Beetroot Latte

Beetroot Latte

 

Normally I post new blogs on Sunday afternoon, but with this recent spell of snow(!) and winter weather I decided that I might as well post this as I write it.

And after a little hiatus I posted this blog earlier this week, so there you go. I know I’m not the greatest at consistency. I think variety is more my style.

Anyhow, with this recent weather though I was lucky and did not experience the full brunt of Storm Emma, (also known as the Beast from the East), I did end up stuck at home for two days which meant lots of hot drinks, blazing fires and plenty of time to work on the computer…

Snow

Irish Winter, Storm Emma

Whilst contemplating if I should dress up and take the 5 min walk to the shop or if I should in fact stay put, finish writing this blog post and then chill with a cup of this pink beauty and the latest book I am reading in front of the fire, the rain is slowly melting the snow outside.

It was definitely beautiful whilst lasting and reminded me of winters growing up back in Sweden. Yet I am so ready for Spring now!

Ready for longer brighter days, ready to prepare some raised beds and order some vegetable seeds and ready for a new season to arrive.

While you are waiting though, enjoy this warming drink and there are a good few new recipes lined up, coming your way over the coming weeks. More warming dishes to enjoy, whilst we are waiting and contemplating.

Beetroot Latte

I got the idea for this Beetroot Latte from Instagram. Because giving proper attribute to the original creator is important and the right thing to do, I went back searching for whom I might have gotten it from, but when I typed in #beetrootlatte I got like 9000 hits! So maybe this isn’t a truly original idea after all…

Since I am such a cardamom fan, I loved cardamom added here. If that’s not your cup of tea (pardon the pun) then you could try another variation that I made some time ago which was a hot chocolate type drink, with some beetroot powder + a pinch of chili.

Dried beetroot powder is available in health food shops. It is kind of sweet and a great way to colour foods naturally.

 

Beetroot Latte

Serves 1

1 cup of plant milk of choice (measure the milk out with the cup you intend to drink from)

½ tsp dried beetroot powder

½ tbsp. sweetener of choice – I like honey or maple

¼ tsp ground cardamom

 

Add milk and the rest of the ingredients to a small heavy based saucepan. Gently heat your drink whilst whisking all the ingredient together. Just before reaching boiling point remove from heat and serve.

If you want to pretty it up you can add some edible dried rose petals!

 

P.S I have *finally* signed up to Lightroom and started to play around with presets (kind of like filters). Please bear with me a as I am learning this new creative skill!

Irish winter

Hot Chocolate for Cold Days

Hot Chocolate for Cold Days

 

This year I have decide to try something different. Rather than focusing on moulding my life into the way I “think it should be”, I have decide to “take action without attachment to outcome”.  Only a few weeks into the year and my life is already giving me plenty of opportunities to practice this intention. In reality letting go of attachment to outcome means you also have to be ok when you get a no, and as much as I am telling myself that I am ok with a no to some of my asks when I look a little closer I probably aren’t… So I just keep reminding myself of something Brené Brown said, “The courage is in the action.”

Instead I get to practice sitting with my feelings, of disappointment or even anger.  I also get the opportunity to practice courage and trust. (Or should it be “the courage to trust”?).  Amidst this experiment of trying to live with the openness to the FLOW of life, I found this article by Sharon Salzberg, on one of my favourite websites On Being.  It spoke to some of the ambivalence I do feel in making a choice like this. Because if you are not actively pursuing your dream life are you letting yourself go and giving up? Or am I just trying to give up on the suffering holding on to an expectation of a specific outcome is giving me?

straightforward nutrtion

This train of thought lead me to another observation this week. One of my colleagues in one of the FB forums that I am in shared a great resource for other things to do when we notice a desire to eat even though we are not physically hungry. I definitely things it is great to have lists of ideas of other thing to do rather than using food as a coping mechanism, even though in the journey to make peace with food there still have to be an unconditional permission to eat.  Otherwise we may still end up subconsciously restrict, which can then backfire into over-eating later.

The thing is though if we move directly from noticing that we are reaching for food, without pausing to check in for what it is we are currently emotionally experiencing and move right on to the next non-eating distraction, we miss the chance to see what’s underneath the habitual impulse to reach for food. In the pause we can notice what is there, and follow up with a questions of “What do I need right now?

Depending on the emotion you may discover a different need. Sadness may require the comforting from another human being, or a pet (they are my personal favourites). Happiness may require simply some revelling in, because it can be oh-so-fleeting.

straightforward nutrition

Boredom is a particular interesting one.

To be honest, I’m not sure if dealing with boredom through distraction, eating or otherwise is the best strategy. If we can simply be with it, boredom can open doors to a whole world of inner discoveries. Or we may discover that it is simply a passing state and part of our human experience.

One day during this week I noticed my need for comfort. Not as a way to deal with a particular emotion, more like a way of taking care of myself. A self care ritual of sorts.  Comfort eating get such a bad rap, because it is seen like a way numbing out, escapism and sometimes as punishment even. Which may be true. However to me it is only a problem if we comfort eat in a way that doesn’t leave us feeling comfortable and nourished by neither the food nor the act of eating.

This recipe is one that brings me comfort on wet, cold and grey January days. Especially when consumed in front of the fire, with a good book in hand, dog in lap (which is optional + a little risky considering the hot liquid…).

It is also one that I intend to include, or some version thereof, in my first recipe book. Which I have still no idea of how or when it will come out. Before the end of the year at least…!

So here’s to comfort foods and comfort eating that leaves you feeling comforted, satisfied and well nourished.

 

Spicy Hot Chocolate for Colder Days

Makes about 10 portions, depending on how much mix you use for your cup

5 tbsp raw cacao powder

2-3 tbsp coconut sugar or demerara sugar (or you can leave this out and sweeten with maple syrup / honey to taste when you have the drink made up)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp ground dried ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves – optional

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

 

Place all ingredients in a clean, dry glass jar and mix until they are all well combined.

To make your hot spicy chocolate drink;

Measure out your milk of choice (cow’s milk or plant milk). For practicality I tend to pour the milk first into the cup I intend to drink from, to get the right volume.

Then add the milk to a small saucepan. Allow roughly a tbsp. of chocolate powder per cup/ person. Add the chocolate powder to the milk. Whisk rapidly as you are gently heating up the milk.

Keep whisking to prevent the milk from burning at the bottom of the pan. Avoid boiling, as if you are using plant based milk it may separate.

Your hot chocolate drink is ready just before it reaches boiling point. If you didn’t add any sugar to your cacao mix, now is a good time to add it to the hot drink. Honey or maple syrup are really delicious.

Pour it back into your cup of choice for serving and enjoy!

I love marshmallows, so this time I piled them high. (Not homemade)

comforting hot chocolate recipe

P.S I’ve invited Spring into my home. whilst waiting for it to take hold outside…

Wholehearted Living

 

Ruby Red Beetroot Smoothie

Ruby Red Beetroot Smoothie

After what feels like almost two weeks at full speed, I decided, no actually my body told me loud and clear, that it is about time to take a day which include some selfcare. To me that includes, spending time outside, preferably some walking in the forest as well as filling my body up on some colourful foods.

And since we are enjoying some Spring-like weather for the past few days, with apparently more to come, smoothies are back on the menu again.

Other parts of my selfcare practice intention for this week includes getting serious about my sleep. To get to bed in plenty of time to ensure that I can get 8h and maybe, just maybe, I’ll try taking my mobile phone out of my bedroom too…

Do you prioritise your own sleep? And if so, what does your routine look like?

 

straightforward nutrition

It took me some time to warm to the idea of adding raw beetroot to a smoothie, but once I had tried it with some berries, there was no way of going back!

Beetroot is such a powerful veg, with phytonutrients that support our liver and blood. As well as that, as a root veg it is also full of fiber to help keep the blood sugar stable, give the stomach a sense of fullness and the bowel moving.

In this recipe I use banana as a sweetener but to be honest, mostly for texture as without it I found that you end up with a more “gritty” texture, that is not to everyone’s palate. I also tend to use raw ones, but since the consistency tends to change when they are cooked, it would be interesting experiencing using a cooked one instead. If you do, let me know! And probably best to cook a few and then use a spare one for your morning smoothie, as they take an age to cook…!

The leaves I used here are a variety that I grew last year called “Bulls Eye”. They kind of look like beetroot tops. If you can’t get hold of some, use a few leaves of spinach, rainbow chard or if you can get organic beetroots that still have their leaves attached you can use a few of them.

The talk of home grown veg together with the current warmth from the sun makes me look forward to the weekend already when my plan is to clear my raised beds to get them prepared for planting in a few weeks time. Must order some seeds too!

 

Ruby Red Beetroot Smoothie

Serves 1

1 small beetroot, peeled & chopped

1 small banana

1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled

1/2 cup of raspberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup of strawberries, fresh or frozen

A handful of red or green leaves (if your leaves are green don’t over do it or you’ll end up with a brown smoothie)

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp of hulled hemp seeds – optional

1 tbsp of pea protein

250ml of plant milk of choice – other nice options are cold hibiscus tea or cold raspberry leaf tea

 

Place all ingredients in your blender. Blend until smooth, Drink and enjoy!

 

I actually made a little video for this recipe too.

Expect to see some more of these types of videos happening this year, since I’ve just bought an extension arm for my tripod!

 

Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk

Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk

This hot drink is surprisingly easy to make, so don’t be put off just by looking at the (long) ingredients list! Admittedly that used to be one of the things that was a deciding factor for me in the past when trying out new recipes, but slowly but surely I’ve extended my both my skills and my spice selection, through evoking some curiosity and a desire to keep pushing outside my comfort zone.

Like all things worth pursuing, it’s often outside that (in)famous comfort zone where some of the magic happens.

As the seasons change, it thought it was time to have something warming and nourishing back on the menu and I feel myself back craving for more warm comforting meals and warming foods which means more spices.

This week, we are more than half ways through Whole Detox, and we’ve traveled through from rooty red to the gorgeous gracious greens of love. For the final week we are moving into TRUTH, INSIGHT and SPIRIT, which is usually great fun, albeit uncomfortable at times when it comes to unraveling and walking on our path of self-discovery.

The other thing apart, from all the delicious focus on eating lots of colourful foods, is the nourishing community. The support, care and camaraderie, found in a small space online is just great. I think we sometimes forget how important it is for our wellbeing to surround ourselves with likeminded people. And as well as that, when we are working though difficult things such as negative thought patterns and emotions, both sharing our stories with others in a safe space and to be witness to other people’s stories is so healing.

spicy warming cashew milk

I feel like when we read and listen to others’ stories that we realise that we are in fact not alone in our human struggles. Somewhere out there is someone else who has been through something similar and we can take comfort in this, knowing that what we are feeling is normal.

For me hearing about other people journeys through difficult times have given me both hope and courage to carry on believing in possibilities of change, when I’ve been in a head space that’s made it difficult to imagine so for myself. And the resilience of the human spirit never seem to amaze me either.

nourishing warming winter drink

But let’s return to the recipe! This one actually came about as an inspiration from one of the recipes in Whole Detox called “Spice Shake”. Then I spotted that one of the other participants had made a warm version, simply by heating up the ingredients! Which totally appeals to m at the moment, satisfying all my cravings for warm nourishing comfort foods.

I’ve seen some variations of this type of drink around the internet over the past year or so, and I actually tried one, I think it was last year, but I was so put off by the overpowering combination of coconut and turmeric (which felt to me like I was drinking a curry!) so I abandoned the idea of having a go at it again. Normally this is the warming turmeric drink that I go for.

 But I think this one might be repeated! I have made a couple of tweaks to the original recipe that inspired me. One is to use cashew milk instead of almonds or other nuts. Cashew nuts are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. And they are really versatile as they are starchy but without insoluble fibre, which means they make the nicest and thickest nutmilk you can imagine and you don’t have to strain it either! However, you do need to plan ahead a little bit and get your nuts soaking the day before. Or at a push, for a few hours. It is worth it though and not actually much of an effort at all.

Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk

Serves 2 ( you will get more spice mix to use for future cups)

For the Cashew Milk

1/2 cup cashew nuts, raw

500ml water

For the Spice Blend

2 tbsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp mixed spice or pumpkin spice blend (usually a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger & allspice)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground ginger

For the final cup

1-2 star anise

1 tsp coconut oil, raw & organic – optional

1/2 – 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

To make the cashew nut milk; Soak the nuts in enough water to cover, overnight. In the morning rinse and then blend with fresh water. Store in a glass bottle or jar until ready to use.

To make the spice mix: Add all ingredient into a small glass jar. Mix until well combined.

To make the warm & spicy cashew milk drink; Add the cashew milk into a saucepan. I usually use the cup that I’m intending to serve out of as my measurement. Add 1/2 tablespoon of spice blend per person to the milk plus one – two star anise. Gently health the milk whilst stirring with a whisk. Once the milk is warmed through, add the coconut oil, if using as well as the honey or maple syrup. Give it all another whisk so that the oil and sweeteners are dispersed throughout.

Serve up!

straightforwarn nutrition

A Purple Smoothie with Hidden Greens

A Purple Smoothie with Hidden Greens

Let the purple theme continue! And the smoothie one too, of course. Purple is my favourite colour. So of course it made total sense to create a smoothie that was purple. It seems like late summer / early autumn is the natural season for purple foods.

In the past few weeks I’ve foraged some wild blueberries / bilberries as well as  blackberries from the hedgerows out the back of where I live. On my last few walks I’ve also spied some lovely damsons and lots of elderberries. If the weekend allows I think I will go ahead and make some of this, which will make a nice one to keep any colds and flues at bay as the weather shifts. This transitional time of the year is one when I’m most likely to get sick, so it may just be a good idea to stay on top of it!

purple smoothie

 

You know, the idea for this smoothie came initially from creating something “hidden”. Not everybody enjoy drinking the colour green. So what I did was put a few green leaves with something that would blend them into another colour. I’ve mentioned before that blending red and green is usually not a brilliant idea. You might get away with a few leaves of spinach with beetroot as it is so bright, but if you’ve ever tried spinach and strawberries… you know what I am talking about.

In this smoothie it is the blackberries that are providing most of the purple colour, but the blueberries bring equal beauty in form of taste, colour and nutrients. And if you have some blackcurrants throw them into the mix too! All these berries are a great source of vitamin C which is a major contributor to a healthy immune system.

mindful eating

Purple Smoothie with Hidden Greens

Serves 1

1/2 cup of blackberries – fresh or frozen

1/2 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen

a handful of green leaves like kale (stems removed) or spinach

1/2 small avocado

1 banana

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tbsp pea / hemp / rice protein

1/2 tsp ground caramom – optional, but delicious!

250 ml coconut water or plant milk of choice

 

Place all the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.

Serve with your favourite toppings.

Feast your eyes on the purple delight.

Drink mindfully.

And feel the nourishment spreading throughout your body!

 

purple smoothie with hidden greens

Rainbow Smoothie

Rainbow Smoothie

Smoothies never gets old, do they? I know I’ve already shared a good few inventions here and here’s another one! Plus there’s more recipe ideas in the pipeline. I also recently bought Green Kitchen Stories’ latest recipe book, on yes you guessed it – Smoothies!

It is a beautiful book with lots of great tips and ideas for creating the tastiest and satisfying combinations you can imagine. I picked it up because it was on special offer and one can simply never have to many cookbooks for inspiration. Plus David Frenkiel’s food photography is just so stunning. I never tire of just looking at all the beautiful images on their blog or in their books. It was actually when I bought their app about four years ago that I got really inspired to take my then website and redesign it so that I could get more into food blogging. And here we are some 3 years later, having seen that idea into fruition.

I tend to eat with my eyes a lot of the time, hence why having plenty of colour on my plate is both aesthetically important as well as pleasing to me. But colourful plant foods are also full of important phyto-nutrients, (plant compounds) that are vital for our optimal health. Some of them we do know what they do and how they work in the body, yet others are there still to be discovered.

Sometimes the discussion of which “diet” is the best one gets tiring, though when it really comes down to it nobody can argue with the fact that eating a large quantity of fruit and vegetables daily is vital for our overall health and wellbeing.

It’s not only the physiological benefits, in this recent review study where they looked at sampled food diaries over three years, from over 12 000 Australians the researches concluded that;

“Increased fruit and vegetable consumption was predictive of increased happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being. Citizens could be shown evidence that “happiness” gains from healthy eating can occur quickly and many years before enhanced physical health.”

So regardless what “dietary style” camp or community one belongs to, it is pretty clear that vegetables and plants should form the baseline of ones diet, if health and even happiness is where you want to be!

Rainbow Smoothie

 

Before we get to the recipe I would like to give you a couple of my smoothie making strategies that I’ve picked up over the years. At this point, I’ve made countless combinations and tried things that worked and things that didn’t so to short cut you on your own exploratory journey here’s some insights!

 

  • Try adding some kind of healthy fats + protein source to make sure that you have a smoothie that will keep you fueled for awhile. My personal favourites are avocado or full fat coconut milk + pea / rice / hemp protein

 

Don’t blend green and red fruit and vegetables together, unless you don’t mind eating brown looking sludge… of course. Keeping it within the same colour theme makes a much more appealing looking concoction. Though of course there’s nothing to say that your brown slurry mix will taste better than it looks, however if you plan on Instagramming it, I would certainly keep the colour on point!

 

  • Use a variety of liquids as blending options. Most “old” and traditional smoothie recipes are a blend of natural yoghurt and fruit, but for everybody who’s limiting dairy intake, or anyone else who wants to increase their variety in general, there’s actually a whole host of different liquids that you can use! My standard one is usually (shop bought) almond milk or diluted coconut milk. But I’ve also experimented with  cold herbal teas (raspberry leaf and hibiscus in particular) or coconut water and they all make a really smoothie. Since finally investing in a nutmilk bag, I’ve been making a lots of different types of “milks”. From almond, to sesame to flax seed milk. It’s so easy! I tend to make two portions with my Nutribullet at the time.

A note here; remember that since you are making a fresh blend with no preservatives it won’t keep that long in the fridge so don’t make too much. You’ll find instructions on how to make your own nut or seed milk here.

So why calling this a Rainbow Smoothie then? Well because it has all the colours of the rainbow of course!

Rainbow Smoothie

Serves 1

1/2 cantaloupe melon, cut into chunks

3 fresh mint leaves

1 small banana

1/2 small avocado

1/4 tsp spirulina powder – optional

1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled

a handful of fresh green leaves like kale or spinach, washed

1 tbsp plant protein of choice

200 ml coconut water

blueberries, raspberries & bee pollen for toppings

Place all the ingredients, except for the toppings in your blender and blend until smooth. Serve your smoothie in a glass or a bowl and add the blueberries, raspberries and bee pollen for sensual delights!

 

colourful foods for your health