Posts Tagged With: raw

The big chocolate tasting and the thrills of real cacao

Mid chocolate scoff/ tasting

In the library at Trigonos – Mid chocolate tasting

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

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

One of the cooking demos at the vegan cooking retreat

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

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

So much glorious chocolate on one table!!!

So much glorious chocolate on one table!!!

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

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

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

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

So let the tasting begin…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

choco mama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOT CHOCOLATE HEAVEN

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

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

cyl-venezuelan-carenero--e1427891943355

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

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

A cacao pod

A cacao pod – where every chocolate bar begins…

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF REAL CACAO

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

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

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

——————————————-

FULL CHOCOLATE TASTING RESULTS – TRIGONOS 4/3/16

Pana Chocolate – Fig and Wild Orange – 15 points

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

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

Choco Mama’s – Mulberry Crunch – 2 points

Ethicoco – Ugandan Oat Milk and Raisin – 2 points

Pana Chocolate – Nut – 2 points

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

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

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

——-

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

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

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

Categories: Cooking Retreats, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Top Tips and Health Benefits of Juicing plus Kale, Beetroot and Green Pepper Juice Recipe

Beetroot, Kale and Green Pepper Juice

Beetroot, Kale and Green Pepper Juice

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.

WHICH JUICER?

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

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)

Do It

Pop all into a high speed juicer, leaves first, then ginger and lemon.  The carrot and apple will flush everything through.

Serve

In your favourite glass (or jars if you are trendy, or poor, or both) with a smile.

Foodie Fact

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.

Categories: Breakfast, Detox, Healthy Living, Juices, Nutrition, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pots

Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pot.  Ready for action!

Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pot. Ready for action!

All you need for this easy and gorgeous vegan breakfast is a food processor and a fridge.  It’s that super easy, lightning quick and totally nutritious.  What a lovely, healthy start to the day.

Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods known to man and are the nutritious seeds of a plant related to the mint family!  Funky grass never tastes this good!! This tiny little seed acts a little like a sponge – becoming slimy and swelling up when soaked in liquid.  Because of this, chia is best served mixed into something creamy and delicious…. in this case coconut milk!  It can also be sprinkle on things liked salads or smoothies, like little seedy nutritional bombs!

This treat breakfast is also a perfect way to use up all those inevitable fruity autumn leftovers you (hopefully) have lurking in the corners of your fridge.  We had some mango bits and some red-currants that worked perfectly, in a very random way.  Sweet and sour…..bhom and mmmmmmm!

Any autumn berries would be find here, blackberries and elderberries spring to mind (as I can see them growing outside the window!)  We have an awesome little project planned for the next couple of weeks when we make Beach House Garden Jam for the first time.  Our plum tree has sought shelter under a dry stone wall, all the protected branches (from the vicious gales we get up here) are flourishing and its looking like a bumper plum crop this year.  Add to that a healthy Barsdey apple presence from our new apple tree and the ubiquitous blackberries swathe that is taking over parts of the garden and we’re looking good for tasty, sugarfree jam this year.  Does anybody know any good sugar free jam recipes?

For a more local/ accessible sweet fruit, why not go for a plum.  Oh, plum and blackberries, now we are talking in a sensation and seasonal fashion.

With bags of redcurrants at this time of year, what better way to use them?!

With bags of redcurrants at this time of year, what better way to use them?!

The Bits – for 4

1 cup of vegan yoghurt
1 small mango (or sweet fruit of your choice)
4 handfuls of seasonal berries (whatever you have in your fridge)
500ml coconut milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 date (optional added sweetness)
1/2 cup of linseeds
4 drops vanilla extract

 

Do It

Blend the yoghurt and mango and pour into the serving glasses.

Make a berry layer on top using half of the berries.

Next blend up the coconut milk with the date (it sweetens the milk a little), pour out into a bowl, and mix in the chia seeds, linseeds, and vanilla extract. Put this in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool and swell (or for as long as you can resist it’s charms for).

When the chia mixture feels thick-ish, pour it on top of the fruit layer in the serving glasses. Finally top with the remainder of the fruit.

 

Serve

Can be kept in the fridge for a couple of hours but better served straight away – dive straight in!

 

Foodie Fact

The benefits of Chia seeds are far and wide, with vast quantities of Omega-3 good fats and fibre being particular highlights.  Try drinking a large mug of lukewarm water with a chunk of lemon squeezed into it while you are preparing this breakfast, the perfect de-tox first thing in the morning.

Enjoy Xxx Sending you love this happy morning, Jane X

Cor!  What a pleasant way to start the day.

Cor! What a pleasant way to start the day.

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Raw Food vs Cooked Food and The Power of Enzymes

Jane and I are very conscious of the power and cleansing attributes of a full-on raw food diet.  We have tried it out for the past two years for at least a month (normally stretching to two) and have felt amazing; energy levels through the roof, body and mind happy and content…..  Coupled with no alcohol, gluten or caffeine we were incredibly virtuous for a while and (almost) literally floated around in a state of exalted well-being.  It was nice.  We became converts by going through the process of learning to be more experimental with raw produce and the latent potential of the humble nut.  See more of our writing on the topic here Why Raw Food?  and more and even a little more (Raw Earth Month – Moving Back to Nature) for good measure.

The raw food movement does seem to attract a certain amount of food extremists, which puts alot of folk off.  Its not all about being super skinny and living a veg obsessed, semi monastic existence.  Jane and I do not fall into this bracket, we just love to experiment with foods and our bodies and really get a buzz from succulent, vibrant raw food dished.  Check it out!

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

Raw Vegan Lasage with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

Raw – Vegan Golden Courgette Lasagna with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

RAW FOOD VS COOKED FOOD

So the food can be inspiring and creative, but what about the health side of things.  Most fruits and veggies are best served raw, but those containing lycopene (tomatoes, red pepper and other reddish fruits and veg like watermelons, red guava etc) are best served, from a nutritional point of view, slightly cooked.  Lycopene is a very potent antioxidant.  When cooked, tomatoes for example, show a boost in lycopene levels.  The drawback however, and this goes for most vegetation, is that when cooked for lets say 30 minutes, the Vitamin C levels of tomatoes decreases by 30%.  Basically heat increases the rate of degradation of food or ‘oxidisation’, which is bad for foods and bad for our bodies (hence the name ‘anti-oxidants’ which help against it).  Boiling foods results in loss of valuable nutrients which leech into the water (more reasons to use it as soup stock!?)  The healthiest way to cook food is to gently steam them and not to overcook them.  Firm is fine.  This will preserve much of their nutritional value.

So its a bit of a balancing act really, gain lycopene and lose Vitamin C.  Some people say that Vitamin C is more prevalent in the plant world and we are better served to boost the lycopene levels, which is rarer.  ‘Raw food vs Cooked Food’ is a complex comparison and I’d say that mostly raw is best for optimum health (if that’s what you’re driving at).  We are still not sure of all of the benefits of raw food, but each year, science is discovering more reasons to get excited about salads and carrot batons!!!!!

Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Walnuts

Cooked – Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Smoked Tofu

Here is an interesting article I just read about the importance of enzymes to overall health, our bodies cannot thrive without them!

Importance of Enzymes

Enzymes are the sparks that start the essential chemical reactions our bodies need to live. They are necessary for digesting food, for stimulating the brain, for providing cellular energy, and for repairing all tissues, organs, and cells. Humbart Santillo, in his book, Food Enzymes, quotes a Scottish medical journal that says it well: “Each of us, as with all living organisms, could be regarded as an orderly, integrated succession of enzyme reactions.”

There are three types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and food enzymes.

Metabolic enzymes catalyze, or spark, the reactions within the cells. The body’s organs, tissues, and cells are run by metabolic enzymes. Without them our bodies would not work. Among their chores are helping to turn phosphorus into bone, attaching iron to our red blood cells, healing wounds, thinking, and making a heart beat.

Digestive enzymes break down foods, allowing their nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and used in body functions. Digestive enzymes ensure that we get the greatest possible nutritional value from foods.

Food enzymes are enzymes supplied to us through the foods we eat. Nature has placed them there to aid in our digestion of foods. This way, we do not use as many of the body’s “in-house” enzymes in the digestive process.

This is important to remember. Dr. Edward Howell, who has written two books on enzymes, theorizes that humans are given a limited supply of enzyme energy at birth, and that it is up to us to replenish our supply of enzymes to ensure that their vital jobs get done. If we don’t replenish our supply, we run the risk of ill health.

In the Enzyme Nutrition axiom, Howell postulates that “The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential.”

In other words, the more food enzymes you get, the longer, and healthier, you live.

The key is to remember that food enzymes are destroyed at temperatures above 118 F. This means that cooked and processed foods contain few, if any enzymes, and that the typical North American diet is enzyme-deficient. When we eat this type of diet, we could well be eating for a shorter and less-than-healthy life.

This points back to the importance of eating raw fruits and vegetables because they are “live foods”; that is, foods in which the enzymes are active. The more enzymes you get, the healthier you are. And the more raw foods you eat, the more enzymes you get.

DETOXIFICATION

One of the roles of enzymes in the body is detoxification — breaking down toxic substances so that they are excreted and cannot build up to possibly cause harm. Although this is done by metabolic enzymes, research shows that enzymes found in the foods we eat — although not food enzymes — may help our bodies do this.

This has such potential that the U.S. Army is looking into it. The U.S. Army Edgewood Research, Development, and Engineering Center has isolated enzymes that neutralize chemical warfare agents. The center’s Dr. Joseph J. DeFrank believes the enzymes can be used to rapidly decontaminate facilities, equipment, and vehicles.

The Frank M. Raushel Research Group is looking at ways to exploit the properties of enzymes for a variety of chemical and medicinal uses. One project is studying enzymes that catalyze the detoxification of organophosphate insecticides.

Other research points in the same direction. Research at the University of California — Davis is showing that green barley extract may accelerate the body’s breakdown of malathion, an organophosphate insecticide used heavily throughout the world.

Six different experiments measured the ability of barley leaf extract to “detoxify” this insecticide. All revealed positive results.

Interestingly enough, one more test was run after subjecting the green barley extract to high heat. This, the researchers believe, denatured and removed the proteins. Detoxification ability was again measured, and this time, did not take place. This indicates that the detoxifying agent in green barley is an enzyme, and when heated, the enzymes are destroyed. It also points out that green barley extract is “alive” — that is, that the enzymes are intact.

This info taken from the AIM International Partners Magazine, July, 1997

 

If you fancy trying out a raw food diet, you will find loads of recipes on the B.H.K. and if you need any advice, just drop us a line.  The more raw food you can incorporate into your diet, the better.   With the sun shining on our beautiful little island, I can think of no better time to drop the wok and pick up the grater.  Go Raw!!!!!!(mostly)  But most of all, have fun and enjoy cooking and eating!

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

Chard, Coriander and Avocado Smoothie

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Quite a mad sounding smoothie, but we can’t get enough of it at the moment. It’s more of a breakfast pudding than a smoothie. You can drink it, but a spoon is probably the safer bet.

What we haven’t mentioned yet is that this smoothie is sweetened with banana, so its not all funky vegetal flavour, but actually well balanced and thick like beautiful green custard.

We experiment with all sorts of things in the blender and they normally work.  Kale is fine, some cabbages are hard to take (especially when sweetness is involved in the mix), asparagus is fine and spinach is a real hero, melding into all sorts of flavour combos.  Soaked nuts add dramatic richness, different milks are fun to play with and really anything that needs using up from the veg basket/ drawer can be smoothed out into something lovely and superbly nutritious.  It’s floppy leaf territory.

Recently we juiced a parsnip with excellent results.  Next up swede (rudabaga), which could prove quite a challenge.  Turnip juice sounds fresh and sweet……

I think  my body likes me even more when I give it a smoothie first thing, I can feel it smiling and appreciating the pureed magnificence.

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

The Bits – For 2

1 avocado (de-stoned), 1 bananas, glug of rice/ soya milk, 3 chard leaves (stems kept for a stir fry), handful coriander leaves (stems in or out)

Do It

Place all in a blender and blitz into a very thick smoothie.

Hands off!!!!!!!

Hands off!!!!!!!

Serve

We love it with a splash of milk on top, like a green pint of guiness, you can then mix the ‘head’ in with a spoon.  It also looks very cool (the importance of which is never underestimated in the BHK).

We Love It!

Thick and green, two things we always appreciate, add sweet to the mix and sold.

Foodie Fact

Coriander (or cilantro) hails from the Mediterranean and like all green things boasts an almost ridiculous amount of antioxidants.  It helps fight ‘bad cholesterols’ and has a brilliant range of vitamins.  Coriander  has one of natures highest levels of Vitamin K which helps us in so many ways, mainly assisting the bones in growth and repair.

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Brazil Nut and Cacao Pancakes with Papaya Sauce and Berries

P1210790

A truly awesome start to any day, this just happened to be a Sunday.   This is a low-rise cake, with aspirations to one day be a pancake.

Brazil nuts, berries, papaya, this is a decadent affair.  Its the kind of thing you’d imagine the old Maharajas to be munching on in palaces on the Gangetic Plains.  What Im trying to say is that this is decadent in the extreme and packed full of nutrition.  I find normal fat pancakes, american style, a little on the heavy side.  These Brazil Nut beauties have all the flavour without the post breakfast sag.

They can be made raw with a dehydrator, but we forgot to put ours on the night before, so we baked them like a cake in the oven and they turned out very well indeed.

The papaya is a real treat, making quite a change to all the apples and blackberries we have been eating at this time of year.  What can I say, I am weak when it comes to papaya.  They are one of my favourite things for breakfast.  Even though the papayas that take the long flight over here are a little jaded and solid, I never tire of that unique flavour.  I also love the seeds, they  look like frog spawn.

THE BEAUTY OF BRAZILS!

Brazil nuts (or cream nuts) are always handled with great care in our kitchen.  They seem impossibly hard to harvest and grow, so when I get hold of some, I reserve them for the best occasions and finest of company.  When blended, they are so fatty, they resemble butter.  Brazil Nut butter is the only thing that can compare with ‘real’ butter for creaminess and outrageous fattiness, only the fat here is not all saturated and of course, all plant based.

Brazil nut trees are mighty things, some of the highest and oldest trees in the Amazon region, growing to nearly 50 metres tall!  Imagine climbing that to get to the nuts!  Each one of these massive trees will only yield around 300 brazil nut pods per year and take at least 14 months to mature.

I am a little dodgy with gluten it seems, it makes my eczema go wild.  Ground brazil nuts, like almonds, make a perfect substitute for flour and are much more nutritious.  Brazil nut oil is also a wonder thing, great for massages and cooking.  As if that wasn’t enough goodness for one nut, see the nutritional content in the Foodie Fact below.

The Beach House Kitchen has been as busy as ever, but you’d never guess it by the number of posts of late.  Below are some of our cacao/ chocolate-style creations for the month.  We’ve had friends and family visiting, so cakes have definitely been on the agenda.  We really should type more, we’re just too busy cooking and eating!

Pancake time!

The Bits

Pancakes – 2 bananas, 1 1/2 cup brazil nuts, 1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or normal cocoa if you like), 1 cup flax seed meal, 2 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas bicarb of soda, 1 cup water

Sauce – 1 small papaya, 1 small orange, 1 tbsp sweetener of choice (maple syrup, rice syrup etc)

Finish with chopped bananas and berries (we used raspberries and blueberries) and a few chopped brazil nuts (we used almonds bizarrely).

Do It

Preheat an oven to 200oC

In a food processor, add your brazil nut and pulse them until broken down, but still a little chunky.  Almost to the texture of ground almonds, but not quite.

Add the rest of the ingredients, except the water, blend together and add the water a little a time.  You are looking for a thick, double cream like texture, a little thicker than a normal pancake.

Pour into a well oiled, circular spring form pan and pop in the oven for 15 minutes.  It will rise nicely into a low-rise cake of sorts, but still in the realm of pancake.

Whilst this is occuring, wipe out your FP and place all sauce ingredients in.  Blend until smooth.  Thats that.

Chop up and wash your toppings ready for action.

Serve

In slices, drizzled with the sauce and festooned with topping galore.  What a treat for those weary Sunday mornings when the loss of Saturday just seems too much.

If you are hungry and feeling extravagant (even more so!) then you can stack these pancakes into some form of wonder tower, layered with the toppings and sauce.

We Love It!

Dessert for breakfast is something we wholeheartedly condone in these parts.  ‘Nuff said.

Foodie Fact 

Brazil nuts are such a gift.  Individually wrapped, hanging from a beautiful fruit.  Originally a delicious source of protein for the people of the Amazon, now enjoyed by us all, they are fatty, rich and packed full of nutrients.

Being so buttery, Brazil nuts are high in calories and fats.  The great news is that a large portion of these fats are mono-unsaturated, making them good for the heart and preventing strokes.

Brazil nuts also boast great levels of Vitamin E (good for the cells) and Selenium (they are the highest natural source of this mineral).  Selenium works with anti-oxidant enzymes to keep cancer, coronary disease and cirrhosis at bay.

Brazil nuts are also good for the vitamin B’s and are full of minerals like copper and magnesium.

Here’s what else has been hitting the ovens recently:

Baked Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Hazelnut Base

Baked Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Hazelnut Base

Kiwi and Tahini Custard Tart with Cacao and Cashew Base

Kiwi and Tahini Custard Tart with Cacao and Cashew Base

Jane's Double Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Jane’s Double Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

If you’d like any of these recipes, just let us know.

Categories: Breakfast, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 REASONS TO LOVE STRAWBERRIES (EVEN MORE)

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

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

–  Member of the rose family (how romantic!)

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

–  Full of manganese=great for bones and growth.

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

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

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

Beauty Strawbssss!

Beauty Strawbssss!

CLEANING YOUR FRUIT AND VEG

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

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

Makes one large tart, enough for six slices.

The Bits

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

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

Fresh from the freezer

Fresh from the freezer

Do It

Easy as pie (cake)!

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

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

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

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Serve

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

We Love It!

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

Umami Flax Seed Crackers

Umami Flax Seed Crackers

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crackers

Makes around 10 crackers

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

Umami Flax Seed Crackers (Raw/ Vegan)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers (Raw/ Vegan)

Do It

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

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

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

Veg Box delights!

Veg Box delights!

Veg Box Salad

One massive bowlful 

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

Dressing

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

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

Serve

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

We Love It!

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

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

Foodie Fact 

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

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

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

Some Beach House leaves picked yesterday

Some Beach House leaves picked yesterday

 

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

Blooming Marvelous! Garden Update

The Queen of Salads!

The Queen of Salads!

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

The Potato Patch

The Potato Patch

Courgette Flower

Courgette Flower

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

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

'Erbs running wild

‘Erbs running wild

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

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

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

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

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

Wild Strawberries

Wild Strawberries

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

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

On a walk near the Beach House

On a walk near the Beach House

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

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

Enjoy the heat wave (while it lasts)!

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

Cashew, Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

Cashew, Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

Cashew, Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

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

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

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

Ube Ice Cream – a worthy summer tangent

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

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

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

Makes 8 big biscuits:

The Bits

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

Do It

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

Ready for the dehydrator

Ready for the dehydrator

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

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

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

Cashew. Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

Cashew. Dijon and Spinach Biscuits (Raw)

We Love It!

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

Primitive Juice Man Conquers Mighty Mountain!

Primitive Juice Man - on the way up

Primitive Juice Man – on the way up

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

Super Juice

The Super Juice

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

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

RAW EARTH MONTH UPDATE

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

View from the bottom - Snowdon, Nantlle Side.

View from the bottom – Snowdon, Nantlle Side.

View of Nantlle Valley from Snowdon

View of Nantlle Valley from Snowdon

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

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

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

Green Banana, Coconut and Almond Smoothie

Makes one large jugful, enough for three glasses:

The Bits

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

Do It

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

Banana, Coconut, Almond and Spinach Smoothie

Banana, Coconut, Almond and Spinach Smoothie

We Love It!

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BEST WAY TO START THE DAY

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

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

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

Good Mornin’s and BHOM!

The Bits

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

Do It

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

Serve 

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

We Love It!

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sprouted Wheat Grains, Apple, Carrot and Mustard Salad (Raw)

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!

RAW TIMES

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)

Do It

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.

Serve

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!

Foodie Fact
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.

Here’s how its made.

Suns gone and I’m typing by feel, time to call it a day………

Categories: Recipes, Salads | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Summer Berries and Rocket Breakfast Salad (Raw/ Vegan

Summer Berries and Rocket Breakfast Salad

Summer Berries and Rocket Breakfast Salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serves two lucky fruits.

The Bits

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

(de-stoned cherries would be awesome!)

THAT’S ITS!

Do It

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

Summer Berries and Rocket Salad

Summer Berries and Rocket Salad

Serve

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

We Love It!

5 star breakfast!  5 stars!

Foodie Fact

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

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

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makes eight medium sized crackers.

The Bits

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

Do It

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

Just add......avocado?

Just add……avocado?

Serve

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

We Love It!

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

Why Raw Food?

This was written for our raw food time last year, but is a timely reminder of what we are putting ourselves through!!!! Fortunately, its all good!

Raw June is here for the Beach House.  Jane and I are going cold veggie (and fruit) for the entire month and we both cannot wait to get going.

It really has come around quickly this 100% raw/vegan June adventure.  We have both been working quite a bit lately and have had less time to plan for the big plunge than we would have liked, hence the lack of any ‘build-up’ posts.  As with most things, we’re going straight in there!

I have a strange excitement in the pit of my stomach and I don’t know why.  I know that I will feel alot better and have bags more energy, focus and vitality, but there is the feeling that this could be something very big in my life.  It could be a huge lifestyle change for the better, no matter how unconventional it is and no matter how many people call me a ‘weirdo’  (there have been quite a few already) I going for this new diet and looking forward to experimenting with my body and mind in a good way.  We are what we eat, well, we shall see.

The main reason for eating raw is that cooking kills nutrients in food.  Vitamin C and B are heat sensitive, enzymes are also destroyed when food is cooked, which are essential to the function of the body.  If enzymes are not replenished in the body, we can age quickly and loss health.  Raw foods have been used for years to treat ailments and illness, most famously by Dr Ann Wigmore,who set up the Hippocrates Health Institute.  The truth is that we are exposed to more pollutants than previous generations and our food has less nutrients, even organic food is grown on soil that is less rich than is was in previous times (normally due to bad farming techniques).

Ecologically, if we all ate more raw foods there would be a relief on the planets resources.  No cooking conserves energy, there is less packaging (hopefully non) with raw foods, there are no emissions created no processing, the waste is compostable and biodegradable, meaning no rubbish.

Below is the Raw Food Pyramid (thanks to the Almost Raw Vegan for this), this replaces the average diet with meat, dairy etc and will give you an idea of what we will be munching on in June.  We are eating no dairy, refined foods, wheat etc and no alcohol or caffeine.   Our diet will consist of many different types of salads, smoothies and juices and another host of interesting raw foods that you will seldom find, especially in the UK where raw food is still a relatively new thing.  In the States and Australia for example, raw food seems to be very popular.  Many people say that raw food will become the new vegetarianism for this generation, I have already seen restaurants with raw options on the menu.

We have always eaten alot of raw food, we just didn’t necessarily call it ‘raw’, just a salad or a smoothie. We will try and be as close to 100% raw as possible, but aren’t really too fussy about things.  We’ll still be drinking herbal teas and if our new lovely looking olive oil is not certified raw, we’ll still use it.  The same goes for nuts, seeds, dried fruits, pastes etc which are all borderline raw foods.  We love these items too much and deem their nutritional values to be too important to eliminate from our diet.

We hope to open a few people’s eyes, minds and palates to the joys of raw food.  Raw food is nutrient rich, meaning you don’t need to eat or digest as much.  When you are eating a bag of crisps, or packet of biscuits, the reason you are not getting full is because they are devoid of nutrients.  Your body needs the right fuel!  A raw diet puts that fuel in and makes it readily available.  We have had a few days almost raw already and the we have been buzzing!  I went for my normal jog and needed to extend it a little, up the mountain.  I couldn’t stop!  With raw food, your body needs less energy for digestion, which can be utilised in other beneficial ways.

The body has clearly define cycles or natural rhythms:

12pm-8pm  Digestion cycle

8pm-4am  Absorption cycle

4am – 12pm  Elimination cycle

The raw diet will help to cleanse our system of toxins and bring us into balance.  After gradually eating healthier for a number of years (we are not just diving in here, we have been eating well for a while now)  my body is quite sensitive to toxins and rich foods.  I sometimes get what is called a food ‘hangover’ after a cheese or chocolate binge, I will be glad to be free of them.  Raw food is devoid of toxins and packed with nutrients.  There is a popular raw slogan, ‘stop counting calories and start counting nutrients’.  It makes perfect sense to me that what we eat has a profound effect on our bodies and minds.  What we consume affects us on ways that we cannot see or know.  Raw food seems like a stepping stone for me to a greater understanding of my body and what makes me tick, what makes me truly happy.

Raw food will also free up so much time, as I mentioned we are both busy this summer with work, so not cooking will allow us to do other things.  The garden is definitely looking like it needs some TLC.

We will be taking alot of inspiration from our fellow bloggers of the cyber world and also have some good books.  ’Eat Smart, Eat Raw’ by Kate Wood being one of the main ones.  Written by a Brit for British folk, mainly important because we don’t have the plethora of fruits and veggies that many countries enjoy.  We also have the long cold, dark winters, where soup is our best friend and a chilled smoothie seems like a difficult proposition.

We will be supplementing our diets with a few superfood-type bits.   Jane picked up some Barley Grass at the health food shop and that is supposed to be super charged stuff.  We will also be drinking propolis daily, which is a bee resin with amazing properties.  We’ll be writing about it soon.  We will also be sure to drink plenty of water, as this seems to be important no matter what foods you are eating.  Become more fluid!  It is worth noting that many mineral waters are not organic and the best water you can drink is water that has been treated by reverse osmosis, this is pure H2O.  You should also not drink water, or any liquid with meals, as it affects digestion and absorption (diluting stomach acids).

So we are going out in a blaze of intoxication tonight.  We said we wouldn’t, but we are.  It is a relatively decadent evening with some smoked stilton with sparkling wine planned, followed by some of the finest chocolate I have ever tasted (post coming soon..).

Raw June, a time when we in the Beach House gain a greater awareness and respect for the foods we eat and the bodies we inhabit;  a time when we gain a new insight into the world of nutrition and the impact it has on us.

Jane and I are both very positive about all of this, which we feel is crucial, as our mental state has a more profound effect on our health than anything else.

Happy Days!

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

Crunchy Thai Salad with Green Coco Dressing (Raw)

 

Crunchy Thai Salad with Green Coco Dressing

Crunchy Thai Salad with Green Coco Dressing

So here we go again! Raw Earth Month at the Beach House Kitchen will see a huge influx of tasty salads and juices, its inevitable and we love ’em all!

An amazing friend of the BHK (Dodee over in Hawaii – see magical ‘Sacred Backyard Blog‘ here) said of raw food, ‘I’ve made the decision to feel good all the time!’ and how true that is.  Jane and I are buzzing around feeling ace, it’s day five I think and we are fully over our ailments brought on by a fairly intense ‘treat’ time in Dublin(Guiness-fest), lots of birthdays in a row (wine and cake-fest) and meals out (plenty of great rich food).  Our bodies are thanking us now and our energy levels are through the roof.  We are also enjoying the naturally slower life, with no lights and electrical appliances at nighttime.

Jane enjoying the slower life - Glynllifon Estate, Caernarfon

Jane enjoying the slower life – Glynllifon Estate, Caernarfon

I had some fairly strong caffeine withdrawal symptoms on day 2, pounding headache and no energy whatsoever.  After a good sleep, this passed.  Its amazing how the body adapts so quickly to things, good or bad and how sensitive you become when eating this wonderful raw stuff!  Happy days indeed.

Salad wise, we had some left over thai curry paste hanging around the  fridge that demanded a dish.  This salad has all the flavours of Thailand and more, when we’re raw we really like to make a fuss over our salads.

Jane and I love Thailand and on rainy afternoons in Wales we sometimes wonder how Bangkok is and our favourite little coast towns; how are those street food stalls doing without us!?  How is a our favourite juice guy near Kaosan Road?  How is the coconut curry man in Prachuap Kiri Khan?  At times like this, the tastebuds are going mental and they need something with the incredibly pungent and fragrant aromas of THAI.  Its unmistakable and I’d almost consider going back just for the food alone, but there are at least a 101 other countries I’d like to visit before I start re-tracing my steps in the global sand.

Nutritionally, this is a beast of a dish; with sweet potato, sesame seeds, peanuts, avocado, spinach, etc etc etc, the list goes on and with a punchy/ creamy dressing to finish things off, its a real main event salad.  When you decide to eat raw vegan, there is very little you can eat that will do you any harm, that’s one of the beautiful things about the lifestyle, pile it on a plate and know that its all good.  No baddies included.

This salad boasts quite a list of ingredients and was mainly dictated by what we had in, but you can very happily have a play with this one; veggies can be chopped and changed and any nut will do here!

Talking of chopping, if you can get them into thin, baton-like shapes, they work best here. The dressing clings to them and they look the part also.

ความสงบสุข
khwām sngb sukh (peacex)
Makes one large salad bowl full, enough for four hungry munchers.

The Bits

Salad – 1 carrot, 1 stick celery, 1/2 cucumber, 1 red pepper1/2 sweet potato (all chopped into thin batons), 1 cup rocket (arugula to some), 2 spring onions (finely chopped),1 red chilli (finely chopped), 2 cups spinach (finely chopped), 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved), 1 cup beansprouts (we used homesprouted mungers aka mung beans), 1 cup basil leaves, 1/2 avocado (scooped out with teaspoon), 1 lime (zest and juice), 1 tbs black sesame seeds, 1/2 cup raw peanuts

Dressing – 2 cup organic coconut cream (the creamier the better), 2 tbs green thai curry paste, 1/2 lime (zest and juice), 2 teas white wine vinegar, 1 handful basil leaves, 1 teas sea salt

Do It

Chop all hard veggie ingredients into long, thin batons leaving the avocado, nuts and basil leaves to the side for topping purposes.  Add all the rest of the ingredient and the hard veggies to a large salad bowl, mix in half of the dressing, combine well and sprinkle over the topping ingredients.

For the dressing, simply blend all together in a food processor.  The texture should be thick and ‘cling-y’ to get sticky all over on the salad.

Serve

Not chilled, but not quite room temperature, this is a good gauge for our salad temps.  To cold and you don’t get the flavour, to warm and you have wilting issues.  We always have a nice surplus of salad dressing in a bowl on standby.

CRUNCH! and ZING!

CRUNCH! and ZING!

We Love It!

Getting back into raw vegan ways is a serious blessing for body, mind and soul.  We are so lucky to both want to lead this type of lifetsyle, if one of us wanted chips everynight it just wouldn’t be the same!  This salad is a far from chips as you can get in the food world.  It’s a proper zinger!

Foodie Fact 

Sesame seeds are outrageously healthy, some say  they are the healthiest food in the world.  These wonder seeds have been with us for many thousands of years and are thought to originate in India, having been mentioned in ancient Hindu texts.

They are very rich in minerals, especially copper, iron, calcium and zinc.  So ‘open sesame’ and pop some in your diet soonXXXXXXX

Categories: gluten-free, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Raw Earth Month – What’s it all about?

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.

Raw Earth Month means:

–  A raw/ vegan diet only

–  No caffeine/ alcohol

–  No consuming

(not buying anything other than staple food)

–  No detergents/ unnatural chemicals

(i.e. toothpaste, washing up liquid, clothes washing detergent, shampoo, soap etc)  

–  Minimal use of electricity

(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.

VIVA RAW EARTH!x 

For more info on our Raw Earth Month, see here.

PS – I’ve no idea what we’ll do next year, maybe move into a cave or become wandering mendicants?!

Categories: Healthy Living, Raw Food, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Raw Earth Month – Moving Back to Nature

Raw Earth Month at The Beach House Kitchen

Raw Earth Month

RAW EARTH MONTH

at the Beach House

‘Raw June’ in 2012 was a whole month dedicated to eating raw food, with no caffeine, added sugar, or alcohol. It was an incredible month for me. The experience made me realise that I actually ENJOY eating raw food! After it had finished, it felt natural for us to continue with a big part of our diet raw from then on.

Not only did I develop quite a flair in the kitchen for whisking up quick, gorgeous salads, soups and sauces (I’m not a natural cook), we both became very at home with the basics of nutrition, combining foods, new foods, health foods – the days were long and light, the food was sunny, and bright, and so were we!

The other interesting thing for me was that I really connected a lot more with my body during that time. I listened to it more, and felt into my energy levels more often during the day. For the first time in my life, I was aware of the conditioning of my mind, telling me I was hungry just because I didn’t feel ‘full’ (despite eating bowls and bowls of the most nutritional food on the planet)! And my goodness, did I get a whopper lesson on the nature of cravings? Wheew! It was as if something happened in my brain and I suddenly over-night became an addict of chocolate, dairy, crisps and even fried chips! It was a great exercise of willpower for me, especially since my birthday also fell into the month of June….

The other day, while roaming Anglesey’s wild and beautiful coastal path on a gorgeous sunny afternoon, Lee and I started excitedly planning the next Raw Food month for this Summer.

Inspiration spiraled as we sparked off each other, and soon we were discussing not only how we could improve the way we eat, but also the way we live our lives in general. The way we impact our Mother Earth.

Mother Earth

I would say we live in a fairly environmentally conscious way; we are not huge consumers of material possessions, electricity, or water. We recycle and make compost for our veg patch, we don’t own a clothes dryer, microwave or TV, we make our own washing up liquid and toothpaste, I don’t wear make-up, I use cloth pads during my moon time…. But no way are we perfect! We still use some chemical cleaners around the house; we use laundry detergent, conventional soap, and I use conventional shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant. We both use our computers for hours each day, electrical appliances and lights are accidentally left on… that kind of thing.

So we have set an intention! For a whole month starting on the Summer Solstice Friday June 21st, we are going to be eating only raw vegan food and we are also going to live in a way that lowers our impact on nature and the climate.

This means we are going completely ‘chemical free’ in the home – we’ll be experimenting with home-made eco-cleaning products, laundry products and toiletries. We are cutting down our electricity usage by not using appliances or electric heating. We are also going to switch off our lights in the evening to become more in tune with nature’s circadian rhythms. We’ll reduce our petrol consumption to essential trips only, and limit ourselves to 2 hours of computer time per day. Our mobile phones will be off unless we’re working, and, last but not least we will not buy anything apart from food and essentials – so no shopping trips!

It was not easy for us to agree the finer points of this experience – because of course it does involve sacrifices to our normal way of living, and would not be a challenge otherwise. For example, there was a point in the conversation where I flatly refused to even do Raw Earth Month! It was when Lee brought up the topic of shampoo and conditioners. This was met by fiery resistance by me as my hair is unusually big, long, thick and DIFFICULT at the best of times, even with these wonderfully enriching chemically products in my life. The other thing I felt resistance about was hand-washing all our laundry, not using conventional laundry liquid, and disinfecting the loo. Other than that I’m excited to experiment and relishing the thought of no technology and evenings sat by candle light… Bliss!

Lee on the other hand had no qualms about giving up chemicals on his body and hair, but found the computer part challenging – and even managed to haggle me up from one hour (as initially suggested) to two per day! I do take his point that blog articles can take time to write…

I’m just hoping that we can learn some new life skills during this phase; hopefully lessons we will be able to integrate into the rest of our lifes forever. In our opinion, saving and conserving energy is something we will all have to do more in the future. We will have to turn back once more to Mother Nature, and work with her not against her. Lets get a head start!

Janexxxxx

Janexxxxx

and

Leexxxxx

Leexxxxx

For more info on raw food check out our posts from last year, June – July 2012.

Also see our page ‘Why Raw Food?

The ‘No Impact Man‘ has been doing things like this over in New York.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Inspiration, Raw Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

greenPOWsauce! (aka Salsa Verde)

greenPOWsauce (or Salsa Verde)

greenPOWsauce (or Salsa Verde)

A simple and lip smacking sauce from our hombres in Mexico.  Salsa Verde is so fresh tasting, especially when lathered on a street taco in Mexico City.  Viva la verde!  Summer is on the way, we need to get these recipes gathered and prepared.  Here comes the sun……….

With a fridge full of amazing green herbs and lemons all around, making this was a real no-brainer.  I have played around with the spices here, but I think it adds even more punch and flavour to the sauce.

I was first introduced to this incredible, tangy number in a Mexican street stall lathered all over a street taco with lashings of raw chillis (normally after a few late night tequilas). The art of a good taco is in the balance of all the ingredients, but for me the salsa verde was always the most interesting component. How do they fit so much POW (followed instantly by a TWANG) into a sauce?! Later I found out and have been making variations ever since, normally potent concoctions with herbs, citrus and chilli as the core (and of course the essential tomatillos (green tomatoes).

The Verde is a super healthy affair also, making your own sauces cuts out the middle man, who usually enjoys adding scary sounding chemicals to sauces and no doubt bags of white sugar and other baddies.

Local lemons

Local lemons

This salsa is easily prepared and you may want to chop up your garlic, lemon rind etc depending on the potency of your food processor.  We think its best to mash it all up in a pestle and mortar (and hope you have time for this).  Here in Spain, our blender/f.p. is more of a smoothie maker and woefully under powered for the umph a salsa verde needs, you should be left with a vivid green sauce, all the bits well blended and together, mingling and sharing.

Due to the tomatoes, salsa verde doesn’t hang around to long in the fridge, its best eaten fresh poured over roasted veggies or in sandwiches/ tacos/ enchiladas/ burritos etc and we also use it in cooking as a sauce.  Salsa Verde will also grace any pasta, I wonder if they’ve thought of it in Italy yet!?

Tomatillos can be a little hard to get hold of outside Mexico, other green tomatoes work almost as well.

Happy whizzingX

Makes one decent size tubful

The Bits

4 large green tomatoes/ tomatillos, 1 tbsp capers, 1 ½ big handfuls of fresh coriander, 1 of parsley, 1 of mint, 1 teas roasted fennel seeds, 1 teas roasted coriander seeds, 1 teas ground coriander, 2 fresh red chillis (jalapeno?  Gauge how hot you like it), 3 cloves of garlic, 2 lemons (juice and zest), 150ml olive  oil, hefty pinch of sea salt

In the mix - Salsa Verder

In the mix – Salsa Verder

Do It

Pop all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz away until deep green and extremely tasty.  Or if you lead a life of leisure and want to do it properly, add garlic, seeds, capers, chilli and lemon zest to you pestle and mortar, add a little oil and get mashing!  Add this potent paste to your food processor with the other ingredients and blitz for 2 minutes.

Serve

Its very easy to just ladle this straight into your mouth!  We would however recommend it mixed in with roasted veggies and will zing up any rice dish.  Use it as a sauce and revel in the goodness.  Jane and I would also have it thinned out a little, as the perfect dressing for a lively salad.

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

We Love It!

There is nothing like the bite and zing of a salsa verde, citrus and herbaceous with hints of spice.  It’s really, very healthy too.  The only sauce for a spring barbecue and salad session.  Why not start early this year!

Foodie Fact

All those green leaf herbs are superbly good for you, packed with anti-oxidants.   Tomatillos were originally cultivated by the Aztecs and contain more minerals than your average red tomato.

Tunes

The only soundtrack to salsa making, Santa Esmeralda – ‘Please don’t let me be misunderstood’ (bad miming and all!)

Categories: Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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