomatoes, tamari/ soya sauce, miso are high in umami and vegan cheeses are packed with it, like cheddar/ blue-style and Parmesan.
We can’t just rely on one big piece of roasted meat for flavour, we need to be creative, layer our flavours, tantalise our palate in new ways and be more conscious of pairing textures and colours. Roast things, fry them up, get out a griddling pan or even better, a barbecue, use big and bold sauces and dressings. The options for amazing vegan food are endless. All of this is can be a challenge, but a great one, we’ll become better cooks and no doubt, more connected with the food we eat.
7- Vegan on the road, no probs! – Check out local vegan restaurants, Happy Cow is a great source of info, and keep your eyes out for Lebanese (see above). Indonesian and Indian restaurants especially, there will be many vegan options there. I find that most countries I travel to have a wide range of traditional dishes that are already vegan. Of course, some countries are easier than others. Also, always keep plenty of snacks on you, just in case.
8- Be gentle and kind with yourself – If you slip up, that’s normal. If you are persistent, you will get there. If you miss your daily kale smoothie hit, no problems. Our diets have to be flexible and fun. Having positive intentions is the key thing and not being disheartened when you first start out. Your body, and digestion especially, may take a little time to get used to the shift, but after a few weeks, you’ll be flying!!
I believe that anyone can be vegan and very healthy, regardless of body type. Many of the difficulties that arise in the transition period are in the mind, stay positive, join friendly and supportive local or on-line vegan groups and remember that you are joining a family of people, millions strong, who live well all over the world. You’re not alone, but some people around you may be critical, which is their stuff entirely. Stay true to the ethical reasons you chose to go vegan and spread your new lifestyle by communicating positively, not being drawn into arguments (which can be tough) and living the vibrant potential that a vegan diet offers.
9- Supplements are fine – I was a little put off at first about taking supplements, but they can really help us get what we need. Many vegans take iron, omega fat, iodine and B12 supplements. Also, maybe some vitamin D unless you live in a sunny place. These are all good ideas and something that many people need a boost in, not just vegans. There are fortified foods out there which will help with keeping us shining and well.
10- Stay positive and open – If you want to do it, you will. If you stay positive, the whole process will be much more enjoyable. This is not a punishment in anyway. Going vegan should be a enjoyable thing, where you can learn and grow, meet new liked-minded people and gain new insight. There will be times when people question your choices, you don’t have to go into detail or in at the deep end all the time, you can say you like the food or just change the subject. Sometimes we don’t have the energy or resolve for a full-on debate and that is fine, many people hold strong views about a vegan lifestyle, but in my experience, most people are curious and open minded about it all, asking questions in good faith.
Just simple answers can work; good for animals, good for the planet, good for us. Keeping our positive energy topped up is so important, conflict is draining, we need to take good care of ourselves physically and emotionally if we’re going to be at our best. If we want to be shining lights for a brighter future for us all, we need to charge up! If we are empathetic, and let’s face it most of us were not born vegan, we will have a much better platform for talking about veganism and a better chance that our message will be understood and considered.
We should never feel bad or shy about speaking about veganism, but should be sensitive and constructive at the same time. Again, these sometimes challenging conversations are an aspect of being a vegan that we can get used to with a little experience and support. Ask fellow vegans for advice and don’t judge others. If I communicate clearly and with sincerity, I find most people are open and receptive. My approach is, preach from the plate, cook amazing food and enjoy it! Good vegan food is a powerful message in itself.
If after, say a few months, you are no closer to being fully vegan, maybe revisit your original reasons for choosing this path. Remind yourself of the motivation, ethical or otherwise, that stirred you into wishing to make a change.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about your vegan adventures and any challenges you faced. What were the best bits? I think one thing is clear, there is no one way, but there is always your way! I feel that going vegan is not giving up anything, we’re actually gaining so much. Peace and Good luck!
We had this for dinner tonight and thought it was definitely good enough to share. So simple, light and flavourful. This is the kind of dish that is perfect for a long summer lunch/ dinner. Out in the garden, especially when you’ve a few courses planned. Ideally, a low maintenance starter is a great way to kick things off in the kitchen.
It’s a attractive looking plate and the mushrooms can be done anyway you prefer. Here I have put the easiest, but you could easily add a splash of sherry, like Pedro Ximenez, or balsamic vinegar, even a dash of good tamari, to the pan just before they’re done. The mushrooms will absorb the liquid and caramelise even better.
We had this in the garden with Dad, we’ve loved visiting Durham of late, such a beautiful county and have recently been up to Banborough castle and beach for a look around. It was a sunny day with stunning views, I love the castle, perched above the coastline. We built a massive sand dragon with seaweed for flames and mussel shell claws. I think we’re missing Wales! We’ll be back there soon. Dad lives in the countryside, not far from Yorkshire and we’ve loved walking around the local forests and fields. One a good day, the countryside just comes alive. I’m cooking quite a lot at the minute, so it’s great to get out in the fresh air and sunshine.
You can use those gorgeous King Oyster Mushrooms here, if you can find them. I happily settled for portobellos. I use frozen peas, but fresh peas would have been even more amazing. Grab a podder and go for it!!
The Bits – For 2 as starter
3-4 Large Portobello Mushrooms (cut into thick slices)
1 tbs olive oil
125g garden peas
2 small spring onions (finely sliced)
2 tbs olive oil
100ml boiling water
200g garden peas
8 mint leaves
1 tbs olive oil
2 pinches sea salt
1 pinch black pepper
Fresh mint, pea shoots or even edible flowers
In a small sauce pan on medium heat, add the oil and sweat the onions with a pinch of salt and pepper for 5 minutes. When they are soft, add the peas and boiling water, turn the heat to high. Put a lid on and boil for 3 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and set aside.
In a small frying pan on high heat, add the peas, water and mint, boil for 2 of minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water. Drain again and in a small bowl, crush the peas with a fork, mix in the oil, salt and pepper.
Cut the mushroom into 1/2 inch slices.
Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat, and sear the mushrooms for 1-2 minutes on each side. They should be golden brown and tender. Now pour in the pedro ximenez/ balsamic and cook until it has evaporated, another 30 seconds to minute, flipping the mushrooms to coat them.
Heat your pea puree back up.
On a warm plate, spoon on the pea puree, place the mushrooms nicely on the puree, scatter with the crushed peas and herbs. Garnish with herbs or pea shoots, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
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!
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.
Helps Nausea – Many people use ginger to treat nausea like morning sickness and sea sickness.
Lowers Cholesterol – Ginger has been shown in many studies to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol and has even been shown to lower blood sugar levels.
Helps the brain – Studies show that ginger can help to prevent age-related damage to the brain and improve brain function in elderly people.
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)
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.
With your favourite curry or like I said, good on toast!
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!
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 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
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!)
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 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
(I think we pretty much covered it above today.)
Snowdon yesterday looking stunning in the September sun
Here is our perfect style of morning pick me up. Bursting with vitality and flavour. We woke up to bright sunshine today with a little autumn chill in the air. We have been blessed this summer in the Beach House, I’ve had my shorts on twice and fleece of at least a handful of times. Its been a scorcher! September is normally one of the best months for sunshine, so we’ll be out in the garden come the morn, sipping smoothies and juices for most of the month (fingers and toes crossed). Its a beautiful time of year with spectacular sunsets (we have been posting loads of sunset shots over on Twitter).
We managed to get out hands on a nice ripe melon and with some apples and mint from the garden, whipped up this interesting combo of flavours. Sure to get your taste buds zinging in the morn. We like a ginger pick me up most mornings and it creeps into many of our juices and smoothies.
Mint is running wild in our garden, we have an embarrassment of herbs leaping from all angles! At the minute we have a couple of peppermint style varieties, very intense, some ginger mint (we used a little in the smoothie) and apple mint. Apple mint is a lovely variety, with large soft leaves and mellow flavour. It grows like a hyperactive teenager so we are welcoming it regularly to dishes in the BHK.
The apples we used are known as Bardsey apples, which all came from one ‘mother’ tree on the island of Bardsey, just off the Llyn Peninsula down the road. The apples are quite sharp and tart and tangy so they go perfectly with the sweet melon and ginger. Read more about the fascinating story of the Bardsey Apple here.
Apple mint from the garden (via Janes Mum and Dad in Stafford)
GINGER IS MEDICINE!
Most spices are not just packed with flavour, they also boast amazing health giving properties. Ginger is one of the most potent examples of this. I write about this a lot in Peace & Parsnips, there is a whole section dedicated to spices, how to treat them and their health benefits. This is one of the many reasons why I love Indian, Persian, Middle Eastern etc foods, they are packed with spices that light up the palate and make our bodies shine.
A brief run through the amazing healing properties of Ginger:
Ginger has long been used in ‘alternative’ medicine to treat nausea (morning/ sea sickness), digestive complaints and cold/ flu.
The main active compound in ginger is called gingerol and it is a strong antioxidant and has power anti-inflammatory effects.
Ginger may have strong anti-diabetic properties, lowering blood sugars and heart disease risk along with many bacteria fighting properties, lowering the risk of infections.
Ground ginger has been shown to help with menstrual pain and it generally helps with digestion, especially chronic indigestion.
It is effective in treating exercise induced muscle strain, joint pain and stiffness, when used over a period of time.
There is also some evidence that ginger can reduce bad cholesterol levels, keeping our hearts healthy and that it contains substances that protect us from cancer.
Some studies suggest that ginger can improve brain function and help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The beautiful thing about ginger is its versatility and we pop it into a cup of hot water, with lemon, in the morning when we feel like being outrageously healthy. It is the best way to start things off in the morning.
Now thats what I call a super food!!!!
Beautiful mornings deserve beautiful smoothies:)
The Bits – For Two Big Glasses
3-4 handfuls chopped melon (honeydew, galia…nice and ripe)
3 handfuls chopped apples (tart variety)
1 kiwi (peeled and chopped)
1/2 handful chopped mint leaves (sliced)
2 tbs chopped ginger (or more depending on taste and purpose. For a serious healthy pick me up, try 3-4 tbs)
Splash of water/ non-dairy milk
Blitz all together in a blender until smooth and lovely. Add more liquid to thin to your favourite consistency. If you leave it thick, its more like a pudding!
Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie
There are over 25 varieties of mint and it has long been used to soothe the belly.
I love these little energetic things. The perfect way of cramming loads of nutrition and energy into the smallest possible area. These little balls are packed with protein power and full-on flavour and are highly portable! They went down a treat yesterday, I had to share them with you.
Nuts and dried fruits are nutritional power houses and contain vast amounts of good stuff; sugars and fats. The last two should of course be enjoyed in moderation and these little balls are perfectly portion controlled. Unless you make them the size of a cricket ball ( I prefer more of a squash ball size and smaller) then you’ll be getting the optimum levels of everything you need from a revitalising, healthy between meal booster.
I have kept these very simple and natural. No added flavours, just the nuts, seeds and fruit. I like to use seeds primarily because they taste amazing, but they are also less expensive and work just as well as nuts. I used a good mixture of nuts, but you can mix and match with whatever you have handy. Nuts like walnuts, cashews and almonds blend smooth, it is more tough to get a Brazil nut to play ball! This is great when mixed with other nuts, adds a crunchy texture. The same can be said for sunflower seeds, once soaked they blend up nicely, unlike pumpkin seeds which take a little more blitzing action. If you have a high powered blender, non of this really applies, as they will take care of anything you put into them. They’d quite happily blend a bean tin I’m sure (this is an untested theory).
BENEFITS OF SOAKING YOUR NUTS
I mention nut soaking quite a lot in Peace & Parsnips, I think its important to know about and can really accentuate the flavour, texture and nutritional properties of nuts and seeds. It takes a little forward planning but is very much worth it. Nutrients are tucked away in our food and in some occasions, are missed by our bodies. They are not available to the body, so we miss out on all the goodness. This is known as the ‘bio-availability’ of nutrients and soaking nuts in water before using them opens up the nutrients to be absorbed by the body. They have known this for thousands of years in India and soaked almonds are promoted within the Ayurvedic diet for a number of health boosting reasons.
Soaking nuts in water, preferably overnight, inhibits the potentially harmful effects of enzymes inhibitors, tannins and toxins in nuts. Nature doesn’t want seeds and nuts to germinate until the right conditions are present, by soaking nuts and seeds we are creating these conditions. They literally come to life! Enzymes are essential to good health, just as important as minerals and vitamins. Soaking releases more beneficial enzymes that our bodies love. Most nuts also taste better after they have been soaked, they plump up nicely and become crisp. We normally soak to order, but you can soak in bulk. This just means that your nuts need to be dried out a little. You can do this in a dehydrator or in a low oven. The nuts can then be stored in a air tight container and used on cereals and salads.
TOP FIVE REASONS TO SOAK NUTS, SEEDS (AND LEGUMES)
1 – Increase the amount of vitamins, especially B vitamins
2 – Produce greater levels of beneficial enzymes
3 – To make digestion easier
4 – Allows easier absorption of protein
5 – To limit enzyme inhibitors, tannins and potentially harmful toxins
We soak nuts in warm water and some people add a little salt. Cover the nuts and leave them overnight, between 7 – 24 hours is best. That’s it!
REASONS TO LOVE TAHINI (AND SESAME SEEDS)
Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is one of our favourite ingredients. A wonderful source of vegan creaminess that creeps into dressings, sauces, stews/ curry’s or mixed with jam/ molasses/ maple syrup and lathered on toast and crackers. Tahini normally comes in light and dark varieties, dark has a much more toasted, full flavour. Its not only the delicious aspects of tahini that are attractive, nutritionally its a proper superstar, its is actually one of the best sources of calcium found in nature and also keeps your skin vibrant and muscles toned. It contains 20% protein which is higher than most nuts and is high in very good fats of the unsaturated variety. See our Foodie Fact below for more nutritional bits and pieces.
Feel free to sweeten them as you see fit (taste the mix before rolling up) but I think they are mighty fine with just the apricots. Good dried apricots will not be bright orange. Try and get some un-sulphured apricots, they are out there and well worth the effort and slightly higher expense. Hunza apricots especially (from Afghanistan) are really interesting. If you are living in an area where loads of apricots grow, you could dry your own and even use the kernels instead of nuts or seeds. Apricot kernels are delicious and becoming quite popular in the UK.
We love to play around with combinations of nuts, seeds and flavourings. The possibilities are huge and its much more satisfying and cheaper to make these at home. The main thing is having a dried fruit to bind everything together, normally soaked so that they break down nicely into a sticky paste. Then add nuts and seeds to the equation, any type that takes your fancy and flavour with things like citrus zest, cocoa/ cacao, rose water, orange blossom water, vanilla extract, pomegranate molasses, spices……etc. Energy balls are a medium for a healthy snack charged with all the nutrition we need when leading an active and healthy life.
Nice sticky mix
The Bits – For 12-15 energy balls
300g mixed nuts and seeds (soaked in water for at least 7 hours beforehand. I used cashew, walnuts, brazils and sunflower seeds)
150g dried apricots (soaked in water for at least 1 hour before hand)
4 tbs toasted sesame seeds
2-3 tbs light tahini
2-4 tbs sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup etc)
Drain your nuts and place in your blender/ food processor. Blend them for a minute of so, scraping down the sides of the blender a few times. Add the drained apricots and continue to blend until a chunky paste is formed. You can keep the apricot soaking water, its lovely and sweet. The mix should be sticky, you will be able to form small balls with it between our fingers. Stir in the tahini and sweetener (if using).
Pour the sesame seeds onto a plate and spread out. With damp hands (stops the balls sticking to your fingers) take a roughly squash ball sized amount of mix (3-4 tbsp) and roll in your palms into a ball. Pop it onto the plate and roll in the sesame seeds. Apply a little pressure when doing this to make them stick. Place the finished ball onto a serving plate. Repeat until all the mix is used up.
These energy balls will firm up in the fridge and keep well in a plastic container out of the fridge. Of course, they will not be lasting that long…..!
These type of energy balls are designed to be portable and travel perfectly. They are especially good sustenance when exercising, down the gym or hiking. They are a boost anytime and sometimes I like to nibble one before a busy day in the kitchen. Intensely nutritious and easy to roll.
Chocolate and Coconut Energy Balls – a simple variation with walnuts, sunflower seeds, cacao, coconut and vanilla extract
Tahini is a great friend of the BHK. Very high in many vitamin B’s and vitamin E. It also contains lot of minerals like iron and potassium and contains chemicals that help our liver detox. Tahini is alkaline which makes it easy to digest and helps with weight loss. As mentioned above it is very high in protein and even higher in calcium. Try a scoop of tahini in the morning instead of dairy products and you are covering yourself for calcium and a healthy raft of other things.
Have you met Cosmos yet? He’s our new garden cat. You may remember our dear Buster who has moved on…….where to we are not sure> Cosmos is a character and it’s good to have him hanging out, lying down and occasionally purring. Cats are great teachers in so many ways.
Here is your five a day in just a few gulps! Juicing is the easiest way of supercharging your day and getting loads of shining fruits and veggies into your diet.
I love experimenting with new flavour combos in our morning juice. What do we have available and will they sing together in a glass?! This one is backed up by a hit of ginger and lemon (whole, the zest is awesome in many ways), apples, carrots and a handful of mint. Its a feast and a massive wake up call to the immune system. When you juice, you can forget about the need for expensive supplements, vitamin pills etc. Nothing can compete with a fresh juice. Juicing also helps in weight loss and makes you much sexier!!!
SUPERCHARGE YOUR DAY
Our favourite way to start any day is a glass of freshly made juice. It just seems to make perfect sense. Our bodies have just woken from (hopefully) a nice long sleep, when we have basically been fasting for many hours. We’re dehydrated and a little depleted, we need a serious boost of something nutritious and preferably, charged with vitality and vibrant flavours. Juicing is the easiest way to get loads of essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc) down the hatch, very easy on the digestion and we can feel the benefit soon after. Energy levels rise and we get a healthy glow about us.
The contents of this juice are a sign that things are really flying now this summer. You could call this our ‘Veg Box Nectar’, basically whatever we get from the farm in a juicer with a little consideration for overall flavour. Really though, all these sensational veggies and fruits cannot taste bad in a glass. There are probably a few guidelines to a good juice; go easy on the cabbage, turnip or swede, too much whole citrus (with pith on) can be a little challenging.
We always try to add greens, like Kale, Chard or Spinach, to our juices as they are the bodies best friend. Greens contain so many amazing nutrients, not to mention things like protein, calcium, iron….the list goes on and on. They also contain bags of chlorophyll which helps the liver detox and purifies and rebuilds blood cells, also helping with high blood pressure. Eating a lot of greens regularly, daily if possible, is our number one suggestion for staying healthy and feeling amazing.
TOP JUICING TIPS
EAT YOUR FRUIT AND JUICE YOUR VEGGIES – As a basic rule, this works a treat. Many fruits are high in sugar and unless they are packed with fibre, can make your blood sugar levels rocket. Its best to drink a balanced juice, with sweet fruits as a sweetener and not a base. Some root vegetables can also be high in sugar, worth bearing in mind. Having said that, a pure fruit juice is an awesome treat!
PREP WELL – Get everything cut down to size and peeled (if needed) before you start. This will make juicing a breeze. We always fill our juicer shoot up (wide funnel juicers are best) before turning the machine on, this is more efficient. Wash up before you drink the juice, for some reason, this seems to make it less of a chore!? Not juicing because of the washing up is a very poor show.
DON’T HANG AROUND! – Juices are highly perishable and are best drank as soon as possible to get maximum flavour and health benefits.
REASONS TO GET JUICY
INTENSE NUTRIENTS – Juicing condenses down produce into a glass, you can cram so much goodness into a juice. One glass can contain 5 carrots, 3 apples, 1 lemon, 5 kale leaves…….whatever your imagination can come up with! To eat all of those in one sitting would take a long time and lot of chewing….
DIGESTION – Juices take almost no digestive energy, meaning the body is getting loads of nutrients and expending very little in return. That energy can be used for other things like replenishing and rejuvenating.
LOSE WEIGHT, LOOK GOOD – Juices can really help here, accompanied by a good, balanced diet (we’d of course recommend a vegan diet) and regular exercise. The intense nutrient hit you get from juicing helps keep the skin shining and hair and nails strong, it will also help to make you feel and look younger.
There are two main types of juicers, cold press or centrifugal. We have always used a centrifugal juicer and if they are well made and powerful, produce good results and extract plenty of juice (you can check this by pressing out the waste pulp – this pulp can be made into tasty burgers or muffins).
Centrifugal juicers basically extracted the juice using a spinning blade. Cold press (or masticating) juicers normally extract more juice and at low temperature, maintaining all of the nutrient content. They are quieter and can be used to make nut milks, however, they are more expensive.
We’ve tried out many juicers and our favourites are Sage. They sent us a juicer over a year ago and its been brilliant since then. Very well made, easy to clean and powerful. They are not the cheapest, but if you are serious about getting into juicing, its well worth the investment.
First Summer Strawberries
BERRY NICE SUMMER:)
We just ate our first wild strawberries from the garden and they were so sweet. The song ‘Summer Wine’ by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra sprang to mind. A classic with a proper retro video. Lee knows how to wear a moustache! A perfect tune for strawberry munching in the sun. Jane and I have been playing it recently on guitar and it’s a cheeky tune that makes people smile. The raspberries are coming at Trigonos and we’ve been inundated with gorgeous gooseberries (so sweet) and blackcurrants (potently purple). This time of year is just one long celebration of sensational seasonal produce, even the cauliflowers are making an appearance!
FAT, SICK AND NEARLY DEAD
This documentary came out a while back and has influenced loads of people and certainly spread the good juicing word around the globe. Going on a juice fast can have wonderful health benefits, incredible transformations, as highlighted by the personal stories in this film. Some friends of ours are going to try it out, although a shorter version, it will be interesting to see the results. Jane and I feel that juice fasts can be an incredibly cleansing and revitalising opportunity, although we’d not recommend carrying them on for too long. Juicing does take fibre out of your fruits and veggies and we love fibre in the BHK. Its essential for maintaining good health and digestion.
Along with a healthy balanced diet, juicing can be a brilliant habit to get into, the benefits of which are best experienced to be believed!!!!
Here’s a recipe for a seriously tasty juice, full of zing and good things:
The Bits – For 2
3 kale leaves (with stems)
3 large carrots (scrubbed)
1-2 inch fresh ginger (peeled – with a teaspoon is easiest)
2 large apples (halved)
1 large beetroot (scrubbed – with leaves if you’ve got any)
1 green pepper (deseeded and halved)
1 small lemon (whole)
Pop all into a high speed juicer, leaves first, then ginger and lemon. The carrot and apple will flush everything through.
In your favourite glass (or jars if you are trendy, or poor, or both) with a smile.
Beetroots are in the same family as chard and spinach. The beetroot leaves (greens) are exceptionally high in iron, calcium, vitamin A and C.
Many athletes are now getting into beetroots. Apparently it lowers muscle fatigue and is of course, amazingly nutritious with huge amounts of beta carotene and a good hit of sugar to keep you well fuelled for a workout. Beetroot is also ideal for detoxing, as it kick started the detox process in the liver. Ideal for a morning juice.
TOP BEET TIP – If you have beetroot fingers, all purple, try rubbing some lemon juice over them. This helps. Or wear gloves in the first place.
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’)
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:
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
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:
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.
So Jane and I decided to go for a walk along the beach yesterday and nearly got blown away. Spring hasn’t quite arrived in North Wales!
I know this may sound like a winter time treat, but having just returned from India, Wales seems pretty damn wintery to me! Jane and I are warming our cockles around steaming mugs of hot ginger drinks (I have managed to pick up the dreaded sniffles). Ginger is the best thing for colds et al, more like a potion than just a refreshing tipple. This cordial also work brilliantly cold, over ice and in a tall glass (glug of gin optional).
The B.H.K is a global thang and we know that many of you are getting ready for winter. This zingy cordial will help to ease the blow of dark days and timid sun. We know that our mates Fran and Steve down in Tasmania will dig it for example. Serendipity Farm will be buzzing!
We love making our own stuff, you know what goes into it. Most cordials, even if they are organic and well made, are packed full of sugar. Here, you can use as much or as little sweetener as you like. Sometimes we have it neat, sugarless. A real wake up zing in the morning! Try this with hot apple juice for an even more decadent steaming cup of joy.
This is one of those things, once you make one batch or cordial, you cannot stop. Roll on the elderflower season. Coming soon hopefully……..
The Bits – Makes roughly 500ml
100g grated ginger root
1/2 lemon (peel and juice)
1 lemon (juice)
4 green cardamom pods (split)
1 star anise
1/2 stick cinnamon
Sweetener (agave, maple syrup etc) – as you like, we go sugar free if poss.
Place all (except the lemon juice) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, pop a lid on and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside, squeeze in the lemon juice and leave to cool and steep for an hour.
We find that after a night in the fridge, the flavours are even more full power. You may like to add your sweetener now, but we prefer to do it when we drink it, depending how our sweet tooth is feeling.
Strain into a jug and pour into a clean glass bottle or a kilner jar. Something sealable and preferably glass. Because it is lacking in loads of sugar, this won’t last for as long as other cordials. Keep in the fridge and enjoy within 3 days. Trust me, it won’t hang around that long!
Add to cup of hot water (just off boiling) to make a lovely steeper or serve over ice with a slice of lemon and sparkling water, making an awesome ginger ale. Either of these can be made a bit boozy with a glug of dark rum (a Dark and Stormy) or gin for example (as if you need guidance!)
Sweeten as you like, with what you like. We use brown rice syrup or sometimes stevia if we are being supremely healthy. Liquid sweeteners work best as they dissolve quickly and easily.
Hot off the hob – try it warm or cold with great apple juice. YUMMMAH!
All the spices in this cordial are AMAZING for the body! They are natural medicines for all sorts of ailments. We will focus on star anise. Boil star anise in some water and sip it gently, it can soothe stomach pain and cold/ coughs.
Anise has a delicate liqourice flavour and the seeds of the star are simply anise seeds. Surprisingly! The seeds and the husk can be used in cooking, baking etc. The main source of anti-oxidant glory is the volatile (in a good way) oil named anethole, but anise does boast a potent cocktail of other anti-oxidant oils.
In many traditional medicines anise is used for: anti-flatulence, anti-spasmodic, digestive, anti-septic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic. They are also a wonderful source of the vitamin B’s, vitamin C and A and contains high levels of iron, copper (good for red blood cells), calcium and potassium.
No matter how many kale smoothies we drink, no matter how much we avoid processed sugar or potatoes, “happiness is the highest form of health.” I found this little quote put much of our current eating habits into focus. Enjoy your food, whatever you’re cooking or eating! A healthy, content and happy mind inevitably leads to a healthier body.
Jane and I are up in Mcleod Ganj, India, at the moment, spending time with the Tibetan Community in exile. Read more about our antics here. If you like this quote, we post regular things like this on our Facebook page.
A wholesome, hearty salad that fits perfectly with our beloved Welsh summer (meaning torrential rain and mist, even the sheep look miserable!) This is actually unfair as today and yesterday have been complete beauties, check out the sunset below taken from the kitchen window.
Its a real eden like environment up here on the hill and our garden is loving the sun. The beetroots and cavolo nero particularly are leaping out of the ground. Slugs seem to be taking it easy, probably hiding in some damp slug den, planning there next raid. Cunning slime balls that they are. Long like the sunshine!
Sprouted wheat grains have been a saviour for us in the past as they sate and bready sweet pangs that we have. Sometimes when we sit down to some nice raw salads, soups etc we do crave a little bread to add something a little different. We will be experimenting with raw breads very soon, but until then we reach for our buddies the wheat grains.
It takes a couple of days for them to sprout and after that you have a lovely sweet and chewy grain to use in all kinds of good things. They need to be soaked in filtered water for 24 hours and then placed in a sprouting tray or something flat, rinse them twice daily with fresh water and you’ll soon see the sprouts waking up.
Anybody who reads the BHK regularly knows that we are into our sprouts. Anything sprouted just seems so full of vitality and energy. They are so easy to do at home even we manage! We have been experimenting with other grains, oat and buckwheat are two firm favourites. We also have barley, which is next on the sprout list. The grain sprouts bring something new to the menu, quite chewy and meaty in texture.
The star here is the dressing, pairing our local rapeseed oil, with mustard and apple concentrate, a brilliant combo of flavours. The rapeseed oil is almost buttery and the sweet apples cuts through nicely. YUM!
Making dressings all hangs on what the ingredients of the salad is and the overall flavour you’d like. This is a sweet salad, with the apples and the raisins, which Jane really loves. We made the dressing slightly tart to counteract the sweetness, I always try and think of what the overall flavour of a salad will be when I’m making a dressing and adjust it accordingly. A dressing can accentuate the flavour of great ingredients, or hide them behind bog flavours. I think a balance is best, with the veggies shining through.
The Bits – For 2 Hungry Herbivores
2 cups sprouted wheat grains, 1 apple (decored and chopped), 1 celery stick (chopped), 2 carrots (scrubed and chopped), 2 cup raisins. 1 handful mint (ripped), 1 handful parsley (chopped), 2 handfuls rocket leaves, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Dressing – 1/2 cup cold pressed rapeseed oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tbs apple concentrate, 1 tsp English mustard, 1 clove garlic (crushed), 1 teas sea salt (to taste)
Chop all ingredients in a fashion that suits your mood. We were in a post work hurry, so they became abstract, but satisfying non-the-less. Also when the sun goes down, we are using candle light and it can be difficult to chop things and wash up when you’re in the dark. In fact, many things are. You need to slow down, read, then sleep. Which is great.
Whisk up your dressing ingredients in a small bowl, making sure all is nicely combined.
Dressing on the side, it is quite potent and each persons taste will differ. Salads are of course best served super fresh, straight off the chopping board.
We Love It!
A real local treat this one, welsh rapeseed oil, mustard, apples, celery, rocket…..almost the entire bowlful came from our neck of the woods and some from the garden. We love this time of year when the sun shines a little and plants begin to bloom and fruit. Happy days indeed!
Rejuvelac is an amazing by-product of the grain sprouting process. It is regarded highly by Ann Wigmore and all at the Hippocrates Healthy People, which we pay great attention to. It is one of those things that boasts incredible health benefits, but there is something about it that is quite special, almost undiscovered by modern science.
Rejuvelac contains many enzymes aiding digestion and is filled with friendly bacteria which are amazing for us, helping us to release toxins in the body. Add to that the fact that it is bursting with vitamin B, E and C and you’re looking at quite a beverage. It also tastes nice, like a tangy lemonade with a hint of sweet grain.
We are running late on Raw Earth Month, the big day is now tomorrow (for a variety of mundane reasons). I know Jane has already told you a little about what we’re up to, but here’s my take on the whole shebang. Lee
The Beach House is going full-on this June – July (24th – 24th), its:
!………………RAW EARTH MONTH……………….!
We are rather excited about the whole dreamt up project. It came like a bolt from the blue, we wanted to do another raw food month (because it makes you feel great and raw food is seriously interesting for the taste buds and from a nutritional point of view) so we took it to the next level, a huge step towards a more natural, peaceful lifestyle.
(other than recharging computers, dehydrating, juicing, blending)
– Minimal car use
(other than going to work and shopping on the way back)
– 1 hour internet use per day
– No electric lights
(candles are allowed!)
– No washing machine
(we are hand washing clothes in the bath)
– Waste water to be recycled
(in the garden on our veg patch)
– Use as much organic produce as possible
(has been difficult this year with the wet, wet conditions)
– Forage as much as possible
(nettles, elderflower, hawthorn, wild herbs, red clover, dandelion)
– Composting all our waste and only buying packed produce when absolutely unavoidable.
Yoga, walking, meditation, gardening, playing music and smiling; definitely allowed.
We have loads of cool books to read about sustainability, organic/ biodynamic gardening, raw food, etc and are taking this month as a huge learning curve. Jane is really getting into herbal remedies and potion making, with wonderful results (elderflower champagne anyone!!!!!) We have both been super busy with work recently and are looking forward to this little window of peace.
Jane and I are also going to be making some music and this may appear on the BHK soon. We may sing about red clovers and rosemary, we may not!
We’d love to hear your experiences of a similar lifestyle/ project and any advice is very, very warmly appreciated.
All in all, we hope to live the life we want to live, free from the troublesome add-ons of the modern world and co-existing within it.
The ultimate early morning kickstart! This juice will definitely get you wide awake and feeling wonderful.
The combination of kale and a whole lemon here (zest and all) make it a real eye opener, very different and refreshing flavour. You can also use something like a savoy cabbage here which also has great flavour. Who knew that cabbage juice could be so tasty?!
You will need a juicer to make this green and lean juice, and if you don’t have one, this juice is the perfect excuse to get one!
Jane and are glad to be back in the Beach House and eating our favourite foods. After our experiences last summer with the raw food diet, we are planning another venture into crunch this year, probably starting in late June (after Jane’s birthday). Last year we celebrated in a windy tent on the Pembrokeshire coastline with a salad and raw starwberry tart. Delicious, but lacking bubbles!
If this doesn’t wake you up of a morning, then I would advice you go back to bed and try again tomorrow.
PS – This is serious detox territory too.
Make two glasses:
1 apple, 2 handfuls of green leaves (savoy cabbage or kale), 3 good sized carrots, 1 inch cube of ginger, 1 lemon (whole)
Morning juice smiles
Pop all in the juicer, we add the lemon first, then ginger and normally finish with the carrot. It is dense and juicy and seems to flush out any lingering bits.
Straight away with smiles.
We Love It!
Jane and I are not really morning people, our bed is normally the only warm place in the beach house! But this juice will drag us out and with the ginger kick, wakes and warms! Its a beauty.
Kale is one of natures most amazing gifts. Kale helps the body detox, lowers the risk of the big ‘C’ and actually lowers cholesterol (I love these types of food). Kale is packed with Vitamin K, C and A, Kale also has ‘unusually’ high levels of flavanoids and carotenoids which highly reduce oxidative stress (which is definitely not good for you). Read more.
I can think of no better soundtrack to this juice, Mungo Jerry:
Whether you’ve been a vegetarian for years or are giving it a thought for the first time, the most common question you’ll get about your diet is, “where do you get your protein?” Instead of drawing a blank, get prepared for this situation and impress your audience with a solid answer.Here are some facts you can share:
Most of us are aware that protein has an important roll in our bodies, but you may not know why. Made up of amino acids (oxygen, nitrogren, carbon, and hydrogen), protein is the nutrient responsible for growing new cell and building and repairing tissue. However, contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to consume that much of it to be health. The average requirement of protein is only about 5 ounces a day, or about 5% of your daily caloric intake. It may also surprise you to hear that too much protein can actually damage your bones and organs, and that reducing the amount of protein in your diet can give you more energy, put your digestive system at ease, and protect your immune system.
A common misconception is that meat is the best source of protein. Consider the following animals: gorillas, cows, elephants – all of them are vegetarians! While you probably aren’t aiming to have their body types, they are great examples of how big and strong a living creature can be on a plant based diet. While animal products contain large amounts of protein, they are also high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which can lead to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The plant based diet is low in fat, free of cholesterol, and full of fiber.
Almost every plant contains protein, though some have more than others. Luckily, we do not need to get all amino acids from one source, so eating a varied vegetarian diet will result in a complete balance of protein. Here are some excellent foods that you can depend on to keep your body fit:
1. Beans contain more protein than any other vegetarian source, and they are high in fiber so you’ll feel full hours after eating them. There are countless varieties, the most popular being black, pinto, kidney, chickpeas, lentils, split peas, and soy.
2. Whole grains are a great compliment to beans, and together they pack a protein punch into your diet. Rice is always a great choice, but give quinoa a try. While quinoa is technically a seed, it contains more protein than any other grain. Check out barely and millet, and keep in mind that even popcorn contains protein!
3. Nuts are also very high in protein – one ounce of almonds has the same amount as one ounce of steak (6 grams)! Enjoy your favorite nuts raw, salted, roasted, seasoned, or in butter form.
4. Seeds are a great addition to any meal – simply sprinkle them on top or mix them in to add an extra boost of protein to your dish. Flax, pumpkin, and hemp seeds are not only rich in essential amino acids, but contain other important nutrients like omega-3s, iron, and fiber.
5. Green vegetables. There’s a reason Popeye was obsessed with spinach – he wanted to maintain his big biceps! Other veggies with high protein content are: broccoli, kale, green beans, asparagus, and watercress.
Lemons are a staple of many detox diets, and there is good reason for this. Firstly, lemons are packed with antioxidant vitamin C, which is great for the skin and for fighting disease-forming free-radicals. Furthermore, the citrus fruit has an alkaline effect on the body, meaning that it can help restore the body’s pH balance, benefiting the immune system. Try starting your day with hot water and a slice of lemon to help flush out toxins and cleanse your system.
If too much fatty food or alcohol has caused problems for your digestive system, it may be worthwhile adding some ginger to your diet. Ginger is not only great for reducing feelings of nausea, but it can help improve digestion, beat bloating and reduce gas. In addition to this, ginger is high in antioxidants and is good for boosting the immune system. To give your digestion a helping hand, try sipping on ginger tea or adding some freshly grated ginger to a fruit or vegetable juice.
Garlic has long been known for its heart benefits, however the pungent food is also good at detoxifying the body. Garlic is not only antiviral, antibacterial and antibiotic, but it contains a chemical called allicin which promotes the production of white blood cells and helps fight against toxins. Garlic is best eaten raw, so add some crushed garlic to a salad dressing to boost its flavour and your health at the same time.
Artichoke If you have recently been overindulging in fatty foods and alcohol, adding some steamed globe artichoke leaves to your meals is a great way to help get your body back on track. Globe artichokes are packed with antioxidants and fibre and can also help the body digest fatty foods. On top of this, globe artichoke is renowned for its ability to stimulate and improve the functions of the liver – the body’s main toxin-fighting tool.
For those needing a quick health-boosting shot of nutrients, you can’t do much better than beetroot. Packed with magnesium, iron, and vitamin C, the vegetable has recently been hailed as a superfood due to its many reported health benefits. Not only is beetroot great for skin, hair and cholesterol levels, but it can also help support liver detoxification, making it an ultimate detox food. To enjoy its benefits, try adding raw beetroot to salads or sipping on some beetroot juice.
While it’s not technically a food, no detox plan would be complete without regular consumption of essential liquids. Fluids are essential for keeping our organs healthy and helping to flush toxins from the body, and drinking green tea is a great way of boosting your intake. Green tea is not only a good weight-loss drink, but it is extremely high in antioxidants. Research has also suggested that drinking green tea can protect the liver from diseases including fatty liver disease.
Many celebs have resorted to the cabbage soup diet to help lose weight and get in shape quickly before a big event, however cabbage is not only good for weight loss – it is also an excellent detoxifying food. Like most cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli and sprouts), cabbage contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which helps the body fight against toxins. Cabbage also supplies the body with glutathione; an antioxidant that helps improve the detoxifying function of the liver.
Fresh fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre= and are also low in calories, making them an important part of a detox diet. If you’re after brighter eyes and skin, shinier hair and improved digestion, try boosting your intake of fruit and eating from a wide variety of different kinds. The good news is fruit is easy to add to your diet, so try starting your day with a fresh fruit salad or smoothie and snacking on pieces of fruit throughout the day.
If you want to cleanse your system and boost your health, it is a good idea to cut down on processed foods. Instead, try supplementing your diet with healthier whole grains such as brown rice, which is rich in many key detoxifying nutrients including B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. Brown rice is also high in fibre, which is good for cleansing the colon, and rich in selenium, which can help to protect the liver as well as improving the complexion.
Like most green herbs and vegetables, watercress is an excellent health-booster and detox food. Firstly, watercress leaves are packed with many vital detoxifying nutrients, including several B vitamins, zinc, potassium, vitamin E and vitamin C. Secondly, watercress has natural diuretic properties, which can help to flush toxins out the body. To reap the benefits of this nutritious food, try adding a handful of watercress to salads, soups and sandwiches.
A recipe here from a friend of the Beach House Kitchen. All the way from sunny Auckland (New Zealand that is), Ang floats over some tasty bites over to the Beach House. WE LOVE ANGx
I met Ang in Barcelona, where she lived a tofu chuck away from a health food shop. I needed some ‘health’ after being on the road for too long and eating out of dusty stalls. Ang cooked up some amazing vegan treats and planted seeds that have now formed the BHK.
We will be munching this soon and having tasted Ang’s cooking, just know that it will be very, very delicious indeed.
Ang sporting socks and deer
Being a vegetarian on a low-FODMAP foods hasn’t been easy. No beans, chickpeas or lentils are allowed, but thank goodness for the almighty Quinoa.
I made some delicious quinoa and courgette fritters one night last week and had loads of quinoa left over, which resulted in this beast of a salad mixed together in a huge moroccan salad bowl – perfect for parties or BBQ’s.
-Cubed veggies, roasted (potato, pumpkin, carrot, courgette) with fresh rosemary and oregano
Salads like this are so hearty and can be adapted in so many ways. Add olives? Avocado? Seeds? Make it your own 🙂
Ang’s Quinoa and Roast Veggie Salad
If there are any other friends of the BHK (thats all of you!) who would like to send us a recipe, we would love to hear from you and will most probably, depending on the deliciousness of the dish, put it onto the blog.
Moods. What can we do? Sometimes you’re up and then for no reason whatsoever, your down. Can food help? Most people realise that moods affect what we eat, but does it work the other way. Do foods effect our moods?
There has been much research into the matter which has shown a link between moods and the food we eat. A recent survey has shown that a large proportion (over 80%) of people felt better when they changed their diet. Eating healthier makes us feel better inside and out.
From what we can tell this is down to serotonin, the happy chemical, produced in our brains. Serotonin cannot be produced without tryptophan (an amino acid), so its a good idea to eat foods high in trypophan to make us happy. Simple enough!? Low serotonin levels are blamed for anxiety, cravings, mood disorders and IBS. The concept of eating foods high in trypophan is similar to that of taking an anti-depressant like prozac. Holistic anti-depressants.
Moods cannot be gotten rid of, but can be brought under some kind of control. The extremity of the ups and downs can be lowered, minimised, meaning we feel more centred and grounded in a good place. Evidence suggests that eating and living well can be essential in maintaining not just our physical, but also our mental health. We certainly feel the benefits!
Foods high in fibre, whole grains and protein can also help boost moods. Food with a low glycemic index, like oats for example, will help the brain absorb all of these happy amino acids. Tryptophan absorption is boosted by carbohydrates.
These foods should be combined with lots of clean water and fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating regularly and not skipping meals also boosts our mental health. As ever, a balanced diet is always the best way forward, lots of fresh veg and fruit, with wholegrains, plenty of green leafy veg and some sweetness! Treats are essential!!
Foods that have the opposite effect are sometimes called ‘Stressors’, the main culprits are listed below:
Provided by the food and mood project, backed by the mental health charity Mind.
A diet heavy in the ‘stressors’ can lead to all sorts of problems including anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, lack of concentration and unfortunately, many more…
Sugar has a powerful effect on our sense of well being, if we eat too much, we can get into a ‘sugar roller coaster’, which is never nice. Our blood sugar levels are all over the place and we feel drained and fatigued when the sugar is lessening and high as a kite when its peaking.
If you do over indulge, one of the worst things that you can do is feel guilty about it. Feel great about it! You have just treated yourself and you deserve it. Move on and make efforts to eat better and feel better, step-by-step, slowly slowly. It’s a long road without any fixed destination.
Apparently we all have ‘triggers’, foods that can take us up and down. This depends on you, have a little experiment. If you are feeling a bit sluggish and down, think about what you have eaten that day or the night before. Trends will inevitably form.
We found it really helpful to take the plunge and go for a full raw diet. Our bodies became sensitive to what we ate and we learned alot about what makes us feel good and otherwise. You don’t have to go this far of course, just cut out certain foods for a period of time and see how you feel.
Eating well is one thing, but thinking well is another level completely. Think positively, practice thinking only positive thoughts for 5 minutes at a time and build on that. You will eventually develop a brilliant habit of a positive world outlook. This is a helpful tool. Add that to your new found passion for mung beans and you’ll be shining away for all to see!
For more information on mood foods, check out the ‘Mind’ site. There is information here for Brits on how to contact dietitians and nutritionists to get started on a new diet plan and lifestyle. You could also check out the website food for the brain.
Take it easy, have a handful of sunflower seeds and shine onX
Honey and cider vinegar combined with just boiled water is normally called ‘Honeygar’ and a mighty fine thing it is. This potion is not only a lovely brew (an acquired taste) it also has great health properties and may help to cure many ailments.
Both Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians are said to have appreciated the healing properties of cider vinegar. It has also been used as an anti-aging elixir in history, which is always popular!
Good quality cider vinegar (with the mother) is a natural product, made by allowing crushed apples to ferment in oak barrels. It has cleansing properties which help to detoxify the body and is a powerful cleansing agent which naturally helps to fight germs and bacteria.
Cider Vinegar can also help to keep the body nicely alkaline. Vinegar is acid but when broken down in the stomach becomes alkaline. An alkaline body has been shown to better fight germs and disease.
Raw fruits, leafy green vegetables, tea and legumes are examples of alkaline foods. Interestingly a foods actual pH is not a good indicator of a food that has acidic effects on the body, for example, lemons and limes when processed by the body actually have an alkaline effect. The ideal ratio of alkaline to acid foods in a diet is around 70/30. High stress levels can also effect the amount of acid produced in the body.
Cider vinegar has been used to help treat arthritis. Many people are looking for alternative methods of treatment. There have been articles recently in the press verifying these healing effects.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the famous explorer and endurance chap, suffered with arthritis in his hand and hip and turned to drinking honeygar. He says “Without it I wouldn’t be able to have done all the things I have done…it has completely kept my arthritis at bay.”
Honeygar is best drank regularly and can take a while to kick in, so stick with it. It also must be combined with a low acid diet, that means no nasty foods high in sugar, nothing too processed (factory food) and alcohol.
I have a hip that clicks and a dodgy neck, which are probably old injures from when I was young and used to do terrible things to my body, all in the name of sports. I have started to drink honeygar and will keep you posted on the progress.
I think the message is, there is enough evidence out there to suggest that honeygar can work well.
When buying cider vinegar, check that it contains the ‘mother’ and is organic. This ensures that it is completely natural, the good stuff, and has not been distilled. The distillation process kills of enzymes and minerals.
Add 2 tbs cider vinegar and top up with freshly boiled water, add honey to taste (1 tbs is normally good for us)