I know, I know it might not feel all that much like summer at the moment… It has been a temperamental one here this year, that’s for sure. But before the strawberry season is well and truly over, I thought I’d share this next salad recipe as part of my Summer Salad Series.
If you went ahead and bought some buckwheat to try out the raw buckwheat porridge, I’m giving you another opportunity to use them up here!
This recipe is an infusion of ideas from two of my favourite food bloggers and cookbook writers. I used the buckwheat tabbouleh recipe from Emma Galloway’s fab book and fused it with the idea of adding fresh strawberries from Sprouted Kitchen’s book which I bought some time ago.
If you pre-cook the buckwheat you can whip this salad up in no time. Of course if you are not a major fan of buckwheat you can substitute with another grain of choice. In traditional tabbouleh bulgur wheat is used. Bulgur is made cracked whole wheat and hence not gluten free.
Tabbouleh is such a great dish for increasing the intake of fresh herbs. The key to a good tabbouleh is to use plenty of fresh flavoursome herbs. Ideally you want to keep the ratio of herbs to grain 1:1. So basically you end up with a very green, herb-y salad.
Fresh herbs like coriander, parsley and mint offers an excellent way to naturally support digestion and elimination as they offer a good source of natural enzymes and are also very cleansing to the body.
If you don’t have strawberries to hand, you can simply leave them out. Or why not try replacing them with another type of berry? Perhaps red currants for a tangy experience or maybe blueberries to add another colour dimension!
I’ve used pomegranate molasses here, as to be true to Emma’s original dressing but you can swap it for maple syrup if you wish. It will make you dressing a little sweeter though.
Recipe inspired by My Darling Lemon Thyme & Sprouted Kitchen
Buckwheat Tabbouleh with Strawberries
1/2 cup raw hulled buckwheat groats
About 10 strawberries, washed, hulled & halved
A bunch of fresh coriander
A bunch of fresh parsley
A bunch of fresh mint – use less mint than the rest of the other herbs if you are using a particular strong variety
1/2 cucumber, washed & diced
10 yellow or red cherry tomatoes
3 spring onions, finely chopped
For the dressing:
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses ( or sub for maple syrup)
Sea salt & Black pepper, to season
Handful of pecan nuts, roughly chopped
Start by cooking the buckwheat groats. Bring 250 ml water with a pinch of salt to the boil. When the water is boiling add your rinsed buckwheat groats. Cover the saucepan with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 min until all the water is absorbed and the grains are cooked through. Set aside to cool completely.
Tip- The buckwheat groat will appear a little transparent once cooked through. They should still hold their shape though.
Finely chop the herbs and set aside.
Make the dressing by mixing all olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses in a small bowl. Taste and season accordingly.
Once the buckwheat is completely cold, mix in the dressing and then add the rest of the ingredients. Gently give the whole salad a toss. Scatter the chopped pecan nuts over and serve.
You can serve the salad as it is on it’s own or as a side to a summery garden party. (If the weather permits!)
Last summer this was by far my favourite breakfast. And as temperatures are improving, it’s back on the reperoire. It’s really simple to make (always a plus) and you can add what ever kind of berries you like or have to hand. It’s also makes nice gluten free breakfast option, if you feel you need a break from smoothies or perhaps your usual egg based breakfasts.
It was this post from the amazingly talented Sarah B which got me truly hooked on this raw summer breakfast last year. Until then I had tried some another variations, but wasn’t all that fussed. Let’s say it just didn’t rival my standard bowl of porridge or my love of muesli…
What truly makes the difference here is the the banana. Not only for taste, but truly for texture! Buckwheat has a strong flavour and it also tends to have a very gritty texture if blended on its own. Adding the banana truly was the game changer!
So what’s the deal with these tiny little tetra grains? What’s to gain by introducing buckwheat into you life?
Despite its very confusing name, it is actually a seed and not related to the cereal grain wheat at all. This is what it looks like as a flower. The grains you see above are the seeds from the flower. Buckwheat is a native plant to Central Asia. Though its use is becoming more common in these parts of the world, you will find it used in traditional dishes in countries such as Russia and Poland. And the flour is used to make in crêpes in France and to make soba noodles in Japan. (Note here: if you want to use soba noodles and need them to be truly gluten free, read the labels carefully of any brand you buy as some of them also have wheat flour added)
The seed itself is high in the phytonutrient flavonoid compounds quercetin and rutin which are two powerful antioxidants which has been shown in some studies to have a positive effect on relieving the symptoms of hayfever and asthma.
Turns out buckwheat is also a very good source of magnesium which is an important mineral for cell energy production and often an electrolyte which can be deficient through sweating (hello hot summer weather!). Muscle cramps are a fairly reliable symptom of magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is also an important mineral to protect our heart (which is a large muscle). Stress and high refined sugar intake can easily deplete our stores, so it’s important to make sure you get enough of it through your diet. Other great sources of magnesium is kelp (seaweed) almonds, cashews and leafy greens like parsley.
Adding more wholefoods to your overall diet can only mean overall improvements to your health and wellbeing. It’s all to easy to get stuck in a food rut so by increasing the variety of food you eat mean that not only do you have a greater chance of getting all your nutritional needs covered through your diet, it also gives you an opportunity to become more creative with your cooking (and eating) which in turn it may even help you become more expansive in your thinking! And who knows where all that creativity and expansion may lead?!
Variety truly is the spice of life!
Raw Buckwheat Porridge
1 cup raw buckwheat groats, soaked overnight
1 ripe banana, fresh or frozen
3 tbsp full fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp ground cardamom – optional, but really nice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract – optional
Fresh berries of choice – I used blueberries and cherries here but strawberries, raspberries or any type of currants would be delicious too.
A sprinkle of bee pollen or cocoa nibs or hemp seeds for an added super boost – optional
Soak the buckwheat groats in water overnight with a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. This will make them nice and soft for blending and starting the sprouting process, making the easier to digest. Drain your soaking water and then rinse of the goey stuff (which is completely normal) well before your place the groats in your blender together with the banana, coconut milk and spices.
Blend for about 30s until you have a lovely creamy “porridge”. Serve immediately in bowls with your choice of toppings.
Note: If you want a really cold porridge use a sliced, frozen banana. I normally have mine at room temperature with a fresh one though. But either way, the banana will make a huge difference to the consistency so I wouldn’t leave it out.
Looking for some more buckwheat recipes? Here is a cooked breakfast option. And here is some crêpes. Oh and a delicious smoothie from Cashew Kitchen!
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.
Have you ever tried raw chocolate or even better still, tried to make our own? It isn’t half as difficult as you may think.
I can still remember a few years ago when I ordered my first ever bag of raw cacao powder from the internet. I was soooo excited! Because I have a seriously sweet tooth and I love chocolate. I couldn’t wait to open the bag and taste this amazing, super nutritious stuff.
And then… Disappointment. It was so bitter. Of course it was. It was raw cacao powder, on its own. Not paired up with a whole load of sugar, cacao butter and other stuff. I don’t really know what I was expecting. Seriously. It kind of shows how hardwired our taste expectations are too, doesn’t it? Have you ever had a similar experience? Our taste buds seems to so be closely connected to our sense of smell, and any previous taste experiences are safely stored for future reference in out memory.
Perhaps this was once a form of protection, essential to survival? I do remember reading somewhere that taste is strongly linked to an innate recognition of the safety of eating plants growing wild in nature. If something doesn’t taste pleasant we are less likely to swallow it. We are much more likely to spit it out instead. Which comes in very handy if the food is actually a poisonous one!
I often hear people say “I don’t like this”. ” I don’t like that, it’s too bitter (or not sweet enough!)”. The thing is, our taste buds are a bit like the rest of our body, they can change and develop with practice. There’s lots of foods I didn’t like a few years ago but which are now clear favourites. Things like ginger, beetroot and tahini where not exactly love at first sight for me. Instead the flavor-relationship with these foods have gradually evolved and deepened over time. You really need to persist and keep trying things for a good few times before you completely dismiss a new food. Practice. Patience. Persistence. Like with so many other things in life.
This recipe is a creation I came up with after a little conversation and inspiration on Instagram. I have experimented with raw chocolate for a few months and some experiments has been less than successful. Others a little better. I came across the stunning feed of Ditte Ingemann (@ditsen) and she has by far one of my favourite Instagram accounts. She also has a lovely website, in Danish. Anyway, one day Ditte posted this gorgeous picture of some raw chocolate which she had adapted from another recipe. She kindly gave me the bones of the recipe and her ingredients and I took it from there, using what I happened to have to hand.
If you are trying to cut down on sugar but not on flavour, then this chocolate might be for you. I have found maple syrup to work best when you make raw chocolate like this. It gives the cacao a lovely sweetness without being overpowering and integrates quiet easily with the fats. The ingredients for making raw chocolate at home, may not be the cheapest but on the upside, you’ll get something that is so jam-packed with flavour that a little goes a long way really.
We are using a combination of coconut oil and cacao butter here. This will give you a less snappy chocolate than if you are using cacao butter alone. For a cheaper alternative you can of course use coconut oil on its own. However you will end up with a very soft end product and since it will melt rather fast you will need to store it in the freezer rather than the fridge. This chocolate will be way too soft if you leave the it hanging around for too long at room temperature. Somehow, I doubt this will be a problem though…
Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Chocolate
Makes about 30 squares
50g cacao butter
2 heaped tbsp coconut oil – raw & cold pressed
1 heaped tbsp crunchy peanut butter – swap for any other nut butter if you want
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup – depending on desired sweetness
A tiny pinch of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
Melt the coconut oil, peanut butter and cacao butter in a bowl over a pan hot water. Once the fats are fully melted and liquid add in the maple syrup and the raw cacao powder. 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. Add in the pinch of salt. Remove the bowl from the stove and pour it all on to a tray lined with parchment paper. Let the mix cool slightly before transferring it to the fridge to set. After a few hours take the tray out and cut your chocolate into small-ish squares.
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.
*NB. This chocolate has a very short list of ingredients. Check how many your usual bar has next time you are temped to buy one…
P.S Our firs Blogiversary is coming up next month so there is sure to be more chocolate involved then 🙂 Oh and there will be a great give away too!! I can’t wait to celebrate with you all.
Before the summer is well and truly over, I would like to share this colourful raw salad with you. I’d love if I could literally share it with you, but if not I’ll give you the recipe at least, so you can easily throw it together at home! Beetroot and carrots are in prime season and if you are one of those GIY people who I admire, chances are you can pull most of these ingredients straight from the ground of your back yard!
This simple salad came together as an experiment a few years ago when I was cooking with a couple of friends and we decided to try making a chocolate beetroot cake for the first time. The cake came out well. (I used someone else’s recipe which made a successful outcome more likely) We were left with lots of shredded beetroot and had to come up with another plan to use it. After a few poor years I have adopted the basic mantra of “waste not -want not” and now hate food waste. So what can you do with some raw shredded beetroot? Well give it some raw shredded carrot as a companion, make a simple dressing of a few base ingredients. Then proceed to pull a few leaves of mint from your pot and voilá, a super food salad is born!
Cooking with in season ingredients ensures you’ll get maximum nutrition for your money as well as the freshest ones too. Naturally cooking in season makes it easier to buy local because this is what your small organic farmer is pulling out of the ground right now. Or it is what you can find in your own vegetable garden / allotment.
Cooking and eating this way may take some getting use to, as you might have to step out of your current comfort zone. Perhaps you need to try some new ingredients and learn some more recipes. Another thing I have found over the past year or so is that I’m so much more aware of what is in season and that my body seem to crave different types of food at different types of the year. Anyone else also experiencing that? This summer, with this lovely warm weather we’ve had, has seen me eating lots of raw foods. Probably more than I normally would. It seems to be reflected here on the blog too, judging from the posts of the past few months…
So before it’s time to wrap up for the coming months I would like to give you just another raw food recipe.
When we think about superfoods we often think of exotic, but now readily available foods like chia seeds, goji berries and raw cacao. Fact is, it cannot be overemphasized how much of a superfood beetroot is. I wrote about it here and here. Carrots are famous for their high content of betacarotene, a precursore to vitamin A, a vitamin really important for good eye health. As well as betacarotene, carrots are a good source of lutein and lycopene. Both good cancer fighting properties. In nutritional therapy we look at food not just as basic fuel but also as medicine. So here you have a seriously health promoting simple raw summer / autumn salad. No excuses needed.
The fact that both vegetables are served raw makes for maximum nutritional value. Just make sure your veggies are as fresh as possible. Most people don’t eat enough raw vegetables. Green smoothies or vegetable juices makes it easier to increase intake of raw foods, but sometimes you want something with a bit of a crunch and that’s when this salad deserves a prime place on the menu. It will work really well with meat too if that’s what takes your fancy. Personally I love it with white fish.
P.S I have taste tested this one on lots of people, on some of my cooking demos and even the most avid beetroot fans have been converted 🙂 It seems like the ginger-lemon dressing somehow neutralises the earthiness of the beetroot, which many people so dislike.
Beetroot & Carrot Salad with a Ginger Dressing
Serves 2 generously
2 medium sized carrots, washed & peeled
1 large or 2 small beetroots, washed & peeled
3 tbsp good quality cold pressed olive oil
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1/2 organic lemon
1/2- 1 inch ginger, peeled and finely grated – adjust amount according to how much “kick” you want
A pinch of Himalayan pink salt – to season
A few fresh mint leaves, torn
Grate the carrot and beetroot finely. There are a few ways to do this. If you have a food processor and don’t mind a little extra washing, use it. I used my julienne slicer here. It is a really handy tool except for the fact that I almost always end up rubbing a poor unfortunate finger as well… If you can find a julienne peeler which looks almost like a normal peeler, then go for that one instead. Of course if you have impeccable knife skills, then go ahead and cut your own julienne sticks by all means. It’s just beyond the scope of my own skills.
In a small bowl mix together olive oil, lemon juice and ginger until smooth. Add a drop of water if you find it too thick. Season to taste with some pink salt. Place your finely grated carrot and beetroot in a large salad bowl. Add the dressing. Toss the whole thing gently with your hands. Add a few torn mint leaves to the mix.
This salad will work really well as a side to some grilled white fish or as part of a larger buffet. Or as a snack with a few toasted seeds on top. If you are a little odd like me!