Finally… Can you smell it? Spring! I am so excited for warmer weather and brighter days. The fact the days are longer now, after the clock’s recent change has helped my mood a lot. The other weekend I got inspired and cleared out a space for some vegetable growing, and then the following day (in the pouring rain) I drove to town to buy some timber to make a raised bed.
This will be my fourth year of growing vegetables. I decided to build a simple 2 x 1 m frame, which should be easy to dismantle the day I leave here, yet should give me ample space to grow some root vegetables for this coming season. The property also has an old disused green house so I’m hoping I will be able to have some tomatoes and a few herbs like coriander and basil in there. Next up, getting some manure + ordering some seeds. All the exciting stuff. It truly is such a rewarding thing to grow your own veggies. It is definitely an adventure which has helped me fostering some patience as well as trust.
You can’t will the seeds out of the ground. It takes nurturing, patience and a tad skill. Such a good metaphor for life in general I think…
On a totally different note though, the recipe I am sharing this week is one of those comforting, budget friendly and very versatile ones. And it is one I’ve eaten on repeat over the past few months. These long cold AND wet months had me craving foods that were more stodgy, warm and nourishing. As well as that I have also had a desire to eat other high energy foods like oats (especially in combination with sugar and butter…). I am beginning to feel ready to have some lighter meals soon, with more greens and raw foods. Maybe you are too?
However I thought now would still be a good time to share this recipe, whilst we are still note truly there yet, and if you are like me, feeling the pinch of heating bills… then something that is budget friendly and that can be made any day of the week from mostly store cupboard ingredients is hopefully welcomed!
I’m not sure “casserole” is actually a good name for this dish as it is more like a vegetarian bolognese and even a little meaty in texture. It could even be a good one to try out for Meat Free Monday or to serve those avid meat eaters, whom you’d like to introduce to some more plant based dishes.
Then on the other hand, how and with what you serve it is, entirely up to you. I have so far had it with rice, pasta, a fried egg (like in the picture) and with roasted sweet potatoes. I would imagine it can pair with “normal” roasted potatoes, even mash, or as a side dish to baked fish. One basic dish. Many options!
Lentil & Mushroom Casserole
1 tin chopped tomatoes
250g fresh mushrooms (I like chestnut mushrooms)
1 large yellow onion, peeled & chopped finely
5 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped finely
1 red or yellow pepper, washed & chopped finely
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp smoked paprika
Sea salt & Black pepper to season
Approx. 1 cup cooked lentils such as beluga or puy lentils
Start with cooking the lentils. Exact measurements aren’t really important here, so measure out 3/4 cup. Then rinse well before placing in a saucepan and adding enough water to cover the lentils by 1 inch. I usually add a bay leaf or two to this also.
Bring the lentils to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. If you let them boil to hard they will just cook apart. Simmer for about 35-40 min until they squeeze soft between your fingers. Drain, rinse and set aside.
Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan. Add chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the chopped pepper and mushrooms and saute for another few minute or two until soft-ish. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for another minute.
Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, the cooked lentils and the spices. Give it all a really good stir and then bring to a lively simmer for 20 min until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste.
Let cool slightly and then serve with your choice of side (as suggested above) + some greens. Oh and some grated Parmesan is totally yum to add grated on top. If that’s your thing.
I feel like I’m behind with writing blog posts… Again!
I had another post idea lined up but since it hasn’t been written up yet, I think it will have to wait until the New Year. Who wants to think about batch cooking and meal planning at the moment anyway, right?!
It can be a challenge to balance out all the heavy meat (if you eat meat) based dishes, together with all the lovely Christmas cakes, minced pies and chocolates we tend to feast on throughout the month of December. It may even feel like you “have to eat it all”, because these are seasonal foods meaning we won’t see them again for another year. A dreaded sense of scarcity sets in…
It is all too easy to fall into this scarcity trap.
I do that too sometimes when I find a food I really like and that I haven’t had for awhile.
There is a beauty to seasonality though and that is the fact that because some foods are in season at different times of the year, we get the opportunity to savour them at that time. However, given the current world we live in, if we truly want something very particular chances are we can get it, or make it ourselves.
Letting go of the feeling of “having to eat it all now before it is gone”, instead shifting it to a place of attunement and gratitude may help us savour these foods mindfully, instead of just wolfing them down not actually tasting them or enjoying them at all. Letting go of eating just for the sake of eating, can open up space to have a really satisfactory eating experience and usually when we have that we don’t tend to go looking for more.
Anyway… My intention for this blog post was to give you some inspiration when it comes to adding some green stuff to the Christmas menu.
I’m sharing this Fig & Walnut Salad + I have linked to a few of my other winter favourites from the past as well as from my favourite bloggers around the world.
Whether you will be the brave one introducing a new dish on the 24th / 25th or if you decide to try some new plant based dishes between Christmas and New Year, just to lighten things up a bit, I do hope you decide to give some of these a go! Vegetables are here to be celebrated… Any time of year!
Fig & Walnut Salad with Goat’s Cheese
1 small head of radicchio, finely shredded
4-5 stems of kale (I used the purple variety here but green curly kale is fine)
4-6 fresh figs, depending on size
100g goat’s cheese (get a variety you like, or leave it out)
A handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
A handful of fresh blueberries
2 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. clear runny honey
½ tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Remove the outside leaves of your radicchio and then cut into fine strips. Remove stems from the kale and chop finely.
Place the cut kale, drizzle over the olive oil and then gently massage it to soften the leaves. Add the shredded radicchio to the bowl.
Cut the pit off the fresh figs and then make two slits across the middle. Place a chunk of goats cheese in the middle of the fig then place under a hot grill for a few min until cheese is lightly golden.
Place some of the salad on each serving plate. Add a grilled fig each on top of the salad. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and some runny honey over the fig and salad. Finish off by scatter some chopped walnuts, chopped rosemary and a few fresh blueberries over each plate.
Eat and enjoy!
** If you don’t want to include goat’s cheese, then cut the figs into smaller quarters instead**
If you are looking for some more green inspiration for the Christmas table, or any other day for that matter, here are some of my favourites!
Past winter salads from my blog:
Kale Salad with Orange-Tahini Dressing
Black Quinoa Salad with Kale, Apples & Crunchy Hazelnuts (you can leave out the quinoa if you make it as a side)
A Festive Salad (with Brussels Sprouts)
Rainbow Slaw with Mustard Dressing
Red Cabbage Salad with Blueberries & Coconut
And here are some festive recipes from some of my favourite food bloggers that I’ve been following for a long time!
Like this Blood Orange & Kamut Salad from Cashew Kitchen
THIS recipe from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks changed my view on Brussels Sprouts forever. Super simple too!
An old recipe from Green Kitchen Stories with Saffron
And finally another recipe from GKS which is a little bit more like a main course.
Halloween has just been (and the Christmas decorations are already appearing around the place!) but for all my U.S friends Thanksgiving is just around the corner. So I suppose it is still pumpkin season.
I was contemplating the other day how nature seem to have provided us with a natural harmony of flavour pairings. It seems like many foods that are in season at the same time, go well together.
Like apple and blackberries, or apples and pumpkins. Or hazelnuts and mushrooms. Each season has its own charm, yet there’s something so comforting about the foods that comes with this time of the year. I don’t know about you but I naturally yearn for more stodgy food when the weather gets colder. Spicy soups, roasted root vegetables, strews. Less salads more strifries. That kind of thing.
I think I read somewhere you need to live a full year somewhere, through all the seasons, before you are fully rooted in your new environment. Not sure where I read it, but regardless, it has been my lived experience. Would you agree?
There are more seasonal recipe ideas to share, like an apple and blackberry crumble I have made on repeat lately, but have yet to photograph, a purple salad and maybe this year my own version of a mushroom soup, will make it here too.
Until then, I hope you will enjoy this pumpkin soup recipe!
Apple & Pumpkin Soup
1 Hokkaido Pumpkin (Butternut Squash could work well too)
4 small or 2 big eating apples
1 yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin, ground
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cinnamon
½ pinch of ground cloves
Approx. 1 litre stock
Sea salt & Black pepper to season
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Heat oven to 200˚C. Make a few cuts in the whole pumpkin and then on a baking tray and roast for about 2h, until soft. Doing it this way, I’ve found make much less work than trying to wrestle with it in its uncooked state.
Once cooked and soft, set aside to cool. Once the pumpkin has cooled down, remove skin and seeds and roughly chop.
Chop onion, garlic and the apple into small pieces.
Heat a heavy based pan, add some olive oil. Then add garlic and onion and sauté until soft and translucent.
Add spices and fry off at a low heat for 1-2 min until fragrant. Add the apple pieces and the pumpkin pieces. Add the stock.
Bring to a lively simmer and cook for about 30min until the apple is soft. Let the soup cool somewhat, add the red wine vinegar and then blend until smooth.
Season to taste. Add more liquid if you find the consistency too thick.
What do you do when life throws you unexpected curve balls?
Do you go in to defense mode, get angry and start blaming yourself, and / or those around you?
Or do you recoil, and go into hiding out mode, become passive not knowing what to do?
Each life event, depending on what it is, will have us reacting in expected AND unexpected way. For some of them, we truly can have no idea how we will end up handling it until one day we are faced with it. Like loss and grief.
The month of October turned out to be one of a pivot point in my own life. One of breaking point, where I realised I had gotten the end of my level of toleranc. And the only way out was letting go and move forward into the unknown in whatever way that would look like, as long as it was different from my current reality. Because how things were was no longer working.
It had become evident that it was time to move and find another place to house myself and my dogs.
Considering I had lived the past 8 years in the same spot, this did feel like a pretty daunting move, and I have had a whole lot of “excuses” to why I couldn’t make it happen any sooner…
But when push came to shove, I let go. And I did something that is very hard for me to do, I asked for help. What happened felt like nothing short of amazing!
Through one of my close friends I managed to find a suitable place, just a few miles away (which made hauling my belongings so much easier!) So in just one week I had moved in to my new home.
I doubt that I will live here for the next 8 years, but it is perfect for now, and gives me a lot of space to get back to creative mode again. Now that the initial stress and overwhelm have passed, I am actually excited to see what this new chapter of my life will bring.
Change has not only just taken place in my own personal life…
You may also notice some minor changes to the blog?!
Like a NEW LOGO! And a new tagline. (This is the third tagline I have had since this website was birthed into life four years ago…)
Because, like I said, life is forever changing and evolving I felt it was time for a new logo, and tagline(!) to better reflect where I am at with my work and my message. So.This.Is.It.
I would love to know what you think of the new logo and tagline.
What does Wholehearted Living look like to you?
And when you hear Mindful Eating? What comes to mind?
To be honest, these past few weeks definitely put my intention of wholehearted living to the test. I realised why I have been working on myself over the year, reading umpteen self-help books, getting coaching, taking courses and training and gone to retreats. Because in the midst of it all, I realised that I have now lots of tools to draw upon, as well as kind supportive friends (thankfully) that is really beneficial when life takes unexpected turn like this. Which it inevitably will, it’s just part of being human and alive.
So, just a small glimpse of my life, and the reason for why it’s been a little quiet on the blog.
Now let’s get to the recipe!
This is actually one of those “deconstructed” type recipes, based on a really delicious recipe by Dale Pinnock aka The Medicinal Chef. His books and recipes are fab and well worth checking out.
In his version the sweet potato is mashed and added on top of the cooked spinach and chickpeas, and then the blue cheese added before it is all baked in the oven. It is such a comforting dish! Perfect for this time of the year.
Here I have pared it down in to a baked potato version and serving the chickpeas et.al. on top instead.
It had been a really long time since I had a baked potato, something that was really popular in Sweden when I grew up. But with ordinary white potatoes instead. It is really a simple dish, that you can whip up anytime. Just don’t start the project of cooking one when you are already approaching a ravenous state of hunger though… As you do need a good 45 min for it to cook in the oven.
If you are cooking for a crowd, just double the quantities accordingly.
Baked Sweet Potato with Mashed Chickpeas & Sundried Tomatoes
Serves 1 (double quantities as necessary)
1 decent size sweet potato, washed, leave peel on
½ tin of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
Approx. 7 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
A large handful (about ½ cup) fresh spinach leaves, if using large leaves roughly chop them
½ tsp of smoked paprika powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper
50g blue cheese of choice
Sea salt & Black pepper, to season
Heat the oven to 200˚C. Place your sweet potato(s) on a baking tray and put in the oven. Cook for approx. 45 min until it is soft right the way through.
To make the chickpea mash; Gently heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chickpeas, spices and seasoning. Cook on medium heat until heated through and then roughly mash the chickpeas with the back of a fork.
Add the spinach to the pan and cook for a few min until wilted down.
Take out your cooked sweet potato. Allow to cool slightly, make a cut through the middle and squeeze open. Then add the spinach-chickpea mix on top. Add some blue cheese or feta if you prefer to top it all off.
Serve and enjoy.
So here we go with another kale salad recipe! Told you that I had an abundance…
I’ve also been thinking about my recipes and how I would like to try to give you some various alternatives, where ever and whenever it is possible.
We talk about Intuitive Eating, but what about intuitive cooking?
Not all dishes lend themselves to mix and matching, or making substitutes. If you are baking, it is probably best to follow the recipe closely if you are looking for a predictable outcome. Though if you have a strong desire to experiment and not feeling to concerned about the outcome, go for it and do try all kinds of weird and wonderful ingredients and combinations.
Just be clear that you may not end up with something edible… But sometimes it’s more about the process than the outcome right?
When it comes to salads you are pretty safe experimenting away. Not too much can go haywire if you are using fresh, good quality ingredients to start with.
If you want to make a salad a decent meal, you have to (well you don’t have to, but I strongly recommend) that you follow the same plate concept as is recommended for balanced meals in general, if you want to make a salad that is a meal in itself and not just a simple side dish, that is.
The key, the secrete, whatever you want to call it, is to combine fat, protein with carbohydrates (which here will be mostly veg). If you leave out the fat and the protein from your salad and have just vegetables on their own, most likely you will end up not feeling full for very long, even though you may eat an actual large volume of food.
Each macro nutrient is digested differently, hence why this is.
From a mindful eating point of view, use your salad (or any meal for that matter) to explore how different foods effect your satiety and fullness. How long before you notice the need to eat again? There’s no right or wrong here, but it can be pretty useful information.
Anyway, let’s get to the recipe.
For potential substitutes for this particular salad:
Try different root veg like celeriac or maybe shredded purple cabbage.
Cannellini beans can be swapped for chickpeas or butter beans.
The walnuts can be swapped for toasted sunflower seeds or pecan nuts.
Kale Salad with Garlic-Tahini Dressing
6 large leaves of kale (any type of kale is fine), stems removed & finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely grated
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ cup cooked cannellini beans – swap for chickpeas or other beans if you wish
a handful of fresh walnuts, roughly chopped
3 tbsp tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of ½ lemon
2-3 tbsp cold water to thin the dressing
Sea salt & Black pepper, to season
Start by making the dressing by placing the tahini, minced garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. With a fork mix them all together until you have a thick paste. Then add a tbsp. of water one by one until you have your desired consistency. You want to end up with a creamy dressing so don’t go too heavy handed with the water. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Place the chopped kale in a large salad bowl, add the dressing and with your hands gently massage it in so that the leaves wilt / soften a little..
Add the shredded carrots, the sundried tomatoes and the beans. Toss together until everything is evenly coated with the dressing
Add the chopped walnuts for some extra crunch.
Serve as is, or with your choice of meat / fish / egg if that takes your fancy.
Looking for more kale salad ideas? Well I have a few oldies from the archives!
Kale Salad with orange-tahini dressing
Black quinoa & Kale salad with apples & toasted hazelnuts
Cavolo Nero Salad with a Mexican twist
And there are some kale in this green soup too…
This week’s recipe is inspiration taken from a meal I enjoyed at a friend’s house when I was in Sweden a few weeks ago.
I love when people cook for me, even though I love cooking and serving food for others too. The only downside is that many of my friends think I am a fussy eater, or strict with what I put into my mouth. To be honest, I’m neither. Though over the years my tastebuds have become a little fussier than what they used to be.
I love simple food made with really good quality ingredients. That’s pretty much it.
I also enjoy trying new foods and flavour combinations every once in a while. Actually… I probably (actually, not probably, I DO) spend a large chunk of my money on food. Like cool stuff, and rare things like romanesco, chicory lettuce and purple sweet potatoes… Or a better quality balsamic vinegar, that will make my simple salad dressings much more delicious!
The balsamic vinegar thing happened when one of my friends gave me a tasting tour of her selection, after I’d complained that I don’t really like vinegar that much. Admittedly after trying a few of the once she had to hand, I realised that what I don’t like so much is apple cider vinegar or plain normal white vinegar, but that I do like a good quality balsamic, it tastes totally different! Who knew?! So I went and bought myself one the other day. Just to set the record straight.
When I shot this recipe I used olive oil and pomegranate molasses + some lemon juice, however now armed with my new delicious balsamic purchase, I think using a good quality balsamic and equal quantities of olive oil will work perfectly here too. I found that the “proper” balsamic vinegar have a much rounder flavour and not that sharp “cut through” flavour like the cheaper stuff.
Pomegranate molasses have a tart flavour, and is not overly sweet.
With this salad I’ve gone for a combination of fruity, salty and tart. The fresh mint will give an additional freshness and you will experience a full range of textures too. From chewy to crunchy to soft.
Feel free to switch up the fruit or the grain if you can’t find any of the ingredients.
Black Rice & Stone Fruit Salad with Halloumi
½ cup black rice, rinsed
1 cup fresh water to cook rice in
1 block of halloumi, approx. 200g, thickly sliced and cut into smaller pieces
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
A handful of toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 fresh plums,de-stoned & cut into cubes
2-3 fresh apricots, de-stoned & cut into slivers
1 fresh nectarine or peach, de-stoned & cut into cubes
About 10 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Start by roasting the hazelnuts at 150˚C for about 15 min, until the skin begins to crack. Once your hazelnuts are golden and fragrant, remove from oven to cool slightly before rubbing the skins off with a clean tea towel. Set aside.
Measure out your rice, rinse and place it in a sauce pan. Add water and follow the cooking instructions on the package.
Once the rice is cooked, set aside to cool.
To make the dressing mix the oil, with the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses in a small bowl, or to save on dishes do it directly in the bowl you intend to serve your salad in.
Once the rice have cooled, add it to your intended serving bowl and mix with the dressing.
Heat a frying pan with a tbsp. of butter or olive oil. Fry off the halloumi until golden on both sides.
Assemble your black rice salad, by adding the fruit and the warm halloumi to the dressed up rice. Add the chopped mint leaves and the chopped hazelnuts.
** If you are serving less than four people, feel free to halve the quantities. The salad will keep for about three days in the fridge. **