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.
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…
I have this things for grocery shopping… And trying out new foods… And sometimes this “thing” turns out to be a rather indulgent AND expensive hobby.
I’m still not sure where this love of exploration comes from, though I keep blaming the year I spent living in the Australian bush, where much, the only escape route off the farm was the weekly trip to the supermarket. But that’s now over a decade I go, so it may not really cut it as a valid excuse anymore.
This is definitely where the love affair really took hold though and I’ve carried on with it ever since.
Maybe it is part of a food scarcity things, from that time too? Though at that time I wasn’t restricting what I was buying as I had very few other expenses than buying foods. My accommodation was included in my weekly pay and I didn’t own a car either (and boy does that save you money!). But the downside of not having a car was that I was always depending on others to take me to the shop, which was a good 45 min drive away.
These days things are a little different and, though I live in a rural part of the country I have a car, I am 10 min drive from a town with some very decent food shops, and I am about 30 min from the second largest city in Ireland. No risk of starving or going without. Yet I still get excited about grocery shopping!
The recipe I am sharing here is an inspiration from one of those explorative grocery shopping trips I did last year when I was over in Stockholm, visiting my friend Louise and going to a few different nutrition / foodie events.
When I was in this small delicatessen I saw this beautifully wrapped chocolate that also contained tahini. Got totally sucked in and just had to buy it! Truth be told, it was worth it for the beautiful packaging alone. Clever marketing there, that’s for sure.
Ever since then I have been thinking of trying to re-create something similar at home.
This is it!
I used this recipe as a base, and more or less swapped the peanut butter for tahini instead. If you are not a tahini fan like me, I think using hazelnut butter would make an amazing chocolate. It’s not one I have tried yet myself, but my imagination have no problem conjuring up what that kind of taste explosion that combination will provide. I mean who doesn’t like chocolate with hazelnuts???
Homemade chocolate is surprisingly easy to make, once you’ve invested in the ingredients. And since this type of eating have become a lot more common in the past few years, finding raw cacao and raw cacao butter isn’t impossible.
No, they are not the cheapest ingredients, but you will get a lot more cacao for your bucks than the typical “chocolate” you find sold everywhere.
In writing this post I am also realising that it is a privilege to be able to both have time, money and the opportunity to find these ingredients easy enough. And for that I am grateful.
Raw Chocolate with Tahini
Makes 12 large hearts
50g cacao butter
1 heaped tbsp tahini
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup – depending on desired sweetness (less works well in for this recipe)
½ tsp ground cinnamon – optional but delicious
Melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Once the cacao butter is fully melted add the tahini and stir well. Then add in the maple syrup, the raw cacao powder and the cinnamon, if using.
Stir for a minute or two until you have a really smooth cacao mix. Taste and add a little more maple syrup if you still think it is too bitter.
Remove the bowl from the stove and pour it into a silicon ice-cube tray. Transferring it to the fridge to set. After a few hours your chocolate will have set and you can pop it out of the ice-cube tray.
** If you don’t have an ice cube tray / chocolate moulds, you can pour it on to a small lined tray instead. **
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Your raw chocolate will keep for a few days in the fridge. Probably longer in the freezer.
If you do make these please let me know what you think, and if you’ve ended up making new creations and taste combinations from this basic recipe!
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…