As I am striving to simplify my life with less stuff, I also feel a draw to create recipes that reflects that. Amid the current hype of “50-fancy-ingredient-lattes”, what I want is something tasty and comforting made from just a few store cupboard ingredients.
Maybe it is my shift towards digging deeper into the social justice side of health, or it is a subconscious longing for my Swedish roots. Or maybe it is having a somewhat constrained food budget… I don’t know. What I do know is that there are some real delights to be had, by the skill of being able to turn just a few simple ingredients into something yummy, especially when the weather has you all down.
These cookies, or biscuits where something I made several times this past winter. It was like my body craved something energy dense in order to cope with the long cold wet days. But maybe it was just my tastebuds calling out for something with the combination of fat and sugar. Either way, these basic oat cookies hit the spot every time!
The initial obsession with this particular ingredient combination started off when I spotted a flapjack recipe on Instagram. Over the course of my trial and errors developing this recipe, I learned that the ratios of sugar/oats/butter/honey will affect the texture and quality of your end product. More butter – Less oats will give you a crispier kind of cookie. Increasing the ratio of oats and you’ll end up with more of a flapjack, chewy kind of bar.
To be honest, what I was aiming for was something like the Swedish oat cookies called ‘Havreflarn’, which is a crispy candied type of cookie. The thing is, the recipe for Havreflarn uses wheat flour also and I wanted to try and recreate something without it. You know how it goes though… Baking, apparently, is an exact science so if you go changing any one component, you most likely will not end up with what was the intended outcome of the original recipe. Never the less though, it can be equally tasty and satisfying! Which which I am, self proclaiming about this recipe experiment that I am sharing with you here.
So let’s get to it! This is NOT a dairy free, sugar free kind of cookie. This is an all in treat made with a few things you can buy in your corner shop, or small country village shop to whip up in no time when you need something to go with that comforting cup of tea / coffee / hot chocolate. Those days when we need something to light up a dreary cold day (and when you live in Ireland those are part of every season…)
Basic Oat Cookies
Makes about 12
75g butter ( I use salted)
45g dark muscovado sugar (but any type will do. I just like the flavour of muscovado sugar more)
50g porridge oats
25g oat flour (porridge oats milled in your blender)
1 tbsp milk of choice (dairy or non dairy is fine)
1 tbsp of runny honey (get the best quality you can find and afford)
1/4 tsp baking powder
This recipe is super handy because you can mix all the ingredient directly into the saucepan that you use to melt the butter. Less washing up that way!
Heat the oven to 185°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients and stir until you have an even mix of deliciously tasting butter, sugar, honey and oats. (Don’t eat it all this way though, I know it is tempting!)
Using two spoon, spoon a dollop of cookie mixture on to the lined baking sheet. If you want them a bit neater looking than mine then shape them up a bit. Leave some space between each dollop as you don’t want your cookies flowing into each other.
Bake for about 7 min until golden and a little brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on a rack before tucking in. They will firm up a little as they cool.
Store in an airtight container. Will probably keep for a few days. (Mine never lasts long enough to go off.)
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…
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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)
P.S I’ve invited Spring into my home. whilst waiting for it to take hold outside…
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.
Whilst I am chipping away at a non recipe blog post I thought I would share this seasonal favourite one of mine. It is funny because sometimes those types of posts almost writes themselves, and other times they require a bit more of an effort.
I picked up some really delicious Irish apples the other day when I was in Cork City. Ten apples for €2, so quiet a bargain. Which is so often the case when you buy locally grown or produced food that is in season.
To be honest, apples are not a fruit that I tend to include in my weekly shop on a regular basis. Bananas are my staple (not locally grown!), mostly because I love using them in smoothies. From there it can shift to whatever looks good and is reasonably priced.
Or if there’s something that looks interesting and that I haven’t tries before. Like green plums (seriously good), or kumquats, or just good old raspberries… You get the idea.
Fresh slices of apple with some nut butter is a “classic” snack in nutrition circles. It’s easy, portable and give you that balanced combination of carbohydrates with fat and protein, that will prevent your blood sugar from spiking too much.
But with the change of seasons, baking them whole in the oven is much more satisfying to me. And I suppose it I also means I am admitting that we have now left Summer behind, to get ready for wet and windy days, woolly jumpers, cozy hats, warm fires, darker evenings as well as beautiful clear skies with all the colourful glory that the autumn leaves brings.
Do I feel ready for this kind of transition? I don’t know… Are we every truly ready for any change in our lives, consciously chosen or not?
Yet it is the one certainty that we have.
And need to learn to live with.
The constant of change.
I began making baked apples like this about two years ago and since then this recipe have become an autumnal ritual of sorts. It is a lot less effort than you may think and only requires a few basic ingredients.
I tend to use eating apples rather than cooking apples for this.
Baked Apple with Spiced Nutbutter & Dark Chocolate
Recipe is based on one apple per person so double ingredients per amount of apples required.
1 crispy type of apple
20g good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tbsp nut butter, (hazelnut would be me personal preference)
½ tsp mixed spice or pumpkin spice
Good quality ice cream, dairy free alternative or crème fraiché, to serve
Heat your oven to 180˚C. Cut the top off and then core the apple. If you have one of those tools to core an apple, lucky you! It will make it much easier. If you don’t use a small knife to cut around the core and then remove it.
Place your apple(s) on a lined baking tray. In a small bowl mix nut butter and spices together until you have an evenly paste.
Stuff the core of the apple(s) with alternate teaspoons of nut butter and chocolate until it’s full. Place the top back on.
Bake the apple(s) for about 30 min until the skin is soft and cracks and the flesh is fairly soft.
Serve warm with your choice of ice cream / cream / dairy free alternative.
** Some interesting alternatives for stuffing would be to use some butter instead of the nut butter (if you can tolerate dairy). Or some almond paste. You could make your own by blending ground almond with some maple syrup.
If you don’t have mixed spice, using ground cinnamon and / or cardamom would be delicious too!
Oh and I recently spotted this baked apple recipe over on Green Kitchen Stories. That looks pretty rad too.
And if you want to make your own nut butter go here.
Let’s continue with the theme of sweetness. And summer.
After about 10 days spent with my family in Sweden, where it wasn’t up the usual July temperatures, I subsequently returned to an Ireland which kind of is.
So that inspired me to share this recipe I created a few years ago for a guest posting on someone else’s site, and since I’ve been a little short on time, plus the fact that there are some internal work currently being done to the house I live in (think dust, shambles and loud drilling noises) then coming up with something totally fresh and new felt too challenging.
Here we are with an oldie, but a goodie. Perfect for summer.
In these days of everyone going gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, vegan or paleo it can become a minefield to find something to eat, or serve, which is still tasty, nourishing and made from simple wholefood ingredients.
Personally I don’t believe that adhering to any of the dietary requirements above should mean restrictive and boring. (Nor does it mean that we should attach any other emotional connotations to it either, but that’s a different conversation.)
Rather the opposite in fact. If you have to adhere to any food restrictions for health reasons they can in fact serve as a gateway into a more simplistic, holistic and diverse way of eating.
The question I constantly ask myself is “When did it become so complicated to choose what to eat?”
In the end of the day no matter what latest nutritional trend you follow, doesn’t it just come down to the quality of the food in the end? How it has been grown and produced – with care. How it’s been prepared – with love. And how it’s being served and eaten- with joy!
I don’t follow any particular dietary trend and eat most things which will make me feel good and do something good for my health. And if you’re going to cut something out of your diet for good, cut out the guilt.
Michael Pollan, author of several books on food and the history of cooking, eating, agriculture etc. have the best advice I know, which is really straightforward.
Eat (REAL) food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
You simply can’t go wrong with that…
Now let’s move on to the recipe.
This is a simple, yet decadent summer dessert which should please the majority of your guests regardless of what they call themselves. what they can or cannot eat.
Coconut Panacotta with Raw Raspberry Chia Jam
Serves 2-4 depending on the sizes of the serving glasses you use
1 can of coconut milk – Preferably organic and additive free
1 ½ tbsp. raw honey – use maple syrup if vegan
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or vanilla powder
Zest of one organic lemon
2g agar-agar powder – available in healthfood shops
Raspberry Chia Jam:
125 g fresh raspberries, washed & drained
Juice of ½ lemon – optional. Lime would be lovely too
1 tbsp of chia seeds
Place coconut milk, vanilla bean paste, honey, lemon zest and agar-agar powder in a small sauce pan. Bring it to a boil while constantly stirring to make sure the honey dissolves and prevent the agar-agar flakes from sticking to the bottom. Once the coconut milk mix reaches boiling point boil for one min, then remove from to heat and allow to cool. Once the coconut milk has cooled to finger temperature pour it into small serving glasses and allow to set in the fridge.
To make the chia jam; place your berries in a food processor / blender. Squeeze the lemon juice straight into the bowl of your food processor / blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer the blended berries to a container. Add in the chia seeds and stir until well combined. Let the chia jam sit for an hour or two to allow the seeds to gel. Stir a few times.
Add the jam on top of your set coconut panacotta to be served straight out of the glasses it’s set in. Garnish with a sprig of mint or some shaved dark chocolate.
Note* I did not add any sweetener to the chia jam. You can of course do so if you want it less tart.