Ok, so straight up I am going to admit that when I made this Summer Salad first, I didn’t intend to make it as a potential blog recipe. I was just trying to come up with some new meal ideas, as I was working on improving the variety of foods that I am eating.
However, when I sat down to eat it, I loved this food combination so much that I decided to photograph the leftovers and then share the recipe with you all here! This Summer Salad works really well if you want to feed a crowd, as a mid week meal (having the grains pre-cooked and the veggies roasted in advanced) or as a side dish to a BBQ.
I hadn’t had whole spelt grains for some time, and had actually forgotten how much I enjoy them. Especially in dishes like this. You will find whole spelt grain or Farro, in most healthfood stores. I always thought that Farro was just a different name for Spelt, turns out they are actually two different types of wheat, though fairly similar in taste and texture. This article breaks it down nicely. If you can only get Farro, then that will work equally well as both grains are chewy in texture with a slightly nutty flavour. The best thing with these grains are that they freeze really well too, so you can cook a large batch and then freeze any extra to use in future meals.
I first came across spelt grains in a Swedish cookbook 6-7 years ago, at a friend’s place. I was so smitten with the simplicity of the recipes, as well as the beautiful pictures and I would consider it one of the books which changed my style of cooking and eating. And it introduced me to some new foods as well as ideas on how to make simple tasty colourful meals.
Of course every body is different and will respond differently to foods, and only you can know what foods works best with your own body as well as within your own lifestyle. Meals and dishes like this one, seems to work fairly well for me.
It always amazes me how some flavours and foods naturally marry together. Often you will find that those that do, tend to grow / be in season at the same time. It’s like Nature’s own natural rhythm comes through in flavours and combinations. It has also been said, that in order for a meal to be “complete”, it does not just have to contain the macro nutrients fat, carbohydrate and protein but should ideally cover all flavour profiles as well. Maybe this is why we sometimes want a bite of something sweet to just round out a meal that have been heavy on fat and protein?
In this Summer Salad, I feel I’ve got it covered with some sweetness from the carmelised onion, some saltiness from the feta which also contributes with an element of cold if the rest of the salad is served warm. You will get some nutty and chewy texture from the grain, some sharpness from the peppers and a freshness from the basil leaves.
I truly hope you will enjoy this Summer Salad as much as I do!
Summer Salad with Whole Spelt Grains & Slow Roasted Veg
150g whole spelt grains (dry weight)
75g feta cheese
250g peppers of various types & colour, chopped into large chunks
100g of cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, peeled & sliced
5 cloves of garlic
A handful of fresh basil leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to season
Heat oven to 150°C. Place the chucks of pepper, the cherry tomatoes, the sliced onion and the whole garlic cloves on to a baking tray. Season with some sea salt and black pepper and drizzle with some olive oil. Toss the veggies in the oil to make sure they are evenly coated. Then place the tray in the warm oven and slow roast for about 1h.
Stir the veggies once in awhile. What you want is a slight carmelisation of the onion and the peppers, but not burnt. The vegetables should be soft and fragrant. Once cooked set aside to cool down.
To cook the grains; Rinse the grains well first to remove any dust or impurities then drain well before adding to a saucepan. Cover the grains with plenty of water, bring to a lively boil and cook for about 45 min. The grains are ready when they are chewy but not hard. Drain and set aside.
This salad can be served warm or cold and both the spelt grain as well as the slow roasted veggies will keep for a few days in the fridge.
Assemble the salad by adding the slow roasted veggies to the cooked grains. Make sure you remove the skin from the roasted garlic cloves also. Add the crumbled feta and the basil leaves and then give the whole salad a gentle mix before serving.
And if you have spelt grains left over then try this salad
This week we are changing things up a little! I’m delighted to introduce you to the lovely Shanna Jade who runs the blog Sprouting an Old Soul. Her beautiful recipes coupled with insight and wisdom makes for an excellent read.
To allow you to get to know Shanna Jade a little better, I will allow her to take the lead.
Tell me about you, how did you get into wholefoods & healthy living? Where does your blog fit in?
Well my name is Shanna Jade, I live in fairly small country town just east of the Rocky Mountains in Canada. I was born and raised not far from where I am now. I am fortunate enough to have traveled throughout my life, while being still very content to call this lovely place home.
I am fairly nutty about healthy foods, a health state of mind and living an all around eco lifestyle. I was raised primarily vegetarian, spending next to zero time in the kitchen. My mom has always mean very health conscious, when I was in high school she started her own educational journey to become a Master Herbalist, going on to teach nutrition through a local college. I have memories of her in the kitchen making things like warm gooey from scratch Mac ‘n’ Cheese or baking up a dish full of lentils with tomatoes, however I have far more memories of my dad in the kitchen. He makes the most amazing meals, whipping them up like nothing.
Helping my mother with her schooling was a ridiculously easy way for me to learn as well. I picked things up while helping her study, by reading her textbooks and by general osmosis – none of which was how to cook. Taking from where her classes left off I took it upon myself to continue my learning, digging deeper into specific ingredients and nutrients which I found enjoyable to work with or fascinating to read about. Thus I would call myself self taught. The nutritional knowledge I hold comes from a large number of sources, the culinary flare comes from my heart. I didn’t always cook with healthy ingredients, I didn’t always read labels. For a few years of my life I was completely blissfully ignorant to the trash that I was taking into my body. I knew I wasn’t eating healthy or promoting the things I had learned but I was young and it was easy to eat empty calories.
I started Sprouting an Old Soul as a way to reach out and share with other people in the community, people who wanted to learn about healthy foods and how to live a well rounded lifestyle. I started the blog as a way to keep myself focused and remind myself that in order to never stop learning I needed to apply the skills and knowledge in which I already possessed. That meant cutting out the crap and filling myself up with the most wholesome ingredients and outrageous nutrition.
Do you have any non-negotiables when it comes to what you eat or the products you use?
Absolutely. I make a huge go of using fully BPA free everything. Product wise – I try as much as I can to limit all chemical and synthetics in the house, especially anything that can be inhaled or absorbed. I use fully organic skin care, hair care and as green of cleaning products as possible. Food wise, I do my best to keep things as whole as possible. I don’t eat or drink anything with artificial coloring, I have never had red meat, I don’t do sodas and I strongly dislike green peppers. I am not a purist and I don’t believe in labels. I think that if something makes your cells sing, you should darn well eat it. I think that being in tune and having the ability to notice what makes you feel great vs what makes your belly hurt is a must. Once that’s mastered then everything falls into place because really, KD and McDonalds are not things that make anyone feel good. Being ready to face that is the biggest step. ( I couldn’t agree more!)
What is hands down your favorite thing to eat?
Ooh. Well, I eat mushrooms almost every day, I love love love them. I have always really loved eggs, even when I was following a strict vegan lifestyle (I have genetically high cholesterol so I try to stay away from animal fats) I would dream of going for breakfast and having some sort of scramble.
What sort of things do you do for yourself to get or to stay grounded?
Most importantly I have a very solid morning routine, I feel completely out of whack when I don’t follow with that. Primarily hydration, if I don’t have at least a liter of water before I leave the house in the morning I am simply not myself. I am very liberal when it comes to white sage, I have a smudge stick beside my bed and burn it regularly. I cleanse my room and my self almost nightly before bed. I find myself needing an attitude adjustment when I haven’t had a chance to go outdoors – I am basically a grump and the only cure is forest. People I work with have been known to suggest I take some “tree time”.
Care to share any routines, rituals must do’s that you stick with to keep yourself on track?
Well as I said, I have a solid morning routine. I set my alarm for at least 10 minutes earlier than needed and spend those extra minutes focusing on two words that are written on the ceiling above my bed. Love and Service. I sit with them and allow them to fill me for the whole 10 minutes. I have a giant jar of room temperature water either spiked with liquid chlorophyll or a pinch of high quality grey sea salt. Gentle mind and body cleansing.
I think that having a workout routine, a yoga class, any sort of movement is crazy important. Leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about eating fruits and veggies. It’s about your body, your own personal temple that needs tending and worship. Getting your groove on and respecting that your body is incredible and it craves movement is something that I find incredibly important.
I am so happy to have been able to share this recipe with the Straightforward Nutrition community, to introduce myself and to be able to broadcast the lovely Linn on my own site.
I created this recipe as a way for folks to get other types of greens into their diets. Sure, kale is all the rage, spinach is pretty great and well chard too. What about the garnish on the side of your plate? The parsley, the cilantro, the herbs that are so lovingly placed to add a touch of color only to be discarded by the consumer. This recipe is about variety and the amazing flavor profile of the sometimes overlooked greens available to us.
Freekeh is a very low gluten form of green wheat, it’s picked early on in the cycle and has amazing flavor & texture! If you are sensitive to wheat, or you can’t locate this amazing grain – substitute quinoa, barley or whatever you have handy. (Whole Spelt or Kamut grains would work too)
Green Freekhe Salad
1 Cup Loose Packed Lemon Balm
1/2 Cup Mint
1 Cup Curly Parsley
1 Cup Cilantro
1/3 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Seed Oil
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Dill
1.5 Cups of Freekeh
4 Cups of Water
1/2 Cup Toasted Pine nuts
1/2 Large Yellow Onion
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
1 Green Chili
1/4 of a Preserved Lemon
Add the freekeh + water to a pot and cook for about 45-50 minutes, until the grain has grown and the water has been absorbed. While it’s cooking, make the herb paste. Add all herb paste ingredients to a blender or food processor and whirl until it’s a pesto like consistency. Set aside. Dice the onion then caramelize it in the coconut oil. Once the freekeh is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl along with the onion and the toasted pine nuts. Rough chop the preserved lemon and the chili – toss it in the bowl, then add the herb paste and mix well. Serve at room temperature.
Thanks a mill Shanna for sharing your lovely recipe here on Straightforward Nutrition! Much appreciated 🙂
If you want to see what I shared with Shanna’s readers over on Sprouting an Old Soul, then head over there for a visit.
What about a quick nourishing meal that doesn’t take time or effort to make? Or cost the earth? This dish is one of my all time favourites. If it wasn’t for the simple fact that my body seem to crave the odd bit of meat, I could easily and happily eat this kind of food everyday. One of the main challenges when you switch from a diet heavily influenced by convenience food to natural wholesome goodness, is that it actually has to be prepared and cooked… In the beginning this seems like such hard work.
You come home from work after a long day at work. Bloodsugar levels are at an all time low, your mood and energy levels likewise, and you are ready to eat anything that is remotely edible. Or if you’re like me, eat the head of someone else!
Being prepared is key. There is no getting away from this simple fact. You also need to arm yourself with some basic kitchen gadgets and cooking skills. But basic really is all you need. Think; a good sharp knife, a couple of good sauce pans, a frying pan and a hand blender. I’m a lazy cook. I always tell my clients this fact. If I can do it. You can too. Cook, well more like assembly, tasty nourishing meals.
I always loved vegetables and fruit. Due to my inherent sweet tooth, the fruit consumption can often surpass the veggie one though. So it can be tough to get all the recommended amount of portions in. The other day my friend told me that WHO is now recommending 17 (!) portions of vegetables incl. some fruit for our diets to be disease preventable. Wow. That’s a lot of eating… To get to that level, juicing will have to be part of it. Impossible otherwise I would think.
Believe it or not, there was a time when I use to come home from work, open the fridge or the pantry and stare at all the lovely stuff, ravenous, just to state the fact that I had plenty of food. But it had to be cooked into something! These days through perseverance, I have learnt some simple ways around this frustrating situation. No, the answer it is not having a frozen pizza in the freezer. Even though it was one of mine in the past… It’s all about being prepared. And having a little knowledge. Batch cooking is key. For cheap, wholesome meals, legumes are your friend. Keep a few tins in your store cupboards at all times and you are ready to go in minutes. If you cook them from dry, you can cook larger batches and freeze some. The same with wholegrain rice or wholegrain spelt which I have used here. Your cooked grains and legumes will keep for a few days in the fridge too, so no panic if your freezer is very small, or non existent.
I prefer warm food when the weather is cold. So if I have a raw salad I need to combine it with something warm. Sometimes that could be roasted veg with some green leafy lettuce leaves. Or it could be a mixed salad with an omelette. Equally simple. If you have some pre-cooked grains in your fridge or freezer, coupled with some legumes all you need to do is to toss them in a hot pan with some of your favourite vegetables. Simple as, and you have a wholesome meal in minutes! If you make enough, you can even enjoy the leftovers for lunch the following day.
Whole grains are a great source of stress-busting B-Vitamins. When the grain is consumed whole and totally unrefined as with these spelt grains, they are actually fairly high in protein too. Sometimes even as high as 16%. Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant based protein too. The classic vegetarian way of combining grains with pulses, ensure that all 20 amino acids are covered. The few which are missing in the grain is in abundance in your pulses, so cleverly you will get a complete source of protein.
You can use any grains with any pulses really. Once you have upped your kitchen confidence, then stretch your imagination and use a different kind of grain with a different kind of bean or lentil. And then simply toss in any veg, which is lurking in your fridge! Heat in pan, season & tuck in!
Weekday Chickpea Salad
1 cup of chickpeas, cooked
1 cup of spelt grains, cooked
3 cups of kale, washed, chopped with stems removed
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small red chilli, chopped – remove seeds if you want it less hot or use a pinch of dry chilli flakes
7-8 cherry tomatoes, washed & halved – Optional but delicious **I forgot to add mine this time when making it for the photographs!**
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to season
Parmesan, Pecorino or Machego, grated on top before serving
Heat your pan, then add the a good splash of olive oil. Quickly add your chopped garlic and chilli. Stir until soften but not burnt. Add in the kale and sauté until it start looking slightly wilted. Add your chickpeas and spelt grains. Keep stirring until heated through.
Serve in two bowls with some grated cheese on top. If you intend to have some cold the following day, leave the cheese out and add just before eating. The cheese isn’t integral to the dish but do give a different flavour dimension. I don’t tend to feel well with dairy but can tolerate sheep’s cheese so hence the Pecorino or Manchego.
A New Year, a New You. This seems to be the message every you look at the moment. It is all about new year’s resolutions, detoxing and diets. If you, like most people just enjoyed the holidays a little too much and feel like it is time to get back on track, then how about doing something a little different this year?
Instead of making a new year’s resolution that this year you will “get fit and healthy”. Why not instead set some specific goals that will put you firmly on the road to where you want to be. Having clear goals makes it so much easier than something fluid like “lose weight”. Have a good think about where you would like to be by Dec 2014 and set some clear and specific goals. Things like; I will walk for 1h three times a week, I will take up pilates one night a week and/or I am going to complete a 10k run, are all much more productive goals and visions to have if “getting fit” is one of your ambitions for this year.If getting healthy is another one of your resolutions then I suggest you pencil down goals like; I will have one meat free day a week, I will eat one different coloured vegetable every day and/or I will learn one new healthy recipe every week.
One quote I came across last year and which I will make my 2014 inspiration mantra is “Be positive, patience and persistent”. This is such great advice. Even when you don’t feel neither positive or patient you can still be persistent. Actions that are repeated over time will eventually become habits. This is so important to bear in mind as we work on changing and moving towards a healthy lifestyle.
The other thing about January, the first month of the year and the end of any overindulgence from the holidays, is that it is DETOX month. This is such a controversial subject. You will find as many ideas and opinions on how to detox as there is websites out there writing about the subject. I will keep it short and sweet.
Our body is constantly detoxing. The main detoxifying organ in the body is the liver. But our lungs and the skin is also heavily involved in detoxing. Basically what you want to do when you are detoxing is to give your liver a break and to support the work it does one a daily basis. Anyone on medication should not detox without professional support as a lot of medicines are metabolised by the liver and detoxing can alter the effect of certain medications. However, most people can do a gentle detox simply by reducing (or removing) processed meats, refined sugars and dairy. Alcohol and caffeine is other ones that are good to stay away from too.
A gentle detox will include eating lots of vegetables, both raw and cooked, drinking plenty of fluids (in this cold weather, warm fluids or at room temperature are best) and to get protein from plant based sources such as beans and lentils and seeds. This is all part of a healthy lifestyle anyway.
Some foods are better detox foods than other and I have created a detox salads with some of them to help you make a healthy start to 2014. Incorporating some raw foods every day into your diet will ensure that you get some live enzymes and they are loaded with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy.
Grapefruit and beetroot are both king of the detox food list. Grapefruit works in a detoxifying manner by promoting an enzyme in the liver that helps make toxic compounds water soluble for safe excretion out of the body. Beetroot is on top of the list due to its liver supporting qualities. The natural compounds in the beetroot can increase the levels of glutathione peroxidase which is one of the most potent antioxidants in the body. It is also a great source of iron, potassium and magnesium, making it a great alkalising vegetable.
As I don’t personally like too much raw food when the weather is cold, I have included some cooked whole spelt grains, to serve warm, with this salad. They will, along with the walnuts give a lovely nutty flavour and chewy texture to this otherwise raw salad. They are a great source of protein and B-vitamins so will give you additional health benefits. If you don’t like grapefruit that much you can swap it for an orange. It will give the salad a sweeter flavour. Not quiet as detoxing but still very good for you.
A Colourful Detox Salad
1 small beetroot (raw), peeled
1 small chioggaia beetroot, peeled – if you can’t get it use more of your normal red beetroot
1 medium sized carrot
1 pink grapefruit – or use an orange instead
1 cup whole spelt grains, soaked for 3-4 h
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp coldpessed rapeseed oil
1/2 tbsp grapefruit juice
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey – or maple syrup if vegan
1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
Drain and rinse the soaked spelt grains. By soaking them, they will become easier to digest and you will shorten the cooking time. However if you are not great at forward planning, it is possible to omit this step. Just give them a quick rinse before adding to your saucepan and cook for 5-10 min longer. Place the grains in a saucepan with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a lively simmer. Cook for 40 min or until the grains are soft. They will have a chewy texture but should not be hard in the middle. Once cooked, drain and then return to the pan to keep warm until ready to serve.
Meanwhile prepare the raw salad. Use a julienne slicer to slice the carrot and beetroot into thin strips. If you don’t have one you can use your food processor and the grating blade. Alternatively grate on a hand grater. For the chioggia beet I used a mandolin. Mainly for its beautiful appearance. Segment the grapefruit. Here is a good video on how to do it. Cut the segments into smaller pieces.
Make the dressing by mixing the oil, grapefruit juice, apple cider vinegar and honey into a small bowl. When all the ingredient is well combined add in the mint. Gently toss the vegetables in the dressing. Then add the warm spelt grains. Serve in two bowls with the chopped walnuts scattered over the top. The salad is lovely on its own or you can use it as a side dish with white fish.
Things have been pretty hectic in my life for the past few weeks. Usually when life is full on, healthy eating goes out the window… And in my experience this is when we could to with nutritious foods the most. So quick, easy meals are the way to go. It just requires a tad of preparation. Believe me, your body (and mind) will thank you for the effort you’ve made. Healthy Body – Healthy Mind and all that…
Two things spring to mind when I think about muesli or granola. One is that it was pretty much as standard breakfast in our house when growing up. Except for a stint were we had microwaved cheese toasties and drinking chocolate for breakfast… Uh! I’m not sure how my health concious mother allowed this one to happen… However we rarely had cereal. The second thing is that I have always struggled with getting out of bed in the mornings. Once I get up I’m fine. It’s the getting up part that’s the struggle. When you like to savour every single spare minute in bed, you need a quick breakfast option. So what could be easier than pouring some milk or yoghurt into a bowl and top it with some muesli? No effort required. The only time consuming bit is to chew and swallow. These days, if I am really under pressure, I have even cut out this step and reach for a smoothie instead. The key is to make sure what goes into your bowl is real nourishment. So you, and your body, can deal with anything the day will throw at you. If you take the time to prepare a batch of your own home made muesli you can be certain that what goes into your breakfast bowl will set you up well for the day. If stress is part of your day, your body and mind (!) will thank you for all those stress-busting B-vitamins, from the spelt and oat flakes.
I only recently got back into making my own muesli again. Even though I must admit I prefer warming foods in the winter, it is nice to have an alternative to porridge sometimes. It is seriously easy to make your own and the variations are enless. My batches varies according to mood, what’s in the pantry and the seasons. In this recipe I went with some warming spices, to make the muesli feel seasonal. If you, like me, enjoy eating with all your senses, then you will hopefully like the addition of rose petals too.
Sunday mornings, If I have the day off, are sacred. These few precious hours are dedicated to rest and revival. This morning I indulged with a cup of hot chocolate. Chocolate and rose petals. Self-love indeed! You will find the recipe for this reviving hot drink on The First Mess. I substituted with local honey and added some cardamom.
Have a great Sunday and be good to yourself. You are worth it.
Floral Muesli With A Taste of Winter
Makes 1 large jar
1 cup rolled oats – I prefer jumbo oats for better texture
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup spelt flakes
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
1/2 cup pecan nuts, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
5 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves – don’t over do this spice as it can easily over power everything else
Dry mix – to be added after roasting:
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup golden rasins
4 tbsp hulled hemp seeds
4 tbsp dried rose petals
Heat oven to 175°C. Add oats, spelt, quinoa flakes, pecan nuts and pumpkin seeds into a large bowl. Melt the coconut oil to the ingredients and stir until evenly coated. Add in all the spices and mix well. Spread the mixture on a lined baking tray. Toast the grain/nut mix for 10-15 min until lightly golden and your kitchen fills of a wonderful smell of spices. Stir it a few times to prevent burning and assure even toasting.
Remove the toasted mixture from the oven and allow it to cool completely before adding in the remaining ingredients. Store in an airtight container or a Kilner jar, in a cool dry place. Your muesli will keep for a few weeks. Serve it with your choice of milk or yoghurt. Or as a topping on your favourite smoothie!