Beetroot Latte

Beetroot Latte

 

Normally I post new blogs on Sunday afternoon, but with this recent spell of snow(!) and winter weather I decided that I might as well post this as I write it.

And after a little hiatus I posted this blog earlier this week, so there you go. I know I’m not the greatest at consistency. I think variety is more my style.

Anyhow, with this recent weather though I was lucky and did not experience the full brunt of Storm Emma, (also known as the Beast from the East), I did end up stuck at home for two days which meant lots of hot drinks, blazing fires and plenty of time to work on the computer…

Snow

Irish Winter, Storm Emma

Whilst contemplating if I should dress up and take the 5 min walk to the shop or if I should in fact stay put, finish writing this blog post and then chill with a cup of this pink beauty and the latest book I am reading in front of the fire, the rain is slowly melting the snow outside.

It was definitely beautiful whilst lasting and reminded me of winters growing up back in Sweden. Yet I am so ready for Spring now!

Ready for longer brighter days, ready to prepare some raised beds and order some vegetable seeds and ready for a new season to arrive.

While you are waiting though, enjoy this warming drink and there are a good few new recipes lined up, coming your way over the coming weeks. More warming dishes to enjoy, whilst we are waiting and contemplating.

Beetroot Latte

I got the idea for this Beetroot Latte from Instagram. Because giving proper attribute to the original creator is important and the right thing to do, I went back searching for whom I might have gotten it from, but when I typed in #beetrootlatte I got like 9000 hits! So maybe this isn’t a truly original idea after all…

Since I am such a cardamom fan, I loved cardamom added here. If that’s not your cup of tea (pardon the pun) then you could try another variation that I made some time ago which was a hot chocolate type drink, with some beetroot powder + a pinch of chili.

Dried beetroot powder is available in health food shops. It is kind of sweet and a great way to colour foods naturally.

 

Beetroot Latte

Serves 1

1 cup of plant milk of choice (measure the milk out with the cup you intend to drink from)

½ tsp dried beetroot powder

½ tbsp. sweetener of choice – I like honey or maple

¼ tsp ground cardamom

 

Add milk and the rest of the ingredients to a small heavy based saucepan. Gently heat your drink whilst whisking all the ingredient together. Just before reaching boiling point remove from heat and serve.

If you want to pretty it up you can add some edible dried rose petals!

 

P.S I have *finally* signed up to Lightroom and started to play around with presets (kind of like filters). Please bear with me a as I am learning this new creative skill!

Irish winter

Winter Spiced Lentil Dahl – Winter Soup Series Part 2

Winter Spiced Lentil Dahl – Winter Soup Series Part 2

Let’s finish the year off with a bang! Following on from the last post about the FLOW, and the winter theme AND the soup theme, here is one filling spicy Dahl to keep you warm. Hopefully you’ve had enough of Christmas cake, minced pies, mulled wine, ham, turkey, nut roast and / or rice pudding at this stage. My body always calls me back to fresh, wholesome food if I stray to far. Whether it is by choice or because my healthy food intake has been due to limited option, which can easily happens when we either travel, eat out or are away from home for any other reason.

It’s like when you’ve lived on mostly fresh unprocessed foods for a long time your body is so use to it and you will notice how different you feel when you don’t. These days I don’t tend to stress too much about if I have to eat something, I’d rather not because I have no other option. I either try to plan to eat well as much as I can before or after, or make the best choice I can. Stressing about the food itself can bring its own problems as the body cannot distinguish  what is registered as stress by the hypothalamus. The physiological response is the same.  So I try to be gentle with myself instead.

Thing is though, my tastebuds have become rather snobbish (!) And I no longer enjoy eating certain things, especially if any negative physical reactions may follow and I don’t even get to have a fully satisfactory eating experience to make it worth my while! Have you noticed anything similar? I remember a client of  mine who used to have a diet high in sugar, especially a lot of soft drinks, telling me that once she cut them out and reduced sugar elsewhere she started to taste food so much better. This is really interesting and may be due to a number of reasons. One for starters may because sugar is such a dominating flavour and we have many taste receptors for sugar on our tongue. So if we eat a lot of sugar on a regular basis our tastebuds kind of become “flattened”. Same goes for if you cut down or even out refined sugar for a few weeks. All of a sudden everything is so much more sweet tasting. Less becomes more.

 

Winter Spiced Lentil Dahl

 

Even when I didn’t eat a predominately wholefoods diet, red lentils was always part of it. I think it’s because I grew up with a mum who was a vegetarian so I was introduced to them at an early age. I know not everybody tolerate legumes and lentil well, but if you do, keeping red lentils as a cupboard staple in your house is seriously handy as it means you can whip something nourishing and filling in a short space of time. This favourite ingredient of mine has featured in two soups here already. Like this Swedish Lentil Soup. And this Classic Lentil Soup (which I often make when I’m seriously stuck for time and / or ingredients!)

Though not technically a soup, I’ve decided to still include this Dahl in my soup series. Sure why not? It fits with the winter and the orange theme at least 😉

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2015 was to cook more from the cookbooks I already have. And I already have a lot of them… So even though I have my eyes set on a few which are coming out next year, I still need to get back to using some of the ones already gracing my shelves. This Winter Spiced Dahl is an inspiration from the beautiful cookbook A Modern Way to Cook, by Anna Jones. It’s a great vegetarian cookbook which will also work well for those who do eat meat but are looking for tasty ways to increase their vegetable intake. What I really love about this book is not only that the recipe are varied but also that Anna has included some really great charts on how to make up your own combinations with vegetables, nuts, grain, pulses and spices. I LOVE that way of cooking and sometimes when you’re not feeling all that kind of imaginative a chart like that is just what you need. Or when you have a fairly well stocked pantry but are left with some random fresh ingredients and you don’t know how to make them match… Kind of like a wardrobe malfunction. Then it’s so handy to have someone with way more insight than you suggesting some great pairings.

 

winter spiced lentil dahl

 

I’ve pretty much stuck to Anna’s recipe except for the addition of red lentils and the substitute of butternut squash for carrots, so it’s a full on orange theme going on here. Perfect for FLOW 🙂 This Dahl also contain a plethora of warming spices, perfect for this time of the year. I particularly like the addition of cardamom, which I love in almost anything. Sweet or savory or in tea. It’s almost borderline obsession. Hmm, maybe my body is trying to tell me something? Anyway, here is the recipe.

Wishing you a Beautiful and Loving New Year. Let’s start 2016 with a beautiful winter warmer!

 

Winter Spiced Lentil Dahl

 

 Serves 4

4 large carrots, washed, peeled & finely chopped

1 red onion or one leek, peeled (wash the leek) & finely chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled & finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed & finely chopped

1/4 cup dried red lentil, well rinsed

1 small or 1/2 large sweet potato, washed, peeled & chopped into cubes

2 star anise

6 cardamom pods, shell discarded & seeds ground – Or use 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp coriander seeds, finely ground

1 tsp turmeric

Sea salt & Black pepper to season

500 ml vegetable stock + more if too thick

Start with adding a bit of olive oil to a warm saucepan (heating the pan first prevents the oil from getting too hot and going rancid) Add the chopped onion / leek, garlic and ginger and saute for a few minutes and till soft and transparent. Then add in the spices (except the star anise) and continue to stir for a few minutes over low heat until fragrant.

Add in the carrots, sweet potato and lentils and coat in the spice-onion mix. Add in the vegetable stock and the star anise. Bring to a boil and thereafter reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 35-40 min until lentils are falling apart and the carrot and sweet potato is soft. Add more stock if necessary, but remember this is a Dahl so you want it to be thick. 

Once the all the vegetables and lentil are cooked through remove from the heat and when the Dahl has cooled a little give it a whizz with your hand blender. Feel free to leave it a little chunky if you wish and prefer that type texture.

Serve with cooked rice, a few fresh coriander leaves and sprinkle some seeds on top. I’ve used black sesame seeds here.

Recipe inspired by Anna Jones’ book A Modern Way to Cook.

 

straightforward nutrtition

What is your favourite way to enjoy red lentils? Please share below 🙂

Apple-Beetroot Soup – Winter Soup Series 1

Apple-Beetroot Soup – Winter Soup Series 1

Since we had a Summer Salad Series, I thought it I might treat you to some Winter Warmers over the coming months. Soups are such an amazing way to enjoy seasonable vegetables and to ensure you eat your minimum of 5-a day. Enjoying a big bowl of soup daily is a surefire way of making sure you get at least your minimal dose.

I’m one of these odd people who don’t like having soup as a starter, as to me it’s a meal in itself. However, if you’re having soup as a single meal, make sure you have enough. Otherwise it’s not going to keep you fulled to your next meal. A measly cup won’t cut it (well not for me anyway!), if you’re not pairing it with a whole lot of bread or something…

 

I think sometimes we become so consumed with what we eat, or simply eat to “fill the gap” as we notice an urgent hunger sensation or running out of steam. But what if we actually took the time to stop and “smell the roses”? Or as in this case, the apples. Perhaps it’s then we really can appreciate the intensity and depth in flavour eating seasonally gives us.

Have you noticed how much more the apples that are around this time of year smells? I love these kinds of winter apples with their sharp and crisp flavour. They pair so well with green salads or as a small snack with some nut butter. Lately I’ve also added finely chopped fresh apples to my morning porridge + some ground cinnamon. Or I’ve used them as a bold pairing, like here, with beetroot.

 

apple-beetroot soup

 

After getting over my past dislike of beetroot there’s been no holding back! I’ve had it raw, cooked in salads, in hummus, cakes and now soup. It’s such an incredibly powerful vegetable with its liver and blood supporting nutrient content, in form of glutathione, nitric oxide and iron.

I’m also tying this recipe into my last blog post talking about the ROOT Aspect of health. Beetroot, being both a root vegetable growing deep in the earth, being the colour red and being beneficial to the red blood cells kind of IS the perfect “cover face” for the ROOT Aspect. I think there’s nothing more grounding when it comes to food than pulling a beautiful root vegetable out of the ground. It’s a direct connection with the soil, which nourishes us all… Having dabbled in some GIY this year, which I really enjoyed, I’ve discovered for myself how de-stressing it actually is to literally stick your fingers in the soil and to get your hands dirty, when your head is feeling frazzled. I’m sure those of you who already are avid gardeners know this, but I couldn’t believe actually HOW beneficial I found it to be to my own health and wellbeing. Especially these days when a lot of time is spent in front of the computer.

 

This very bright red soup was something I tried and tested already last year but it never made it to the blog before the seasons changed… I think there’s a picture of the first attempt somewhere waaay back over on Instagram. (Be warned, you will have to scroll back a few hundred images!) Anyway, at that time I didn’t write down the recipe so I’ve made it a few more times since, taking notes (!) with the intention of sharing it here with you all. So now after a few more test rounds, here it is, ready to share!

It may seem like a bold choice of flavours but trust me, it works. The sweetness of the apples marry with the earthiness of the beetroot. I added some shaved coconut on top as a fnish here, but you can use yogurt too.

 

apple-beetroot soup

 

 

Apple – Beetroot Soup

Serves 4

3 medium sized beetroot, peeled & finely chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 small apples, cored & finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds, ground

1 tsp fennel seeds, ground

700 ml vegetable stock

Start with grounding the spices with a pester and mortar. Gently heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan, then add the ground spices and fry off for a few minutes until fragrant.

Add the finely chopped onion and sauté until soft and transparent, but not burnt. Add the finely chopped beetroot and the chopped apples. Let the beetroot and apple soften by gently mixing them with the onion and spices over medium heat, for about 5 min.

Then add the vegetable stock and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover the saucepan with a lid. Let the soup simmer for 45 min until the beetroot is soft. Allow it to cool somewhat before blending it smooth. I use my handheld blender directly into the saucepan (I’m a little lazy like that!)

Serve the soup warm in bowls, topped with some shaved coconut flakes.

P.S If you want to know some more about the health benefits of apples check out this great article!

 

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 What is your favourite Winter Soup? Please share, I’d love to know!

Candied Almonds

Candied Almonds

It’s the day before the day, or the eve before the day before Christmas day. I’ve been hanging out in the kitchen all day. Trying to get into some festive spirit by enjoying the kitchen all to myself, (well my dogs kept me company) with endless Christmas songs on Spotify. I had actually decided NOT to make any treats this year as it is a lot of work when it’s something you HAVE to do. I’ve been away the past few weekends so there has been little time to do fit it in anyhow. Yet today I found myself in the kitchen all day making stuff. You know what? It was so much fun! I’ve missed the creativity of cooking just for the fun of it and not just because of the necessity to eat.

A couple of random things were created today. This “alternative” Rocky Road for example. I also experimented with some homemade vegan marzipan, made some date truffles for a hamper for some friends to enjoy on Christmas Day and then of course these addictive little buggers!

Making sweet treats for Christmas was a tradition we used to do at home as children. A few of our friends + their mums from the village used to meet up a Saturday in Dec and make lots of traditional holiday treats. Well it was our mums that did most of the baking and cooking while we had fun playing and then got to eat the treats afterwards… Fond memories.

Five years ago, one of the years I spent Christmas in Ireland, we enured the coldest winter here in forty years! I was suppose to be working but the roads had turned into a sheet of ice and traveling anywhere was out of the question. So what does one do with an unexpected day off? Cook of course! Off I went to the shop (on foot) to get a couple of basic ingredients to enjoy my day off and to make some treats which I hadn’t made since childhood. Things I made that year was a little more sugar laden than what I made this year but the pleasure of creating edible things while enjoying festive songs at full blast is still the same. Little did I know back then, that this would be a new festive tradition to get myself into the perfect holiday mood.

Candid Almonds

Straightforward Nutrition

 

If you are still stuck for an edible gift this close to the big day, then I suggest you give these sugar coated almonds ago. They (almost) cook themselves and all you need is some demera sugar, almonds, water and some cinnamon. Store-cupboard ingredients really. Don’t be fooled though, this classic treat is more addictive than your average tin of chocolate. As I reach for “just one more”, I try to convince myself that they are somehow a little healthier as it’s unrefined sugar and whole nuts… But perhaps I’m just kidding myself. Regardless, I’m done with food + guilt, so I keep enjoying each bite mindfully and so should you 🙂

 

Candied Almonds

Serves 10

150 g whole almonds – organic if possible

150 g unrefined Demera sugar

50 ml water

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir to mix the sugar, water, cinnamon and almonds together.

Bring to the boil and cook on medium heat until all the water has evaporated and the sugar begins to crystallise around the almonds. Stir on occasion. This part will take about 10 min or so. You want all the water to slowly evaporate.

Once the sugar has crystallised keep the pan hot until the sugar begins to melt. Stir to make sure all the almonds are well coated. Be careful not to burn the sugar. Remove the almonds from the pan on to a plate or tray. Separate them with a fork and allow to cool completely before eating.

The almonds will keep for up to two weeks. Wrap them in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container, in a dry cupboard.

N.B I tried using raw cane sugar but since it’s very finely crystallised, the end result was not as good as when using Demera sugar which has bigger crystals.

 

This is my last post of 2014 and I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU for visiting my blog / website through out the year, for following along here and on various social media (Instagram & Facebook) and thanks to all of you who have used my nutritional therapy services this year too. Having each and every one of you being a part of my life and my business means so much. So thank you again.

Wishing you a week filled with love, family, friends, health, blessings and most important of all Good Food! See you in the New Year.

xxx

Linn

P.S Some new exciting things coming up next year, like our new online programme! If you would like more details about this please shoot me a mail on linn@straightforwardnutrition.com  I love helping people getting back to the healthiest version of themselves. 🙂 So why not work together in 2015?

Coconut Chia Pudding – With Winter Spiced Berries

Coconut Chia Pudding – With Winter Spiced Berries

This recipe has sat in the draft section for some time. Turns out posting it now, is good timing still, because it could easily work as a nutritious addition to your menu over the holiday season.

You may have heard of chia puddings by now. You may even be a big fan of them. If you haven’t you are missing out of one of the easiest, nutritious snack/dessert /breakfast ever! I remember a few years ago when these tiny little seeds appeared on the shelves in the health stores and no one had really heard of them, let alone knew what to do with them… These days they are big news! Turns out they are a good source of plant based omega 3 essential fats. They are also high in fibre, potassium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus.

The seeds come from a desert plant, Salvia Hispanica, grown in Mexico and these tiny super seeds apparently featured on the menu of the famous Aztec warriors. In fact the word “Chia” supposedly means strength. When they first appeared this side of the world one of the many marketing claims was how it could help with weight loss.  This may be true in some sense, but of course it’s highly unlikely that it would help anyone shed pounds all on its own. Weight loss is a lot more complex than just take one magic substance, unfortunately and  the sooner we stop buying in to that concept the better (But that’s a topic for another day…)

I think in those early days, no one really had any clue how to eat them or how to make them taste nice. Thing is they swell a lot in any liquid you leave them in, and when they do, turns out they don’t look all that appetizing… The very first time I tried chia seeds it was a tsp of seeds soaked in plain water, just swallowed down. Not the most exciting thing I’ve ever eaten to be honest. Obviously times has moved on – enter Chia Pudding! I’m not sure who originally came up with the bright idea of serving the little guys this way but let’s just say it’s genius! Their ability to gel makes for a nice consistency and when you eat them in this way they can actually help with constipation rather than hinder it.

Plant based chia puddingStraightforward Nutrition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have tried lots of different types of chia puddings at this stage but using a good quality full fat coconut milk is by far my favourite. It even reminds me a little of the Christmas dessert we have back home, rice pudding, well actually more like the cold version of rice pudding; Ris á la Malta.

Here you have a slightly healthier version made with just two ingredients: Chia Seeds and Coconut Milk. I’ve chosen to top this pudding with some winter spiced berries. Here I used the blackberries we picked back in the autumn. Grateful for the abundance back then and for the freezer now! If you, like me, live in the Northern Hemisphere where berries are not in season, then use frozen ones. I’d imagine blackcurrants or blueberries could work to. And if you live some where were it’s berry season, well then make the most of it and use fresh ones!

Coconut Chia Pudding – With Winter Spiced Berries

Serves 2

For the chia pudding:

200 ml full fat coconut milk – organic if possible

2 tbsp chia seeds (whole seeds)

For the berry compote:

1 cup blackberries – fresh or frozen

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

1-2 star anise (depending on size of the star)

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

To make the pudding; mix coconut milk and chia seeds together in a small bowl. Make sure it is well mixed together and stir a few more times over the next five min, to remove any lumps, as the seeds start to absorb the liquid. Then move to the fridge and let it set over a few hours.

To make the berry compote; place the frozen (or fresh) berries in a small sauce pan. Add in maple syrup, ground cinnamon. Gently toss the berries in the maple syrup and spices until evenly coated. Add in the star anise. Bring it slowly to a simmer and let it simmer away for about 10 min until fruit is soft and the compote is fragrant.

Serve the chia pudding in small bowls with topped with the warm spiced berry compote.

N.B This dessert (or even breakfast!) is very filling and not very sweet. You can omit the maple syrup if you are looking for an even lower carbohydrate load.

blackberries from the autumncoconut chia pudding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. I hope you don’t mind me throwing in a picture from the beautiful autumn we had. Worth a reminder of brighter days to come as the longest day of the year fast approaches.