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.
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. **
This week I will be sharing a salad recipe that kind of feels like a seasonal transition from Winter to Spring / Summer.
It is a salad recipe, and it is a raw food dish. But, it made from what I would consider Winter vegetables. Root veg and purple (red) cabbage is more the types of veg that appears in my pantry and fridge during the colder months.
Though since they are still around, I thought I would share this recipe that I also shared as my guest contribution over on The Honest Project awhile back.
And in the name of honesty, I will admit that I am also low on some freshly styled recipes. Not short of ideas though so hopefully next week I will have some time to get back playing in the kitchen!
I can’t wait, especially since I recently purchased an extension arm for my tripod so that I can start creating some recipe videos and flatlays. It may save me from standing on the counter top all the time…
The past month have been pretty intense with finishing up a new video series on Food, Mood & Mindful Eating that I am hoping to share with you all really soon + both doing some personal inner work participating in Whole Detox (Come join us for the October one!)
As well as finishing up my latest professional development training in Mindful Eating. And that one has been really enriching too taking my previous skills to a new level. I am so looking forward to integrate it all in the coming weeks and months and to share it with you all!
But now, let’s have fun with this colourful recipe 🙂
This recipe is my spin on variations that I’ve seen around over the years. I feel like this recipe reflects my cooking style (and maybe even my personality to a certain degree), as it is colourful, straightforward and rooted. Like a rainbow.
This slaw is a great Winter salad, (or for this time of year also called the “hungry gap”) when getting fresh green leaves can be challenging, simply because they are not in season.
Rainbow Slaw with Mustard Dressing
¼ head of celeriac, peeled and finely shredded ¼ head of red cabbage, finely shredded (I tend to use a mandolin for this)
2-3 medium sized carrots, peeled and finely shredded (if you can get carrots of different colours even better!)
A handful of pomegranate seeds
For the dressing:
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tsp clear honey, local if possible
Sea salt & black pepper to season
Start by washing, peeling and shredding all your vegetables. Then set aside.
In a large bowl, this could be the serving bowl, add all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk until smooth.
Taste and adjust to your preference. A little bit more sweetness? Need more lemon? Use your own tastebuds to guide you.
Add the shredded vegetable to the bowl with the dressing. Gently toss until the dressing and vegetables are intermingling nicely.
Add the pomegranate seeds before serving. The salad will keep for a few days in the fridge, covered.
This week’s recipe is actually part of what we enjoyed at our Christmas gathering when I was back home in Sweden with my family. So I let the sweet and swift memories of the end of 2016 take us in to 2017…
Last year this was my first blog post of the year. Let’s see if I can keep up my devotion to consistency a little bit better this year.
My mother is one, of several people, who’s been a great influence on my interest in nutrition. And with her I suppose it been one right from the beginning, since she became a health conscious vegetarian back in the 70s, long before I was even born…
It’s not all that often that I have the pleasure of hanging out with my mum, but when we do I really appreciate doing so just enjoying everyday stuff. Like grocery shopping, and cooking.
We are quite similar in the way we eat, and both enjoy shopping and make an impromptu plan depending on what we find.
When we decided on this dish, it was out of a desire to keep it simple, colourful and varied. Plus we wanted a couple of side dishes that were vegetables to balance out the usual meat heavy offerings that is typical of a Swedish Christmas dinner!
Root veg are readily available most of the year these days, but they do belong more to autumn / winter seasons since they are ready to eat in the autumn and then store really well for the winter months. I don’t know about you, but for me it feels so comforting and grounding to be eating starchy cooked root vegetables this time of the year when its dark and cold. It’s like our bodies naturally knows that we need more density this time of the year to keep us warm.
I can guarantee that you won’t see me chomping down a raw salad this time of year, unless its served as a side dish to something cooked… I do have the occasional smoothies this time of year, but only if I craves something super fresh, it’s above 10˚C, its served at room temperature AND with a cup of herbal tea on the side…!
I’ve included a good few different kinds of root vegetables here. You can choose some of them only, and then you may need a few more, or if you live somewhere where some of these are less available but have other tubers, then go with that!
Medley of Roasted Root Vegetables
1 sweet potato, washed & cubed (keep peel on)
2 carrots, washed, peeled & chopped
½ celeriac root, peeled & chopped
1 large or 2 small parsnips, peeled & chopped
2 medium sized beetroot, peeled & chopped
1 red onion, peeled & sliced
Garlic cloves from one head of garlic
A few sprigs of rosemary & thyme, use 1 tsp dried herbs if you don’t have fresh ones
A few tblsp olive oil
Sea salt & Black pepper to season
Pre heat the oven to 180˚C. Peel all the veg except for the sweet potato. Then chop them into cubes. The trick is to try to keep them roughly the same size to ensure even cooking time.
Peel the onion, cut in half and then slice lengthways so that you have half moon-type slices.
Add all the vegetables, red onion slices and cloves of garlic (with skin on) to a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, add the fresh herbs and season with sea salt and black pepper. Then use your hands, or a spatula to toss the veg so that they are evenly coated in oil and season.
Bake in oven for about 45 min or until slightly crisp around edges and soft in the middle.
Serve as a side to your choice of meat or pulses. I often enjoy roast veg with some baked fish or as here served with some cooked beluga lentils, some toasted hazelnuts and some Danish blue cheese.
A big thanks to my dear friend Jen who came over to enjoy this for lunch and got the job of hand modelling also!
P.S Don’t forget to remove the skin from the garlic cloves before eating…
Are you a lover or hater of these small green “mini cabbages”? I have to admit that it’s been a gradual process for me… But when I discovered some years ago an incredibly simple way to eat them, I became a convert. And as I am typing this, it reminds me of how many different foods and new additions I have made to my eating repertoire over the past few years. And since the message that keeps coming up again and again when it comes to food and health is variety, it is important that we check out some new (or at least new to us) foods. It’s just way too easy to get stuck in food ruts!
I often tell my clients who are resistant to trying new foods and flavours that it takes about 6-8 times before our tastebuds have adapted and changed. So when you are trying something new it’s important to: A. Start the process with an open mind and B. Think of your tastebuds like a muscle that needs a work out.
And don’t just get stuck on trying one way to have a food either. These days with the internet all you have to do is Google the food or ingredient you want to test out and you’ll have hundred of ideas and recipes to try out. To be honest that’s often how I find ways to try out a new and exciting food I’ve come across.
Since I’m more or less to confessing many (all??) my inspiration secrets, I’ll let you in on another one. Instagram! Since joining the social media platform a few years ago, it has given me endless inspiration, especially when it comes to being on the lookout for new foods as well as becoming more aware of eating seasonally. Suppose it only goes to show the power of the influence of social media, right?
This salad has been on my mind for sometime and finally I managed to bring all the ingredients together at the same time and give it a go. We’ve been blessed in my house with endless gifts of apples and this salad is one of several ways I’ve been using them up.
When I bought the Brussels sprouts I actually bought them on the stem. Every Saturday morning there’s two “young fellas” selling fresh vegetables by the roadside near where I work, and the other week when I drove past I spotted, out of the corner of my eye, these sprouts on the stem. As the food nerd I am, I actually stopped my car, turned around and went back to buy some. At €2 for the whole stem it was quiet the steal. Gotta’ love the entrepreneurial youth in the Irish countryside. Win-win.
A Festive Winter Salad
Approx. 10 Brussels Sprouts – peeled and halved
Approx. 10 chestnuts
1 medium sized apple – thinly sliced
Seeds from ¼ pomegranate
Juice of ½ lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & Black pepper to season
Pre heat the oven to 180˚C. Cut a slit or a cross on the pointy end of the chestnuts. Make sure to do all of them, just to make sure you won’t end up with any accidental explosions…
Place the chestnuts on an oven tray and bake for 35 min. Set aside to cool a little before you peel off the inner and other skin. Then chop the peeled chestnuts roughly.
**This is the easiest way I have found to remove the seeds from pomegranates, without splashing myself and the entire kitchen in the process… Cut the fruit in half and then into quarters. Gently break the quarter pieces apart and peel out the seeds. Place all the seeds in a glass jar and store in the fridge.
Peel off any outside leaves that are discoloured and halve the sprouts.
Heat a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan. The trick here (as taught by my chef friend) is to heat the pan first, then when the pan is hot add the oil and quickly add the sprouts. Give them a quick stirfry and as soon as they are have gone a little golden on the cut side and the green colour has intensified, remove from the heat.
Place the warm Brussels sprout in a large bowl, squeeze some lemon juice on top, season with sea salt and black pepper and then add the chopped chestnuts, sliced apple and pomegranate seeds.
Serve the salad warm.
** Side note, if you can’t get chestnuts you can serve it with walnuts or toasted hazelnuts instead.