I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve posted something here. And in a sense it has. There’s not all that much left to January so it’s about time I got going with the blogging for 2016! I really enjoy the creative process of it all. From thinking up recipes, playing in the kitchen, taking the photos and doing the writing. And I’m so grateful to all of you who check in here, take the time to read my ramblings and try out my recipes. So thank you 🙂
Though time seems to fly, it always does(!) this is going to be the year I really practice on being more present and living in the here and now. With an emphasis on practice, be cause that’s just what it is. Some days it works better and seem easier, than others, but in the end all we can do is practice. And when we do, practice that is, regardless of what it is you are practicing – meditation, mindfulness, cooking, weightlifting, running, yoga – we all get better, little by little through the dedication to practice.
I think if we are looking to change anything, whether is something about ourselves, add in a daily selfcare ritual to our lives or learning a new skill, the secret to success goes as follows: Acknowledgement (you want something different to what you have / where you are), Awareness (you need to know where you currently are at, what your patterns are and what it is you need to do different in order to change), Trust (put faith in the process, that if you consistently follow through you will, get there, even when it doesn’t feel like you will) and finally Devotion (because what you want to change and become matters more to you than staying the same).
I suppose one can see Devotion and Discipline as almost synonyms, however I don’t know about you but discipline too me feel a lot harsher and more rigid than devotion. So I stick with the former… So from here on in, for this year I’m going to honour my devotion to staying present in my life (and to blog regularly.) These are my intentions for 2016.
What are your intentions for this New Year? If you need some help to get clarity around where you need to focus, feel free to download this practical sheet I’ve created HERE. It’s yours to play around with.
“Where attention goes, energy flows and result show”.
And what about being more present? Have you ever noticed how how perceptive time can be? Like when you actually slow down, it almost feels like you’ve got more time, because in that moment you have more time to experience everything that’s going on around you as well as what’s going on inside you… Sounds counter intuitive, I know, but let’s try it. The opposite is certainly true when you surf the internet or scroll through Facebook…
So what about cooking and eating? Excellent times to practice awareness, mindfulness and being present I think. Perhaps easier said that done, but if you are going to make the effort of cooking from scratch, using all the colourful foods you bought you might as well actively engage in the process. It is so much more rewarding that way!
Last week I had the opportunity to play in the kitchen, as well as with my camera. To make it even better one of my lovely friends came over and was my handmodel for the day. So that made it extra fun!
This is a true, yellow, fiery soup to warm you on cold winter days. Even the bright yellow colour brightens my mood, especially as there still seems to be no end in sight to this current Irish wet winter weather… So as “sunny looking” bowl of hearty goodness has to make up for the lack of the sunlight.
This soup is also highly antiinflammatory as it is full of antiinflammatory foods like, onion, garlic, turmeric and ginger. The main star of the soup is the butternut squash which is a type of pumpkin, readily available in most supermarkets these day. This pumpkin is a great source of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin C and the yellow coloured phyto-nutrient beta carotene.
It is a really wholesome, wholefood soup made from just a couple of basic ingredients + stock. Of you are battling a cold, need some warming up or are looking for some antiinflammatory support then here’s one way to do it! You’ll have this colourful beauty whipped up in no time.
This is the third recipe in the Winter Soup Series, and I have at least one more lined up before the winter is over…
Fiery Anti inflammatory Soup
1 yellow onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 buttenut squash, roasted (whole), deseeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
2 fresh roots of turmeric, chopped or 1 tbsp dried powder
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled & finely chopped
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
Sea Salt & Black pepper, to season
Vegetable stock, about 1 litre – I never really measure out my stock but use enough to cover my veggies and then add more as necessary to thin the soup when blending it
For the toasted seeds as topping:
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3 tbsp tamari, wheat free soy sauce
Start by heating your oven to 200°C. Place the butternut squash on a oven tray and then leave it to roast in the hot oven for about 30 min or until the skin is lightly burnt and the squash is soft. This is by far the easiest way to deal with butternut squash as it is a complete pain to try to peel or chop it when fresh! You can even roast it the day before if you have the oven on anyway.
Whilst the butternut squash is roasting, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Then gently heat some olive oil in a heavy based saucepan. Once the oil is warm, add in the onion, garlic and ginger and saute until soft.
Add in the turmeric just before the end and stir through but be careful not to burn it.
When your butternut squash is ready, take it out of the oven and let it cool before you cut in in half and remove the seeds. If you are feeling enthusiastic you can clean and save these for roasting later…
If you are using an organic squash you can leave the skin on, otherwise peel the soft skin off and add the pumpkin flesh to the saucepan.
Add enough stock to cover the vegetables and bring up to boil. Then reduce to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 min. Allow the soup to cool down a little before you blend it smooth. Add more stock as necessary to thin to your preferred consistency.
To make the toasted seeds;
Heat the oven to 150°C. Or toast the seeds once you are done with the squash.
Place the seeds on a lined baking tray. Add the tamari and toss until evenly coated.
Roast in the oven for 15 min, until they look just about dry. Give them a stir with a spoon every 5 min too. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool down.
Top each bowl of soup with a descent table spoon of toasted seeds and store any leftover ones in a glass jar in your store cupboard. The seeds are also delicious as a little snack on their own or as a salad sprinkle.
What are your favourite yellow foods? Please share below 🙂
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.
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.
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
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.
What is your favourite way to enjoy red lentils? Please share below 🙂
Can you have sweet treats that are actually beneficial to your health and body? I, for one, would like to think so.
It can be so confusing knowing what to eat these days… However if you stick to the “wholefood principle” you can’t go too far wrong. The overall message coming through from research done in the field of nutrition and health still seem to echo that food which are close to nature IS the most beneficial kind of food for our health. This is also probably the one thing everybody in the field of nutrition and health agrees on, regardless of what food camp they belong to.
I really like simple when it comes to cooking. If you have beautiful fresh ingredients to hand, usually this is the best way to allow them to bask in their own glory. That said, I truly appreciate people who have the skills of Culinary Art, and the ability to create wonderful dishes full of complexity and flavour. If you’ve ever watched Master Chef (the Australian version is my favourite), then you know what I mean! Impressive attention to detail, dedication and passion. My life is often complicated and busy enough on most days though, to be able to cook like that. And if you are like most people, I’m guessing that yours might be too. So how about we just stick with simple for now?
I’ve had a couple of recipes using raw cacao here before. Like this one with peanut butter and coconut oil. It’s actually quiet easy to make your own. Here I’ve used some silicon molds that I bought a few months ago. I think using them, gives a slight creative edge… 😉 And they are certainly vital if you want to make chocolate with fillings!
From some trial and testing I’ve found maple syrup to my preferred type of sweetener for raw chocolate making. It seems to be the one which blends the easiest with the raw cacao butter and the cacao powder. It is a completely natural sweetener made from the sap of the maple tree. Yes it is a sugar, yes too much sugar isn’t all that great for our health and can contribute a whole host of chronic disease, but remember what I said earlier about “wholefoods” and “close to nature”? And I don’t know about where you live, but over here it is a fairly expensive product so I for one don’t tend to consume it in any larger quantities. Most over-consumption of sugar (usually in the form of High Fructose Syrup) comes from an over-consumption of processed food… Just saying.
Sesame seeds, used here in the form of Tahini has several health promoting benefits like being good for the skin due to its content of the antioxidant Vitamin E. Some studies has also shown sesame seeds to be strengthening to the heart and protective of the liver. It’s also worth nothing that sesame seeds are a high in calcium, which may alone be a good reason to include them in your diet, just to make sure you have a variety of calcium sources to keep “them bones” healthy.
Tahini can be a little bitter. To be honest, it’s taken me some time to become a fan, but I really like it now. I haven’t included any maple syrup here in the filling as I think the juice from the orange has enough sweetness and breaks through that bitterness. Taste it and if you want the filling a little sweeter then add a drop of maple syrup.
If you are still stuck for some Christmas present ideas and want to give a gift with a difference this year, then why not make a batch (or two) of these? Place them in a cute box wrapped with pretty paper – done!
Tahini – Orange Filled Raw Chocolates
Makes about 10 – depending on type of mold you use
90 g raw cacao butter
20 g raw cacao powder
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp Tahini
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
finely grated zest of 1/2 organic orange
Melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Once the cacao butter is fully melted remove the saucepan from the heat but keep your bowl with the cacao butter on top. Add the cacao powder and mix with a spoon or small whisk until smooth. Then add in the maple syrup and stir again until it’s nice and smooth.
Carefully remove the bowl with the chocolate mixture. If possible, take care to not get steam into the mixture as this will cause the chocolate to split. Take out your mold and fill each section to just under half. Place the mold in the fridge to harden.
In the meantime mix tahini, orange juice and orange zest together in a small bowl or glass. Taste is and if you think it’s too bitter then feel free to add a little maple syrup to taste.
After about 30 min, when your chocolate in the fridge has hardened, take out the mold and carefully spoon a little tahini mix on to each of your chocolates. Then fill up the rest of each mold with more chocolate. Place back into the fridge and allow to set completely.
*Note to keep the chocolate mixture fluid for your second addition, simply place your bowl over the saucepan with the hot water from before. If it starts to set, reheat the water some more.
Once the chocolates are fully set, usually after 2-3h in the fridge, pop them out of the mold and store in a container.
The chocolates are best stored in the fridge and eaten within a week.
I almost forgot to mention that this post will also count as a celebration of this blog turning two! Well technically it is a month too late, but I never found time to write about it last month…
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.
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
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!
What is your favourite Winter Soup? Please share, I’d love to know!
I’m going to continue on with the smoothie them for a little longer. Because I like smoothies. And I also have a nutribullet which I love using on a regular basis. I know, I know, smoothies are for the summer you say or for at least when the weather get warmer. Fair enough. But I happen to like having them all year round…
Since citrus season is almost over, I think I bough myself the last blood oranges for some time to come the other day. It’s kind of funny as I love eating oranges during the colder months but I very rarely buy them at other times of the year. Same with red cabbage for example.
So if you have a few oranges still knocking around in your fruit basket then here’s a cool way to use them up!
In this recipe I’ve paired my orange smoothie part with some sesame milk. As you can see I didn’t blend them together but went for a marble effect instead. Doesn’t it look cool? Making your own nut or seed milk is actually ridiculously easy. Every time I do make some I ask myself why I don’t do it more often. One thing to remember though is that since your own homemade milk, will contain no preservatives or emulsifiers it will separate and also it will only keep for 2-3 days so make sure you don’t make to much each time.
As a change from the usual nut milk, here you have a seed milk. This dairy free alternative is suitable for those who cannot tolerate nuts. Sesame seeds are also a great source of calcium so it makes a good substitute. Though the flavour is very different to cow’s milk. Obviously.
I’m a little bit behind on the blogging at the moment, but trust me it’s not for the lack of inspiration. I have lots of recipes and ideas I would like to share with you all. It’s just time… There’s been a couple of projects taking up some time recently and that’s why I didn’t manage to get this post out to last week.
One of them was the recent release of my Smoothie Ebook and if you haven’t grabbed your copy yet then feel free to do so now! It will be a nice follow on from this recipe and the lovely sunshine smoothie Agnes shared with us last month too. The other think, which you may have noticed it the addition of a video and a subtle change in layout, banner & footers. I hope you like it as much as I do. It was necessary as my business growing and evolving.
I hope you are enjoying your Easter weekend so far and if you feel like you need to balance your chocolate intake a little, then here’s a simple way to do it.
Citrus Sesame Smoothie
1 cup sesame milk (see recipe below)
1/2 banana – fresh or frozen (frozen will give you a creamier texture)
1/2 fresh mango, peeled & chopped
1 blood orange, peeled – or use a normal one if you can’t get any blood oranges.
First blend the sesame milk with the banana. Once you have a creamy mixture, pour it into your serving glass. Rinse your blender and then blend mango and orange until you have a smooth puree.
Add the orange-mango mix to the sesame part and watch the marble effect unfold.
Makes approx 4 cups ( 1000 ml)
2 cups sesame seeds, soaked for minimum of 4h & then rinsed
4 cups of filtered water
2 tbs raw honey or maple syrup
pinch of salt
Soak your sesame seeds in plenty of water, preferably overnight. Once the soaking time is up, drain & rinse them again. Discard the soaking water.
Blend the soaked seeds with the filtered water. You may have to do it in batches if you have a small blender like me. Once blended, strain your seed-water mix through a piece if muslin / cheese cloth or use a nut milk bag if you have one. Discard the pulp. Ideally in a compost.
Blend your “milk” with some honey and a pinch of salt. Done! Store in a glass container in the fridge. As I mentioned above, it will separate so give it a shake before every time you use it. Your sesame milk will keep about three days in the fridge. You’ll now when it’s gone off as it will be sour.