I often think about this relentless striving to be more, do more and to continue to better ourselves. The beginning of each year is a time when this message becomes excessively loud. The “how to” of creating a “new you” is E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.
Of course I believe in self development and growth, because that forms part of the work I do in my clinical practice, yet this message of striving to become a new version of ourselves feels like it carries an undertone of unworthiness to me. Why else would we want to be a NEW version of ourselves? Are we trying to eradicate the very truth that we are actually worthy human beings just by being here?
One of my ambitions last year was to attend a 9 day Vipassana retreat, which I was very blessed to actually achieve. I have done a couple of shorter silent meditation retreats in the past, so this time I had a fair idea of what to expect. What I didn’t expect though was the intense tiredness I felt for the first few days. Every spare moment, in between the formal sittings, I took naps. I meditated, ate and rested. It took a few days before I actually had enough energy and desire to go for some longer walks. My body was tired because my mind was so full and had been so overstimulated. The thing is, it is only in this intentional stillness that I can really notice how much my mind is racing.
Though I don’t consider myself someone who is extreme, doing something as radical as spending time in silence and meditating for hours over the course of a week has been one of the best forms of resting and recovering for me. I know this is not for everyone and you have to find what works for you, of course. Going on retreat where the outside stimuli is virtual nil has been the only way for me to completely let go. It’s not easy, but it has been possible, and so rewarding.
With this experience freshly in my mind one of my intentions for 2019 is definitely to let go more, to be more present and to allow my life to unfold more than me constantly pushing and striving. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have ambitions for things I’d like to happen, places I’d like to see and conversations I want to have, it just means that I am more open than attached to outcome. Basically I am taking more of a curious approach this year. Let’s see what will happen!
Before I move on to sharing my first recipe of this year, a green smoothie with some seasonal ingredients, I want to circle back to the self development topic. If we stop striving for being some different version of ourselves then what? Should we just give up on the self development project altogether?
I like to think about self development work more like a homecoming. A way to really get to know ourselves and to develop the skills, resilience and courage to live our lives on our own terms. To be able to be more of whom we are, rather than what society think we should be. So any tools and practices that helps us returning home to ourselves, to peel of all the layers of expectations and external driven motivations get my vote.
If you want to spend this year getting curious about your strengths and weaknesses, about what makes you tick and about what brings you joy, just know that I will be here cheering you on all the way. Just know that regardless of what you do, or don’t do, you are still enough and worthy just by being you.
So now to this recipe. Yeah, posting a green smoothie recipe in January does feel a little like playing into the hands of Diet Culture, but I also know that my body craves fresh foods and greens after all the holiday foods. However, when we’ve given ourselves full permission to enjoy all foods and eat (at least mostly) from a place of attunement, having a green smoothie doesn’t HAVE to mean that we are jumping on the diet bandwagon.
I have to admit that cold smoothies in cold weather is not my usual go to either, but this seasonal combination is so delicious and having a smoothie is a quick and easy way to consume something green, when you are craving it!
Apple & Kale Green Smoothie (For The Winter Season)
1 small apple, core removed & roughly chopped into chunks
1 small banana or 2 Medjool dates
A few leaves of green kale, stems removed & roughly chopped – I used cavolo nero here.
1 tbsp protein powder of choice – I tend to use an unflavoured pea protein – optional
100 ml full fat coconut milk
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
150 ml soy milk or other plant milk of choice
Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. If you are using dates, don’t forget to remove the stones!
I personally like my smoothies at room temperature, but if you like them colder you can either use frozen banana slices in place of the fresh banana or ad some ice. Just make sure your blender can handle it. Enjoy!
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 weekend I finally feel like I’ve hit those Autumn vibes in my kitchen. After a massive haul of fresh groceries, since my fridge was literally empty on fresh food and 2 hours of cleaning out my pantries I think I feel ready to move into the last quarter of this year. And to get cosy with woolly jumpers, fires and some hot chocolate. It’s time to pull out the soup pot and get ready for stews and soups. But before we arrive there, I thought I’d share with you this spicy creation, kind of like a bridge connecting the late summer / early Autumn with the slow arrival of shorter colder days.
I mean, of course you can still have salads in the Autumn / Winter. It doesn’t have to be all about cooked comfort foods. What I’ve come to do is this; to stick with the seasonal greens for salads. In doing so it feels natural to have salads to ensure that you still get some greens into you. Which can easily become a bit more of a struggle come winter time.
Cavolo Nero or sometimes called Black Kale or Dinosaur Kale (due to it’s appearance) is a variety of kale that’s also pretty easy to grow yourself. Last year I did so successfully and the plants kept on giving way into the late Autumn. I love how kale just keeps growing up and sprouting out new leaves for one to cut and enjoy. It’s such a generous plant!
However this year the lovely caterpillars got stuck into it early on and I got completely outnumbered… So this year I’d have had to go and buy some instead.
This type of kale has the same amazing benefits as your regular curly kale, which contains vitamin K and C (antioxidants) as well as being a great source of easily absorbed iron and calcium. It is also a great source of chlorophyll, which is essentially the compound which plants use to absorb the light from the sun and turn it into a source of energy via photosynthesis. This is how the plants store the sunlight and make it available for us humans, through when we are eating the plant itself.
Chlorophyll has great healing properties such as wound healing and support the body’s detoxification processes. It is possible to buy liquid chlorophyll that can be added to drinking water. It is not something I have ever tried myself though.
Another thing to note is that when cooking kale, don’t over do it or you’ll lose out on the vital nutrients. A good guideline is to just cook until the colour “pops” and you have a really bright green. That will take just minutes (if even) when steaming.
The other way to make sure you get the most out of this nutritional powerhouse is to massage it in an olive oil / citrus dressing. Most of the time I use lemon juice, but for this one I went with lime for a more Mexican inspired twist.
This is a raw-cooked kind of salad with the spicy roasted chickpeas being served warm and the kale raw. You can slow roast the tomatoes too if you like for more warmth as well as a deeper tomato flavour. As soon as the weather gets cold I personally need to pair my cold food with something warm, even if it just a cup of tea!
If you eat meat, I think this salad combination will work well with chicken.
Cavolo Nero Salad with A Mexican Twist
6-7 leaves of cavolo nero
1 large avocado or 2 small ones
1 cherry tomatoes
juice + zest of 1 lime
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp good quality maple syrup
sea salt & black pepper to season
FOR THE ROASTED CHICKPEAS
1 tin of chickpeas in water, drained & rinsed or 1 1/2 cup cooked from dried
1/4 tsp chipotle or cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of sea salt
Start by roasting the chickpeas; Preheat the oven to 175°C. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In a small bowl mix the olive oil with the spices and a pinch of salt. Add the chickpeas to the oil-spice mix and toss until well coated.
Place the chickpeas on a lined baking tray and cook for 30 min, until crisp. (Whatever you don’t end up using, can be stored in an airtight container and enjoyed as a snack on their own.)
To make the salad; Cut the stems from the kale and then chop it into bits. Mix olive oil, lime juice, lime zest and maple syrup together in a small bowl. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Add the dressing to the chopped kale and gently ‘massage’ it into the leaves with your hands.
Cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Scoop the flesh out and cut into cubes. Halve the tomatoes.
Place kale, avocado, tomatoes and roasted chickpeas into a bowl and serve.
What is your favourite Autumn / Winter salad combination? Please share below 🙂
Time to get back to winter greens. No need to skimp on the raw stuff just because the weather has gotten a little cooler eh? This recipe is one I made for Chelsea – Aka The Naked Fig, back in the Spring as part of our guest blogging swap. As it turned out to be a big hit with her readers, I have decided to feature it here too. It feels like the perfect fit now when all the ingredients are back in season again.
There’s another couple of reasons as why I have decided to post this recipe now. One, as mentioned above – It’s seasonal. Two – I’m currently juggling lots of things (what’s new??) and a little stuck for time to shoot a new recipe… Three – This was one of the featured recipes for the cooking demos I did last weekend. The theme was local, seasonal and autumn /winter (Ok, so Quinoa isn’t exactly local… ). It looked like people enjoyed it! So I hope you will too. And if you were actually at one of the demos, then here’s the recipe.
Personally I love these kinds of salads as the are more of “assembling a meal” so saves on time spent cooking. If you have the quinoa already cooked you are saving even more time. This salad is almost nicer the day after. Perfect for a left-over lunch option. Win-win.
Kale is the perfect winter green and I am delighted it is back in season again. They grow happily this time of the year. Over the past couple of years my cooking has evolved and become more and more adapted to the seasons. Perhaps it has become a little more adventurous too, yet at the same time the way I cook now is a lot cleaner and simpler.
You see, as your start introducing more vegetables and fresh food into your diet, your taste buds gradually change. As you start eating with more awareness and purpose, you’ll find yourself discover new tastes and flavours, and after awhile you will probably find that not just any old vegetable will do. They have to be fresh, colourful & vibrant too.
As we slowly transition from autumn into winter. From raw food to cooked food. From salads to soups and stews. It is nice to still keep some raw foods on the weekly menu. Raw food are food which has not been heated over 46 C. Some nutrients can easily be destroyed by cooking and beneficial enzymes are still retained when we eat foods in its natural state. Some people thrive well on a fully raw diet. Personally I find it hard to eat too much raw, cold food when the weather is cold but including a salad like this as a side to say a piece of pan fried fish or indeed adding the quinoa when still warm does the trick.
Apples are at peak season so you should easily be able to get some locally grown. Adding apples to a salad adds a sweet crunch and they work well with the pomegranates and hazelnuts. To me this is how you construct a “Super Salad”. Some greens, some cooked grains, some raw fruit or other veggies and some healthy fats to balance both flavours and blood sugar. You’ll get the fats here from both the olive oil in the dressing and from the nuts. Protein comes in form of the quinoa as well as the hazelnuts so by the time you have assembled the whole thing you will have a light, yet filling meal to satisfy vegetarians and meat eaters a like. I hope you will like it as much as the people who tried it at last weekend’s cooking demos did 🙂
Black Quinoa Salad with Kale, Apple, Hazelnuts & Pomegranate
Serves 2 hungry people
4 cups curly kale, washed, stems removed & finely chopped
1 cup black quinoa, rinsed – If you can’t find black quinoa, red or white will work fine too.
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
2 small apples, finely sliced – preferably organic. Use a crunchy sort which will give the bet texture and flavour.
½ cup raw hazelnuts
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of sea salt, to season
Heat your oven to 200°C. To toast the hazelnuts, place them on a baking tray. Then toast in the oven for about 10 min. Keep an eye on them, they burn easily. Once you see the skin beginning to crack, remove from the oven. Allow to cool a little before giving them a gentle rub to remove the skins. Chop roughly and set aside.
To cook the quinoa; rinse it well to remove the bitter outer coating. Place it in a saucepan with the cold water and a tight fitting lid. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to very low and cook covered for 12 minutes, until the grain is tender. Turn off the heat, but leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes. Set aside to cool down
In a salad bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt. I love using Himalayan Pink Salt as it has great taste. Whisk until combined then add in your chopped kale. Massage the dressing in to the kale gently with your hands. Add in the cooked quinoa and pomegranate seeds. Mix until well combined. Add the sliced apples and hazelnuts, just before serving. Give the whole thing a gentle toss. Tuck in! It will taste even better the following day.
Photos of me cooking at Burren Food Fayre in Lisdoonvarna kindly taken by Finghin Kiernan.