As I write this, the rain is smattering against the window… Right now it doesn’t exactly feel like summer. But then yesterday it was hot and sunny. I suppose considering it’s already the end of June, things could be better, but they could also be a lot worse. Living in Ireland, one thing for sure is, you don’t take sunshine for granted! Luckily this life giving rain has my little garden patch overflowing with green goodness. No watering required.
A lot of people start their new healthy eating regimen in January, when it’s wet and cold and generally miserable. I don’t know about you but eating salads and cold food in general when the weather is cold and damp just doesn’t do it for me. When it’s cold I crave warm food, though as soon as it gets warmer, raw food is back on! It’s so much easier to fill your plate (or bowl) with lots of fresh colourful food this time of the year when it’s bright, warm and (hopefully) sunny. Plus fresh produce is in abundance right now.
So to help you keep this fresh food, rainbow and salad mojo going I’ve decided to share with you some cool summer salad recipes over the coming weeks. What ends up in my bowl (and subsequently here) will depend on what happens to be growing in the garden, what I can find at the market and what ever inspiration I might pick up from my many, many cookbooks. This is the first part of the Summer Salad Series.
When I first tried a hand at growing my own food, only last year, radishes were one of the first things I planted. All the well meaning advice went something like; “they are super easy to grow”, you can’t fail growing radishes” and so on. Well actually, turns out you CAN fail at growing radishes… Well at least if you do what I did and planted them in a small pot in a wild place of the garden where a bunch of rabbits hang out. Probably not one of my most brightest moments. I just had the pleasure of seeing the sprouts, then it quickly turned into a no show. So this year, wise from my learnings of last year’s experience, I built raised beds. And it has proven a worthwhile experience! These radishes shown above are some proudly home-grown ones!
Normally you eat these little pink beauties raw as they are, but after coming a cross a few roasted radish recipes, I decided to test it out myself. Roasting them in the oven for 10-15 min offers a completely different taste experience. Instead of the normally crunchy, peppery flavour you, end up with a soft sweeter flavour, which adds a nice contrast with the lemony quinoa and tart cherries. I also added some Tamari toasted seeds for a little extra saltiness and crunch.
Turns out you can eat the radish tops too, so if you have your own, definitely add them. Actually tops from carrots and beetroots are also edible, though we often tend to throw them out. If you grow your own you can definitely include the tops of those in your salads. The radish tops are a little prickly though so you can either chop them finely or wilt them slightly in a warm lightly greased frying pan. Or quickly steam them.
This salad is actually a warm salads, so perfect on those not-so-sunny days when you are looking for a little cheering up. If you have some cold leftover quinoa from the day before, making this salad is even quicker!
Roasted Radish Salad with Cherries
Serves 2 (double the amount if you are serving more people)
a bunch of fresh radishes (about 10 or so), washed, tops removed and kept aside if fresh enough to use
a large handful of fresh cherries (1o-15), washed, halved and stone removed
2/3 cup of quinoa, rinsed well
1 2/3 cold water
For the dressing:
1 tsp clear raw honey, local preferably
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp water – optional (for thinning out the dressing)
sea salt & black pepper to season
Tamari toasted seeds – Makes 5 portions
5 tbsp pumpkin seeds
5 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp Tamari sauce – wheat free soy sauce
Start by placing the rinsed and drained quinoa in a sauce pan with the water. Cover with a tight fitting lid and bring to the boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook with the lid on for 12 min. Turn off the heat and leave the pan on the hot hob with the lid on for a further 10 min. You should then have ended up with a fluffy cooked quinoa and all the water absorbed.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Place your seeds in a small bowl. Add the tamari sauce and toss until well combined. Transfer to a lined baking tray. Roast for a about 15 min until the seeds are dry and crunchy but not burned. Give them a toss every 5 min to ensure even roasting.
While you are roasting your seeds, wash and halve the radishes. Place them all on a roasting tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle some olive oil over the lot and season with sea salt and black pepper. Gently toss the radishes around with your hands to ensure they are evenly coated with the oil. Once your seeds are done, remove them and set aside. Place your radishes in the oven and toast for about 15 min or until soft.
In a small bowl add all the ingredient for the dressing and then once the quinoa has cooled a bit, add the dressing and mix them together.
Assemble your salad in individual serving bowls (or one large one if you are using it as a side dish). Add the quinoa, the roasted radishes, then the de-stones cherries, some finely shredded tops and lastly a scatter of the toasted seeds.
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.
So here we go… The very first blog post on Straightforward Nutrition’s new shiny website! I am pretty excited to begin this new part of our journey. I’ve been thinking about it for months now. How lovely it would be to create a space that would be dedicated to food. You know REAL food. The stuff nature provides. Not the stuff that comes in plastic bags or stored in boxes. No, the type of food that sits quietly, with out any labels, telling you about calorie content or making confusing health claims. It’s about the type of food that is so good for us. The type of food that is medicine.
In my job as a Nutritional Therapist, I advice people on how to use food as medicine. For most people this involve some more or less radical dietary changes. (Even though I hate the word “diet”, I do use it from time to time) To make my clients life easier I try to give them easy tools on how to translate the science of using food as medicine into tasty meals, that the whole family can enjoy. Not always as easy as it sounds! It is my ambition that this space will become a place for you to refer back to, for recipes and inspiration, as you make changes to your own lifestyle to become the healthiest you can be. There is so many amazing food blogs already out there and I feel truly blessed to be part of this amazing community. I have compiled a list of people who inspire ME over here.
To celebrate the launch of my new website I have decided to treat you to one of my own favourite creations. I think most of us would think of sweet treats when thinking of a celebration of some kind so this is a sweet treat recipe. It is also a chance for me to invite you into the world of treats free of refined sugars, which are also naturally free from gluten, egg and dairy. Perfect as a recover snack after exercise, or with a cup of tea in the afternoon. And I bet your kids will love them too! Enjoy.
If you feel inspired by any of my recipes or if you would like to share some inspiration with me, please comment below. I would love to hear from you 🙂
Hemp & Quinoa Protein Bars
Makes about 10 bars
1 1/2 cup of pitted dates, soaked and drained
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp shredded coconut
4 tbsp hulled hemp seeds
1/2 cup puffed quinoa
1 heaped tbsp rice or pea protein – optional
a pinch of himalayan pink salt
Quickly soak the dates in hot water. Place them in a bowl. Add boiling water. Soak for one min. Drain well.
Add the dates, coconut oil, cacao powder, protein powder (if using), shredded coconut, salt and vanilla extract to a food processor. Blend until a sticky dough is formed. Place the dough in a large bowl. Add the quinoa puffs and the hemp seeds to the bowl. Knead the seeds and puffs into the date mix, with your hands, until well combined.
Press the mixture in to a square tin lined with parchment paper. About 1/2 inch thick. (1.5 cm) Place the tray in the fridge to set for about an hour. Then cut into bars or squares and store between parchment paper in an airtight container in the fridge.
The bars will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.