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.
Things have been a little quite here, I must admit. AND I’ve been feeling guilty about it too. A whole month and nothing written or posted. My aim is to keep it to at least one post every second week, but it just didn’t work out over these past few weeks. Looking back I think it’s been a mix of a writers block, busyness and feeling a little scattered with various ideas and projects and somewhere in between all of this I also lost my focus. But now I feel ready to get back to it!
Over these past weeks I’ve felt more drawn to eating carbohydrates than I normally do. Isn’t it amazing how our bodies know what they need, if we just take some time to listen in… Of course there are several underlying physiological reasons to why we crave carbohydrates when we are stressed. One for instance is that through the release of the stress hormone Cortisol, blood sugar is raised through the release of glycogen from the liver which in turn will raise the blood sugar levels in the blood. This is a natural process, hard wired as a way of survival from our ancestral days when the stress response was activated through a physical threat. Higher blood sugar means more energy distributed to our muscle cells, so we could successfully run from the imminent danger. With the rise in blood sugar a dip follows once insulin has been released and moved the sugar from the blood to the cell for energy. Once the blood sugar levels drop below the threshold hunger signals are triggered and it is time to eat again.
Today most of our “stressors” are percieved ones. Things like money worries, work deadlines and /or relationship problems. Or even smaller stuff, like who did or said what. Or perhaps didn’t do what they said they would, are everyday annoyances. These stressors don’t exactly threaten our survival but they can activate our body’s physiological stress response in the exactly the same way.
I’m currently taking part in the Whole Detox Programme™. We are almost half way through and it has been a very interesting experience thus far. I’m not really that into Detoxes as most of the ones you see floating around today are “quick fixes” in disguise. However Whole Detox™ is a different detox altogether, where the focus is less on what NOT to eat and more so on WHAT to eat. As well as that it has a very strong component of detoxing thoughts, emotions and old behaviour patterns that no longer serves us, which is certainly hard but liberating and something most of us need to detox from every now and then if we want too move forward and grow. It’s basically 21 days of putting yourself first in a wholesome nourishing way. And THAT is something I truly believe in.
Carving out space for ourselves in our every day lives is as much of an important part as is eating good wholesome food if we want to embrace FULL health and healing. In fact, I think if we don’t carve out time for ourselves, making healthy food choices is almost impossible. This is an observation I’ve made for myself throughout this past few days. I noticed how not taking time to eat as well as I can, paved way for lots of snacking and fairly monotonous meals… I also realised that my old pattern of using carbohydrate rich foods as a “pick me up” is still the same, even though my food choices are a million miles better than they used to be.
This need for “pick me ups” is a behaviour and a pattern for sure, but it is also my own body’s inner wisdom of knowing that this works and will get my energy levels up quickly when I need it. Interesting and Intriguing.
So, with all this as a backdrop I will share you this homemade nut butter recipe! I was first introduced to nut / seed butters when in nutrition college. Sure I had come across Tahini and Peanut butter but none of the other varieties. As the use of nut butters has become increasingly popular the cost has gone up. Making your own is only marginally cheaper but it does open the door for a lot more variety. It wasn’t actually until I ready Green Kitchen Stories post some months ago that I finally took the plunge to start making my own. I’ve always thought you needed a fancy Vitamix for the job but it turns out that what you really need is a food processor. And one of those I have 🙂
Pairing dried fruit like figs or dates with nut butter will ensure that your blood sugar won’t spike as crazy as it would if you have the fruit on its own. The fat and protein content will help slow down the sugar release and you get a more steady energy boost, not leaving your sweet tooth asking for more 30 min later! This is truly one of my favourite snacks.
Homemade Cashew-Walnut Nutbutter
Makes one small jar
150g raw cashew nuts
150g raw walnuts
Pre heat your oven to 150°C. Place the nuts on a lined baking tray and roast for about 10-15 min, until golden but not burnt.
Remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool down.
This is what I do as I don’t have a very strong food processor, so to prevent a burn out of it I grind the nuts in my Nutribullet first. Once I have a kind out nut flour, I place this in my food processor and let it finish off the job.
The key here is persistence. It may take a few minutes until you have a soft creamy nutbutter. Don’t give up! Stop and scrape down the sides as needed and keep going with the blending until you reach a soft creamy consistency and the nuts have released their oils.
Place your nut butter in a glass jar and serve with figs, dates or on top of oat cakes with a few slices of banana. Or have a few tea spoons straight from the jar 😉
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SNACK ON THE GO, WHEN YOU NEED A QUICK PICK ME UP? Please comment below!
Do you ever feel humble by life? The past few days has certainly made me feel humble and very aware of the most basic needs of human survival. The stormy weather of the past few days left us without power for three days. This meant no way of powering the iPhone or my computer. No internet connection. Damn. But besides that, no central heating, no oven and no kettle to boil water… Not much use having a pantry full of food when it all needs to be cooked! This week I also learned that when I am very hungry, my logical thinking drifts and I become a rather narky person to be around!
Heat. Food. Sleep. The very basic of human needs. Needs which have to be satisfied before anything else really matters. Luckily we have a great stove. some lovely neighbors and good friends who made surviving (managing) with out electricity for a few days bearable. So I got fed, slept on the couch and learned a lesson in humility. It does make you think how lucky we are that basic survival is not part of our everyday struggles.
Now when the electricity is back I can sit back and enjoy my day off in comfort, to allow myself to reflect on all small things for which I am grateful. My basic needs are satisfied. This recent power cut also meant that the lovely chocolate recipe I had in mind for Valentine’s will have to wait. Such is life.
I love recipes that are quick and simple.
A few wholefood ingredients, which can quickly be turned into a nourishing dish. Since I tend to become a rather narky person to be around when my blood sugar is low, easy accessible food is of most importance to me. This pesto recipe is raw, vegan, gluten and dairy free. I paired mine with some wholewheat pasta, but you can of course use gluten free pasta or pair it with any other type of grain, which takes your fancy. If you want to keep the meal completely raw, serve with vegetable cruditées.
Spinach is rich in iron, magnesium and vitamin K. It make is a great vegetable for bone health. Serving your leafy greens as a pesto may help getting this great source of calcium into growing kids a little easier.
Walnuts are a rich source of healthy Omega 3 – fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are important to keep our arteries healthy. Omega 3 – fatty acids has also been shown to improve concentration levels.
Nutritional Yeast is a cultivated yeast, most often from the strain Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. It has been dehydrated and fortified with B vitamins, incl. B12. The dry yellow flakes has a nutty, cheesy flavour. Otherwise known as “Umami”. This make it a popular substitute for anyone avoiding dairy, yet who want to have that savoury cheese flavour. If you are OK with dairy, feel free to substitute the nutritional yeast for a chunk of good quality Parmesan instead.
Dairy Free Spinach & Walnut Pesto
2 cups fresh baby spinach, rinsed & drained – preferably organic
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 1/2 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt & Black pepper, to season
Place the walnuts in a food processor. Process until roughly chopped. About 30s. Add in the spinach and the nutritional yeast, plus some seasoning. While the food processor is running, slowly add olive oil through the hole in the lid, until you reach desired consistency. Keep scraping down the sides a few times, until your pesto is smooth and creamy. Add the lemon juice and stir until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve stirred through freshly cooked pasta. The pesto will keep for a few days in the fridge, is stored in an airtight container.