Posts Tagged With: wales

Griddled Ruby Grapefruit and Beetroot Salad with Toasted Cobnuts and Aronia Berry Dressing

 

Chargrilled Ruby Grapefruit, Beetroot, and Cobnut Salad with Aronia Berry Dressing

Chargrilled Ruby Grapefruit, Beetroot, and Cobnut Salad with Aronia Berry Dressing

We’ve had a real foodie time of it recently and this salad reflects that.  Not only have I picked up some amazing produce at Ludlow and Beaumaris Food Festivals, but I have also been inspired by the chefs I’ve met.  This is a salad that is caught between summer and autumn, quite apt in September.  It’s also caught somewhere between a restaurant table and home kitchen.  Do not fear, all of the these ingredients are easily interchangeable and there is only a few, quick, prep steps.

This dish is a looker and is something you could serve at dinner party and it would go down a treat.  Its full of bold flavours and the Aronia berry vinegar really lights things up.  Like all salads, its a perfect way of expressing gorgeous produce.  We have made these portions main course size, but you could easily scale things down and serve as a starter.

Some of the special bits; cobnuts (from Ludlow), organic beetroots from Tyddyn Teg and Aronia Berry Vinegar

Some of the special bits; cobnuts (from Ludlow), organic beetroots from Tyddyn Teg Farm and Aronia Berry Vinegar

I think this is the best way to cook beetroots.  Although my mind does change often. I also love charring citrus.  Aine Carlin reminded me how cool charring citrus can be with this simple and delicious dessert recipe ‘Cashew Cream and Griddled Oranges’.  Check it out on youtube.  Aine’s new cookbook is out soon, which is very exciting news.

WHAT’S A COBNUT THEN?

Basically its a hazelnut.  This is the perfect time of year to pick them up and when they are fresh and young, they are plump and have a light, creamy taste and a texture similar to coconut.  They are lighter than a hazelnut when roasted and something that is well worth a try.  Cobnuts were only introduced to the UK in the 19 th century and they are famously from Kent.  In this salad they bring crunch and richness.   Use them as you would use a hazelnut.

Cobnuts -de-shelled and soaked

Cobnuts -de-shelled and soaked

ARONIA BERRIES

We met a lovely group of people at Beaumaris, Beri Da, who are growing Aronia berries in the next valley from us.  Incredible to think that these things are happening so close and you miss them!  We have tried a lot of food and nibbles over this weekend, but some really stand out.  Beri Da is certainly one of them.  Everything they produce is delicious and something a little different.

Beri Da is a small family ran business and you can read more about their story here.  Aronia berries are like blueberries but more intense and packed with even more antioxidants and good stuff.  They are native to North America but are increasingly being grown in the UK.  They are thriving near Mount Snowdon and the guys have just planted even more bushes at the base of the mountain.  A very scenic place for superfoods to grow!

The Aronia vinegar we bought is very intense, fruity and fragrant. A little goes a long way.  We also have some chutney made with beetroot which is just too good to eat right now.  We need to hide it away and dream about it for a while.  Its fair to say that Aronia berries are going down well in the BHK.  We are hoping to pop over and help with the next harvest, I’m not sure how many berries are going to make the basket!

These beetroots were so good looking, I love that crazy, deep purple.

These beetroots were so good looking, I love that crazy, deep purple.

I’m going to write more about the brilliant producers we met over the weekend in our next post.  I’ll also let you know how our first cooking demo’s and book signings went at food festivals.  We started at one of the biggest and surely one of the best, Ludlow.  It was a blast!

VEGFEST 2015

If you haven’t voted in Vegfest 2015’s massive vegan poll, tututututututututttttt!  There are loads of vegan products, authors, suppliers etc to be voted for.  You’ll find ‘Peace & Parsnips’ in the ‘Best Vegan Cookbook’ catergory along with a host of other excellent plant based cookbooks.  The Vegfest is like the vegan Oscar’s and we’ll be down there doing a cooking demo.  Is going to be HUGE!  Exciting stuff.

Lets get cooking……

Recipe Notes:

When frying the beetroots you can use any fruit vinegar, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry etc but all will be different.  Some sweeter, some more potent.  You just need to taste and adjust accordingly.  For frying the beetroots you can also use balsamic vinegar and save your precious fruit vinegar for the dressing.

If you chargrill the grapefruit for too long, they will begin to fall apart.  Keep it to roughly a minute each side, we’re just looking for a few nice griddle marks to add a smokiness to the citrus flavours.  Its well worth the little extra hassle.

I have added avocado for a little bit of richness, but you could easily use cashew cheese or even well drained and marinated tofu.

Our Aronia berry vinegar is very potent, you may need to add more fruit vinegar to balance the dressing nicely.  It should be quite tart with good acidity and a nice twist of sweetness.

The rapeseed oil we use here is good quality, single press, made like olive oil-type stuff.  The flavour is sensational and we are loving Blodyn Aur or Bennett and Dunn.  Both excellent and part of a new wave of quality rapeseed oil producers in the UK.

This recipe makes just enough dressing.  Double the quantity if you’d like extra to be served on the table.

Nicely caramelised beetroots in Aronia berry vinegar - the smell was sensational!

Nicely caramelised beetroots in Aronia berry vinegar – the smell was sensational!

The Bits – For 4
6 medium beetroots (scrubbed and trimmed)
1 small cucumber (peeled and cut in 1/2 moons)
1 ruby grapefruit (peeled and cut into 1cm slices across)
2 handfuls de-shelled cobnuts or hazelnuts (toasted)
8 big handfuls beetroot leaves or spinach/ chard leaves (finely sliced, chop the stems too and keep separate for garnish)
1 avocado (peeled and cut into small chunks)
2 radish (thinly sliced)
2 big handful basil leaves
1 tbs rapeseed oil
2 teas aronia berry vinegar or other fruit vinegar (balsamic will do)

Aronia Berry Dressing
2 teas aronia vinegar (or other fruit vinegar)
3 tbs rapeseed oil
1/2 lemon juice
Pinch salt

Do It
In a saucepan, cover the beetroots with water and add 1/2 teas salt, bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Pop lid on and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the beetroots with a slotted spoon, keep the cooking broth to drink or use as a colourful stock. Pop the beets back in the pan and pop the lid back on.

Make the dressing by whisking everything together (with a fork if you like) in a small bowl.

Grab a griddle pan and very lightly oil, place on a high heat. When hot pop the grapefruit slices on. Leave to cook for a minute, they don’t take long. Flip them over using a thin spatula and cook for a minute on the other side. Now do the same with your cucumber slices. One minute each side. Set aside.

Peel the skin off the beetroots (you may like to wear clean marigolds or other plastic gloves for this job). Using a teaspoon helps to bring the skin away from the beet. Cut the beetroots in half lengthways and then each half into four even pieces. Warm the oil in a frying pan and fry the beetroots for 10 minutes, turning them regularly. You should get some nice colour on them. Add the vinegar and toss the beetroots to cover with vinegar, this will help them caramelise nicely.  Cook for 2 minutes and they’re ready to go.

On large plates, scatter the leaves and top with grapefruit, cucumber, cobnuts, beetroots, avocado, sprinkle over the sliced beetroot roots, radish and basil, drizzle liberally with dressing.

Chargrilled Ruby Grapefruit, Beetroot and Cobnut Salad with Aronia Berry Dressing

Chargrilled Ruby Grapefruit, Beetroot and Cobnut Salad with Aronia Berry Dressing

Serve
Best served when the beetroots are still warm. We had ours with some steamed whole grains (millet, green lentils and buckwheat) tossed in a little lemon juice and rapeseed oil.

Foodie Fact

Nuts are good for you.  Very good for you.  Little nutritional powerhouses they are.  Cobnut kernels contain 17% protein by dry weight, and about 15% fibre.  Cobnuts are rich in vitamin E and calcium. They also contain vitamin B1 and B6.  Not bad!

Our foodie weekend salad with all the trimmings

Our foodie weekend salad with all the trimmings

Categories: Autumn, Healthy Eating, Local food, Lunch, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie and the healing properties of Ginger

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie

Here is our perfect style of morning pick me up. Bursting with vitality and flavour. We woke up to bright sunshine today with a little autumn chill in the air.  We have been blessed this summer in the Beach House, I’ve had my shorts on twice and fleece of at least a handful of times.  Its been a scorcher!  September is normally one of the best months for sunshine, so we’ll be out in the garden come the morn, sipping smoothies and juices for most of the month (fingers and toes crossed).  Its a beautiful time of year with spectacular sunsets (we have been posting loads of sunset shots over on Twitter).

We managed to get out hands on a nice ripe melon and with some apples and mint from the garden, whipped up this interesting combo of flavours. Sure to get your taste buds zinging in the morn.  We like a ginger pick me up most mornings and it creeps into many of our juices and smoothies.

Mint is running wild in our garden, we have an embarrassment of herbs leaping from all angles!  At the minute we have a couple of peppermint style varieties, very intense, some ginger mint (we used a little in the smoothie) and apple mint.  Apple mint is a lovely variety, with large soft leaves and mellow flavour.  It grows like a hyperactive teenager so we are welcoming it regularly to dishes in the BHK.

The apples we used are known as Bardsey apples, which all came from one ‘mother’ tree on the island of Bardsey, just off the Llyn Peninsula down the road.  The apples are quite sharp and tart and tangy so they go perfectly with the sweet melon and ginger.  Read more about the fascinating story of the Bardsey Apple here.

Apple mint from the garden (via Janes Mum and Dad in Stafford)

Apple mint from the garden (via Janes Mum and Dad in Stafford)

GINGER IS MEDICINE!

Most spices are not just packed with flavour, they also boast amazing health giving properties.  Ginger is one of the most potent examples of this.  I write about this a lot in Peace & Parsnips, there is a whole section dedicated to spices, how to treat them and their health benefits.  This is one of the many reasons why I love Indian, Persian, Middle Eastern etc foods, they are packed with spices that light up the palate and make our bodies shine.

A brief run through the amazing healing properties of Ginger:

Ginger has long been used in ‘alternative’ medicine to treat nausea (morning/ sea sickness), digestive complaints and cold/ flu.

The main active compound in ginger is called gingerol and it is a strong antioxidant and has power anti-inflammatory effects.

Ginger may have strong anti-diabetic properties, lowering blood sugars and heart disease risk along with many bacteria fighting properties, lowering the risk of infections.

Ground ginger has been shown to help with menstrual pain and it generally helps with digestion, especially chronic indigestion.

It is effective in treating exercise induced muscle strain, joint pain and stiffness, when used over a period of time.

There is also some evidence that ginger can reduce bad cholesterol levels, keeping our hearts healthy and that it contains substances that protect us from cancer.

Some studies suggest that ginger can improve brain function and help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The beautiful thing about ginger is its versatility and we pop it into a cup of hot water, with lemon, in the morning when we feel like being outrageously healthy.  It is the best way to start things off in the morning.

Now thats what I call a super food!!!!

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Beautiful mornings deserve beautiful smoothies:)

The Bits – For Two Big Glasses

3-4 handfuls chopped melon (honeydew, galia…nice and ripe)

3 handfuls chopped apples (tart variety)

1 kiwi (peeled and chopped)

1/2 handful chopped mint leaves (sliced)

2 tbs chopped ginger (or more depending on taste and purpose.  For a serious healthy pick me up, try 3-4 tbs)

Splash of water/ non-dairy milk

Do It

Blitz all together in a blender until smooth and lovely.  Add more liquid to thin to your favourite consistency.  If you leave it thick, its more like a pudding!

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie

Foodie Fact 

There are over 25 varieties of mint and it has long been used to soothe the belly.

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's what I call a tom!

That’s what I call a tom!

KALE! WHATS ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?

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

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

Eat your greens, live the dream……………

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

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

“HEY, WHAT’S HAPPENIN’?!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

Sorrel. Our favourite weed.

The Bits – For 4-6

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

For the dressing

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

Do It

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

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

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

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

Serve

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

Creamy Peanut and Sweet Potato Curry

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)

This is not a fussy thing!  Not a gram (or lentil) of stress, just lots of spicy and sweet creaminess……the perfect dish to end Vegetarian Week. Twitter takes up a lot of time! I’ve been tweeting like a nutter this morning but its great to come back to the BHK. Blog-ville!

Here is last nights dinner which worked out a treat. Creamy and sweet with a hint of nuttiness and plenty of spice this is pure plant and packed with things to make you shine and go MMmmmmmmm……. This is a chunky curry, all made in the one pan for ease of preparation. We like to keep things whole food and don’t think this means loads or extra prep or time over the hob. There is no separate masala sauce making here, we just dive straight in and get maximum flavour and richness from the soya milk and peanut butter.

Jane and I celebrated my birthday on the beach and in the garden yesterday. A little belated as I’ve been busy promoting ‘Peace and Parsnips’ down in London and working at the Trig.  We quaffed a nice bottle of Sancerre and watched the sun slowly set from a rug near our stone circle (quite a cool feature of our garden!)  Pretty idyllic behaviour!  Our garden is looking wild and verdant at the minute, alive with the hum of big busy bumble bees.  You have to wait ages for a sunset at this time of year, we gave up at 9:30pm and retreated into the Beach House. I mention in the recipe that we like our veggies with a little crunch and must say that the pictures of the curry were taken alot later in the evening when the curry had sat and carried on cooking. They were well cooked by that stage (a bottle of wine can have a bizarre effect on cooking).

The Beach House Garden - Waiting for sunset

The Beach House Garden – Waiting for sunset

NATURAL HEALING

Later we watched an interesting documentary ‘Sacred Science‘ about natural plant healing, straight from the shamans of the Amazon.  There is so much healing potential in the plant world, most of which we are unaware of.  This documentary opened our eyes to the potency of the natural world to heal even serious or terminal illness; cancer, parkinsons, diabetes etc.  The Amazon is tragically disappearing for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being deforestation for the growing of soya beans to fatten cattle for humans to consume.  Cutting out meat and dairy will have a hugely positive effect on the Amazon, safeguarding the plants that will one day, no doubt, be used more widely to cure illnesses that presently can only be treated with powerful chemical drugs with many side effects.

Shades view

Shades view

A WORD ON WELSH WEATHER

(Always an interesting conversation in North Wales.  We had hail stones the other day like ping pong balls.  It sounded like the world was being pummelled with marbles!) Its been chilly up here in North Wales and the plants are taking it slowly this year. Basically, not growing. We are about to put our crop of seedlings out into the veg patch, but if things don’t get alot drier and sunnier, we fear stunted beetroots and shy cabbages. Come on SUN! Trigonos (is our local organic/ biodynamic veggie farm) is growing a load of veggies this year and hopefully soon we’ll have some local seasonal veggies to play with. At the minute we are turning to things like sweet potato regularly, primarily because they are one of the most nutritious (see ‘Foodie Fact’ below) and delicious things that could ever pass your hungry lips.

Doing the not-so-famous 'Wine Crane' yoga pose

Doing the not-so-famous ‘Tipsy Crane’ yoga pose

ULTIMATE SPINACH!

Jane makes me a mix CD for my birthday every year, last year we had the magnificence of ‘Wild Honeypie’ which contained alot of tracks from the awesome snowboarding movie ‘Valhalla‘. This years offering is ‘Hazy Daze’ and I’ve popped a couple of the tunes at the bottom of this post. To give you an idea of what we’re grooving to when peeling our radiant orange spuds. Its fair to say that ‘Ultimate Spinach’ are our new favourite band for so many reasons.

So, a simple curry which we hope you make with big smiles and eat with loved ones and laughterXXXXxx

Jane getting out little birthday picnic ready

Jane getting our little birthday picnic ready – the Beach House Garden

The Bits – For 4

850g sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped into 2 inch chunks)

1 large onion (sliced)

1 large pepper (deseeded and cut into 2 inch chunks)

1 large courgette

2 large tomatoes (roughly diced)

1 chilli (finely diced) or 1/2 teas chilli flakes

2 inches ginger (roughly grated)

250ml soya milk

2-3 tbs smooth peanut butter

1 tbs vegetable oil

1 teas sea salt

 

Spices

2 teas cumin seeds

1 1/2 teas mustard seeds

1 teas fenugreek seeds

 

1 teas ground turmeric

2 teas ground coriander

1/2 teas ground cardamom or 4 cardamom pods

Just about ready - Curries up!

Just about ready – Curries up!

Do It

In a large frying pan, warm the vegetable oil and add the spice seeds (only).  Leave them to fry and pop for 30 seconds and then add the onion.  Stir well and add 1 tbs of water if the pan is getting too hot.  This helps to prevent the spices from sticking and potentially burning.  Fry and stir for 5 minutes, when the onions are golden, add the ginger, chilli and sweet potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.  Making sure you stir regularly.

Now add the ground spices to the pan, stir well and add the tomatoes with 2 tbs water.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Now add the soya milk, courgettes and pepper, turn the heat up a little and bring the curry to a boil. Lower the heat and cover and cook for roughly 5-7 minutes, until the courgettes are soft with some crunch still.  If you plan on serving the curry later, cook only for a few minutes, the veggies will cook through when you come to re-heating the curry.

Just before serving, stir in the peanut butter.  If you really like peanuts, go for 3 tbs, 2 tbs will give a light, nuttiness.

Serve

Would be lovely with some freshly chopped coriander, brown rice and all your favourite curry accompaniments. A spiced chutney of some sort will be magnificent!  To add even more nutrition by adding a few handfuls of spinach to the finished curry and stirring them in.

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Creamy Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato (Vegan)

Foodie Fact

Sweet potato is one of our favourite ingredients.  Its such a treat in so many ways, just roasted in its jacket is something sublime.  Sweet potato (also called Yam) is grown all over the world, there are actually over 200 varieties.  The insides of these potatoes can be purple, cream, yellow, pink, white….  They are originally from Central and South America, one of the oldest foods known to man, nowadays the worlds largest producer is China. Sweet potato is one of the finest sources of beta-carotene, raising our Vitamin A levels.  Eating sweet potatoes with a little fat, i.e. the vegetable oil in this recipe, helps the body absorb the beta-carotene. These vivid tubers also contain lots of Vitamin C and Manganese.

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Music, Nutrition, photography, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Foragers Salad – Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion Leaves

Foragers Salad - Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion

Foragers Salad – Primrose, Sorrel and Dandelion

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

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

FORAGING

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

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

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

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

THE BEACH HOUSE GARDEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bits – For 4 (as a side salad)

2 handfuls primrose flowers

3 handfuls sorrel

3 handfuls dandelion leaves

4 handfuls young spinach leaves

2 handfuls red cabbage (grated)

 

Apple and Mustard Dressing

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs dijon mustard

1 1/2 tbs apple juice concentrate

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic (crushed)

sea salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Do It

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

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Foragers Salad

Foragers Salad

Serve

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

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

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

Waste Not, Want Not – Our Top Larder Tips

Beach House Maramalade (made en Espana)

Beach House Maramalade (made en Espana)

Maintaining a decent larder/ store cupboard can be tough. The larder is really the backbone of any passionate cooks foodie arsenal.  We need our dried goods, spices, grains, magic potions etc to be in special, pristine condition to produce wonderful food.  It takes time and some amounts of dedication to get it right.  It’s certainly not the most spontaneous, vibrant aspect of the joys of cooking, but its highly worthwhile, pretty much essential.  We have just cleared ours out after returning from India and a few top tips came to mind:

It’s all about rotation – keeping new things at the back and ‘to use’ things near the front helps loads. Its a visual thing, you can’t remember everything that is lurking in the larder shadows. Spend a few minutes, regularly, opening jars and inspecting the contents. Sniff and occasional taste tests may be required. Ditch what looks like its past its best and if there is a whiff of mustiness, definitely escort it to the bin. Nuts especially should be cared for and used quickly. If they are in their shells, they keep for a long time. Otherwise, keep an eye on them. A rancid nut is no fun and can be quite bad for you.

Have a good stash jars handy – keep loads of empty, clean jars or plastic containers (ex-yoghurt pots etc) to decant spices, grains, sugar etc into. They keep better, we try not to leave anything in packets once opened. Unless they are those clever re-sealable ones. But…….

Keep some pegs handy – Pegs are great. They come in really handy sealing things when you inevitably run out of jars and platic pots.

Tea bags keep powders dry – If you pop a tea bag in with salt and sugar, this will help to keep them dry.

Buy spices as seeds or whole – and then grind them yourself using a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder. You can even make your own spice mixes. Buying whole spices seriously lengthens their longevity. Ground spices should really be used quickly, within weeks, even when stored in a air tight container.

Bardsey Island Apple and Plum Chutney

Bardsey Island Apple and Plum Chutney

Buy local and in bulk – we buy most locally if we can, generally this means the produce is always in good condition and hasn’t been messed with on long journeys and in storage. We are lucky to be surrounded by some wonderful producers and suppliers, as I’m sure you are also. They are everywhere!

We also like to use the co-operative Suma for all larder items. They will deliver, but it needs to be over a certain amount. Get a load of friends together is our advice. A sack load of chickpeas keeps well and will make you feel wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.

Label Things – This may sound like a step towards librarian-hood, but having a few blank stickers handy means knowing you’re cumin from your coriander and importantly, your chilli from your paprika at a glance. It also means that you can be creative and decorate your jars and pots with imaginative doddles that make people smile. Labelling also means that you don’t double up on buying things.

Dry/pickle your own – This can be lots of fun, but a little hectic in the glut months of Autumn when piles of precious berries, fruits and veggies are filling the kitchen.  Some late night jammin’ and picklin’ may be in order.  A few pickling/ preserving techniques and basic chutney/ jam recipes up your sleeve can make this time of year a joy.  Preserving the beauty of harvest time for later months when blooming nature seems very distant.  Homemade raspberry jam (we make it sugar free) in January is one of life’s great treats!

Here are a few recipes for picklin’ and preservin’ from the B.H.K library:

Beachu Kimchi

Beetroot, Apple and Caraway Sauerkraut

Apple and Plum Chutney

Chilli Onion Marmalade

5 Minute Fig and Prune Compote

Simple Blackcurrant Compote

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BEER! Is it vegan? If so, which ones.

A typically Black Dog greeting

 

The sun is out over Tiger Hill and Dad has just emailed me from our favourite pub in the entire world, the Black Dog in Whistable (Kent). Yes, its named after the Led Zeppelin song and the owner Mike is a thoroughly great publican and keeps a spectacular array of local ales, not to mention vegan samosas on the menu. So my mind has drifted towards the finest of British beverages…..BEER! (aka Real Ale)

Known as the ‘hammer of the gods’ I believe

Jane and I are not drinkers a la Ollie Reed (a British actor who famously claimed to have drank 106 pints in two days) but the occasional, proper glass of bitter, stout or porter is right up our winding country track. Wishy washy lager is a no no in the B.H.K.  We like beer with character and depth.  Ale with substance and meaning.  We don’t want to bloat up on ten pints of fizzy dish water, we are seeking that perfect, 1/2 pint of dark and potent nectar. There are a few breweries around us and a brilliant pub called the Snowdonia Park which brews all of its own beers in the cellar beneath the bar. You have to love that set-up!  An institution built on beery foundations.  It is also, sometimes conveniently, a campsite.   Their best ale is ‘Karmen Sutra’, named after the landlady.  A quirky name for a beer is much appreciated.

So the suns out and I’m wondering about beer……but wait, is it vegan? There seems to be a grey area around this and I’d like to attempt to clarify the question.

IS BEER SUITABLE FOR VEGAN?

Some, is the the best answer. The Camra website has some good info on this. Basically, the main ingredients of the vast majority of beers are very vegan; hops, barley, wheat, plants one and all. However, when it comes to clearing the beer of sediment, making it clear, many brewers use finings derived from the air bladders of the sturgeon fish (how random and disappointing is that!!!) These are called ‘isingas’ and draw the pesky yeast particles down through the beer.  Although these are not consumed in the final product, most vegetarians and vegans will opt out of non-veggie beer.

Beers can be sold unrefined, but they take longer to settle and can be slightly cloudy. Some pubs in the UK are now serving only ‘unfined’ beers. Vegans also need to keep an eye on honey, it can crop up in the production of some ales.  Some brewers may also use egg whites and gelatin in the brewing process.  The good news is that beers can be fined vegan-stylee, using seaweed!  How cool.

There is a directory of vegan UK beers below with some of my favourite names being Concrete Cow, Lizard, Fallen Angel, Wobble Gate and Why Not (?!) Which is a very good question, one I have posed myself many times before entering a pub.  One I may pose myself this evening.

Here’s a comprehensive list (you could even call it a database) of vegan beers from the good folk at Barnivore.  In fact, Barnivore is a one stop shop for checking all your vegan booze queries, including wines and liquor.  I love the fact that their commitment to booze have led them to research the beers of Nicaragua, Philippines and even France!

Local tipple.  Good stuff.

SOME POPULAR BRANDS OF BEER (NOT NECESSARILY GOOD ONES) THAT ARE VEGAN

Black Sheep Ale (Wahee!)

Goose Island (Waheeeee!)

Affligen beers (Hoorahhhh!)

Alhambra and Mahou Spanish Beer (Yeeesssss!  Fiesta!!)

Amstel (Hmmmmmmmmmmmm)

Asahi (Hmmmm, refreshing and points for being exotically Japanese)

Budweiser (Hmmmmmm.  Only in Wyoming.)

Aspall Ciders (Whoopp!)

Badger Ale (Double Whhooopeeee!)

Becks (Nostalgic nod of semi-approval.)

Black Isle, Isle of Skye (THANK YOU!  Thank you!!)

In fact, I’m only on ‘B’, I’ll be here all day.  There are more major brands listed below, but the good news is that most pubs will stock some vegan beers and you can always have a pint of Becks if you arm is being severely twisted.  Being vegan does not mean that you cannot be boozy.  Kale smoothies are wicked.  As is a tankard of tepid local ale!  We are British don’t you know!!!!!

Corona (plenty of lime please)

Pacifico (as above and very cold)

Peroni (if in Napoli, pleasant)

Fosters (Not if I was dying of thirst on a small antipodean island)

XXXX (See above but with much more conviction)

Bernard Beers (the absolute opposite of the past two comments.  Heavenly Czech nectar.)

Budvar (Fizzy yumvar)

Staropramen (Fueled my early 20’s misadventures.  Strong)

Stella Artois (no comment, except it can be decent if in Leeuwen.)

Conwy Ales (if you live in Wales, this is the finest of spring time news)

Birra Morretti (nice bottle and Italian, so brownie points)

Erdinger (!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!)

Kronenberg (who drinks beer in France.  Wine!)

Potentially, not everything these guys brew is vegan, but it seems like most.  Best checking with uncle Barnivore to be sure. 

I would say this, “vegans…..don’t be shy and ask at your local watering hole about vegan options.  The more we ask, the more awareness spreads and the more pubs stock vegan tipples.”  Many vegans I know provide their local pubs with excellent support and are a mainstay of their local public house.

VEGAN BEER!  Why not!!

Enjoy in moderation (or otherwise.)

Rainbow…..Dad, this ones for you big man!  Roberts still got it (never in doubt!)

Categories: Wales, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

What’s in a vegan’s larder?

The Larder – The Land of Large Jars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coconut milk (very handy always)  

Vegan butter (aka non-hydrogenated margarine)

A variety of Olives (a great source of richness)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OILS – Richness, good fats and vital lubrication:

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

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

SNACKS – Things that make you go mmmmmm!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mushroom and Spinach Hash and a Saucy Debate

Mushroom and Spinach Hash

Mushroom and Spinach Hash

Breakfast of champs!!!!!!!!!!!  Although really anytime of day is a good time for hash.  Spinach is not everyone’s breakfast go-to veg, but it adds a stack of vitamins and nutrients to any dish and the body loves few things more first thing.  Give it a go, it might even start making an appearance on your cooked brekkies (or is that a step too far?!).

I always find it strange that the things we eat in the morning normally make an ace late night snack as well.  Hash is proper Brit grub, which for me means it fills the belly after a long walk around our freezing terrains, either returning from a pub or recovering the morning after.  After all, beer and Britain go together like beans and toast, pies and piccalilli, Wimbledon and Cliff Richard (Dad’s personal favourite).  You catch my drift, historically British culture needed food that filled a whole, fueled our passion for hard graft and soaked up buckets of ale.

HASH

An evocative word for many reasons, culinary and otherwise.   Foodie wise, the name hash comes from the French ‘hacher’ which means to chop.  Hash is normally a wonderful receptacle for leftovers, alot like Bubble and Squeak.  In Denmark they have a dish like hash called ‘biksemad’ which means, ‘tossed together food’.  I think this is sums it up.  In fact, most countries have a version of hash up their sleeves, ‘picadillo’ in Spain, ‘pyttipanna’ in Sweden and ‘tyrol’ in Austria.  We love it!

Most people forget that Britain was once struggling and my grandparent and parents would eat things like hash primarily because they were quick and cheap.  Hash is proper ‘poor mans’ grub but this, as we find all over the world, does not mean that its poor food.  Hash is a brilliant way of turning cheaper bits and pieces into a hearty and satisfying meal.  One chap has even release a cookbook dedicated to the mighty hash and high end restaurants are now doing fancy things with the hash medium.

Hash is something I was partially raised on.  In the North East of England there are many varieties.  To my mind, its loads of stuff fried together in a pan, with a potato stuck in their somewhere along the way if you like. Its proper British grub. I think the main thing with pan frying potatoes is to take it slowly and gently, try not to bash them up too much.  Many people around the world add spice to their hash, in my neck of the woods, this is absurd.  Hash is straight up and pure, not spice.  I know that in the States they use the term hash for many differing dishes, some thick stews, some loads of minced meat fried.  Well not it in the Beach House hombres, this hash is strictly plant but not lacking in substance and certainly not lacking in nutrition and taste.

Dad gets caught in the crossfire (notice awesome dressing gown, essential in the Artic realm of the pre-spring Beach House Kitchen)

Dad gets caught in the crossfire (notice awesome dressing gown, essential in the Artic realm of the pre-spring Beach House Kitchen)

I’m not totally blowing our trumpets here (….I am….) but vegans know their way around a nutritious, low saturated fat, nibble or two. As a kid, we used to have this with fatty bacon and probably a load of corned beef whacked in their.  Maybe topped with a sausage or two.  Corned beef was a constant companion to me, or Pek (like Spam, but I found it to be tastier).  Strangely, last night I had a dream/ nightmare based around that jelly you find around the meat in a pork pie. The same jelly you find on Pek, aspic jelly that is a not-too-distant cousin of the jellyfish and seems quite a strange thing to find stuffed into a pie or coating food in general. It was oozing all over the place, like a B-Movie Monster….”Attack of the Aspic Jelly!”

THE SAUCY DEBATE – ARE YOU RED OR BROWN?

In Britain you’re either red or brown.  There is no middle ground.  The battles lines are drawn!  Like the round heads or the royalists, labour or tory it is unwise to mix your allegiance.  Welcome to our saucy world.

Now if you’re reading from anywhere outside of the U.K. this is going to all sound a little strange, but there is a timeless debate raging on these little islands about sauce. Brown sauce to be exact. Brown sauce is a phenomenon that has gripped Britain since the early 20th century.  Frederick Gibson Garton came up with the recipe, a grocer from Nottingham.  I’ve no idea how, but he thought that combining tomatoes, tamarind, dates, molasses and vinegar would appeal to the masses.  It was a hit and apparently they served it in the houses of parliament, hence the name.  HP is the original Brown Sauce, but there are many contenders (see below).  HP was traditionally made in Aston near Birmingham, the factory is now closed.  HP was originally called ‘snotrag’, a charming name taken from the founders name (Garton’s), late in the 60’s and 70’s it was called ‘Wilson’s Gravy’ due to the fact that Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister at the time, used to cover his meals with the stuff.   HP now comes in a load of different varieties, but its still best out of the old glass bottle.  Why is that?

BROWN SAUCE – CONTENDERS AND TASTING NOTES

Not all Brits are into HP.  There are many options over here.  As a child I was weaned on Daddie’s sauce, slighty more acidic and not quite as concentrated with a less pungent bouquet.  The main attraction was the price I’d imagine.  Chop sauce is another contender that seems popular in the North.  My Uncle Brian swears by Chop.  I like Chop.  Its very thick and has a lighter flavour than HP.  A good chip dipper.  Having said all of this, for me, I opt for HP.  Having been travelling most of my life, the sight of an HP bottle, with its ‘By Appoitment of Her Majesty The Queen’ and Big Ben embossed on the front, stirs a normally absent sense of nostalgia and reminds me of dinner time around my grandparents house.  Its powerful stuff!

Brown sauce is a treat for us in the BHK, in fact Jane is more of a red sauce gal (Tomato Ketchup that is).  I reserve a chilled bottle in the fridge for special breakfast times.  Its highly processed and not what you’d call a healthy option.  Full of salt and sugar.  Its just one of those flavours that is so heavily linked with childhood memories.  Its also vegan and there are precious few ‘childhood memory’ foods that can claim to be purely plant.

The key here is to cook the hash for a while, on a lowish heat and make sure everything is nicely caramelised.  Stirring gently and regularly to ensure the potatoes don’t stick and remain in tact.  Its a hash not a mash!

Brekkie of champs......

Brekkie of champs……

We’ve had a bash at home made HP sauce and homemade baked beans, but this morning Dad and I had a date with a beach walk.  There are some brilliant recipes on the web for both of these things and of course, everything is better homemade right?!

I’ve made hash with firm tofu added before which makes it more substantial and of course brings a load of protein to the party.  More filling for sure.  Crumble some drained firm tofu (roughly 175g or half a block, will be enough) into the pan with the mushrooms.

There are an infinite amount of hashes to experiment with, use whatever veggies you have at hand and put it on toast.  Eeeaaaaaaaaaassssssssssyyyyyyy!

Things are getting golden in the pan

Things are getting golden in the pan

The Bits – For 2

1-2 tbs cooking oil (I used rapeseed oil)

10 mushrooms – chestnut work well (roughly chopped)

2 small potatoes (cut into 1cm cubes, skins scrubbed and kept on)

1 small onion (finely diced)

4 massive handfuls of spinach leaves

1 teas balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and plenty of black pepper (to taste)

You favourite toast and lashings of baked beans

Optional Extra
HP Sauce (the only way to go)

Do It

In a large heavy frying pan on a medium heat, add the oil, potatoes and onions.  Coat well in the oil using a wooden spoon or spatula and continue to gently stir and cook for 10-15 minutes.  The potatoes and mushrooms will now be nicely caramelised.  Add the mushrooms and balsamic vinegar and continue to gently stir regularly and make sure the potatoes are not sticking, lower the heat slightly if you need to.  (Now is a good time to heat your beans if you’re having hash and beans).

Cook for 5-7 minutes and then pile the spinach leaves on top, it will look like alot, but they cook down quickly.  Stir the leaves into the hash and wait for them to wilt, after a couple of minutes, season well with salt and pepper.

Pop your toast in.  As a vegan, you can buy some nice, natural olive oil spreads (like margarine, but without the nasties) or I just like to drizzle olive oil or good rapeseed oil on my toast.

Mushroom and Spinach Hash (with baked beans)

Mushroom and Spinach Hash (with baked beans)

Serve

Spoon the hash over your toast and surround with a steaming moat of beans.  Add sauce in the quantity and location that you prefer and get stuck right in!

Foodie Fact

Spinach is one of the worlds most nutrient dense foods, all wrapped up in a tasty green leaf.  Spinach boasts wild amounts of Vitamin K and A, it is also rammed full of a plethora of minerals like manganese, folate and iron.  Eating spinach will help you against inflammations, cancer, caridiovascular problems and it gives a serious anti-oxidant boost to the body.  Talk about starting the day on a good foot!

Buy vividly green spinach for greater levels of Vitamin C.  If your spinach is wilting anywhere else than your pan, look elsewhere for your daily hit of wonder green leaves.

PS – You may have noticed that Dad is standing in for Jane, who is at this very moment, sunning herself somewhere on a beach in Spain.  Sounds terrible.  She is back next week to really get the BHK rocking.  

Categories: Breakfast, Budget, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Autumn’s End at the Beach House Kitchen

A very belated Happy Samhain/ Halloween to you all!  We spent it packing up the house, soup bubbling and preparing the garden for winter.  Here are a few images of the last days of Autumn, a week ago, in the Beach House Garden.

We have flown the nest again like migrating birds.  We’re in Turkey, up to our necks in ancient ruins and scrumptious kebabs and salads.  Looking at these pictures makes us feel privileged to live in such a special little corner of the world.  More news from Turkey, Spain and India soon…..goodbye Beach House until AprilXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The Beach House Garden bracing itself for the Welsh winter

The Beach House Garden bracing itself for the Welsh winter

Our Hawthorn tree all red and sparkly

Our Hawthorn tree all red and sparkly

Last of the blackberries, still fruiting into late October!?

Last of the blackberries, still fruiting into late October!?

Autumn sunset off the Llyn Peninsula

Autumn sunset off the Llyn Peninsula

Late Autumn and the chills are setting in.  Soup tonic, Pumpkin, Fennel and Leek with Soda Bread.

Late Autumn and the chills are setting in. Soup tonic, Pumpkin, Fennel and Leek with Soda Bread

Kindling ready for the fire

Kindling ready for the fire

Potato patches covered with manure and compost, ready for next year

Potato patches covered with manure and compost, ready for next year

The source of great potatoes, our neighbourly horse who lives next door.

The source of great potato manure, our neighbourly horse in the next field.  Not the friendliest, but quite a quite prolific manure provider

Stash of funky rocks from the beach

Stash of funky rocks from the beach

Steamy kitchen action, Welsh cottages not cut out for heavy wok action

Steamy kitchen action, Welsh cottages not cut out for heavy saute action

Wake up, 3oC, warm Banana Bread cookie time (recipe to follow)

Wake up, 3oC, warm Banana Bread cookie time (recipe to follow)

 

Categories: 'The Good Life', Autumn, Garden, photography, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Juicer Pulp Burgers with Seitan, Miso and a Polenta and Sesame Crumb

Pulp Burgers with Seitan, Miso and a Polenta Crumb

Pulp Burgers with Seitan, Miso and a Polenta and Sesame Crumb

THESE VEGAN BURGERS ARE CARNIVORE APPROVED!!!!!  PACKED WITH FLAVOUR AND LOADS OF TEXTURE, YOU WON’T BELIEVE THEY’RE MADE FROM LEFTOVER KITCHEN SCRAPS!

A vivid receptacle for all your kitchen scraps, a modern take on what would have been a very old fashioned, house wife style, classic. Purple vegan burgers are not it Delia’s repertoire yet, but if you love juicing (and more and more people are getting on that ship) you’ll be wondering what to do with all that gorgeous looking leftover pulp. We use it as a fabulously nutritious filler for many dishes, our muffins turn out rather well (see Juicer Pulp Muffins with Pecan, Fig and Turmeric); burgers, cakes, soups etc. They give these burgers a great texture, light and moist. A million miles away from the stodgy, claggy veggie burgers that most of us have to endure on regular occasions. Well, not in the Beach House!!!!!! Pop round for dinner, we’ll whip you a pulp burger up and you’ll leave considering your very own vegan burger odyssey. It’s a large and diverse place to inhabit for a while. The options are mind boggling.

You will need alot of juicer pulp for these burgers, maybe save up for a couple of days. Taste it before you use it, the citrus elements especially can go a little wayward after a day or more in the fridge. We did it in a day! A pint of juice is surely a zingy start to the day. This pulp contains 250g spinach leaves, 4 apples, 4 carrots, 1 beetroot, 1 handful parsley, 1 lemon (with ½ zest), 1 orange (with ½ zest), 2 large florets of broccoli. Phew! Then yum. Quite a list of ingredients, but we use whats to hand and buy loads of veggies and fruits, if they are getting a little past their best we juice them and come up with many odd combos. Swede juices is a real thing! Certainly wakes you up first thing.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING YOUR JUICER PULP?

The pulp leftover from juicing is filled with fibre which is amazing for digestion.  A little word of warning, too much fibre will bung you up so bear that in mind.  No juicer will produce completely dry pulp, so there are benefits from eating the leftover juice along with the pulp.  Fruits (especially citrus) store many of their nutrients/ flavanoids in their skins, so we are not missing out any of that goodness either.

OTHER IDEAS FOR USING UP LEFTOVER JUICE PULP

–  COMPOST IT, THE PULP WILL BREAK DOWN VERY QUICKLY AND THE GARDEN LOVES IT!

–  ADD TO SMOOTHIES FOR A FIBRE HIT

–  ADD IT STRAIGHT TO SOUPS AS A THICKENER INSTEAD OF POTATOES ETC

–  FREEZE IT, GATHER ENOUGH PULP UNTIL YOU HAVE ENOUGH TO MAKE BURGERS ETC.

–  SOME PEOPLE FEED IT TO THEIR PETS AND ANIMALS, MIXED INTO THEIR NORMAL FOOD.

I use cooked rice as the binding/ ballast for these veggie burgs. You can use a similar quantity of cooked millet, buckwheat, pearl barley, quinoa etc. They will all work well once blended up into a sticky paste.
The flavouring of this burger went East, but you can flavour it with whatever you like. Some suggested substitutes would be leeks = onions, tahini = peanut or other nut butters, sesame seeds = any other nuts (crushed for the coating), seitan = firm tofu or tempeh, tamari = soya sauce/ shoyu.

Seitan is an ingredient we use rarely.  It has a lovely texture, sometimes called ‘mock duck’ it is something a bit different.  Seitan is basically pure gluten and these burgers can easily be made gluten free by adding tofu or tempeh instead.  You won’t lose anything by doing so.

I fancied putting a crunchy coating on the burgers and a vivid yellow jacket, so I used polenta. You can leave them naked if you like, or go for breadcrumbs. Both would work very nicely indeed.  I like the colour of them without there jackets and its a little less fuss.

Pulp burgers pre-crumbing

Pulp burgers pre-crumbing

The Bits – Makes 8 Fat Quarter Pounders
3 tbs oil (more for frying)
300g leeks (finely sliced)
1 inch sq fresh ginger (finely diced)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
3 teas sesame seeds (more for the coating)
3 tbs tahini
1 -2 tbs tamari
2 tbs brown miso
200g seitan (roughly chopped)
400g brown rice (cooked and cooled – leftovers are best)
1 tbs sesame oil
900g juice pulp

Crumb
1 small handful of sesame seeds
2 big handfuls of polenta (optional)
½ teas turmeric

Do It
In a large frying pan with a heavy bottom, add 2 tbs oil and your leeks, sauté until tender, add your seitan, sesame seeds and ginger, cook for another 3 minutes, then add the garlic, tamari, miso, tahini and 2 tbs water, cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated.

In a blender, blitz your cooked rice until it forms a thick paste. Sticky to the touch.
Add the leek mix and rice to the juice pulp, pour in your sesame oil and 1 tbs more oil. Pop in a fridge for ½ hour or longer to mingle and get together.

The leek mix and juice pulp before mixing

The leek mix and juice pulp before mixing

Scatter sesame seeds, turmeric and polenta on a plate, grab a handful of burger mix and form it into patties of your favourite dimensions. Place on the plate and toss the coating over the burgers, pat gently so that it sticks.

Your burger mix in all its vivid-ness

Your burger mix in all its vivid-ness

Preheat oven to 180oC.

Warm oil in a pan, we like to use roughly 3 tbs, and replenish when needed. For super crispy burgers, cover the base with 1 cm of oil and shallow fry them gently. This is amazing, but uses alot of oil, so we reserve it for what could be called, ‘special’ occasions. Fry the burgers on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side, until golden brown and warmed through. Top up the oil as needed.  Use a nice flat spatula and gently flip them over, veggie burgers need to be handled with a little finesse and care, otherwise they’ll look like a dog’s dinner (which basically means not very appetising at all unless you’re a spaniel).

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Quick fry in the pan and then a warm in the oven

After frying, place them onto a baking tray lined with parchment and pop them in the oven to warm for 10-15 minutes, this will ensure that the fat burgers have a piping hot middle.

Serve

However you like burgers. You may like to maintain the sesame theme, as we did, and serve with smokey hummus (smoked paprika mixed into regular hummus) and salad leaves (we used sorrel) or serve them in fresh bread with something creamy, a bean puree for example, and something tangy; pickles, pineapple, then the ubiquitous leaves; spinach, lettuce, sorrel?(it grows like weeds in our garden).

Our juicer pulp burgers, ready for action

Our juicer pulp burgers, ready for action

Foodie Fact

This is Wales and the leek is a national symbol of pride and rightly so for many reasons.  Leeks are said to come from Central Asia and were introduced to Britain by the Romans who believed they helped the voice (could this be why the Welsh are famed for their singing voices?).  The history of leeks in Wales goes back to the 17th Century when a Welsh army defeated the Anglo Saxons, to differentiate themselves form the enemy, the Welsh wore leeks on their helmets.

Leeks are a member of the allium family, along with garlic, onions and many others.  The alliums are filled with flavanoids, folates and anti-oxidants, which combine to keep our heart very healthy indeed.  All of the alliums have anti-inflammatory properties.  The healthiest parts of the leek are the bulb and just above, this is where the health-giving chemicals hang out.

Walking around Aber Falls (near Bangor) recently.  Walking off all those burgers!

Walking around Aber Falls (near Bangor) recently. Walking off all those burgers!

Categories: Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

There is just the hint of winter in the air as we move through autumn and this slight chill always gets my soup bells ringing.  Here is a soup that ticks all of the autumnal boxes, tasty and utterly loaded with healthy things, even (almost) locally made Welsh Miso.

This recipe takes care of all of our seasonal fare on Tiger Mountain, all of them green and when simmered together for a time, transform into a tasty health elixir.  The flavours are hearty and comforting with a tinge of ginger and miso in the background to keep things interesting and offer a little Japanese style twang.

My Dad, John (aka the big yin, aka ‘heed’, aka Johnnie Boy) has been visiting for a week and he knows how to enjoy himself, Jane and I struggle to keep up!  We’ve had a week of wonderful times but lets just say that many of them were not exactly beneficial to the health.  Our wine rack is bare (a very grim sight) and our ale stores seriously depleted.  After waving Dad off at the station, we both decided that our bodies needed some kind of green wake up call and nothing comforts and revitalizes more than a decent bowl of soup.

The 'Big Yin' at Aber Falls, near bangor

The ‘Big Yin’ at Aber Falls, near bangor

Cabbage is the backbone of this soup, and a good cabbage is essential late autumn behaviour.  Not the most glamorous of ingredients but when handled with care, one of the tastiest and versatile veggies.  I love wrapping things in cabbage leaves and baking them, or even blanching the leaves and using them as an alternative to something like a spring roll.  One things for sure, in north Wales, we’ll never be short of cabbages, they love it up here and at work the other day (I cook in a retreat/ alternative learning centre), I had the privilege of tackling the largest cabbage I have ever seen.  Judy (farming genius and very much more) wandered into the kitchen bearing a green globe at least 2 feet across!!!!  I swear there must be something magical in the soil over there, we can hardly eke a Brussel sprout out up here!!!!  If you can’t get hold of a good organic cabbage, you may need to add a little more stock to the mix, your taste buds will be the guide…….

We have been building up to making our own miso for a while now, but are fortunate to have Welsh miso being produced almost on our own doorstep, give or take a few hundred miles, in the same country at the very least.  They guys at Source Foods seem like a very decent bunch and their products are top. We recently got hold of a pot of their hemp miso (thanks for forgetting it Helen!) and its a wicked addition to their fabulous fermented offerings.  They use all organic ingredients and without sourcing bits from Japan, which has been very unfortunately effected by the Fukushima tragedy.   Welsh Miso, quite randomnly, is our amazing stuff!

Miso adds unmistakable vitality and deliciousness, but comes with bags of sodium.  If you are serious about making this a detox soup, give your kidneys a break and take it easy on the miso, 2 tbs is enough.  There is however new research coming out that highlights the difference between salt and miso, they are handled differently and have different effects on our bodies.  Salt leads to higher blood pressure and for some miraculous reason, miso does not.  This is backed up by the rate of heart problems in Japan, where high levels of miso is consumed regularly.  We used light miso here, but you can use a darker variety, just use less.  See the ‘Foodie Fact’ below for more info on marvelous Mr Miso.

This soup falls into the bracket of ‘a meal in itself’ and we regularly eat it like a stew, without much liquid and plenty of lumps.  In this state, it will be wonderful with brown rice, but we find it filling enough by itself.

The Bits – For 6 good bowls

1 teas olive oil

1 teas toasted sesame seed oil

1 leek (finely sliced)

1 1/2  inch fresh ginger (finely diced or roughly grated)

2 celery sticks (finely sliced)

1/2 medium savoy cabbage

1 cup green/ puy lentils

1 small head broccoli (cut into small florets)

6 handfuls spinach leaves

600ml warm organic vegetable stock (use only water if you trust your veggies to be amazing)

1 teas dried rosemary

2-5 tbs light miso (to taste)

sea salt (if needed)

 

Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

The Bits all prep'd

The Bits – pre-prep

Do It

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat, drizzle in the oils and when warm add the leeks, ginger and celery.  Stir and fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft.  Add the cabbage, lentils, stock/ water and rosemary to the pan.  Bring to a boil and lower heat to a steady simmer, pop a lid on and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

Add the broccoli and spinach, stir into the soup and pop the lid back on, cook for a further 5 minutes on a low simmer.  Stir in the miso to taste.  Pulse a few times with a stick blender, or add a quarter of the soup to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Pop a lid on and leave the soup to stand for a couple of minutes.  Miso is really like salt with benefits, it will enhance and deepens the flavours.

Definitely looks healthy!!!

Definitely looks healthy!!!

Serve

Straight away, add a little splash of olive oil for added richness.  If its a very special occasion (or a Tuesday) you could stir in 2-3 tbs of hazelnut butter to add silky creaminess.   Inevitably, Jane’s Easy Seeded Wholemeal Loaf, lightly toasted would be a belter of an accompaniment.

Foodie Fact

‘Miso’ is Japanese for ‘fermenting beans’ and miso can be made with any grain/ bean.  We used soya based miso here but you can find barley, rice, buckwheat, wheat, hemp seed….the list goes on.  Obvious what the miso is made of will alter the nutritional benefits but soya beans are normally used as a base in the process.

Miso involves fermentation, which of course means funky mould (or fungus if you will).  The fungus in question is the brilliantly named  ‘Aspergillus oryzae’ and its highly magic!  The key discovery made in the production of miso was how to keep these spores alive and transportable.  Miso on the move.  People have been fermenting foods in Japan and China for thousands of years (its also traditionally made in Indonesia and Korea), it was referred to as ‘Koji’ and they were well aware of the health benefits brought about by these amazing moulds.  This is the same process used when making sake, soya sauce tamari etc.

To make miso, you basically add the Aspergillus (or other sometimes other bacteria’s/ micro organisms are used) to soaked and cooked soya beans to get things started, this is in turn added to soaked and cooked grains/ beans and the miso is left to mellow and mature.  Miso comes in all sorts of shades and colours, normally white, red and dark brown, the fermentation process dictates the depth of flavour and colour.  Normally the darker the colour, the more intense the flavour, red and brown miso can be matured for three years and ‘Hatcho’ Miso, which is famous in Japan, is matured in 200 year old vats for three winters.

Buy organic miso when you can and ensure that no MSG has been added, cheaper makes will do this.  Miso is very nourishing and is a good source of fibre and protein, it is a very tasty way of adding legumes to your diet, 2 tbs of miso normally contains the nutrition of 2 cups worth of legumes.  The fermentation process of miso means that some of the beneficial chemicals present are already broken down by the magic fungus, giving our digestion a break and allowing our bodies to easily absorb all the goodness.   Misos main attraction, from a health point of view, is its outrageous list of beneficial anti-oxidants, our free radical scavenging friends.

We also just like the word ‘Miso’ and have decided that if another cat decides to move in with us, there are few appearing round our way, we’ll name it ‘Miso’.  Could we get away with calling a child ‘Miso’?!  Hmmm…..

Somethings we’ve cooked with our friend mighty Miso:

Mug of Miso

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

Sava’s Elephant Garlic Flower Salad

Miso and Tahini Dressing

Black Prince Tomato and Coriander Soup (Raw)

Soup on the hob

Soup on the hob

Categories: Detox, Fermentation, Recipes, Soups, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Autumn Photo Scrapbook – Garden, Flowers and Buster

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On the funghi hunt, lost and wandering up the Nantlle Valley, we’ve had magic weather even in October.

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Pleasant views abound – from the Nantlle Ridge (behind our back garden)

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The man with a sock on his head – harvesting our potato crop. Smaller potatoes this year but more of them.

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Busters fancies a hike too……lovely little punk!

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A small tree in our garden suddenly started to sprout apples. It’s an apple tree!!!!! Wahee. Lucky us, this is part of the windfall apple bonanza.

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We’ve had so much sun this year even the sunflowers had a growth spurt.

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Part of our winter preparations, HEAT! Scavenged logs meet Mr Chainsaw = cosy nights by the fire. Time consuming, but free.

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We’ve had some gorgeous beetroots this year, three varities and all of them awesome and sweet.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.  Then POW tofu inspiration strikes!

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A Great Beach House Bake Off!

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Love CoconutsX

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Your Gracious HostsXXXXXXXXX  At Jane’s parents gaff

So the clocks have changed and we’re plunged into darkness for another year, still, plenty of swedes and parsnips to look forward to.

HAPPY WINTER EVERYONEXXXXXXXX

Categories: 'The Good Life', photography, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 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

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

PIE!

PIE!

A fine pie with influence from Jerusalem (via the Caernarfon Library) and our local hero’s; the mighty leek (a symbol of Wales-ness and great taste), our neighbour’s eggs and the humble spud.  My friend Mandy also makes a pie not to dissimilar to this one, so its a tasty mix of all these things and more!  Surely with all that input, this pie can only be amazing!

We have been getting a few leeks out of the garden, but these are proper Welsh farm leeks (the home of the mighty leek, spiritual at least).  Great leeks are a good place to start most dishes, but especially pies.  I like to put leeks centre stage, they deserve it and should not be wasted in a stock pot.

LEGENDARY LEEKS

Legend would have it that St David (the patron saint of Wales) had the Welsh army wear leeks on their helmets to differentiate themselves from some pesky Saxon invaders.  The impact of this fashion accessory stuck and it is still worn on March 1st, St Davids day.

“MR OTTOLENGHI I PRESUME”

Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking style also makes an appearance here.  He is a real food superstar, most things he touches come to life with flavour and texture. I popped down to Caernarfon Library and picked up a few books, one of them being Yotam’s ‘Jerusalem‘, a fascinating place and a fascinating book. Brilliantly written and photographed, the dishes seem intrinsic to the melting pot of Jerusalem, with its many cultures in one little place. I particularly liked the ‘Herb Pie‘ recipe and immediately went about corrupting it to suit my cupboards and fridge. This little pie popped up and we’re glad it did. It is full of YUM, gorgeous richness of cheese, herbs, sweet leeks and onion

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

I was half asleep at the shop yesterday and bought puff pastry instead of filo, I think filo would have been better, but the puff sufficed!  I would like to think one day I will make my own puff pastry and my own filo pastry, I would also like to think one day I’ll play guitar like Neil Young and write poetry like T.S. Elliot.  Stranger things have happened!!!!!

Mandy puts Goats Cheese in her ‘Leek and Walnut Pie’, but I prefer the tang of the feta here that stands up nicely to the other flavours and has the perfect crumbly texture for this filling.

Really get your leeks, onions, potatoes etc nice and golden and sweet, this will make a great contrast with the lemon, olive and feta.  Expect a multi-cultural party in your mouth here!

CRAZY CHEESE

You can really go crazy with the cheese here and Yotam put three cheeses into his pie (he seems to put three cheeses into alot of things).  Obviously we are working on a different level to Yotam and felt that one was more than enough, with a couple of blobs of good creamy Greek yoghurt to add a creamier feel.

LITTLE TIP – LEEK CLEANING

I find the easiest way is to cut off the very tops of the green leaves and check for any dodgy looking wilted leaves.  Then chop the leek, discarding the root end and loosing the hard outer leaves, you’ll be able to feel what I mean when you do it.  Then place in standing cold water and give them a good wash.  Sieve out and double check that no grit or dirt remains.

Cleaning and chopping a leek this way allows you to get the most out of the green bit, which is packed with flavour and all to often shown the bin.

MORE BEACH HOUSE FLAVOUR HERE:

Radio Tarifa Tagine

Murcian Sweet Potato and Manchengo Burger

Kumato, Piquillo, Butter Bean and Coriander Salad

This is the tastiest pie I’ve ever made, try it!

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Makes one large pie, a dish approx. 8″ by 10″ or there abouts.  Enough for four.

The Bits

8 new potatoes (cut into small cubes), 2 large leeks, 1 red onion, 5 mushrooms (most varieties will be fine), 2 sticks celery, 2 handfuls spinach leaves, 10 pitted green olives, 3 large cloves garlic. All finely chopped.

Pie filling, looking good

Pie filling, looking good already

75g fresh dill (1 1/2 teas dried dill), 75g fresh mint (1 1/2 teas dried mint), 2 free range eggs, 150g good Greek feta, 2 tbs thick creamy yoghurt, 1 lemon zest, 1 teas honey, sea salt and plenty of cracked black pepper

1 pack of puff pastry (one roll or however you buy it).   1 tbs oil (for brushing)

Leeks, softening

Welsh Leeks, softening

Do It

Get some colour on your potatoes, in a large frying pan, add 1 tbs of your cooking oil (your choice here!) and fry off your potatoes for 10 minutes, getting some nice golden brown tints. Set aside.

The filling getting together

The filling getting together

In the same pan, add 2 teas more oil and get your onions softened, 3 minutes cooking, then add your leeks, celery, mushrooms, garlic, cook for a further 3 minutes until all is getting soft.

Then add your olives, spinach and cooked potatoes and then all your filling bits.  Stir in and warm through for 10 minutes on a low heat.  Cover and cool, now sort the pastry.

Pre-heat fan oven to 180oC

Roll out your pastry sheet to fit your pie dish, we just used a pastry lid, but you may like to add a base.  We are not huge fans of loads of pastry in a pie, the more filling the better!

Place your warm filling in the dish and spread evenly, then throw on your pie lid (delicately!) and brush the pie dish edges with oil.  Now press down around the edges with gentle force, sealing the pie.  I used my thumb, you may like to use a fork.  Trim off any excess pastry and make three slices in the centre of the pastry to release cooking steam.  Now give the pie a loving brush with some olive oil and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

The pastry should be nicely golden and the pie filling steaming hot.

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Serve

With a steamed green vegetables or a nice green leaf salad with a light, sweet dressing.  The pie has a lovely lemon-ness that will go nicely with a honey/ sweet dressing.  Its a heavy pie, flavour and texture, so keep the accompaniments light.

We Love It!

We  really do you know.  Love It!  Especially this pie, which had us both ‘Mmmmming’ in unison at its sheer deliciousness and flavour combinations.   Not your average pie and all the better for it.

Foodie Fact

Leeks are alliums, basically tall thin onions with a green head of leaves, they are used all over the world and don’t just feature in Welsh pies!  Leeks contain many vital vitamins and allicin that actually reduces cholesterol, they also contain high levels of vitamin A.

 

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ciambotta – Italian Butter Bean Stew with lots of Greens

From the top of Knicht - Snowdonia, Wales

From the top of Knicht – Snowdonia, Wales

We are just back in Wales, the home of the Beach House and arrived to a clear night and a million star welcome! Today has been fantastic, getting settled in again and unpacking the wine bought in France and Spain. We may need to build an extension to fit it all in!

After all the fussing about and sorting we decided to head to the hills, Knicht to be exact, a Himalayan looking mountain near Porthmadog. It is an impressive rocky peak and we knew we had a good day of scrambling and sharp climbs ahead. It turned out to be an awesome walk, with views of the Snowdon range and the Irish Sea. Knicht is surrounded by many small mountain lakes and we’ve made plans to return and camp up there soon. Jane and I are so lucky to live in such beautiful places. We are loving being back in Wales and of course a major part of that is the Beach House Kitchen.

We are getting re-acquainted with all of our cool kitchen stuff; spatulas, knives graters and Buster our semi-wild cat (who lives in the wood store).  We’ve been cooking up a storm with oat breads, hummus, fruit salads and lashing of proper cups of tea. Amongst this frenzy came the idea for his stew.

We fancied a change of taste, we do eat alot of spiced food and have talked of visiting Italy for an age.  We have also been eating far too much amazing cheese in France and quaffing the odd glass of vino, all in all, we feel a little jaded after two weeks or more on the road and this Ciambotta recipe heralds a step back to the food we really love; healthy, fresh, local and hearty.

This Ciambotta, I would imagine, is very un-Italian to most Italians.  But it looks very Italian in Wales I can assure you! We’re a long way from Milan! The colours and citrus of the dish, not to mention the vegan parmesan and hint of tarragon, make for an interesting take on the traditional Ciambotta; a dish normally cooked by Italian Mum’s to use up spare vegetables. There is nothing spare about these vegetable though, they are all in peak condition, as they should be. Jane has been searching high and low for good produce, it’s that time of year when all that seems good are the Jerusalem Artichokes (nothing wrong with that then!)

To make this recipe more Italian, substitute the parsnip and carrot for aubergine and courgette.  But we’re back in the B.H.K and the local veg is brilliant. We’ve also missed our friend the parsnip, they are as rare as vegans is Spain!

We used Winter Greens here, they are like cabbage leaves. Kale, Savoy Cabbage and the like would also be grand. Even Spinach would be cool, anything dark green and leafy. The Greens work well because when rolled up and chopped thin, they actually resemble something like pasta (gluten-free wa-hay!)

Bon Appetito!

 

The Bits – For 4 hungry folk

3 cups cooked butter beans

2 tbs olive oil

1 large onion (finely sliced)

1 stick celery (finely sliced)

2 large carrots (small cubes)

1 large parsnips (small cubes)

4 cloves garlic (finely sliced)

2 big handfuls of greens (whole leaves finely sliced)

1 big handful of cherry tomatoes

1 lemon (juice and zest)

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoons dried basil

2 cups butter bean stock (cooking juice)

2 tbs vegan parmesan cheese (buy online and in selected shops)

Do It

Cook off your beans for 1 hour (bring to a boil then simmer with a lid). They should be nice and tender. Set aside, this can be done well in advance, you can store them in the fridge for a couple of days.

On a medium heat, warm 1 tbs of oil in a heavy based frying pan and begin to sweat off your onions (5 mins), when soft add your bay leaves, carrots, celery, parsnip and garlic, stir well and cook for 3 mins, then add your dried herbs and tomatoes, stir well and cook for 5 mins and then add your beans and bean juice. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 – 10 mins get it all nice and warm, the veggies should be getting soft and the bean juice reducing a little.

At this stage, pop your lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese, greens and a glug of great olive oil into the mix, stir in and then pop a lid on and warm on lowest heat for 5 minutes.  If you need a little more sauce, just pop some bean stock in and heat through.

Serve

We topped ours with some fresh parsley and basil leaves and nothing else!  A little more parmesan on top, but that would be lovely.  It’s quite a hearty stew, but of course being Italian-ish, a good lump of bread may be in order.

In the Beach House we love stirring yogurt into stews to add some creaminess.

We Love It!

The lemon does it here and the pungent parmesan. We love this take on the Italian classic Ciambotta and are glad to be back in the land of the splendid parsnip. This stew is laden with glorious veggies, just the way we like ‘em.

 

 

Tunes

As always, we try and keep you abreast of Beach House tunes, now we’re back on the island (Britain) we are re-integrating with some cool youngsters Alt-J, nice beats and melodies off the ‘Awesome Wave’, here we are ‘Dissolve Me’.  Wicked!:

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Stew, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beetroot & Sprouts Salad with Strawberry Dressing

Hello Beauty Strawbs….we are going to eat you…..

This is a vibrant looking thing.  Beetroots, Radish and Strawberry coming together for a colour-fest!

The beetroots we are getting at the moment are amazing, we are buying them from the farm by the bunch; quite small roots, but huge leaves. They are proving excellent value as the leaves are lasting for a few days salad-wise.  The leaves are actually more nutritious than the roots.  Its great to be able to eat the whole thing, no waste at all.

Beetroot, as we all know, is a vivid customer. Mainly due to the lasting impression it makes on your hands and nails when handling it. My advice, rubber gloves. I have no problems donning the marigolds in the kitchen, you do lose the ‘feel’ of cooking, but you gain a fantastic stain proof layer!

We are also getting a good supply of strawberries with actual flavour, always a challenge at this time of year.  It seems that most people just want to cash in on this highly prized crop and do naughty things to grow them. Whatever they are up to, it completely saps their flavour.   Anyway, our strawbs are ace!

I liked the sound of strawberry and beetroot, I liked the way it looked in my mind and it soon ended up in a bowl.   I’ve used beetroot for desserts in the past (stuck some in a chocolate cake to great effect) and thought I’d give the strawberries a similar reverse treatment.  They make for a really tart dressing and something I would highly recommend with any sweet-ish salad base.

Food processors are a choppers best friend.  They do the hard work, while you stand there holding the button, wondering how much longer you can handle such a mental noise!  Ours rattles like a badly oil cement mixer on overdrive.  We used the contraption for the beetroots here and for the radish, it saved valuable minutes of our precious lives.

Radishes are funny little things, my Grandad loved to grow them in his allotment, but never seemed to know how to eat them.  I think this was a general trend.  This salad does them justice and I’m sure Bobby would have been proud, if a little confused by the pink dressing.  I love a radish for its crunch and it just so happens that the colour goes very well with beetroot.

This is quite a sweet salad and very pretty, but we had to give it a dose of sprouts.  They are so tasty and chock-ful of good things.  Ideally served with some cashew cream cheese.

Beetroot and Radish Salad with Strawberry Dressing

The Bits

Salad

3 whole beetroots (leaves and all)

Around 8 radishes (thinly sliced)

1 big handful of sprouting green lentils (or a sprout of your choice)

2 handfuls of spinach

 

Dressing (makes 1 small tub full)

2 handfuls of strawberries (washed and stemmed)

1/3 cup great olive oil

Sprinkle of good sea salt

Good few turns of cracked black pepper

2 tbs white wine vinegar

1 tbs purified water

1 teas of sweetener i.e. agave syrup (if needed).

 

Do It

Make your dressing, add all bits to a food processor and blitz for a minute.  Taste and add sweetener if your strawberries are a little tart.  Set aside, will keep nicely overnight, so you can make in advance if your that organised.

Take your beetroots of the stems and scrub them well.  Cut off an unsightlies.  Take the stems and cut into cubes, then cut up a few leaves, finely shred, to be used as a base.  Mix with the spinach and place in a nice big salad bowl.  Place a few of the whole beetroot leaves over the edge of the bowl, covering the whole circumference to make a nice looking bowl.

Add the slicing blade to your FP and slice your radishes, then take your shredding tool-thing and shred all of your beetroots.  Put them in a bowl and mix in a few tbs of the dressing, until well coated.  Then take that mixture and place it in the salad bowl.  Finish with a good sprinkling of sprouts (not essential).

Serve

Non rawers, sprinkle a roasted pumpkin seeds, rawers (you brave and wonderful few!) tuck in from your favourite bowl and let the flavours dance in your mouth!

Beetroot and Radish Salad with Strawberry Dressing

We Love It!

This turned out a treat, a little unusual, and we’ll be making strawberry dressing again.

Foodie Fact

Radish is one of the most nutritious root vegetables.  Apparently you can get a black Spanish radish, but I’ve never encountered such a thing.  You can also buy watermelon radishes that have a sweet flavour and look like watermelons when you cut into them.  What amazing things you learn writing a blog!

The Chinese have a saying:

“Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees”.  Poor doctors.

As with most veggies, they are packed full of only good things for the body.  They are a very good source of anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.  High in vitamin C especially.

Categories: Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Purple Sprouting Broccoli & Broad Bean Salad with Hazelnut Pesto

Local veggies

We live on Bryn Teg which translates to English as ‘Fair Hill’.  I call it tiger mountain because of the stripes, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on in these parts.

So Fair Hill it is and this salad reflects what is growing near our little home.  Things are beginning to come into season and our local farm shop’s shelves are beginning to fill (thankfully).  We bought what they had and this delicious salad was born.  The combination of flavours worked surprisingly well with the pesto and it was even better the day later after having a good marinate in the fridge.

Broad beans (Fava beans) are special in any salad, they add a unique, nutty texture.  Texture is one of the key ingredients to a brilliant salad and ingredients should be selected accordingly.  Limp leaves are not the way forward!  Fresh and crunchy is the key, something that is exciting to in the mouth and on the taste buds.

We have been discovering the art of salad making this raw month.  Ingredients and dressings take on a completely different flavour when combined and subtle changes in flavouring can make all the difference.

Making a vegan pesto is tricky, without the pungent cheese, you just cannot recreate that unmistakable flavour.  I think this is a decent attempt, matured cheese is something that vegans just have to give up on.  You can buy those yeast cheese flake things.

You do end up using quite a bit of herb in the pesto, but it is well worth it.

The Bits

Salad

1 cup shelled broad beans

3 handfuls chopped sprouting purple brocolli (leaves as well)

1 sweet potato (peeled and grated)

1 courgette (1/2 grated, 1/2 cubed)

 

Hazelnut Pesto

4 cups basil leaves, loosely packed

1 cup fresh parsley

1 – 2 tsp sweetener of your choice

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup hazelnuts (soaked overnight, drained and rinsed)

1 – 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

3 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional)

 

Do It

Salad – Separate your broccoli florets from the stems and leaves, chop up.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Pesto – Chop the basil and parsley until reduced to 1 cup basil and 1/4 cup parsley, blend all ingredients except hazelnuts until smooth.  Add hazelnuts gradually and continue blending, adding more olive oil as needed for desired consistency.  Check seasoning.

Thin down the pesto a little, a thick dressing and mix into the salad.

Serve

Dress with a few of the broccoli leaves and a few more spoonfuls of the thick pesto.  Maybe a few leaves of parsley or basil if you are feeling extravagant!

Raw pesto salad

We Love It!

The glory of pesto!  Mix it in yoghurt for a tasty side dish, thin with oil for a dressing, mix with hummus to make the finest hummus ever!  It really is one of the finest things you can have lurking around the fridge.

Foodie Fact

Sometimes referred to as the horse bean (!), broad beans like all legumes are a high in protein and low in fat.  A really meaty legume!  They are packed with vitamins, fibre and have a high iron content.

Categories: Dinner, Dressings, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Beach Birthday Photographs

Biker Jane

It was my birthday recently so we thought we’d share some pics:

Before a day out on the Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway (last years present from Jane)

My Dad outside the Beach House

Jane and a bottle of bubbly – Whistling Sands Beach, Llyn Peninsula

My birthday bash, with Jane and my Mum – Whistling Sands, Llyn Peninsula

Lift off! Being launched from the sea (we saw seals here later!)

Jane and I looking concerned about the lack of champagne

Jane has a sunset splodge

 

 

 

Categories: 'The Good Life', photography, Special Occasion, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Apricot, Avocado and Kiwi Smoothie

Apricots

Today’s smooth one came out rather nice. The richness of avocado and the zing of kiwi, with the touch of sweetness from the apricot. A well-balanced cup of goodness.

Jane and I had just taken a long walk down to Trigonos Organic Farm in the nearby Nantlle valley.  It has been an absolutely stunning day in the hills.  We popped down to see Pete and the gang and also managed to pick up some delicious little onions, carrots and potatoes.  Pete grows some really interesting, rare varieties.

Down on the farm, Trigonos (taken in April with snow on the hills)

It is all go down there at this time of year, as it is in our own garden and we are picking up many tips from the wise bunch at Trigonos.  Today we learnt to always water your seedlings at night, especially when sunny.  There seems so many do’s and dont’s when it comes to gardening, I have just been sticking seeds in pots and the earth and hope for a bloom.  We shall see…

Nantlle Valley and a black pony

So smoothies.  We needed something filling, I was shooting off to work , so this is a nice thick one, reminiscent of a milkshake with its creaminess, but without all that fat.  Avocados are excellent for this, creaminess without the cow.  I’m sure all vegans will agree!

Happy blending!

The Bits

Makes enough for two cups:

1 avocado (seeded and scooped out), 4 apricots (de-stoned), 2 kiwis (peeled and quartered), 1 cup of soya milk (or milk of your choice)

Do It

In the blender, blitz for a short time until smooth.

Serve

In the nicest glasses available, will also make a delicious smooth topping for a fruit salad or dessert (ie CAKE!), you may need to add a little something sweet to the mix, maybe honey or dates would be nice.

Foodie Fact 

Avocados are technically berries and are sometimes called alligator pears.  They contain a wide range of vitamins and fat (good fats, they’re full of fibre), which is actually a good thing for raw foodist.  We will be needing alot of avocados in a few days (see raw June)!  Avocados actually help your nutrition absorption by up to 300-400%.

Apricot, Avocado and Kiwi Smoothie

Categories: Desserts, Garden, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Raw Food, Recipes, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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