A Medley of Roasted Root Veg

A Medley of Roasted Root Veg

This week’s recipe is actually part of what we enjoyed at our Christmas gathering when I was back home in Sweden with my family. So I let the sweet and swift memories of the end of 2016 take us in to 2017…

Last year this was my first blog post of the year. Let’s see if I can keep up my devotion to consistency a little bit better this year.

My mother is one, of several people, who’s been a great influence on my interest in nutrition. And with her I suppose it been one right from the beginning, since she became a health conscious vegetarian back in the 70s, long before I was even born…

It’s not all that often that I have the pleasure of hanging out with my mum, but when we do I really appreciate doing so just enjoying everyday stuff. Like grocery shopping, and cooking.

We are quite similar in the way we eat, and both enjoy shopping and make an impromptu plan depending on what we find.

When we decided on this dish, it was out of a desire to keep it simple, colourful and varied. Plus we wanted a couple of side dishes that were vegetables to balance out the usual meat heavy offerings that is typical of a Swedish Christmas dinner!

celeriac

Root veg are readily available most of the year these days, but they do belong more to autumn / winter seasons since they are ready to eat in the autumn and then store really well for the winter months.  I don’t know about you, but for me it feels so comforting and grounding to be eating starchy cooked root vegetables this time of the year when its dark and cold. It’s like our bodies naturally knows that we need more density this time of the year to keep us warm.

I can guarantee that you won’t see me chomping down a raw salad this time of year, unless its served as a side dish to something cooked… I do have the occasional smoothies this time of year, but only if I craves something super fresh, it’s above 10˚C, its served at room temperature AND with a cup of herbal tea on the side…!

 

winter food root veg

 

I’ve included a good few different kinds of root vegetables here. You can choose some of them only, and then you may need a few more, or if you live somewhere where some of these are less available but have other tubers, then go with that!

 

Medley of Roasted Root Vegetables

 

Serves 4

1 sweet potato, washed & cubed (keep peel on)

2 carrots, washed, peeled & chopped

½ celeriac root, peeled & chopped

1 large or 2 small parsnips, peeled & chopped

2 medium sized beetroot, peeled & chopped

1 red onion, peeled & sliced

Garlic cloves from one head of garlic

A few sprigs of rosemary & thyme, use 1 tsp dried herbs if you don’t have fresh ones

A few tblsp olive oil

Sea salt & Black pepper to season

 

Pre heat the oven to 180˚C. Peel all the veg except for the sweet potato. Then chop them into cubes. The trick is to try to keep them roughly the same size to ensure even cooking time.

Peel the onion, cut in half and then slice lengthways so that you have half moon-type slices.

Add all the vegetables, red onion slices and cloves of garlic (with skin on) to a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, add the fresh herbs and season with sea salt and black pepper. Then use your hands, or a spatula to toss the veg so that they are evenly coated in oil and season.

Bake in oven for about 45 min or until slightly crisp around edges and soft in the middle.

Serve as a side to your choice of meat or pulses. I often enjoy roast veg with some baked fish or as here served with some cooked beluga lentils, some toasted hazelnuts and some Danish blue cheese.

 

A big thanks to my dear friend Jen who came over to enjoy this for lunch and got the job of hand modelling also!

P.S Don’t forget to remove the skin from the garlic cloves before eating…

roasted root vegetables

 

Chocolate Truffles with a Swedish Twist

Chocolate Truffles with a Swedish Twist

Can you believe it? Just a couple of weeks left of 2016, and Christmas just around the corner…! The common phrase of “Where does time go?” is the thing on my mind.  Maybe my dad has a point when he says that time moves faster the older we get. Stands to reason if we see time as a thing of perception rather than an absolute, which means of course each year, as we age each year is a smaller percent of our life. Worth pondering…

Though, I don’t know about you but some days, as a contrast to the time “flying by”, can feel like almost an entire lifetime with all the thing experienced that day.

My intention for this last recipe post of 2016 was not to get all philosophical and time conscious, even though one of my friends did point out that I am “almost” always late. Which does have some grain of truth to it… So right there is something for me to work on next year!

I’m going to share this basic dairy free chocolate truffle recipe with you, and even though I opted for a classic Swedish flavour combination, I will also give you some other flavour combinations to play around with. To be honest I think that from the basic recipe you can go wild and just let your imagination be the limit to your creativity!

These little truffles make a great gift, so if you are still looking for something to make / bring to the dinner party, hopefully this recipe will be a help.

lovely easy to make chocolate truffles

Raspberry and chocolate is a classic combination, but in Sweden raspberry and liquorice is also a classic combination. So I thought to myself one day “I wonder if the three would pair up equally well?”.  And to my mind they did! But if you don’t have / can’t get liquorice powder (I bought mine in Sweden on my last visit), then there’s some alternative pairings below.

 

Chocolate Truffles with A Swedish Twist

Makes about 15 truffles (try not to eat them as you roll the chocolate!)

Basic truffle recipe:

200g dark chocolate, 60-70%, broken in to pieces

100ml full fat coconut milk

Flavouring:

2 tsp ground licorice powder

A pinch of sea salt

Coating:

A few tbsp. freeze dried raspberry powder

 

To make the truffles; place the coconut milk in a small saucepan. Gently warm the coconut milk on medium heat. Once it if finger warm, add in the chocolate pieces. Let the warm coconut milk melt the chocolate for a minute or two, then stir the mix with a spoon until you have thick glossy mixture.

Add the licorice powder and pinch of salt and stir again until well combined. Pour the chocolate mix into a bowl and place in the fridge to set. This will take 2h or so.

Once the chocolate is set, take the bowl out of the fridge and scoop out a tbsp. worth of chocolate at the time and roll into small balls with your hands.

Place the freeze dried raspberry powder in  small bowl and roll the truffles in the powder. Once fully coated place the truffles in an airtight container and store in a cool place. Eat and enjoy!

 

Other flavour combinations (that I’ve tried so far!): Chili + raspberry powder, mint extract + matcha and spirulina powder, orange zest and cardamom + freeze dried blueberry powder.

If you can’t get any freeze dried berry powders you could roll your truffles in other things like sesame seeds, ground toasted hazel nuts or why not melted chocolates?

Use your imagination!

chocolate truffles

And just a few winter pictures from last weekend. Which reminded me of the wise words I came across recently;

 

“Where ever you are now, is where you’ve never been before”  – Ellen J. Langer

 

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas and Holiday Season.

winter sun

irish winter landscape

 

Raw Coconut-Mint Chocolate

Raw Coconut-Mint Chocolate

It’s that time of the year again, when you get to indulge in making and giving, without anyone questioning it. Actually it seems much expected that you do so.

In this time of “shoulds”, “musts” and “have-tos”, a midst overwhelm and busyness perhaps a desire to slow down and take time, doing what really matters instead, is what we are truly looking for?

OK… So I do realise that it’s not everyone sees the kitchen as their creative playground (though this is surely all about perspective?!) but for those of us who do like to play in the kitchen, making sweet or savoury treats, bakes or dishes that can double up as gifts is a win-win!

And why not make a play date, not just for you and the kitchen, but invite a friend or two to come along too. The experience of cooking and eating is often elevated (in my experience) by sharing, so have fun.

These raw chocolates are really quick and easy to make and only require five ingredients. You’ll have them whipped up in no time.

Mint, chocolate and coconut is a classic combination, so if you know that you already like this combo, you will not be disappointed!

raw coconut-mint chocolate

Raw Mint-Coconut Chocolate

Makes 14 hearts

100g creamed coconut  ( ½ packaged)

 6-8 drops of mint extract

40g cacao butter

4 tbsp raw cacao powder

2 tbsp maple syrup

 

Roughly chop the creamed coconut and melt it on low heat in a small saucepan. Creamed coconut is available in most healthfood shops and also in Asian grocery stores. It is dehydrated fresh meat of mature coconuts and solid at room temperature.

Once the coconut is melted add the mint extract and then give it a good stir to make sure it is dispensed evenly. Add the melted coconut mix to the molds. Try to fill each mold to about ½. Place in the fridge to set, while you proceed to make the raw chocolate.

Melt the cacao butter in a heat proof bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water. Once the cacao butter has fully melted, add the cacao powder and then mix until you have a smooth blend. And the maple syrup and mix again until your chocolate mix is again lovely and smooth.

Remove your mold tray from the fridge and spoon the chocolate mix on top of the coconut mix. Place the tray back in the fridge and let the chocolate set. This will take a few hours.

Once your chocolate has hardened, pop them out of the moulds and place in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to serve them. Or gift them!

***I use silicone ice cube molds to make these and it makes the process very easy. You can use any shapes you like of course and if you don’t have a mold, then you can try simply pouring the coconut layer out first on a lined tray and once set, add the raw chocolate layer. I haven’t actually tried that technique with this particular recipe, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

straightforward nutrition

If you want some more ideas of edible sweet gifts here are a few ideas from the archives:

Date Truffles Three Ways

Fruit and Nut Truffle Cake

Candid Almonds

Homemade Nutbutter

 

And here are a few other ones that I really would like to try out myself, from some of my favourite bloggers:

Maple Butter Roasted Nuts

Cardamom & Rosewater Caramels

Raw Apricot, Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites

 

A Festive Salad

A Festive Salad

Are you a lover or hater of these small green “mini cabbages”? I have to admit that it’s been a gradual process for me… But when I discovered some years ago an incredibly simple way to eat them, I became a convert. And as I am typing this, it reminds me of how many different foods and new additions I have made to my eating repertoire over the past few years. And since the message that keeps coming up again and again when it comes to food and health is variety, it is important that we check out some new (or at least new to us) foods. It’s just way too easy to get stuck in food ruts!

I often tell my clients who are resistant to trying new foods and flavours that it takes about 6-8 times before our tastebuds have adapted and changed. So when you are trying something new it’s important to: A. Start the process with an open mind and B. Think of your tastebuds like a muscle that needs a work out.

And don’t just get stuck on trying one way to have a food either. These days with the internet all you have to do is Google the food or ingredient you want to test out and you’ll have hundred of ideas and recipes to try out. To be honest that’s often how I find ways to try out a new and exciting food I’ve come across.

simple ways to feel amazing

Since I’m more or less to confessing many (all??) my inspiration secrets, I’ll let you in on another one. Instagram! Since joining the social media platform a few years ago, it has given me endless inspiration, especially when it comes to being on the lookout for new foods as well as becoming more aware of eating seasonally. Suppose it only goes to show the power of the influence of social media, right?

This salad has been on my mind for sometime and finally I managed to bring all the ingredients together at the same time and give it a go. We’ve been blessed in my house with endless gifts of apples and this salad is one of several ways I’ve been using them up.

When I bought the Brussels sprouts I actually bought them on the stem. Every Saturday morning there’s two “young fellas” selling fresh vegetables by the roadside near where I work, and the other week when I drove past I spotted, out of the corner of my eye, these sprouts on the stem. As the food nerd I am, I actually stopped my car, turned around and went back to buy some. At €2 for the whole stem it was quiet the steal. Gotta’ love the entrepreneurial youth in the Irish countryside. Win-win.

Festive salad

A Festive Winter Salad

Serves 2

Approx. 10 Brussels Sprouts – peeled and halved

Approx. 10 chestnuts

1 medium sized apple – thinly sliced

Seeds from ¼ pomegranate

Juice of ½ lemon

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt & Black pepper to season

 

Pre heat the oven to 180˚C. Cut a slit or a cross on the pointy end of the chestnuts. Make sure to do all of them, just to make sure you won’t end up with any accidental explosions…

Place the chestnuts on an oven tray and bake for 35 min. Set aside to cool a little before you peel off the inner and other skin. Then chop the peeled chestnuts roughly.

**This is the easiest way I have found to remove the seeds from pomegranates, without splashing myself and the entire kitchen in the process… Cut the fruit in half and then into quarters. Gently break the quarter pieces apart and peel out the seeds. Place all the seeds in a glass jar and store in the fridge.

Peel off any outside leaves that are discoloured and halve the sprouts.

 Heat a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan. The trick here (as taught by my chef friend) is to heat the pan first, then when the pan is hot add the oil and quickly add the sprouts. Give them a quick stirfry and as soon as they are have gone a little golden on the cut side and the green colour has intensified, remove from the heat.

Place the warm Brussels sprout in a large bowl, squeeze some lemon juice on top, season with sea salt and black pepper and then add the chopped chestnuts, sliced apple and pomegranate seeds.

Serve the salad warm.

** Side note, if you can’t get chestnuts you can serve it with walnuts or toasted hazelnuts instead.

simple ways to feel amazing

 

Lemony Lentil Dahl

Lemony Lentil Dahl

I don’t know about you, but almost a week after the American Presidential election and even though at present it does not directly affect me on a personal level, I still feel a little flat.

It didn’t feel right sharing pictures of food on social media amidst so much tumult and as much as I normally try to limit my intake of news, it’s been almost impossible to NOT get sucked into the whole debacle… But if you are starting to worry that this post will become all political, no need. I will leave it right here, though I felt like I needed to make a note of it, as whether you live in the U.S or not, we are all human beings living on the same blue planet in this vast Universe. And perhaps it is about time that we wake up to the fact that what effects one does affect the whole. Even if it is not always felt immediately.

 

Lentil Dahl

 

This week I am planning on carry on from last’s week’s theme of Food + Love, but with a slightly different angle. The food (and friendship) angle!

This Lemony Lentil Dahl, is my take on a delicious meal that my dear friend Michele made for me this summer when I stayed with her in her home in Seattle, WA. It’s one of those simple and comforting type  of meals / dishes that I love so much. Even though I first tasted it in June it makes a great winter warmer, hence why I am sharing it with you all now.

With all that is ever ongoing in this world, my intention for this particular post is to celebrate the beauty of friendship and connection. I haven’t known Michele for much more than a year, yet if feels like we’ve already established a connection that runs much deeper than what short time we’ve known eachother.  You never know with whom you might connect, or where or when. Today we have perhaps more opportunities to connect with people than ever hadn’t it been for the Internet.  Me and Michele connected through an online mentorship programme and after many hours of Skype we eventually got to meet in person.

Straightforward Nutrition

Me & Michele on a hike in WA.

This whole experience brought it home to me again, that when it truly comes down to it, what matters most is people and the connections we establish with one another. It also highlighted the fact that even though we might come from different countries, with different backgrounds and upbringings, when we meet people who share the same values like ourselves, there’s an instant connection which goes beyond all of that, and one on which we can build a stronger bond going forward.

When I asked Michele for the recipe of this dish she told me that it was not “hers”. My understanding is that as long as, if you use someone else’s recipe word for word, (obviously!) full credit is due, but nobody has patent on ingredients or combination thereof. This lends itself to the beauty of creativity, possibility and change. Maybe even a celebration of the fact that nothing ever stays exactly the same…

So a bit like “Chinese Whispers” things can get lost in translation and we make our own interpretations. For better and for worse. This is my interpretation of Michele’s Lemony Lentil Dahl, and I’m sharing it here with you as a celebration of the possibilities that is connection and friendship (and food of course!)

*Please note that this recipe is one of those that has “fluid” measurements. So even though I have given some exact ones below, please feel free to experiment and adjust according to your own preferences both when it comes to taste and texture. More liquid will give a more soup-like consistency.*

Michele’s Lemony Lentil Dahl (With my interpretations)

Serves 2 (Double the recipe and make a large batch if you are feeding many or want to fill your freezer)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 large or 2 small yellow onions

250g red lentils

450 ml stock

3 lemons

½ tsp brown mustard seeds

2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

½ tsp nigella seeds –optional

2 pods black cardamom – optional

4-5 large leaves of Swiss (Rainbow) Chard or Spinach

Sea salt and black pepper, to season

Place mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds and the seeds from the black cardamom pods, if using, in a pester and mortar and ground roughly.

Peel and chop the onions finely.

Heat the coconut oil on a heavy based large saucepan. Once the oil is warmed up, add all of the spices and fry off on low heat until fragrant. Add the chopped onion and fry off until translucent.

Rinse and drain the red lentils and add to the pan together with the stock. Give everything a good stir and then bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 20 min until the lentils start coming apart.

Add the juice of the two lemons. Taste and season accordingly. If you don’t think it is lemony enough, add more juice.

Wash and chop the chard / spinach roughly, stems and all and add to the Dahl. Keep stirring the Dahl until all of the chard / spinach has wilted down.

Serve warm in bowls. This recipe is one of those which tastes even better the following day, so it is well worth making some extra!

Lemony Lentil Dahl