Posts Tagged With: good sugars

El Limonar Stew – A Taste of the Spanish Sun

The 'El Limonar'

The ‘El Limonar’ is not an everyday stew.  It reflects the culture and produce of a special little corner of Spain, the Costa Calida.

This dish that would suit any occasion this summertime, especially a special time when you are eating outside in the sunshine with the people who you love, a time when you are planning to open a few bottles of good wine (it is a Spanish stew after all!) and let the world just pass you by.

‘El Limonar’ is the name of the place my parents have in Spain, its near Cartagena, Murcia, for me it is one of the worlds most beautiful and relaxing places.  The lifestyle in Spain is slow, steeped in history, with much fiesta and siesta.  Relaxing is a way of life and food and drink play a major role in everyday life and traditional celebrations.

When I am in Spain, more than anywhere else in the world, I can happily revert to the wise words below:

‘Sólo un idiota puede ser totalmente feliz.’

‘Only an idiot can be totally happy.’

Mario Vargas Llosa

The Mediterranean sun brings life to the dry red earth.   Murcia is the hottest and driest region in Spain, but the local farmers use a lot of new technology and plenty of old world know-how to make the most of the parched land.  The area is covered with lemon, almond and olive trees, many old and gnarled.  A whole host of incredible local produce blooms with stunning flavours.  This stew combines many of these treats, most notably the sweet and smoky local pimenton (paprika).  We use Coato Paprika, an excellent local co-operative (http://www.coato.com/en/about-coato/).  The figs and almonds reflect the Moorish (North African) influence who were here for hundreds of years.  You can hear the sound of North Africa in every flamenco song.

Being a veggie in Spain is tough, we eat at home most of the time, using the produce from the local markets.  Old men and women gather every Sunday in a car park down at  the port and sell their crops.  We have our favourite olive lady, pepper man, spice mama, knife gypsy, Moroccan mint seller etcetc.  There are an array of characters and smiles.  I love to browse a good market.  It is also very cheap, which makes it that touch more satisfying.

The occasion for the ‘El Limonar’ was a visit from Rob and Linda.  They are super foodies who we met in a local cafe.  These shiny people deserved a treat so I put together this deluxe version of one of my tried and tested simmered chickpea recipes.

The technique is to simmer the chickpeas down until only a little stock remains (chickpea stock is delicious, almost beefy!) then begin to add the ingredients.  I find this retains a lot of flavour and gently cooks everything.  This stew did have some added roast vegetables, but it was most definitely a special occasion.

The best way to recreate this is in a colder country is to buy as much organic produce as possible.  Beautifully ripe tomatoes and a good quality Spanish paprika will give this dish a real taste of the Med!

Local Murcian Pimenton from Coato Cooperative, Totana

This is enough for 4 with plenty for lunch the next day (we are bulk cookers at  the B.H.K).

The Bits

5 cups of fat chickpeas (pre-soaked overnight), 1 bay leaf, good veg stock (enough to cover the chickpeas in the pan by 1 inch, maybe 1 litre), one big red onion (all veg chopped into interesting looking chunks), 1 large sweet red pepper, 1 aubergine, 1 courgette, 5 sweet tomatoes, 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, 6 sundried tomatos, 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), 2 tbs Coato paprika, 1 big glass of Spanish red wine (for authenticity), 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 teas of thyme, zest and juice of one large unwaxed lemon, 2 smoked dried peppers (if you can get your hands on them), 1 handful of roasted unsalted almonds (soaked overnight), 1 good handful of chopped dried figs, 1 good handful of pitted green olives (preferably manzanilla), chopped mint, coriander and parsley, s + p, olive oil to start and finish.

Do It

Most of these steps can be done beforehand and kept in the fridge overnight, the flavours will intensify.  Even better, cook everything for a little less time, get the stew together and re-heat it on the day. 

Add your pre-soaked chickpeas and one bay leaf to a pan of good veg stock, it should cover them by 1 inch.  Bring to a gentle boil then simmer until tender, normally 1 hour.   Skim of white froth regularly.  If the stock evaporates too quickly, put a lid on it.  After cooking the chickpeas should be just poking through the stock.

While they are simmering, chargrill in olive oil your large chunks of aubergine (should be well coloured and gooey inside), pepper, onion and courgette in a frying pan or griddle.  Best to do in batches and keep warm in a covered plate.  I chargrill my cherry tomatoes quickly to give them a little colour.

Add the paprika to the chickpeas and stir in well, then the tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and thyme, put the heat up and before it reaches a boil, add the rest of the ingredients except the wine, which you add just before the stew is about to boil.  Season.  Little finesse here, but maximum flavour!

Once the stew has reached a very gentle boil put the heat down to low and leave simmering, covered for one hour letting the flavours infuse nicely.  Check that the sauce has thickened and is not too thin, if so, turn the heat up and cook down.  Do not boil, this kills flavour.

Just before serving, check seasoning, add a glug of olive oil for shine and richness (or a glug of oil from your jar of sun-dried tomatoes as I did), the lemon juice and most of the chopped mint, coriander and parsley, mix gently in.

Serve

I topped it with a splash of olive oil, some of the left over herbs, finely sliced dried fig and a fistful of crushed almonds.

We ate our stew under the stars, over halved roasted butternut squash with brown rice, a spinach salad with a lemon and honey dressing and a cucumber and local spring onion (like wild garlic) yoghurt.  I think Rob and Linda were amazed at how much we eat!  It’s difficult for me to not get carried away with a kitchen full of amazing produce.

Jane having our 'millionare lunch' (which cost 8 euros)

Foodie Fact

Good old Christopher Columbus got his greedy hands on the pepper plant in South America and like everything else he found of value, brought it back to Spain (I’m not a huge fan of the behavior of these old explorer/conquistador types).

Paprika is made by grinding dried peppers, different paprika uses different peppers and can be sweet, smoked or spicy.  Paprika is used extensively in the cooking of Spain and also quite randomly, Hungary.  Good Goulash would be lost without it.  The name ‘Paprika’ actually comes from the Hungarian word for ‘Pepper’.

Paprika has a high sugar content which must be considered when cooking with it.  It burns easily.

By weight, Paprika contains more Vitamin C than lemon juice.

Boozy Bit

I haven’t had the chance to write about wine in a while.  Thank you Spain for giving me the excuse!

This is best with a wine from the south of Spain.  The stew incorporates many of the flavours of this evocative land, therefore the local wines compliment it perfectly.  We went for a young ‘Casa De La Ermita’ Organic Monastrell from Jumilla (a local wine region), with ripe fruits, lovely vanilla scented oak and dark violet colour.  Monastrell is generally a concentrated wine with good structure and this one held its own with this blockbuster stew.

Casa De La Ermita is a wondeful winery and you can buy the wine in the U.K., I think I even saw it in Tescos.  The Crianza is a very stylish example of the quality of wine now produced in Jumilla, formerly a very ‘rustic’ wine growing region.  They also make a great white and an interesting Petit Verdot.

Here’s their site:

http://www.casadelaermita.com/vinos/casadelaermita_tintoecologico.php

'Casa De La Ermita' Crianza, fine wine from Jumilla, Spain.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Organic, Photography, Recipes, Relax, Special Occasion, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Buzz Smoothie

The Morning Zing!

It’s called ‘The Buzz’ for a reason.  It’s a real lipsmacker!

This beats a double espresso buzz any day.  One glass and you’re de-fuzzed.  After drinking this concoction, the fruit sugars (fructose) and vitamins get to work and the morning coffee jolt seems a little beige in comparison.

It’s a vibrant looking number and bursting with citrus, sweet apple and carrot flavours.  Packed full of all the good stuff that you need in the morning to get you fired up for another day of life.  It’s a wake up call for the body and mind.

We don’t have a juicer (yet) so we blitz it all up in a food processor.  I imagine these ingredients will make an amazing juice, maybe you’ll need to throw in another carrot or so.

Organic fruit and veg will make all the difference in your juices and smoothies with bags more flavour and juice, even if they cost a few pennies more.  They will definitely have more nutrients in them, keeping your insides and outside in better condition.  After visiting a few shops in Spain, I feel fortunate that we have the choice of organic in Britain.  The carrots in this were particularly special, from Hootons Homegrown, Farm Shop on Anglesey (thats in Wales for global readers).  We are blessed with some amazing producers in these parts.

Enjoy responsibly, this is full-on juice!

This recipe will make enough for 4 glasses of what is more a chunky juice than a smoothie.  We keep some in the fridge for later, it’s so full of good things that it takes care of any mid-morning hunger pangs.

The Bits

All chopped into chunks – 1 apple (unpeeled), 1 carrot (unpeeled), 2 oranges, 1 grapefruit (a squeeze of lemon if you really want a hit!), 2 cups of filtered water (or 1 cup of water, 1 1/2 cups of ice)

Do It

Put it all in a blender and whizz it up.  Taste and add more water if needed.

We Love It!

The colour alone helps get my juices going.  We like the balance of sweet and acidic in this one.

Foodie Fact

Grapefruit (Citrus Paradisi or Paradise Citrus in Latin) is full of vitamin C.  On average, half a grapefruit contains 75% of your required Vitamin C for the day.  It also contains the super antioxidant lycopene.

Without getting to grim and technical, eating more grapefruit (and Organic fruit and vegetables) lessens your chances of catching things and dying in general.  Hooray!

The usual suspects

Categories: Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Juices, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Organic, Raw Food, Recipes, Smoothies, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The 5 Minute Fig and Prune Compote

The 5 minute compote with figs, prunes and a bit more.  Prunes have always been so unfashionable, well not anymore.  At least in the Beach House, they are very cool.

This is really quick and easy, perfect for a busy lifestyle.  No stewing required and only dried fruit from the cupboards needed.  Just chop the fruit, boil the kettle, leave in a fridge overnight. Thats it!  Naturally sweet and zesty compote. Our kind of fast food!

I love the flavour of the rich slightly stewed figs and prunes with the lemon and tea balancing the flavours and sweetness nicely.  Figs always remind me of Morocco, where I ate them by the ropes length (you buy them thread whole onto a rough length of rope). I normally opted for a foot-long! I was doing a lot of walking at the time.

We use this compote mainly on muesli, but it goes great with yoghurt and seeds as a healthy dessert or even in a smoothie that needs a sweetness kick.

This compote is designed to be kept in the fridge, not jarred. But you could experiment, like most things, it will get better with age!

This recipe will make enough for a decent bowl full of sweet fruity goodness.  I added fresh plums here also, we managed to get some nice organic ones, but they can be left out.  When chopping the fruit, we like to keep them nice and chunky.

The Bits
3 fresh plums (pitted and chopped, you may like to take the skins off), 4 dried figs (chopped), 6 dried apricots (unsulphured are best, chopped), 6 big fat prunes (chopped), zest of 1 lemon (unchopped), 1 cup of hot black tea.

Do It
Make two cups of black tea (no milk!), one for you, one for the compote. Then leave to cool slightly while you chop the fruit and peel the zest off the lemon (use a good swivel headed peeler, so much easier, you could waste years of your life peeling spuds!). I put it all into a tupperware dish, pour in the slightly cooled tea (removing the tea bag), allow to cool, then pop lid on and into the fridges.

Serve

Yoghurt, cereals, seeds, on top of cake, in a smoothie…………………………..

We Love It

A good dose of natural sweetness and plenty of fibre from the prunes and apricots, leave the belly sweet and full.

Foodie Fact

Prunes are historically good for getting things moving down under. ‘Regularity’ I believe is a commonly used term.  That will be the high soluble fibre content.

Back in the olden days (that’s the ’80′s by the way) prunes seemed to be almost medicinal, something you ate with a degree of sufferage.  But they are delicious and contain rare phytonutrients and beta carotene (in the form of vitamin A) which have a huge benefit on your inner workings, cells, brain and all.

Viva prunes!

Categories: Breakfast, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Recipes, Salads, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rhubarb and Custard Cake (Vegan)

One for now, one for later

I loved the cartoon, ‘Roobarb and Custard’, when I was a little nipper.  The very irritating soundtrack was like cartoon punk rock to my innocent ears.

This is not everybody’s idea of a cake, it’s not very sweet or rich.  But it is chewy and tasty, for those who want to ‘have their cake and eat it’ (from a health and nutrition point of view).

Mum used to make us rhubarb crumble using the wild rhubarb growing in and around our garden.  I must admit, I got a bit sick of it as a child, but now, I love the stuff.   Why is it now so expensive to buy?  I shall look into this.

Have you heard of the ‘rhubarb triangle’ Brits?  It’s in 9 sq mile triangle in West Yorkshire ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb_Triangle), the heartland of all things rhubarb on our fair isle.  I think rhubarb season is up there in importance with asparagus season!

This is another vegan cake and can be easily made gluten-free, by swapping oats for flour (expect a nice chewy slab and less rising!).  Its super simple and once you know the method, the ingredients can be chopped and changed, with different combos of fruits (or vegetables), nuts, seeds, dried fruits etc.

The method is the same as ‘Abigail’s Pumpkin Cake’ from before, but this one has the lovely combo of bitter rhubarb and sweet banana.  Only when you give up sugar for a while, do you realise just how sweet a banana is.  If you normally eat sweet cakes, maybe add a few tablespoons of honey to the mix.

The cake is quite dense and moist and is a real find.  You can eat loads of it and feel great afterwards!  There are no hidden baddies here!  Its filled only with nutrition.

This amount will make one round cake and a loaf (we have a busy week of cake eating ahead).  Half the quantities if you would like just one decent sized cake.

We couldn’t get fresh rhubarb, so we used a can.  I would stew the rhubarb until soft, if using fresh.

These cakes are simple and wholesome, some would say, just like me!  It should be nice and crisp and brown on the outside and gooey in the middle.

The Bits

3 bananas (chopped), 3 stems of rhubard (chopped or one can, drained), 1/2 cup of coconut cream, 6 dates (pitted and chopped), 2 tbs flax seeds, 3 tbs roasted sunflower seeds, 2 teas vanilla extract (a nice one), 2 cups wholegrain flour, 1 cup of oats, 1 tbs tahini, 1 teas bicarb of soda, 1 teas baking powder, 1/2 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas all spice, 1 cup soya milk.  Keep 1/2 banana and some sunflower seeds for the topping.

Do It

Heat oven to 180 0C.

In a small bowl mix the bicarb and b.p. together to make a paste, no lumps.

Add 2 bananas, 2 stems of rhubard (2/3 of the can), coco milk, almond extract, half the dates, tahini, bicarb paste, spices and soya milk to a blender.  Blend smooth.

In a large bowl add the rest of the ingredients (including the rest of the chopped fruit, these will form nice moist chunks in the cake), then the wet ingredients and stir until a sticky batter is formed.  If it’s too runny add more flour, too dry, soya milk.

Oil two baking trays, I used a loaf tin and a shallow round tin (like a quiche tin).  Make sure you oil the base and sides well.  Spoon in the mix and spread to the corners.  About 1 1/2 inch of mix (or a little more) is good, it will rise around double.  Decorate the tops of your cakes with some creatively sliced banana and sunflower seeds.  Press banana into cake to ensure it doesn’t overcook.

Cook for 45 minutes, checking after 30 mins.

When testing the cake, it has oats in, so it will be stickier than a pure flour cake.  If a pointed knife comes out just a little sticky, its ready.  Turn out of trays (gently does it) and cool on wire racks.

Serve

Custard might be a good idea!  We had it with a little greek yoghurt and some plum compote.  If you stick it in the microwave for a minute, it gets better.  Jane has even spread some butter on a hot slice, which I hear was rather pleasant.

We Love It

Unlike most cakes, there are no hidden baddies here, only hidden goodies.  The rhubarb and banana go really well together.

Foodie Fact

The redder the rhubarb the more Vitamin A, benefitting your skin, eyes and, the less than appetisingly named, mucus membranes.  It is also rich in complex B Vitamins and the rarely mentioned Vitamin K, which is nice to your brain and bones.

Stack 'em up

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Roots Soup

Local Roots

“Goin’ back to our ROOTs”.  Beetroots.

This is a sweet winter wonder.  Vibrant and choc-a-bloc with goodness and power.  This soup will add some sunshine groove into any grey day.

I lived in Brixton, London, for a while and loved the energy of Caribbean culture and the vibrant market.  This soup reflects all those happy vibes and memories.  The sweet potatoes, yams and cassava were always abundant down there, which gave me new roots to explore in the kitchen, leading me to this soup.
The recipe includes sweet potato, the rest are very local (I walked to buy them from where they grow!) and a few spices from far flung lands.  The chilli, paprika and all-spice give the soup some strong Caribbean flava!
This is a mixed-up root soup, which for me, sums up all that is good about this little eclectic island.  We have many different roots!  It also gives me a chance to put on some reggae tunes and boggie while it bubbles.
This will make one big panful, around 4 big bowls.  I like cooking in bulk, save it or freeze it.  Saves time and the elec/gas bill.

The Bits

1 large potato, 3 medium sweet potatos, 1 medium beetroot, 1 small swede, 1 medium pasrnip, 1 red onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp all spice, 1/2 teas cinnamon, 1 teas chilli powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 teas turmeric, 1.5L veg stock.

Do It

Onions and garlic are sliced and all other roots are chunked (peel them only if you like skinless, skins are full of goodness).

Glug of oil and fry onions on medium heat, soften then add the garlic, leave for a couple of minutes, then add all the roots.  Make sure you have a nice big pan for this, your roots need room.  Fry until they start to colour a little, then add the spices, cook and stir until well coated and coloured, then add the stock.  Leave for 30 minutes, partially covered, to simmer (try not to boil, it takes away some flavour).  Add more water if needed (lost to evap.).

When all is very tender, get a hand blender (or cool and put in a food processor) and blitz it up nice and creamy.

Serve

We had it with a dollop of creme fraiche, because it was hanging around the fridge, otherwise, have it how you like it!  With good tunes on.  You must dance a little after eating this soup, even if you’re wearing your slippers.

We Love It

This is true soul food (’cause it makes you feel mighty fine). The vibrant colour and the deep sense of well-being post slurp makes this soup a champion for any season.

Foodie Fact

Botanically speaking the sweet potato is a tuber.  They really are the finest root (brave statement for a Brit!) mainly because they’re so damn good for you.  Sweet pots are low in calories, packed with starch (which are introduced into the blood stream slowly, which is good) and flavanoids (powerful antioxidants).   Best of all, they’re orange.

Sweet Tuber

Sweet Tuber

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Orange and Apricot Rooibos Salad

Get off to a flier!

This is a quick recipe, like a compote, perfect for a morning citrus buzz or desert option.
It will keep your muesli interesting and is actually best on its own.  I like it chilled.

The Bits
Small handful of dried apricots (unsulphured if poss. and halved), 2 good oranges (cut into segments, the less pith, the better), 2 cardoman pods (well bashed), long ribbons of orange zest, 1 cup of rooibos tea (we used vanilla rooibos), small handful of sunflower seeds, 1 teas of your favourite honey.

Do It
Make a cup of rooibos, leave to infuse a little, put all bits in a tupperware and pour over still hot tea. This gets the infusion going, Stir. When cool, put in the fridge overnight.
Serve
With a blob of creamy greek yoghurt, can go on muesli or is great, chilled by itself. The liquid is a refreshing juice.  We had it with a dash of cointreau on pancakes.  I imagine it would go very well indeed with a nice slab of chocolate cake.  Hmm.
We Love It
It’s the right kind of colour for a morning pick me up! Great sweet and citrus double act.
Foodie Fact
Dried apricot are a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as dietary fibre and have the wonder antioxidant Lycopene in full effect.  Try to avoid the ones treated with sulphur dioxide, they will have the bright orange colour.  It can cause a nasty reaction for people who are sensitive to sulphur, especially those who have ashtma.

Categories: Breakfast, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Infusions, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Abigail’s Apple and Pumpkin Vegan Loaf

The heavyweight cake

This is cake in loaf shape.

If you’re looking for something that goes well with a cup of tea, tastes amazing and does your body some good, this fruity loaf’s for you.

I took this recipe from Abigail’s blog http://tofuandflowers.blogspot.com/ which has a lot better pictures than mine and importantly, the loaf seemed to have turned out well.  Although I did change and add to the original.  As you can see, my didn’t rise particularly well, I put it down to not having baking powder!  Otherwise, this is a very simple cake recipe and very tasty.

This loaf really packs a punch!  It’s a heavyweight and really feels like ‘food’, not just a dessert.  Its packed full of fruit and nutrition, no dairy and only has a little added sweetness.

I used honey instead of agave, which I prefer.

With this amount of mixture, I made one big loaf and six small muffins, although Abigail seemed to have fed the five thousand!!!

The Bits

Dry Ingredients: 1 c. oatmeal (plus more to sprinkle on top), 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 c. white flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2  tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. chopped apple (about 1/3 of a large apple; use the rest with the wet ingredients), 1 c. chopped walnuts (or hazelnuts)
Wet Ingredients: 1 1/2 c. roasted pumpkin, 1 banana, 1 1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger, 1 c. chopped apple (about 2/3 of a large apple, what you have left over from the wet ingredients), 1/2 c. agave (or 2 tbs honey), 3/4 c. coconut milk (half of a can), 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.

Do It

Get your pumpkin nicely soft and coloured in a pan and set aside, then:

1. Preheat oven to 200oC. Oil and flour a large loaf tin and muffin tray.
2. In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients except the nuts and 1/2 c. chopped apple.
3. In a blender, blend together all wet ingredients (including the 1 c. chopped apple).
4. Mix the pumpkin into the dry ingredients. Once almost completely combined, add the chopped walnuts and apples. Mix up with a nice wooden spoon.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pan and muffin tray. Sprinkle oatmeal on top of the batter and press the oats into the batter a little.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  The loaf will take longer than the muffins.
7. Remove from oven, and cover loaves (still inside their pans) tightly with foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil, and turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Serve

With a dollop of creamy yoghurt.

We Love It

This is a lovely moist spiced nibble at this time of year.  Its pretty much guilt free (if you get guilty about eating food) and is almost a meal in itself.

Foodie Fact

Cinnamon, originally from Sri Lanka, is a wonder bark.  It  has the highest levels of anti-oxidant strength of all foods.  Cinnamon is also anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, rich in minerals and is proven to be soothing.  In Ayurveda, Cinnamon is used to treat diabetes, colds and indigestion.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sweet Cashew Nut Butter

This is another Mum special.

I love nut butter.  It’s a delicious and easy.  Dairy free and as good as cream or butter, but much, much healthier. You can follow this recipes with peanuts and almonds.  Any other nuts?  Probably (let us know).

Organic cashews are already nice and sweet, you may exclude the honey unless you are a real sweetie.

The Bits

1 cup of cashews, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of honey

Do It

Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Store in a sealable container, will keep nicely for a week.

Serve

Spread on toast, added to cereal or even added to tea!  I like to use nut butters to add a little extra to sauces, roasted veggies or soups.

We Love It

Any recipe with three ingredients (one being water) is fine by me.  Its a great little tub to have in the fridge, adding a bit of richness and luxury to vegan foods.

Foodie Fact

Cashews are rich in healthy monounsaturate fats, that help to keep the heart and blood vessels healthy.  They are also rich in energy, antioxidants, minerals (zinc, copper, selenium) and vitamins (vitamin B-5 and 6, riboflavin, thiamine).  They are high in calories and health promoting phyto-chemicals.

Cashews are surprisingly from the same family as the mango.  When eating nuts, I often think how precious they are.  One whole fruit from the cashew tree only produces a single nut.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Raw Food, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Full Power Smoothie

Full Power!

I can’t imagine the thousands of busy London types this has fuelled over the years.  It must be the ultimate energy smoothie, a real city favourite.  Keep your pansy red bull, this is the real-deal energy drink.

I learnt this recipe whilst working for Leon http://www.leonrestaurants.co.uk/, a great little healthy restaurant chain in London.  I will be borrowing a few of their recipes, they are very nice people, I hope they won’t mind (or sue me).

This is the basic one, a real thicky.  You can add compotes, nuts, other fruits etc……..its always amazing.

It’s another quick and easy staple and well worth the washing up:

Makes on big glass, can easily be made vegan.

The Bits

One banana, handful of oats, teaspoon of honey (stringy bark honey if you’re very lucky), 3/4 cup of soya milk (use normal if you like), one big tablespoon of good yoghurt (the stuff with good bacteria in it, soya yog is nice too), a few ice cubes or a splash of water.

Do It

Whack it all in a blend and give it a quick whizz.  I like it chunky. Serve in your finest glass.

We Love It

Loads of energy from the good sugars in the banana and bark honey, good carbs in the oats.   For those mornings when you need to be a rocket.

Foodie Fact

Manuka honey has four times the conductivity of normal honey.  The higher the conductivity the finer the honey.  Honey has a low GI (glycemic index) rate, antioxidants and is cholesterol and fat-free.

Honeybee

Categories: Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Raw Food, Recipes, Smoothies, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Magic Morning Lemon Water

I have always known that a glass of hot water and lemon is a good idea first thing.  It just feels right (especially after a whiskey the night before).  I thought I’d read into exactly why and was pleasantly surprised.

A glass of hot(ish) water and lemon will stimulate your digestive system, the potassium in lemons will help to give the brain and nervous systems a wake up call.  The vitamin C boosts the immune system and reduces the signs of aging by purging toxins from the blood.  The citric acid, when metabolised, will help lower your bodies acidity.  Most of us are too acidic (in many ways!).

Lemons are high in pectin fibre, which helps fight hunger pangs.  They help to stimulate the liver into producing more bile, which aids digestion, helping against heartburn and indigestion.  Your peeing rate will increase, flushing out more toxins.

The fructose is lemon will give you a gradual sugar kick.  Fructose levels are relatively low in fruit and vegetables and release sugar into the blood slowly (a low glycemic index), so its better than most other sugar***.

Fresh lemon will help to beat chest infections and has been known to help with allergies and asthma.  You will be more chilled, Vitamin C is one of the first things to be depleted by a stressful life.

Most of all, it starts the day of with a zing!  A real citrus wake up call.

As of this very day, I will almost definately, be drinking this every morning (maybe).

Remember – use the lemon peel.  Its bursting with flavour and it’s such a waste to just use the juice.

***However, there is an increased use of high fructose corn syrup in processed foods.  We can end up eating too much fructose, which can be a problem.  Fructose is processed in the liver and avoids the normal appetite stimulators.  This means that we feel like scoffing more and put on weight.  If the liver processes too much frustose it begins to form triglycerides which may lead to heart disease.  Diabetes is another potential concern.

The Hit List

HFCS is found in processed cereals, sweets (candy), soft drinks, ice cream, tinnned fruits, cakes, even some cough syrups.  Thankfully its used less in Europe than the U.S.A, but its still there and ever increasing.  It’s a cheap way for big business to sweeten food.  Stay away from food wrapped in plastic and you are on the right track.      

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Living, Infusions, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rough Oatcakes

Super Oats

Frugal and nice with anything (and on their own).  I’m a purest with the humble oatcake.  I love ‘em with a nice lump of local cheese or even with a little of Janes Mum’s Marmalade, they are versatile and an ever-present in our ‘Oat Cake’ tin.

The Oatcake originated in Scotland, where historically they were the only grain that grew up there on the wild northern part.  Oats are really healthy and I would say that they are a ‘superfood’ for sure.  My Dad used to say that porridge put hairs on your chest, but it didn’t work for me (and thankfully, my sister!).

Of course these crunchy delights can be meddled with, but the toasted oat flavour is enough for me (but sometimes I do add a handful of toasted sunflower seeds).

For people who are looking to eat less gluten.  If you make them thicker and add a tsp of baking soda, bake them for a little longer, you have a substantial substitute to bread.

This is as simple as it gets.  Rough oatcakes are best, so the rougher you are here, the tastier the cake.  It’s basically porridge, flat and baked:

The Bits 

A quantity of medium oats (judge by eye how many you’d like to make, 1 cup will make around 5 nicely sized oatcakes).

In a bowl, add half cold filtered water and half boiling out of the kettle (stir until a thick paste is formed)

A decent swig of olive oil

A nice pinch of nice salt and a good few twists of cracked pepper.

Do It

Traditionally, I believe a heavy skillet was used to make these.  I’ve tried it out and its a lot easier to whack them in the oven (we always try to bake a few things at a time, not to waste all that heat).

Preheat oven to 1800C.

Handle the oatmeal paste like dough, with some spare oats as your flour being used for dusting the surface and the dough.  If done properly, not much should stick to your fingers.  I flip them over a few times on an ‘oated’ plate and fashion a roundish shape with my fingers (for neat ones, use a round cutter), then place them on a lightly oiled tray.  The oatcakes should have a rough look and texture.

Bake for 20 minutes, then turn them and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Leave to cool on a wire tray.

Serve

Anything you fancy.  They are a great substitute for bread, we eat them with soup for example.  But for me, they are the finest accompaniment to a strong flavoured cheese, like a Welsh ‘black bomber’ cheddar or a Stilton (long clawson is the finest).

We Love It

They remind me of my Scottish roots (as does my ginger beard!), I lived in Glasgow for years and have fond memories of persistent drizzle and good whiskey.

Foodie Fact

Oats contain Beta-glucan, which slows the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, lowering the chances of any dramatic changes in blood sugar levels.  It’s also packed full of fibre.  Excellent roughage.  Oats hang around in the stomach, making you less hungry, probably leading to losing a little weight.  They also help to ease hyper tension or high blood pressure.  You see.  ‘Superfood’!!!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ensalada de Kami – Coconut and Peanut Salad

Ensalade de Kami

This salad will shine all over the mid January slump.  Peanuts for energy and coconuts to remind you that Pina Coladas do still exist.

It comes straight from Panamanian jungle, via Jane’s lovely friend Kami.  Jane popped over to see Kami for a couple of weeks recently and came back all shiny and radiant, all down to Kami’s raw food and salads.

The fruits aren’t quite as good as Panama in North Wales, but we have continued the trend and I must say that a day started with this salad is a brighter place to be!

Lovely and crunchy, an interesting mix of veggies and fruit, with a smooth peanut and coconut sauce, its tastes amazing and will get your system buzzing first thing.

This is a versatile little number, you can also use it as a conventional salad for lunch or dinner.  We make a job lot in the morning and it keeps us going until late,  sometimes making two days dressing in advance (saves on washing up!).

This is most definitely a Beach House favourite.

Makes two big bowls.

The Bits

We tend to use what we have fruit and veg wise, it can change daily, but here’s an idea.

1 orange, 1 apples, 1 pear, 2 large carrots, 1 stick of celery, chunk of cucumber, bit of exotic fruit as a treat(we used a bit of pineapple today, or papaya, mango etc..) all diced into pleasant shapes of your liking.

For the sauce – 3 tbsp coconut milk, 2 tbsp organic peanut butter, 1 orange, pith off and chopped, 1 apple, 1 large carrot, both chopped, dash of water (to get it going)

Treat version – Sometimes some chopped walnuts, or finely diced dates (not too many).

Do It

Easy as pie…….

Chop up the fruit and veg.

Add all the sauce bits to a blender and pulse up, leave it a little chunky if you like.

Pour over salad and mix in.

Serve

We put it into our finest big bowl and enjoy looking at it all day.  I sometimes add a little muesli and yoghurt, or roasted sunflower seeds add even more crunch and energy.

Makes a great side dish to a slightly exotic main course, Thai or Indian food for example.

We Love It

The odd sweet burst of a date and the all over fresh crunchiness and vitality.

Foodie Fact

We stay clear of bananas with this one, sugary fruit and acidic fruit ferments in your belly, which is bad for people with sensitive stomachs.

In Ayurveda, fruit is meant to be eaten before a meal, never after or with, as it putrifies (nice word) in the stomach.  Sugary fruits also react with cereals, but sometimes, I live dangerously!

Thanks Kami

Categories: Breakfast, Gluten-free, Lunch, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Super Spinach Smoothie

A shot of pure green goodness

This smoothie will kick any day off with a natural sugar hit and good dosing of iron to wake you up and feed your sleepy body.  Sweet and smooth with an iron fix.

It is so simple and quick to make and is Janes favourite morning booster.  You won’t be craving biscuits for elevensies either, the banana will see you through!

The Bits

1 1/2 bananas per person (ideally, I have two because I’m like a sloth in the morning)

2 tbsp coconut milk

One good handful of spinach

A splash of water (to get it all blended nicely)

Need balast?  Add a handful of oats.

Do it

Stick it all in your blender and whizz until smooth.

Serve

Jane eats it from a bowl with a spoon, topped with some finely sliced veggies, celery is nice.  I glug from a glass, which is scrapped out after with a spoon.

We Love It

Its so easy and nutritious and its very green!

Foodie Fact

Spinach is famous as a good source of iron, but surprisingly not as good as much as most beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.  Even a dried apricot has more iron!.

Bananas are packed with natural fruit sugar (frustose), the highest of any fruit by a jungle mile.  This is still relatively low compared to most maufactured sweet foods.  They are great for the digestive system, with lots of fibre and also rich in Vitamin C and Potassium.

Categories: Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Raw Food, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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