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A WEEK OF VEGAN EVENTS / GRAIN AND BEETROOT SALAD WITH SWEET MISO DRESSING

A WEEK OF VEGAN EVENTS / GRAIN AND BEETROOT SALAD WITH SWEET MISO DRESSING

The week of vegan adventures:

Wednesday: Vegan Cheese Making Workshop ran by lovely Mel Rogers of Mel’s Kindness Kitchen - http://melskindnesskitchen.co.uk/workshops-and-catering/ - Mel strives to create delicious vegan cheese recipes on a budget. We were taught how to make 4 different plant based“cheeses”. My favourite was Me’s creamy tofu cheese, it will become a staple in my kitchen as it can be adapted to so many different flavours . Mel’s cheeses taste miles better than any vegan cheeses I have bought from shops (you know the plastic bag taste…). Mel will be running a cheese workshop at the Bristol Vegfest in May so do go see her if you get a chance.



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Friday: Dr Michael Greger’s talk : Uprooting the UK’s Leading Causes of Death! Definite highlight of the week!!! Indeed I have been a huge fan ever since his discovering his fantastic website www.nutritionfacts.org, I did walk up to him just to call him my hero (think he appreciated it). Dr Greger is one of the biggest advocate of the plant based diet’s health benefits out there. And what more, all his claims are backed by science! His talk was fabulously entertaining and informative, I loved that he tailored it to reflect the health issues here in the UK (the US version of his talk is on the internet) making it very topical. My, soon to be 14, son left very inspired too. We were discussing nutrition and health during the whole car journey back and yes this time he initiated it. I have a photo and signed copy of HOW NOT TO DIE book to remember this day. An amazing experience meeting an amazing man. Start struck I was. If you haven’t already please do buy his book!!!


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My personal proud moment: As I sat down at the auditorium I realised there were leaflets everywhere with my face on it!!! The College of Naturopathic Medicine was the co-organiser of Dr Greger’s talk together with the amazing Viva! (proud to have such an organisation in Bristol). The leaflets were there to advertise the upcoming CNM Open Day event I am part of with my talk on vegan nutrition.

Finally Saturday, a delicious (even not so healthy) hot dog experience at a LD’S Bitchin' Kitchin vegan pop up at the Golden Lion pub. This was an attempt to make the pub owners realise that there is a demand for vegan options that are currently missing from the pub’s menu. We were happy to help the cause :) Hot dogs were delicious, mine was smothered in delicious barbecue beans sprinkled with vegan bacon and gherkins. Yum. I had a taste of my husbands Satan’s Seitan and hiccupped all the way home…Fiery! Perfect for the Punks Vs Mods event the pub was hosting.

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A quick recipe to round up this blog.

GRAIN AND BEETROOT SALAD WITH SWEET MISO DRESSING
Makes about 5-6 servings, keeps well in the fridge.

3 cups cooked mix grains ( I used mix of quinoa and bulghur)
1 large beetroot
3 medium carrots
1 red onion
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Dressing
2 Tbs sweet white miso
5 Tbs sushi seasoning
1 Tbs soya sauce (tamari)

  • Place the grain in a large bowl.

  • Grate the beetroot and carrot. Add to the grain together with thinly sliced red onions.

  • In a dry pan lightly toast the sunflower seeds till just beginning to colour, add to the salad.

  • To make the dressing just whisk all the ingredients together and pour over the dressing. Mix well.

  • Top with herbs if desired.


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ROASTED ROOT SALAD WITH MUSTARD DRESSING

ROASTED ROOT SALAD WITH MUSTARD DRESSING



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What happens when three nutritional therapists and their families get together for dinner? No, we don’t snack on carrot and celery sticks and drink kale juice. We eat, and we eat a lot. But we do eat very nutritions and delicious foods. Usually we struggle to put all the various dishes on the table. The quantity reminds me of the French film Blow Out.

Last Saturday we had one of our foodie get togethers. Our table was overflowing with black bean chilli, patatas bravas, Mexican rice, guacamole, hummus, rocket and vegetable salad with cashew dressing and roasted vegetable salad with mustard dressing. Everything was delicious, full of nutrients and made with love :)

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One of my contributions was the roasted root salad with mustard dressing. Full of flavour, zingy, delicious and very colourful (if I may say so myself). It is so easy to make! I used carrots, butternut squash and beetroot. Of course other veggies would work here well too, sweet potato, parsnip, pumpkin, swede. The sweetness of root veggies can take a very punchy dressing flavoured with plenty of whole grain mustard.

This salad is fabulous when made ahead, great for take to work for lunch. Or as the weather gets better it is definitely one for a picnic basket. Bit of crusty sourdough would be amazing to soak up the dressing that has turned beautifully pink. I know I will be making this again and again.



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ROASTED ROOT SALAD WITH MUSTARD DRESSING

ingredients

1Tbs coconut oil
5 medium to large red beetroot
5 large carrots
1 small to medium butternut squash
3 medium red onions
Dressing
2 Tbs whole grain mustard
3 Tbs sherry vinegar
4 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp tamari or nama shoyu
1 Tbs maple syrup

5 tbs chopped parsley
1/2 cup walnuts

  • Cut the root vegetables into 1/2 inch (1.5cm) dice.
  • Melt the coconut oil.
  • Place the vegetables on a baking tray and roast, drizzle with coconut oil and roast for 15 minutes.
  • Slice the red onions and add to the vegetables, roast for another 30-35min or until the roots are cooked all the way through and starting to caramelise around the edges.
  • While the veggies are roasting prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients.
  • Tip the roasted veggies into the dressing, mix to coat. Hot vegetables will soak up the dressing making this extra delicious.
  • When the dressed veggies are cooled down add the parsley and walnuts.
  • Serve with a crusty chunk of sourdough.


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FENNEL AND CABBAGE SLAW WITH CASHEW LEMON DRESSING

FENNEL AND CABBAGE SLAW WITH CASHEW LEMON DRESSING

Being a Czech I do love a cabbage based salad. I am sure I have mentioned it on this blog a few times. I will admit that if there is a bowl of freshly shredded cabbage I can’t keep my hand out of it. I love that crisp sweetness of raw cabbage. Unfortunately the sweetness disappears when cabbage is cooked.

Cabbage may seem to be one of the most boring, ordinary vegetables but as a member of the cruciferous vegetables it has shown some cancer preventing properties amongst many other health benefits. The anticancer benefits are only present when cabbage is eaten lightly steamed or raw. Forget the overcooked cabbage that was traditionally served by British grandmas alongside the ubiquitous Sunday roast (luckily I have never experienced that).

Raw cabbage salad is the perfect way to reap the vegetable’s health benefits and the beautiful sweet taste. Unlike many green salads this one will keep in the fridge for a few days. You may just have to add a bit of lemon juice to enliven it up.

I have added fennel and carrot, both vegetables I adore raw and, for a bit of sweetness, couple of apples. Tarter variety will work well to offset the sweetness of the other vegetables. Dressing is a creamy concoction of cashews, tahini and lemon, kind of a variation of mayonnaise. Chill in the fridge before serving. (PS will taste great with veggie burgers)

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FENNEL AND CABBAGE SLAW WITH CASHEW LEMON DRESSING

ingredients
half a medium white or green (not Savoy)
2 medium tart apples
1 large bulb of fennel
3 medium carrots

Dressing
1 cup cashews (soaked for at least 30min)
1/2cup water
2tbs tahini
1tbs maple syrup
3 tbs cold press olive oil
juice of 2 medium lemons
salt nad pepper

method
  • Using a food processor (or a sharp knife) shred the cabbage thinly. It will yield around 3-4 cups of shredded cabbage.
  • Next thinly shred the fennel and grate the carrot, and apples.
  • Mix all vegetables together and set aside while making the dressing.
  • To make the dressing put the cashews, tahini, water, maple syrup, olive oil and lemon juice into the food processor and process till smooth. Stir into the salad.
  • Season with salt and pepper.


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SPICY CARROT SOUP

SPICY CARROT SOUP

Most of my lunches start by opening the fridge and the pantry in hope I will get inspired. Rarely I have a plan. My only aim is tasty quick nutritious food. This method is not dissimilar to cooking lunches with my great grandma during summer holidays when I was a child. We would go into the garden, pick fresh veggies and herbs, sometimes we picked mushrooms from the nearby woods and make a lunch. Every day we had a vegetable soup to start with. These days I am not picking my vegetables fresh from my garden ( I wish I could) but the process is still the same.

Today I had far too many sad looking carrots hanging around. Therefore making carrot soup seemed like a good idea. In my opinion a good carrot soup needs some spice or it will taste too much like cooked carrots. I know this may sound a bit strange but cooked carrots bring back rather unpleasant memory or primary school when I was forced to eat overcooked carrots for school lunch with disastrous results….Adding ginger, garlic and chilli allows me to enjoy the benefits of cooked carrots without the bad memories.

When it comes to carrots I prefer eating them raw. We are not however very good at chewing them efficiently enough to break down the cell walls to receive the maximum benefit from beta carotene. Cooking carrots makes beta carotene more available to the body. The conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A (preformed only available from animal products) is more efficient with a bit of fat added. Therefore adding the teaspoon of coconut oil as suggested in the recipe may aid this process. Alternatively you could sprinkle the soup with some hemp seeds before serving.
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SPICY CARROT SOUP
Oil free if coconut oil not used.

1tsp coconut oil or 60 mil (1/4 cup) water
1 onion
1 tbs minced ginger
2 large cloves of garlic
1 chilli pepper
5 medium to large carrots, sliced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
2 medium tomatoes,
1 litre, (4 cups) light vegetable stock
Coriander (cilantro) leaves for garnish

  • In a medium size saucepan heat the coconut oil or water, add onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and cook gently for 5 minutes.
  • Next add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 30minutes.
  • Blend with a stick blender or in a stand up blender.
  • Garnish with some fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves. Enjoy.



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NHS, BREASTFEEDING AND LIFESTYLE DISEASE COSTS / RECIPE: ROOT VEGETABLE AND LENTIL BAKE

NHS, BREASTFEEDING AND LIFESTYLE DISEASE COSTS / RECIPE: ROOT VEGETABLE AND LENTIL BAKE

Last Friday, NHS announced, that £40million could be save if mothers would breastfeed their babies for longer. This is based on the reduction cost of treatment of conditions such as middle ear infection, gastroenteritis or lower respiratory infections, and necrotising enterocolitis. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing the above conditions. Of course there are many other benefits of breastfeeding and I whole heartedly support any initiative that would help mothers to successfully breastfeed their babies for longer. Investing into breastfeeding coaches that will have a calm and patient approach as opposed to overstretched midwives would be a great start.

Judging from comments on this article this news has not been received very well by a lot of mums. The most vocal are the mums who wanted to breastfeed, tried their best but for variety of reasons were not successful. They feel attacked. A lot of them already blame themselves for this “failure” and don’t need to be told they might be responsible for NHS loosing vast amounts of money. Motherhood can play with our minds, we tend to blame ourselves for any shortcomings, we think we are not good enough at this mum thing….I still blame myself for not breastfeeding my daughter as long as I did my son (by couple of months….). Or for weaning my son a bit too early (on advice of a health visitor and guidelines at that particular time).

No surprise mums are angry especially when we compare the £40million loss to other NHS statistics. In 2007 the estimated cost of the treatment of overweight and obesity related conditions in England (only) was £4.2 billion, the indirect cost (such as reduced productivity) was estimated between £2.6 billion and £15.6billion. A 2013 Telegraph article noted the cost of diseases caused by poor diet and sedentary lifestyle was more than £6billion. The cost of treatment of alcohol related harm in 2010-11 in England was £3.5billion a year. And finally the cost to the NHS in England of treating diseases caused by smoking in 2014 was £2 billion. These are pretty hefty sums for conditions we could and should prevent. In my view that’s where the real focus needs to be.

http://www.noo.org.uk/NOO_about_obesity/economics
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/12December/Pages/More-breastfeeding-would-save-NHS-millions.aspx
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/laura-donnelly/10174593/Obesity-bankrupting-the-NHS-warns-peer.html
http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_121.pdf
http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/alcohol2012-13.pdf


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ROOT VEGETABLE AND LENTIL BAKE
This is a very autumnal root vegetable bake, you can alter the flavour by choosing your favourite seasoning mix such as curry, Moroccon mix or Cajun.

1 cup (200g) red lentils
2 bay leaves
2 medium parsnips
2 large carrots
1 large red pepper
oil spray (optional)
2 leeks
1/4c (60ml) water
2 tbs Hungarian spice mix (or any other spice mix)
1 tbs tahini
1/2 cup (60g) ground almonds
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Cook the lentils in 3 cups (750ml) water with the bay leaves for 15 min or till soft. Drain and set aside.
  • Cut the parsnips, carrots and red pepper into bite size chunks, tip into a roasting dish, lightly spray with oil (I use rice bran) and roast in 200C oven for 40min or till soft and caramelized. Stir half way through.
  • Slice and wash the leeks, saute in 1/4 cup (60 ml) together with seasoning mix till softened.
  • Place the roasted vegetabels and seasoned leeks into a food processor and pulse till combined, well chopped but not too mushy. Place into a large bowl.
  • Add the lentils, tahini and almonds to the vegetables. Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spread into a square baking dish and bake at 180C till golden brown on top.
  • Serve with gravy or cranberry sauce.
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CURRIED ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP WITH COCONUT

CURRIED ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP WITH COCONUT

A recent study has reported that in 2012 the average price of more healthy foods was about three times higher – £7.49 for 1,000kcal compared to £2.50 for 1,000kcal of less healthy foods.
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/10October/Pages/Healthy-food-costs-you-more-claim.aspx

As the article pointed out this calorie comparison is controversial since healthy foods tend to be less calorie dense. Basing this research on calories only is very misleading. You would need to buy approximately 30 cucumbers to achieve 1000 calories whereas it only takes one packet (20 biscuits ) of ginger nut biscuits to do the same. Keeping this “logic” in mind, 1000 calories of cucumbers, 30 whole cucumbers (in today’s Tesco prices) would be £14.70. A packet of Tesco ginger nut biscuits cost a mere £ 0.39! This comparison doesn’t make a lot of sense. I bet if we compare a homemade lentil vegetable soup with ready made meals for 4, the soup would come on top.


Healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive. If you cut out the rubbish, look for seasonal produce and are prepared to improvise you can eat well on a budget. Recently I have noticed a lot of fruit and veg shops popping up, there is one called 5 a day not far from my house. Last week I drove by another advertising a bowl of produce for just one pound. These shops may not stock organic produce but any fruit and veg is better than none. I also love to get large bags of pulses or brown rice from Sweet Mart, a local ethnic food shop. Their herbs come in huge bunches and are much cheeper than supermarket ones. Their spices are also a bargain and make anything taste extraordinary.

I believe the problem is not the price, but the lack of cooking knowledge. So many people don’t know what to do with fresh produce (and many can’t be bothered). Any produce can be made into soups, stews, stir-fries, salads, veggie burgers. The wonderful Jack Monroe has proven just that in her successful blog A Girl Called Jack. Her blog is full of healthy recipes she creates for herself and her little boy for mere £10 a week.

My delicious soup comes to roughly £3.50, this includes a pack of curry spice mix and bunch of coriander, the latter can be omitted saving further £.74p. I buy my curry mixes at my favourite ethnic supermarket, the spice mixes are made in house and their taste is miles ahead of those sold in supermarkets. A sizeable bag (about 3 x supermarket pots worth) costs less than £80p. This is what I call a true bargain. I did find cheaper tinned carrot and parsnip soup (£2.30 for 2 tins ) in a super market but it had dairy and wheat flour and stabilisers added. And honestly can you really fill up 4 people with 2 tins of soup? You would probably need that pack of ginger nut biscuits for afters :)

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CURRIED ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP WITH COCONUT

ingredients
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 inch ginger, finely chopped
1 tbs curry powder mix (I used Bombay mix)
2 carrots, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2-3 cups vegetable stock
1 tin coconut milk
lime juice to taste
fresh coriander, chopped

method
  • In 1/2 cup water (or vegetable stock) sauté the onion, garlic and ginger till soften.
  • When water has evaporated add the spices and stirring constantly cook for 30seconds.
  • Next add the vegetables, stock and coconut milk. Cook gently for 20-30min till the vegetables are tender.
  • Puree the soup in a blender (or with a stick blender) till smooth.
  • Add lime juice to taste and add coriander as a garnish.

Cooking up hot steamy soup
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MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP

MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP

My cupboard is always full of spices, that way I can always create a dish with influences from different cuisines. Sometimes I buy pre-mixed concoctions but I do love creating my own blends. They may not be authentic but it is all about the taste.

Last weekend we had a Moroccan feast so perhaps that’s why I reached for Moroccan spices again to make this lentil and spinach soup. It was thick, chunky and filling, just the thing one needs after a long dog walk through mist and fog. I though it could have done with a bit more chilli. Mind you I always have a handy chilli flake grinder or a bottle of chilli sauce within my reach...

This is a great soup for batch cooking, just double the quantities and keep some in the freezer for those “can’t be bother to cook” days. And if you want to shorten the preparation a bit more look out for Moroccan spice mixes such as Ras El Hanout in your spice isle.

I had about a cup of the soup left over for today, due to the lentils it thickened considerably overnight in the fridge. I considered pouring the leftovers over a baked sweet potatoes but had no patience to wait an hour for it to bake... I opted for sauteing some mushrooms, cooked couple handfuls of brown rice pasta and mixed it all together with the leftover soup and few squirts of ketchup. It turned out to be a very yummy lunch for one.


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MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP
Serves 3-4

ingredients
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped into fine dice
1 stick of celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp harrisa paste (depending on how spicy you like your soup)
1 tin of tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) red lentils
3-4 cups of vegetables stocks
100g spinach

method
  1. In a large soup pot heat 1/3cup (60ml ) water (or 1 tbs oil) and saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic till soften, add more water if the vegetables are starting to stick.
  2. Add the spices and cook for about 30seconds.
  3. Next add the harrisa paste and tomatoes and cook for couple of minutes.
  4. Add the lentils and vegetable stock and cook for 20min or until the lentils are soft, nearly falling apart and the soup is thick.
  5. Add the spinach leaves and let them wilt into the soup, this will take about a minute.

Leftover magic
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ASIAN NOODLE SALAD WITH PEANUT DRESSING

ASIAN NOODLE SALAD WITH PEANUT DRESSING

We have been experiencing an incredible heatwave. I don’t think I have ever managed to wear all my summer clothes in one season in the UK. Don’t get me wrong we do get lovely weather here it but it just never seems to last very long.

Last week the intense heat made it very hard to revise for my college exam, I felt like falling asleep every time I picked up my study materials. I must say it is a relief that this college year is now behind me. At the same time I can’t wait to start my final one in September.

This week it has been lovely to have some study free time, my last three days have been spent catching up with housework (like the massive pile of ironing - I think my son has a t-shirt disorder!!!), friends (my lush 4 hour breakfast yesterday morning) and my son"s activities to mark his last year of junior school.

Two nights in a row my son’s year put on a production of The Pirated of Curry Bean so I had to make sure he had some food ready for a quick after school meal before I had to take him back to school to perform the role of a naughty monkey from the island of Lumbago (in the sea of Sciatica...). I am not quite sure how he survived wearing his monkey costume (a thick fleece hoody) in this heat!

Chatting with my friend over our rather long breakfast yesterday, she suggested making pasta salad for last nights dinner. Of course I had to put a bit of a spin on the theme and came up with the recipe below. It’s filling but light, and provides plenty of energy for any performer. My monkey had two bowls before his show and another when we got back home. Success! I think this could become a staple as it is perfect for lunch boxes, picnics or as a part of a cold buffet.

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ASIAN NOODLE SALAD WITH PEANUT DRESSING


Serves 4-6

ingredients
200g Asian noodles (rice, buckwheat, wheat...just not udon)
1 and 1/2 cups (or a punnet) sugar snap peas
2 medium carrots
1/2 cucumber
6 larger radishes
4-6 spring onions (depends on their size)
2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 inch of ginger, chopped
3/4 cup organic smooth peanut butter
2-3 tsp vegan red curry paste
1/2 cup drinking coconut (or another dairy free) milk
2 tsp Bragg liquid aminos, tamari or shoyu
2 tbs black sesame seeds
fresh coriander to taste

method
  1. First cook your noodles according to packet instructions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. Steam the sugar snap peas for about 2 min until crisp tender, cool them down in a bowl of iced water or under a cold running tap.
  3. Coarsely grate the carrots and put them into a large (very large) bowl.
  4. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, using a teaspoon scoop out the seeds and slice into lovely half moons.
  5. Halve the radishes (if large) and slice.
  6. Slice the spring onions on the diagonal.
  7. Add the cucumber, radishes, sugar snap peas and spring onions to the carrots.
  8. Add in the noodles and 2 tsp of sesame oil if using.
  9. Put the lime juice, chopped ginger, red curry paste, peanut butter, coconut milk and Bragg Liquid Aminos into a blender and process till smooth.
  10. Pour over the noodles, add the sesame seeds and mix well. Your hands are the best tool for this.
  11. Add the coriander just before serving.


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FERMENTED CABBAGE

FERMENTED CABBAGE

My internet hell is finally over. We are connected. The other day my daughter exclaimed she can’t live without it! Now, she doesn’t have to. I did think this was a good opportunity for the kids to see what it was like in the “olden days” :)

As you may know from my last post I have recently had a course of rather strong antibiotics for a tooth infection. I have realised how much this affected my recent digestion resulting in gurgling, bloating and just not feeling right. I am no doubt the medication had a lot to do with that. Of course I have been taking some good quality probiotics (and no, the yoghurt drinks are not good enough! - I get asked that a lot).

To speed up my recovery and repopulate my lost friends (I am truly sorry to expose you to antibiotics my friends, but the pain was unbearable) I have started home fermenting. Genetically, we are 99% microbes. Looking after our friends may just be the most important thing we can do to maintain our health. And scientists agree. Lots of research is showing links between our microflora (or lack of) and poor health.

Apart from being raw, full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, fermented vegetables contain live bacteria. This is just what your digestions needs. And it is not a new idea either. Fermented vegetables have always been a staple in many cultures, you can’t imagine a Korean meal without some kimchi, Japanese table will always have some fermented vegetables or indeed the amazing miso whilst tempeh is a staple in Indonesia. I grew up eating sauerkraut as did anyone from Germany to Latvia.

Fermented vegetables, especially raw sauerkraut, are starting to appear in health food shops. Anywhere from £8-10 for a 750g jar this is not a cheap item. Fermenting your own however is cheap as chips. OK I haven’t gone as far as making sauerkraut yet, but my fermented cabbage is delicious and I have no doubt it is abundant with some friendly bacteria. I feel they are smiling at me from the jar!

One last note: If you are taking a portion with you for a lunch, make sure your container is tightly sealed. I have learnt the hard way. My fermented cabbage juice spilt all over my lunch I brought with me to college. Not only everything smelled of fermented cabbage juice, but the rest of my lunch was swimming in it. I am sure that apricots marinated in cabbage juice will not become the next food trend!

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FERMENTED CABBAGE WITH CARROTS

ingredients
1 hispi cabbage (also called sweetheart), small to medium size
1 medium carrot
1/2 tsp caraway seed (optional)
salt (see below)

1 litre preserving jar (Kilner)

  1. First you need to sterilise the jar. I boil some water in a large sauce pan that will fit my jar. Put the jar in together with the lid and let quickly bubble over. Just a few seconds if fine. I leave the jar in the water until I need it.
  2. Next remove the outer cabbage leaves. Generally couple will do, keep the cleaner one, wash and set aside.
  3. Using a knife thinly slice the cabbage, you don’t need German precision, it’s just cabbage :) Put into a colander and wash thoroughly.
  4. Coarsely grate the carrot. Mix together with the cabbage.
  5. Carefully remove the jar and lid from the water.
  6. Put all the cabbage/carrot mix into the Kilner jar. Make sure you pack it in. I use the pushing stick from my juicer to do the job. If using you can sprinkle the caraway seeds between layers. Don’t overfill the jar, I leave about 1 and 1/2inches cabbage free. Now top the cabbage with the reserved whole cabbage leaf, this will ensure the cabbage stays submerged.
  7. Next, make the salt solution. I find that 2 cups of filtered water with 3/4-1tbs of salt do the job for 1 jar. Stir well to dissolve. Pour the salt water into the jar, leaving about 1inch below the top of the jar. The juices will rise during fermentation. Screw the lid on but not too tightly.
  8. Put the jar somewhere warm, I use my airing cupboard (the builder who came to fix my airing cupboard door was rather surprised to find a jar there...). Any warm space will do, you could try to balance it on top of a radiator when in use. I have discounted this idea due to free roaming kids and dogs....
  9. Check the cabbage everyday, open the lid, smell it, inspect the juice. The juice will go cloudy, you will be able to smell the fermentation (not too different from cider or sourdough smell). On the third day have a taste of the juices, it should be fizzy, pleasantly sour (3-4 days are usually how I like it). Transfer into cold store, fridge in my case. You can eat it straight away or let the flavours develop further in the fridge.
  10. I generally have a small (Chinese tea bowl) with my lunch. I especially love drinking the juice!

Day 4
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Day 14
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RAW CARROT COOKIES


RAW CARROT COOKIES

Our broadband has still not been connected. I am not in love with my temporary intermittent connection but I guess that’s all I have for the moment. Patience required. Another thing that has given me grief is my new fridge. Apart from being a tad smaller than my old one, I have found out that my lower fridge drawer is freezing my vegetables. Rocket with ice-crystals was the first victim, but I just assumed the temperature was too low. I adjusted it but I still pulled out solidly frozen cucumber and courgettes from the fridge the day after.

The cucumber, unfortunately, had to be binned. The courgette I attempted to cook in a stir-fry. Slicing it from frozen wasn’t easy! I honestly thought about using a saw. And the result? Well I have had better...

After seeing my frustration my husband read the fridge instructions (yes we should have done that earlier!) and we found out that the bottom drawer is designed for meat and fish, and will freeze vegetables. Not even the suggestion of putting up the temperature to max has worked. This drawer is now assigned for kids lunch box smoothies, and my array of flax, hemp and chia seeds. I am feeling a bit angry at SMEG for making a veggie unfriendly fridge. I do normally have more veggies and fruits that one drawer can contain! On the other hand this is making me plan my meals better so there may be a positive in this after all.


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RAW CARROT AND CHIA COOKIES
My friend made a vegan carrot cake to have after our dinner the other day and I must say it went down a storm. It also inspired me to make raw carrot cookies. My son did say they looked like something stuck on the bottom of a shoe (thanks mate!) but he did admit they tasted great.

Makes 9-10 cookies

ingredients
2 medium carrots
1 medium eating apple
2 Tbs chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
tiny pinch of salt (optional)
1 cup pecans (or walnuts)
4 medjol dates
1/3 cup raisins

method
  1. Grate the carrots and apple very finely using a box grater. I find my food processor doesn’t grate the carrots finely enough. Place into a large bowl.
  2. Add chia seeds, cinnamon and salt into the bowl. The salt is not necessary but brings out the flavour of the cookies.
  3. Next in a food processor grind the pecan nuts till you achieve quite a fine texture, few larger bits are fine.
  4. Add the pitted medjol dates and process till the mixture starts coming together
  5. Add the date pecan mixture to the carrot apple mix. Add the raisins and mix thoroughly.
  6. Take enough mixture to roll into an apricot size ball, flatten it to make a cookie and place on your dehydrator sheet.
  7. Dehydrate at 115F (45C) for 8 hrs, turning half way through. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use oven at its lowest setting, with door ajar.
  8. These cookies will keep in the fridge for 2-3 of days. But they may get eaten before that... :)



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CABBAGE AND TOFU NOODLES

CABBAGE AND TOFU NOODLES

Processed meat leads to an early death. Bacteria are more and more resistant to antibiotics. There are three millions of patients withType 2 Diabetes in the UK. High salt intake is messing up our immune system. Our care system is struggling to cope with dementia. Unfortunately this is not a promo for a new Hollywood disaster movie, this is a brief summary of some of the latest health news.


Last week all the papers reported on the link between processed meat and increased risk of death. It seem to me that people do not want to hear these warnings. No, you mustn't touch our bacon and sausages! Today, at the leisure centre where my son plays basketball, I overheard an obese grandmother telling her grandson : "No, you are not getting any biscuits until you eat your chips and sausages." The boy didn't seem too interested in his dinner. In the end, finishing the second half of her bacon sarnie, the grandmother said: " Well if you don't want it, I will finish it."

Joanna Blythman has been defending sausages and bacon in the Daily mail this week. I think it is simply dangerous to do that. These are not health foods. And if you think eating 5-a-day alongside your burger will save you, think again. Our lecturer shocked us with the fact that 5-a-day negates one Happy Meal! Yes, you heard right, just
one measly Happy Meal. All the powerful phytonutrients are used up to clean up after this kid's favourite. Now imagine if somebody eats at McDonalds and is also a smoker. Every cigarette accounts for the loss of 25mg of Vitamin C (if you smoke 10 a day you would have to eat a kilo of raspberries, or 35 peaches just to make up for the cigarettes). Let's make it clear 5-a-day will do zilch if the rest of diet and lifestyle are rubbish. If we are to move ahead and tackle the present health crisis we must make promoting healthy lifestyle changes a priority. Promoting bacon and sausages simply won't do.

cabbagetofunoodles

CABBAGE AND TOFU NOODLES

Serves 2-3

2 nests of noodles (rice, whole wheat, buckwheat)
1/2 inch ginger, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely sliced
1 large carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small cabbage, shredded
200g firm tofu, cut into bite sized pieces
1-2 tsp chilli sauce
2 tbs soya sauce
1 cup water
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tsp sesame seeds

  1. First prepare the noodles according to the package instruction (rice noodles need to be soaked, buckwheat or whole wheat need to be cooked). Set aside. If you are cooking your noodles make sure to rinse them well to prevent sticking.
  2. In a wok heat about 60ml of water. Add the ginger, garlic and shallot. Cook for about 5 min until soft. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick.
  3. Next add the carrot, cabbage, tofu, chilli sauce, soya sauce and water. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the cabbage has softened.
  4. Add in the cooked noodles and simmer until heated stirring constantly.
  5. Finally add the spring onions and sesame seeds and serve.

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PINK QUINOA SALAD

PINK QUINOA SALAD

Last weekend at college we learned about phytonutrients and superfoods. I feel that we have only scratched the surface, there are thousands of phytonutrients, some have been well researched and some have not yet been discovered. What a fascinating subject!

My college friend put on her Facebook page: “After a whole weekend at college the conclusion is: just eat your fruit and veg!” I couldn’t have said it better. And as our lecturer pointed out we should aim for 10 and everything over that is a bonus.

The bad thing about phytonutrients? They all come with rather complicated names and I have to learn and remember them for my upcoming exam. Together with biochemistry, all vitamins and minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, orthomolecular nutrients... Yes I shall be busy over the next 3 weeks...

Quick nutritious recipes should get me through it! Just like this pink quinoa salad. You must admit it looks fabulous. It tastes great too. I will try to post as much as my study schedule allows me.


pink-quinoa-salad

PINK QUINOA SALAD
Sushi seasoning is sold in bottles in Japanese sections of Asian shops or supermarket. I use it to season sushi rice (of course) it takes the guess work out, perfect balance every time. It tastes great as a dressing too, it may need a bit of vinegar or lime juice if too sweet for your palate. I used cider vinegar, but rice wine vinegar would be fantastic too.

Serves 4

1 cup quinoa
1 large carrot
1 medium beetroot
3 spring onions
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbs capers
small handful of parsley
2 Tbs sushi seasoning
1 Tbs cider vinegar

  1. Rinse the quinoa well. Bring a medium pan of water to boil (about 1litre), add the quinoa and cook for about 15min. Rinse under running cold water.
  2. Coarsely great the carrot and peeled beetroot. Place in a salad bowl.
  3. Slice the spring onions into thin rings.
  4. LIghtly toast the sunflower seeds in a dry pan, take care not to burn them.
  5. Add the onions, sunflower seeds, quinoa, capers, parsley to the carrots and beetroot..
  6. Season with the sushi seasoning and vinegar.

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YELLOW CARROT SALAD

YELLOW CARROT SALAD

Kids seem to get a kick out of quirky and unusual things. Yellow carrots, therefore, were a big hit. I was a bit worried they may not taste good, as it was the case with the beautiful stripy aubergines I bought a few weeks ago. Glad to report yellow carrots delivered on taste.

Even though I bought them from the supermarket, where all the fruits and vegetables seem to be of uniform shapes and sizes, the yellow carrots were wonky and gorgeously misshapen. Just the way veg should be.

yellow-carrots

I wanted to accentuate the sunshine colour of the carrots and adding a yellow pineapple seemed the best way to do. It turned out to be a perfect choice as it not only looked great but everybody loved the gorgeous sweetness and freshness of this simple salad.

It was served as a part of a mezze meal. My friend was just at the tail end of a detox so I wanted to serve fresh, easy, uncomplicated food. Apart from the carrot salad we had my raw courgette dip (
http://www.plantstrongliving.co.uk/blog/files/cd27fb3b34f77fee3058fa84c453ae2d-72.html ), beetroot falafels (/www.plantstrongliving.co.uk/blog/files/ac326fc7e745955899b46d24741566c2-108.html ) , olives, lots of raw veggies to go with the falafels, tahini dressing and spicy patatas bravas (those I forgot to photograph... will make them again soon). It was freezing outside but we sure were eating sunshine :)

yellow-carrot-salad

YELLOW CARROT SALAD

ingredients
4 large yellow carrots
1/2 medium pineapple
2 large oranges

Using a box grater finely grate the carrots.
Cut the peel and the core off the pineapple and chop into small bite size pieces (about 1 - 1.5cm)
Mix the carrots with the pineapple and add the juice of 2 oranges.
Serve. This salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.


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ROASTED CARROT HUMMUS

ROASTED CARROT HUMMUS

Couple days ago I started to read The Spectrum by Dr Dean Ornish. Fascinating read! I love the man’s philosophy, spirit but also the fact that everything he suggests is backed by science. And any man who can do a TED MED presentation with a baby in his hands certainly gets my vote.

Dr Dean Ornish has amazing results in slowing the progression and even reversing heart disease with lifestyle changes. His method is even available on Medicare in the USA. Quote from The Spectrum:
“ Our research has shown that your body has a remarkable capacity to begin healing itself - and much more quickly than people once realised - when we address the underlying causes of illness. For many people, the choices we make each day in what and in how we live are among the most important underlying causes.”

No surprise I was eager to read today’s big news article (in several papers) :
Tomato pill could save lives. Indeed a new “tomato” pill has been developed, it contains lycopene in amounts equivalent to eating 6lb of tomatoes daily!!! That, I do admit, would be a very difficult thing to do. The trial has been on a small scale but scientist are very optimistic, predicting this pill could save thousands of lives. Further trials are of course needed.

Ateronon (the pills name) has shown to improve the function of the endothelial cells and boost their sensitivity to nitric oxide. Dr Dean Ornish’s, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn’s or Dr Joel Fuhrman diets will do the same. No need to wait for Ateronon to come to the the market just follow the advice of one of these doctors.

Even if this pill does prove to be as successful as the scientist behind its development tell us, there may still be a downfall. People like to pop a pill instead of improving their lifestyles, it is the easy way out, but not s solution. I believe it is Dr Fuhrman who said : "You can't medicate your self out of a bad diet." I certainly prefer the benefits of a healthy diet over any pill.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2258035/Wonder-pill-harnessing-health-secret-Mediterranean-diet-cut-risk-strokes-heart-attacks-fight-cancer.html


carrot-hummus


ROASTED CARROT HUMMUS

Makes about 2 cups

ingredients
3 medium carrots
1 tin chickpeas, drained, chickpea water reserved
1 garlic clove
1 Tbs tahini
1 Tsp ground cumin
juice of half a lemon (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
large handful of chopped fresh coriander

method
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Cut the carrots into carrot sticks
  3. Line a small baking tray with baking paper. Add the carrots and 4 Tbs of water. Roast for about 30 min or until carrots are caramelized and softened.
  4. In a food processor or a blender combine the carrots, chickpeas, tahini, cumin, lemon juice and process till quite smooth, adding the chickpea water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
  5. Stir in the chopped coriander.
  6. Enjoy!
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BORSCHT WITH ATTITUDE

BORSCHT WITH ATTITUDE

Growing up the only beetroot we ate came pickled from a jar. Nothing wrong with a bit of pickled beetroot I always thought it was delicious. I do think that Czech pickled beetroot is so much better than the one I can get in the UK. So much sweeter, yummier, I especially love the whole baby beetroots, it wouldn’t be a problem for me to eat a whole jar in one sitting....

These days I do prefer to use fresh beetroot. The possibilities are endless. I can always marinated it to get a lovely pickle like taste. I love raw, grated beetroot in salads, juiced, made into smoothies or raw soups. It is also great roasted with balsamic vinegar, or simply boiled and made into salads or mixed with grains to make a “risotto” (check out some of my other beetroot recipes).

Everybody is familiar with Russian Borscht, the famous beetroot soup. I know, traditional recipes don’t need to be messed with but I couldn't resist playing with it a bit and here is the result: borscht with attitude. I have infused the Russian soup with some Thai flavours. It will sure wake up your taste buds! I do wonder if my Russian friend will like it...

borscht-with-attitude

BORSCHT WITH ATTITUDE
This is easily doubled if you are feeding more people. I didn’t think kids would go with the spiciness of this dish hence the 2-3 portions...

Serves 2-3

ingredients
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced into 1cm (less than 1/2 inch) pieces
2 medium beetroot, diced into 1 cm pieces
4 cups of vegetable stock
1 Tbs vegetarian Thai red curry paste
1 medium-large potato, diced into 1 cm pieces
2 cups shredded cabbage
125ml (1/2 cup) unsweetened almond milk
lime to taste
fresh coriander

method
  1. In a medium sauce pan heat about 80 ml (1/3 cup) of water.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.
  3. Add the carrot and beetroot together with the red curry paste.
  4. Cook for about 1 min.
  5. Next add the stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook for 10min before adding the potato.
  7. Cook further 10 min before adding the cabbage.
  8. Cook further 10 min or until the beetroot is cooked through.
  9. Add the almond milk and just heat up.
  10. Finally add lime juice to taste (I used juice of half a lime and a bit extra at the table)
  11. Serve in soup bowls garnished with coriander.

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UDON NOODLES IN AN ASIAN STYLE BROTH

UDON NOODLES IN AN ASIAN STYLE BROTH

My kids love udon noodles. Every time we go the local Asian supermarket we end up with several packs of fresh ready cooked udon noodles. Together with the wonderful tofu that sits right next to them in the refrigerated counter we have a start to a delicious meal.

Kids like their noodles stir-fired with few veggies, tofu and soya sauce. That’s what they had for lunch today. I fancied something more exciting but restorative at the same time. What could be better than a fragrant Asian style broth with veggies, tofu and noodles. Perfect for rainy day, perfect to counteract any Christmas indulgences.

If you can’t find ready cook udon noodles buy them dried and cook according to the package instructions. They tend to come separated into portions, very handy. You can also use other type of noodles; ramen, soba, rice vermicelli... Conveniently any tofu will do for this recipe, if using soft or silken tofu just be careful not to break it up. Maybe best added after the noodles have softened. Feel free to add any other veggies; thinly sliced peppers, mangetout, green beans or mung bean sprouts will work great. To get the best out of the miso paste add it at the last minute, let dissolve into the broth but do not boil.

You can also make just the broth without the noodles and sip it. This is perfect if you have caught any of the wintery colds and infections, maybe add more garlic for even bigger healing punch. You can imagine your colds or infections melting away with every spoonful.

udon-broth

UDON NOODLES IN AN ASIAN STYLE BROTH
Serves 2-3

ingredients
4 cups of light vegetable stock
1 leek
1 medium carrot
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 large clove of garlic
pinch of red chilli flakes
1/4 of Savoy cabbage
1 Tbs soya sauce
100 g of tofu
2x200g (3oz) pks of ready cook udon noodles
1 Tbs yellow miso paste
2 spring onions (scallions)
fresh coriander (cilantro) to serve

method
  1. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Cut the root and the dark green leaves off the leek. Cut the leek in half widthwise (you should have 2 tubes, about 2-3inches long). Cut the leeks into long thin strips (julienne).
  3. Cut the carrot into julienne (again cut it in half widthwise, than julienne)
  4. Add the carrots and leeks into the stock, simmer.
  5. While the stock is simmering finely julienne or just finely chop the ginger and garlic. Add to the stock.
  6. Finely shred the cabbage and add to the stock.
  7. Add the soya sauce. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. Cut the tofu into small dice. Add to the stock.
  9. Next, add your udon noodles and heat until they loosen up and warm through.
  10. Add the miso paste and just let dissolve. Do not boil.
  11. Last add the spring onion.
  12. Serve in large soup bowls garnished with some chopped coriander (cilantro).


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TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP

TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP

Christmas Eve is the BIG day in the Czech Republic, we have a Christmas dinner and open our presents in the evening. In my Czech/English family we mix customs from both countries. We still have our main meal on Christmas Eve, usually inviting few friends over. Presents, however, we open on Christmas day, as it is customary in the UK.

The same applies to our food, we mix some Czech traditional dishes (split pea soup, braised red cabbage. potato salad), few English ones (bread sauce, sprouts, cranberry sauce, roasted parsnips and carrots) and as there is no turkey or carp (Czech traditional Christmas meal) on our table, we are free to try a new dinner centre piece each year.

Traditional Czech pea soup has definitely earned its place on our international menu. I have had it made the same way, on the same day, for last 40 years! In our house it happened to be purely vegan. The only change I made was the addition of frozen peas, for color and sweetness. Every year I wonder why I only make this delicious soup on Christmas Eve.

splitpeasoup

TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP
You may have to increase the cooking time (each batch seems different), the peas should be very soft before the soup goes into the blender. If you are making the soup ahead make sure you have some water on hand, it thickens as it stands.

Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a light meal

ingredients:
1 1/4 cup (250g) split green peas, soaked overnight and drained
1 medium to large carrot, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, with the leaves, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp dried marjoram
6 cups (at least) of water
2 tsp of vegan stock powder ( I use Marigold)
1/2 cup (125ml) frozen peas
bread for making croutons about one small slice per person ( I used a spelt and sunflower loaf, but any good quality bread will do, no pre-sliced white!!!)
1 Tbs of canola or olive oil


splitpeasoup2
method
  1. In a large saucepan (stock pot) combine the split peas, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, marjoram and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down the hear and simmer, covered, for about 1 hr. The peas should be very soft.
  3. After the hour of cooking add the stock powder and cook for further 10-15 min just to let flavors combine.
  4. Puree the soup in a food processor till smooth. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  5. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan and add the frozen peas, heat up only.
  6. While the soup is cooking cut the bread slices into 1 inch cubes. Place into a bowl and combine with the oil.
  7. Spread the bread cubes onto a baking tray and broil ( grill ) until golden brown, about one on each side. You can make the croutons well ahead.
  8. Serve the soup with the croutons on top.

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FRANKENSTEIN FOOD/ROASTED ROOT BURGERS

FRANKENSTEIN FOOD/ROASTED ROOT BURGERS

Science is indeed incredibly fascinating. Over our human history, science has shaped how we live our lives. We may take the results of science for granted but can we imagine our today’s world without penicillin, x-ray or the latest smart phone technology?

On the other hand some science leaves me baffled. For example, do we really need bread that will stay mould free for 60 days? Scientist have indeed discovered a method (microwaving) that will do just that. And it is not just bread they tested this on, anything from pet food to jalapeno peppers was put "under the waves".

Originally this device was manufactured to zap pathogens like E-coli or MRSA... That may sound like a good thing but I really do have an issue with what it must do to the food. Can we believe this is safe? If moulds won't touch the food I am sure humans shouldn't either. It reminds me of the old "McDonald's hamburger doesn't get spoilt" YouTube video.

I cannot find a good reason for having bread that lasts 60 days, maybe in emergency situations, delivered to disaster areas, but for everyday use? Whatever happened to buying what you need? Or just stick your bread into the freezer! If you are making sandwiches, freeze bread in 2 slice batches and take them out as you need them. I find that making sandwiches with frozen bread keeps kids lunchbox cool and they are defrosted by lunchtime.

Growing up I don't remember bread getting mouldy. It went stale and rock hard first. Today’s over processed bread goes mouldy before it goes hard. Stale bread has great uses, it is especially great for making breadcrumbs. We used to have a large box of them in the pantry (I now keep mine in the freezer), it was used to make meatloaves or for breading various foods (the Czechs will bread and fry just about anything). I never remember any mould in our box of breadcrumbs.

No, this is not a scientific discovery I will be celebrating and i do hope it will not become a mainstay in our food preparation. If it does you should know that cantaloupe seems to be one food that didn’t do well in the process :)

http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/13339/20121130/best-thing-sliced-bread-special-microwave-keeps.htm


ROASTED ROOT BURGERS
I served these as a starter with salad but will work great in a wholemeal bun with yummy toppings. Salad and oven fries on the side of course.

Makes 4

roastedrootburgers2

ingredients

125ml (1/2 cup) of brown basmati rice
440g (1lb) parsnips
440g (1lb) carrots
2 tsp rapeseed oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp celery salt
freshly cracked black pepper

method
  1. First cook the brown rice in 375ml (1 and 1/2 cup) of water for about 30 min.
  2. While the rice is cooking, clean the parsnips and carrots, cut into about inch pieces. Place into a roasting dish, mix with 2 tsp rapeseed oil. Roast at 200C for about 35min. You can roast without any oil if you wish.
  3. Finely chop the shallots, place into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Place the roasted vegetables into a food processor and process till you get a coarse mash (still with some texture).
  5. Add the mashed roots and rice to the shallots. Next add the paprika, celery and black pepper.
  6. Shape 4 burgers out of the mixture. Place onto a baking paper lined baking tray. Bake at 180C for 30-35 min or until golden brown.

roastedrootburger
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THE BIG 40 - ROASTED ROOT VEG AND PUY LENTIL SALAD

THE BIG 40
ROASTED ROOT VEG AND PUY LENTIL SALAD

“Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”
Charles M. Schultz

The big 40. Yes, I have joined the club last Sunday. I had a few pre-birthday drinks with my gorgeous girlfriends the previous weekend and this weekend was spent with family. Many women do seem to worry about turning 40, we all say :“it’s down hill from now on...”. I feel, however, that I am the happiest I have been. I have a great family, wonderful husband, two amazing kids who are my ray of sunshine everyday. I have got some fabulous friends and am working toward my goal of becoming a naturopathic nutritionist. I wouldn’t change any of this for being younger.

When you turn 40 you should:

  • Look after yourself even more. As we age we do need to ensure we eat well and move even more than before. Antioxidants plenty! Natural cosmetics! No junk!

  • Surround yourself only with people who are good for your soul (this may be hard at work, but in your personal relationships it is a must). Be there for your friends, call them, text them, hug them, feed them, laugh with them...

  • Find time for yourself everyday, it can be a cup of tea and a few chapters of a good book, a walk with the dogs or a spot of meditation. Anything that relaxes you is a good thing.

  • Spent time with the people closest with you. A glass of wine with your partner, shopping trip with your daughter or the latest Bond movie with your son are moments to treasure forever. Cook and eat together, dance and laugh everyday. Appreciate every minute.

  • Have goals. They may be small or big. Whether you want to run a marathon or learn to samba make sure you enjoy working towards them. Learning keeps us young.

  • Think before you speak. You don’t have to always speak wisely, but your words should never hurt.

  • Realize that wearing stilettos will not make your night out any more fun... they may just make your feet hurt like hell!

  • Enjoy the healing power of food (and enjoy my recipes)


roast-roots-puy-lentil


ROASTED ROOT VEG AND PUY LENTIL SALAD

Serves 4 as a main dish salad

ingredients
250g (1 cup) Puy lentils
1 large parsnip, cut into matchsticks
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 tsp rapeseed oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs ras-el-hanout (or Moroccan seasoning)
1 whole garlic bulb
3 Tbs cider vinegar
3 spring onions, finely chopped

method
  1. Cook the lentils in 3 cups of water for about 25-30min. Lentils should be soft but still holding their shape.
  2. Let the lentils cool.
  3. While the lentils are cooking put the parsnip, carrots and sweet potatoes, mixed with 2 tsp of rapeseed oil and the ras-el-hanout, on a baking paper lined tray. Add un-peeled garlic cloves to the tray.
  4. Roast for 25-30 min at 200C oven. Take care not to over cook the garlic cloves.
  5. Add the roasted vegetables to the lentils.
  6. Squeeze the garlic flesh out of the skins, mash them into a smooth paste. Add the vinegar combine togeher and add to the lentils.
  7. Mix in the spring onion. Serve warm or at room temperature.


veggies ready for the oven
roated-roots
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REDUCE WASTE/ ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP

REDUCE WASTE/ ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP

Apparently, here in the UK, we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year. For an average family with children this means £680 ending up in a compost bin. In my case this would mean some 5-6 weeks of food being wasted.

Jan Kees Vis, the global director for sustainable sourcing development at Unilever (what a mouthful!), says that food is “too cheap” resulting in too much food wasted. Food waste takes place mainly in restaurants and homes.

In Australia they have come up with the brilliant OzHarvest initiative. Shops, restaurants, hotels, delis and others donate surplus food to the needy. Check out the website :
http://www.ozharvest.org/index.asp Sound like a fantastic way to reduce waste!

Sheepishly I will admit to throwing away a whole bag of salad leaves and a rather disgusting half a pack of radishes that hid under bags of kale and other fresh veggies for a while. Yes, it did make me feel guilty! Indeed this was a case of bad planning.

Mr Vis claims it is the low cost of food that is behind food waste. I am not so sure about that. The food that is cheap, the processed food, is not what ends up is out bins. These foods have a suspiciously long shelf life. The foods that we throw away are more likely to be perishables. According to the Love Food Hate Waste website fruits and vegetables do indeed account for 26% of our food waste,followed by drinks, bakery products, meals, dairy and meat. Together these foods make 83% of our food waste. http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

In my opinion careful planning is the key to reducing waste. Shop with a shopping list, don’t buy more that you need and keep an eye on your perishables to make sure you use them before they go off. I tend to go through my fruit and veg the day before my organic box delivery. I turn what's left them into soups, salads, dips or smoothies.

The fruits we waste the most are bananas, apples and oranges. Brown bananas are great for baking, making smoothies or simply freeze them and blend them (on its own or with other fruits) to make a fab super quick ice-cream. Apples can be juiced or blended in smoothies, I like to stew them to make some apple sauce (great in fat free baking) or a compote. They are also great in a cabbage or carrot salad. Not so fresh oranges are still great juiced or “smoothied”. They also make a yummy base for a salad dressing or can be added to a soup (carrot and orange, yum).

Remember my celeriac and pear salad? This is what happened to the other half of the rather large celeriac. It became a part of yummy root vegetable soup.


root-vegetable-soup

ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP
Nice and easy, just chop throw it into the pot and blend...

Serves 4

ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1 small or (as in my case) half a large celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium parsnips, cleaned and cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, cleaned and cut into chunks
1 medium to large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
sprig of rosemary, tough stalks removed and leaves chopped
1.25l (5 cups) of vegetable stock

method
  1. Place all the ingredients into a large sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil. reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 45min
  3. In batches pour soup into your blender and blend till smooth.
  4. Serve on its own or topped with some of lime coriander cashew cream.

Lime, coriander cashew cream:
http://www.plantstrongliving.co.uk/blog/files/f76e5eb9a33b938f4667bb68c4c61a56-131.html


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MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

It would be near impossible not to get touched by the story of Stamatis Moratis that was published in the New York Times. This man’s incredible recovery from terminal lung cancer is just amazing. It is not an unexplainable miracle, this is the power of healthy food, absence of stress and being a part of community (and a bit of luck). Moving to the island of Ikaria is not practical for everyone however learning from the “Ikarian” life style would make a huge difference to anybody’s life.

The Ikarians stop and relax, socialize, don’t stress over not having much. They play dominos and drink wine. They centre their diet around plant based foods most of which they grow themselves. They live to a ripe old age without being plagued by the diseases most Westerners seem to suffer from.

Believe me I am inspired! Food? I have that covered, I do rather well in adhering to the whole foods plant based diet. Unlike the Ikarians I do not drink wine much at all. I don’t think it is wine that makes them live as long as they do. Having friends to share a glass of wine with is more important that the wine itself. A shared pot of green tea will surely do the same. Being around good friends is good for the soul and body.

And so is soup. This one has more Mexican influences than Ikarian but it does use their favourite staples, beans, potatoes and vegetables. My friend K shared it with me which made it taste even better. Make it today and share with a friend or a loved one.

Link to the original article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&

Mexican-bean-soup


MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP
I have grated the carrot, it thickens the soup and I like grated carrot in soups. You can just dice it if you wish.

Serves 4

ingredients
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated (or finely chopped)
1 red pepper, cut into 1 cm pieces
1 larger potato, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tin of red kidney beans no salt added, drained
1 cup tomato passata
3 cups vegetable stock
2 large tortilla wraps
fresh coriander or spring onions for garnish
Optional : cashew cream made of 250ml (1 cup) of cashews and 180ml (3/4 cup) water

  1. In a large soup pan heat about 60ml (1/4 cup) of water and saute till softened. Add more water if the onion starts to stick.
  2. Next add the chilli, garlic, celery, grated carrot and red pepper to the onion and saute for about 5 min, adding more water if needed.
  3. When the vegetables have softened add the potato and spices. Cook about 1 min.
  4. Add the beans, passata and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20-30min until.
  5. While the soup is cooking preheat the oven to 200C. Cut each tortilla in 10 wedges, place on a baking tray and bake till crisped up, turn them over half way through. About 5-10 min. The tortilla wedges will start to brown at the edges.
  6. Serve the soup with the wedges on the side garnished with fresh coriander/spring onions and cashew cream if you wish. It is delicious without the cream too.
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VERY VEGGIE RAW CRACKERS

VERY VEGGIE RAW CRACKERS

Why do I love my dehydrator? Of course it makes fantastic treats that can keep us snacking healthily. There are times my lovely Excalibur gets a bit neglected but lately I have been going through a big of a dehydrating frenzy.

Our favourites so far have been kale chips (especially Brendan Brazier's “sour cream” recipe) or just simply salted ones. Other things we like to turn into chips are bananas and apples (sometimes with cinnamon which makes the kitchen smell divine). Root veggies make great chips especially beetroot and sweet potatoes with their striking colours. I am excited that first parsnips are coming into season and I can’t wait to see if they get on with the dehydrator too. Dehydrated "sun dried" tomatoes are simply amazing, they are so much fresher tasting and keep an incredibly vibrant colour. Perfect for any dish.

Kids love the classic, very simple linseed crackers that I found in my Excalibur cook book so I though I would try a raw crackers that would be also packed with veggies without kids (hopefully) noticing. It went rather well and my little crackers or even flat breads were a hit.

One trouble with dehydrators is that you can never follow recipes to the letter. It is a bit frustrating that the instructions (times) in dehydrator recipes can be rather vague but believe me there is a reason for it. Getting to know your dehydrator takes a while. It is trial and error. Humidity in the air makes a difference. When making crackers it depends how thinly you spread them and how crispy or chewy you like them. Indeed the thickness of your veg or fruit slices will make a difference too. Take the dehydrating times in recipes as a guide, just keep checking, testing and trying, you will get there in the end. It is well worth it.

ready for the dehydrator
veggierawcrackers

VERY VEGGIE RAW CRACKERS

These crackers taste great, you can eat them as a snack on their own or they are fabulous accompaniment to any dip.

You can score the crackers in step 7 ( after you flip them over), this makes them easier to break into more even shapes. I always forget to do that but I quite enjoy the more rustic look to my crackers.

Makes enough for 2 Excalibur dehydrator trays

ingredients
1 medium courgette, finely grated
2 medium carrots, finely grated
2 medium onions (1 large), sliced as thin as you can
1/2 tsp salt
juice of half a lemon
1 cup ground chia seeds
1 cup linseeds
80ml (1/3 cup) water
2 Tbs tamari or shoyu

method
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the courgette, carrot, onion, salt and lemon juice. Let sit for half an hour in a refrigerator. The courgette will let out some water.
  2. After half an hour mix in the ground chia seeds and linseeds together with water and tamari (or shoyu).
  3. Mix well together. Let the mixture sit for further 10 minutes before spreading it on your Teflex sheets.
  4. Line 2 dehydrator trays with Teflex sheets, divide the mixture equally between the two.
  5. Spread the mixture over the teflex sheet (about 3mm thick). I use a palette knife for this job.
  6. Dehydrate at 125F for an hour. Turn down to 115F and dehydrate for 5 hours.
  7. After 5 hours flip the cracker onto another, unlined mesh dehydrator tray. Peel of the Teflex sheet and dehydrate until desired consistency. About 3 hrs (or longer).

veggierawcrackers2
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GENTLE SWEET POTATO, CARROT AND GINGER SOUP

GENTLE SWEET POTATO, CARROT AND GINGER SOUP

It has been estimated that about 15% of the population are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers. Unfortunately I am one of them. My GP has done tests years ago to rule out Crohn’s and concluded that IBS it was. He prescribed some Fybogel sachets and antispasmodics to be taken every day. If I suffered weekly I would have probably taken all that he recommended however my IBS is not of very frequent occurrence and I hate taking any meds. Last three times I suffered were November (2011), August and September. I just couldn’t justify medicating myself with antispasmodics for something that comes once every few months. I will admit to having a trusty packet of strong painkillers in my drawer just in case the pain gets really bad, but it hardly gets used. I learnt to deal with IBS in my own way.

These are my personal strategies (different strategies work for different people):

I have tried to find a trigger food but without a huge success. Lactose is a very common trouble maker and indeed cutting out dairy has helped (less frequent flare ups) but it has not eliminated my IBS completely. Low fibre and high refined sugar diet tend to aggravate IBS however my fibre intake is generally high and refined sugar intake very low.

Stress can bring IBS on and reducing it through relaxation and meditation, or just simple "me time" is very helpful. The stress doesn't have to be only psychological I do tend to get IBS after a cold or any other infection. Hence supporting my immune system is also very important in minimising the frequency of IBS flare ups.

Listening to my body has been the first line of defence. I can spot my symptoms when they are just starting, slight tinge in my back (yes I get horrid back pain with my IBS) and going off food are the first indications of a brewing trouble. I can actually be halfway through a meal when I realise I can’t stomach another spoonful. This is a definite sign as I am generally known for my insatiable appetite.

When I spot the first signs I just have to stop eating, 24 hrs usually does the trick and can stop (or at least lessen) the pain which can be rather unbearable. The pain I experience starts in my back followed by pain in my abdomen, especially the upper part. Nausea, bloating and constipation are soon to follow. Hot bath relieves the back pain for a while, unfortunately it doesn’t last...Hot water bottle and wrapping myself in blankets helps a little too.

After 24 hrs of not eating I start gently. A plate of boiled potatoes is usually my first choice, and yes they taste amazing! Some broccoli on the side a tahini sauce seem to be gentle enough not to bring any pain back. I can't eat any raw foods for 48hrs apart from bananas when IBS attacks. And strictly no alcohol or anything with vinegar.

I have a bottle of probiotic powder and I should be taking them everyday. However I am notoriously bad at taking supplements... I try to put them in my smoothies, on top of my porridge or into my soya yoghurt...that is if I remember. I will have to set a reminder on my phone....( I am much better with my B12) Probiotics are a key treatment for IBS.

My IBS and I have been on a journey, getting to know it well had been an important strategy, I am on top of it most of the time. And I am determined the turn most of the time into always.

Here is a gentle soup that I made last time I had IBS. It is delicious and you don’t have to have IBS to make it :)

sweetpotatocarrotsoup

SWEET POTATO, CARROT AND GINGER SOUP

Makes 2 portions

ingredients
1 onion, chopped finely
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
vegetable stock
fresh coriander (cilantro) - optional

method
  1. Put onion, ginger, sweet potatoes and carrot into a sauce pan.
  2. Cover with vegetable stock. It should reach about 1/2 inch above your veggies.
  3. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20-30min or till veggies are tender.
  4. Blend till smooth.
  5. Serve garnished with coriander.



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OUTRAGEOUS BEETROOT FALAFEL

OUTRAGEOUS BEETROOT FALAFEL

Falafel, together with hummous, may just be the most famous Middle Eastern food. It originates from Egypt but is equally home in Israel, Palestine or any vegan household around the world. Traditionally, falafel is made from chickpeas, broad (fava) beans or mixture of both. These are soaked, ground, spiced and deep-fried.

Falafel, apart from the deep-frying, is extremely healthy. These spiced morsels are high in protein and fibre while also rich in many minerals and vitamins such as calcium, magnesium, iron, folate and others. Usually served in a pitta pocket or flat bread together with salad and tahini dressing it makes a perfect plant based meal.

As much as I respect traditions I decided to try and up the stakes, beef up that nutrition content and lower that oil content. My beetroot falafel looks outrageous with its deep dark red colour, and lusciously moist. Baked in the oven it is also free of oil. I used tinned chickpeas rather than soaked uncooked ones, mainly because I didn’t use the deep frying method of cooking, but convenience was definitely a factor too.

You can serve these in the traditional way in a pitta bread, or on top of a salad. They will also make fab canapes. There is no better accompaniment to falafels than tahini sauce. Just to be different I made 2 different tahini sauces. The other day I acquired some raw black sesame tahini and I thought using next to the traditional creamy coloured tahini would create a great contrast on top of the red falafel morsels. No pressure here, making just one tahini sauce is perfectly fine, just double the quantity. Any leftovers are great as salad dressing.


beetroot-falafel

OUTRAGEOUS BEETROOT FALAFEL
Makes 18

ingredients
falafels
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of fresh coriander (cilantro), about 2 handfuls
salt
2 medium carrots
3 small beetroot (mine were 160g /5.6 oz together)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs black sesame seeds
1 Tbs white sesame seeds
1 Tbs tahini
40g (1/3 cup) gram flour

tahini sauces

3 Tbs regular tahini
2 Tbs lemon juice
2-4 tbs water

3 Tbs black tahini
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs water



falafel-mix

method

  1. In a food processor combine the chickpeas, garlic, fresh coriander and salt.
  2. Process together, this will need a lot of stopping and scrapping down the sides. The texture should be a mixture of creamy smooth with some coarser pieces. See the above picture.
  3. Place the chickpea mixture into a mixing bowl.
  4. Finely grate the carrots and beetroot. I used my box grater for this job as my food processor doesn’t grate finely enough.
  5. Add to the chickpea mixture.
  6. Next add the cumin, tahini, sesame seeds and gram flour.
  7. Using your hands mix thoroughly.
  8. Form the mixture into walnut size balls and slightly flatten them.
  9. Place into the refrigerator for half an hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 180C.
  11. Line a baking tray with greaseproof (parchment) paper and place the falafels on top.
  12. Bake for about 15min, turning halfway through the baking time.
  13. While the falafels are baking make the sauces. Just simply mix the tahini and lemon together adding water until the desired consistency is acheived.
  14. Enjoy.




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FRUITY SAVOY SLAW

FRUITY SAVOY SLAW

The other day I found myself pressed for time and not in the mood for any major cooking efforts after a day at the seaside. For occasions like that I have some Dr. Prager’s veggie burgers in my freezer. They may be not as good as homemade ones but they are loaded with veggies and perfectly convenient.

While the burgers were happily baking in the oven I decided to whip up a quick slaw, as the burgers needed something fresh and crunchy accompaniment. The only cabbage in my fridge was of the Savoy variety, not usually associated with coleslaw, but it was a very young one I thought it might work perfectly. You could use other cabbage such as white or pointed hispi cabbage.

I attacked the cabbage with my Pampered Chef mandolin, it was quickly turned into cute curly strips. My carrots kept falling out of the dratted guard which left me thinking I should have invested in a proper finger slicing Japanese mandolin. Frustrated I opted for the trusty box grater. The apple and pear were julienned using a sharp knife. Begin by slicing them into thin discs and than cut into thin matchsticks.

Lack of cashews forced me to use vegan mayo in my dressing, but cashew cream would have been my preferred option. Cashew cream is naturally sweet so you need to increase the amount of cider vinegar. To make the thick cashew cream use 1/2-1 cup raw cashews and enough water to just cover the nuts, this makes more than you need so reserve the rest for later use (cream sauce, cream soup or even a larger batch of the dressing). There are many types of vegan mayo, the one I used (Mayola) is more of a cream dressing in consistency and is tarter than the usual mayo. Just employ your taste buds when making this dressing.

savoyslaw


FRUITY SAVOY SLAW

ingredients
1/2 young Savoy cabbage, outer leaves removed, thinly shredded (about 3 cups)
3 carrots, grated
1 pear, julienned
1 apple, julienned

dressing with mayo:
3 Tbs vegan mayo
1 Tbs whole grain mustard
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs agave syrup

dressing with cashews:
3 Tbs thick cashew cream
2 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs whole grain mustard
1 Tbs agave syrup

savoyslawdetail

method
  1. In a large bowl combine the cabbage, carrot, pear and apple. Toss well.
  2. In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the dressing of your choice. Pour over the slaw and mix well.
  3. It taste best if you can let the salad rest in the fridge for half an our. Keeps well in the fridge for two days.

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CARROT, DATE AND TAMARIND CHUTNEY

CARROT, DATE AND TAMARIND CHUTNEY

I have a confession to make, two days ago I slipped, I succumbed to the lure of a very evil Danish. I could blame it on my friend who encouraged me with: “Go on have one”, but I only have myself to blame. If it was the best Danish I ever had I could forgive myself bit more easily. I hated it, it tasted greasy, too sweet and left me feeling disappointed and guilty.

Is this what having a fling with an ex-boyfriend feels like? You know the guy who treated you bad and somehow you succumb to his charm and it turns out he still is a jerk only to make you feel even worse. No I have never had a fling with an ex or an emotional attachment to Danishes or other pastries but I have realised that some things are best left in the past.

Many vegetarians have returned to eating meat after having
the one alluring bacon sandwich (never my thing). Derailments happen but that doesn’t mean you have to throw away all your hard work. Just live and learn, and forgive yourself. I learned that the Danish didn’t taste the way I thought it would. As I said in one of my blogs before, things you used to eat start tasting too sweet, greasy, heavy and rich after you change your diet for the better. That is a good thing, because it is likely to mean that you will start craving healthy vibrant food that will leave you feeling great.

If you need something sweet there are always dates. In my today’s recipe I used them as a sweetener in a quick chutney (meaning no jars, storing and maturing...). Believe me it is perfect with many things. Imagine falafels in a pitta bread, veggie burger, sausages, in a wrap with cauliflower and potato curry, maybe even just on its own or in a hummus sandwich. The possibilities are endless.

carrotchutney

CARROT, DATE AND TAMARIND CHUTNEY

ingredients
2 very large carrots (roughly 250g, about 9oz), grated
2 tsp grated ginger
4 Medjol dates, stones removed and chopped
1 tsp prepared tamarind paste
1 Scotch bonnet pepper (habanero), left whole, pierced with a knife
2/3 cups fresh apple juice (shop bought not from concentrate is fine)
2/3 cups water
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1 Tbs sweet freedom syrup (or agave, maple syrup)
handful of raisins

method
  1. In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients except the raisins.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45min. Remove the scotch bonnet pepper after half and hour. (Leave it in if you want a spicier chutney.)
  3. Add the raisins and simmer for further 15 min until the carrots are soft, dates have melted into the chutney and pretty much all the liquid is gone.
  4. Keep the chutney in a fridge for a few days.
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Kitchen Gadgets

ASIAN STYLE CARROT AND CUCUMBER SALAD

My husband, like most men I know, loves gadgets. He does have an excuse, it is part of his job to know about the latest technical marvels, but I suspect he would know the latest iPad features even if he worked as a shoe salesman. I am not saying that gadgets leave me cold, I could not imagine life without my iPhone, after all it has been used to shoot my blog photos but the gadgets I really love are those I can use in the kitchen.

My favourite kitchen appliance is my Vitamix mixer, those who have it will agree that this unbelievable machine quickly becomes a part of the family. Not only it makes super smooth smoothies but it will make nut milks, nut butters, hummus, soup and much more. Just make sure to keep the turbo button off when introducing a hot tomato soup to it, from my own experience, it makes kitchen look like a CSI crime scene. Vitamix may be a rather pricy gadget but well worth the investment.

Tomorrow should be the day I welcome my new eagerly awaited dehydrator. I can’t wait to use it, but I do promise not to forget my old friends for the new one. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great kitchen helper. Take my olive/cherry pitter, without it I would be covered in cherry juice or chasing escapee olives around my kitchen.

Another old favourite of mine is my julienne peeler, it easily juliennes carrots, courgettes, cucumbers and other veggies to make perfect stir-fries or salads. It did a great job helping me make todays recipe, Asian inspired cucumber and carrot salad. One problem with the julienne peeler is that there will be some vegetable wastage, you will have bits of carrots left over, save them for soup or stock, I fed them to my dogs for a crunchy treat. You will also be left with the seedy watery middle part of cucumber (pop it into a green smoothie). All worth it for the perfect uniform strands of veggies. If you don’t own one of these magic gadgets you can also just grate the veggies on a box grater or in a food processor. Japanese mandolin would do the trick beautifully.

julienne peeler
juliennepeeler


ASIAN STYLE CARROT AND CUCUMBER SALAD
Taste and adjust your dressing as you go, depending how much you like wasabi use less or more. Rice vinegar is quite mild but if you are replacing for another vinegar you may have to use less. You can also replace the sweet freedom syrup with palm sugar or stevia.

ingredients
4 medium carrots
1 large cucumber
5 spring onions
1-2 tsp wasabi powder
1 Tbs sweet freedom syrup (or agave)
2 Tbs light soya sauce or tamari
5 Tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs black sesame seeds
1 Tbs white sesame seeds
2 Tbs chopped fresh coriander


carrotcucumbersalad

method
  1. Using your julienne peeler cut the carrots and cucumbers into long strips. It takes a bit of practice but after a while you will become a pro.
  2. Cut the roots and the dark green part of the spring onions. Cut the onions lengthways into thin strips.
  3. To make the dressing mix the wasabi, syrup, soya, vinegar and sesame oil. Taste and adjust the flavours.
  4. Poor the dressing over the vegetables, add the sesame seeds and coriander.
  5. Serve as a part of an Asian inspired meal.
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VEGETABLE STOCK

VEGETABLE STOCK

In the Czech Republic, you could not imagine a Sunday meal without a starter of soup. Most of our soups were based on clear broths usually made out of beef bones but using only vegetables in not uncommon. As a girl I used to spend a large portion of my summer holidays with my step great grandmother at her farm (not a working farm). Everyday we had a soup for lunch, we would go to the garden and pick some fresh vegetables, cooked them in some water and perhaps added homemade noodles and herbs fresh from the garden.

A good stock is a great thing to have lurking around. There are some great vegetable stocks on the market but I do like to make my own on occasion. That way I know it is virtually fat free and I can control the salt content. Homemade vegetable stock is a great way to use up some surplus or tired looking veggies. It is nearly magical how the pile of vegetables gets cooked down into flavoursome golden liquid.

Onions are a must in any good stock. I leave the brown skins on, just remove the very outside layer, make sure you wash the root, or just cut it off. The skins will add to the stock’s colour. My grandma used to use brown onion skins as a dye.

Root veggies add sweetness to your stock, back at home we would always use carrots and celeriac. Don’t forget to use the leaves of celeriac or celery, they are a fantastic flavourful ingredient. Another classic ingredient is parsley use mainly the stalks and keep the leaves for garnish. Thyme and bay leaves add wonderful fragrance of the stock. So does the allspice, which may not be a traditional ingredient in stock making but I love the flavour it adds.

There are so many uses for a home made stock. Soups are the obvious choice, but you can use it for cooking your grains or legumes. I love cooking my brown rice in a vegetable stock, it gives it a lovely colour and of course adds lots flavour. Since I don’t salt my stock it is fantastic for cooking legumes from raw as they should not be cooked with salt. Vegetable stock is also a great base for stews and sauces.

Don’t feel you have to religiously stick the the ingredients below, use what you have in your vegetable drawer add outer lettuce leaves, broccoli or cauliflower stalks, mushrooms, fresh or dried (for a dark savoury broth), few garlic cloves, fennel, rosemary and other herbs. The possibilities are endless.

vegstockingredients


VEGETABLE STOCK
The resulting stock will have a gorgeous light golden colour.

Yields about 2,5l (10cups) of stock

ingredients
5 celery stalks, including any leaves, trimmed and cleaned
3 leeks, half lengthways and wash thoroughly between the layers
1 large onion, washed, unpeeled and quartered
1 celeriac, peeled (cut off the nobbly skin with a knife) and roughly cut up
5 carrots, scrubbed, each cut into 3 pieces
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
15 peppercorns
3 all spice berries
2 bay leaves
parsley, mainly stalks
2 large sprigs of thyme
3 litres (12 cups) of water

method
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.
  3. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl large enough to hold it. Let it cool down completely.
  4. Discard the cooked vegetables ( I keep the carrots to put into my dogs’ dinner)
  5. When cooled place the stock into freezer safe bags or containers. Freeze or keep for 3 days in a fridge.

vegstockfinished
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CARROT AND LENTIL PATE WITH RUBY RED SALAD

CARROT AND LENTIL PATE WITH RUBY RED SALAD

My friend G asked me yesterday if it was hard cooking vegetarian food. My other friend D jumped in saying: “Linda loves cooking, so it isn’t hard for her at all”. She was right my love of cooking definitely makes it easy.

I can see why it would be a daunting prospect for anybody who hasn’t got any experience with cooking meals free of animal products. When you watch any cookery shows chefs have a tendency to base their meal around protein by which they mean meat. I base my meals around protein too, in a much looser sense of the word. I don’t cook thinking here is my protein, here is the carbohydrate, here is the side of veg... I cook with the knowledge that a) we really need less protein that most people think and b) protein doesn’t just equal meat, it is abundant in plants. Therefore, with variety, my meals are naturally protein rich (or just right for my needs)

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in his TV series accompanying River Cottage Veg Every Day, talked about going vegetarian for the duration of writing this book so that he could see the vegetables as the centre of his recipes, not just as an accompaniment to the meat. That is the perfect approach for anybody who wants to include more veg in their cooking. Put veg on the front page.


CARROT AND LENTIL PATE WITH RUBY RED SALAD
With the salad try to have equal amounts of the veg.
Carrots for the pate can also be steamed, I prefer the roasted flavour. I have roasted them without any oil but you can use a little bit of olive oil.
They both yield quite a few servings, keep in the fridge for about 3 days.

carrot-pate

ingredients
CARROT-LENTIL PATE
1 small potato (about 80-90g/3oz)
90g (1/2cup) red lentils
230g (1/2 lb carrots), cut into sticks or chunks (sticks cook quicker)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tsp miso paste (any will do)
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbs fresh coriander, chopped
squeeze of lemon to taste
freshly ground pepper

RUBY RED SALAD

3 medium carrots
1 large beetroot, raw
half a red cabbage
pinch of salt
juice of 1 large orange
2 Tbs raspberry vinegar
couple handfuls of pecans or walnut

method
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Cook the potato in its skin (or use leftover cooked potato). Cook for about 30min, or till soft when pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool. When cool enough to handle peel and put through a ricer or mash thoroughly.
  3. In a small sauce pan place the lentils and 375 ml (1 and 1/2cups) water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15-20min till lentils are soft and almost all the water is gone. Let cool. Rest of the water will get absorbed as the lentils are cooling down.
  4. Line a baking tray with a greaseproof paper, place the carrots on top and roast for about 20-30 min till the carrots are soft and begin to caramelise. Remove the carrots from the oven and let them cool down.
  5. In a food processor, combine the lentils, carrots, garlic, spring onions, miso, cumin and coriander. Process into a a pate consistency, mainly smooth with some texture (see picture). The pate shouldn’t need salt as the miso is quite salty.
  6. Tip the pate into a bowl and add the mashed potato and lemon juice to taste.
  7. For the salad, fit your food processor with the grating attachment, grate the carrots, beetroot and cabbage.
  8. Transfer to a large bowl, season with salt, add pecans, the orange juice and the vinegar.
  9. Serve the pate and salad with some oatcakes or flat bread.
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ROASTED VEGETABLE NUT AND SEED ROAST

ROASTED VEGETABLE NUT AND SEED ROAST

I Love food but I also love the LOVE FOOD festival we go to quite regularly. Every month local producers of yummy food get together to introduce and sell their innovative products. We always leave with some goodies in the bag.

Today I was very pleased to see our familiar falafels, perfect for tomorrows lunch with some crisp veggies, tahini dressing in a wrap. There were several stalls with various sauces, I got some wonderful chipotle chilli one. My favourite wasabi and lime dressing will be perfect on Japanese noodle salad with crispy veggies. Two bottles of fruity vinegar for oil free dressing were promptly in my bag.

A welcomed surprise was a sushi stall, with great veggie options. We left with three boxes for our todays lunch. Much better than any sushi chain restaurant! As this was a Valentine’s edition of the festival we found ourselves in a Raw chocolate tent all decked out in decadent red that perfectly offset the beautiful unadulterated rich taste of 80% dark gorgeousness.

Kids were pleased with their freshly popped popcorn, one with Himalayan pink salt and the other with Magic sugar with sparkles. We all had a great time, apart from my sneezing fit after I managed to inhale some rare Keralan white pepper into my nose.


ROASTED VEGETABLE NUT AND SEED ROAST
Sunday roast veggie style. You don’t have to stick strictly to the nuts and seeds ratio just use what you have at home. If you only have almonds it will work too.

vegroastwhole

ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 350g)
3 medium carrots (about 250g)
1 large onion
1 tsp olive or rapeseed oil
50g (2oz) almonds
30g (1oz) Brazil nuts
30g (1oz) cashew nuts
30g (1oz) sesame seeds
50g (2oz) sunflower seeds
1 tin cannellini beans (or other white beans)
2 tsp tomato puree
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 Tbs light soya sauce
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
50g (2oz) rolled oats

rostedvegroast

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the carrots into quarters lengthways, the sweet potatoes into 8 pieces and the onion into 8 pieces. Add 1 tsp of oil, coat the vegetables.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper,place in the oven and roast for 25min or until the vegetables are caramelised. Let cool.
  3. Reduce the oven to 180C.
  4. In a dry frying pan, dry roast the nuts until starting to brown. Set aside. Next roast the seeds. Set aside.
  5. In a food processor process the nuts until chopped still retaining texture. Put into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Put the roasted vegetables, garlic, beans, soya sauce, tomato puree and vegetable stock into the food processor and process until texture of coarse pate, with some of the ingredients processed smooth and some still retaining some texture.
  7. Put the vegetable mixture into the bowl with nuts, add the oats and mix well.
  8. Place into a loaf tin lined with baking paper sticking out at the ends by an inch (this will help to lift the roast out). Bake for 30min until the top is golden brown. Let cool in the tin for 5 min, lift it up with the help of the baking paper.
  9. Slice and serve with green salad any sides of your choice.
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WINTERY VEGETABLE, BEAN AND PASTA SOUP


Yesterday we had our first and probably last snowfall of the season. Kids got excited, dogs were running mad in the rather thin snow cover. I was thinking soup, hot, comforting, chunky bowl of soup.

My kids like tomato soup; smooth, sweet, uncomplicated. I knew I was taking a risk by putting a bowl of chunky vegetable soup in front of them. Adding pasta to it was meant to soften the blow.

To my surprise they ate it, cabbage, peppers and all. Ok I did promise them they can choose a treat from the oriental supermarket if they chomp their way through a bowlful. Whatever works I say.

As most of my soups, this one also has no added oil. I am not against using a olive oil altogether but I have cut down its usage to bare minimum. When I cook an oil free recipe I use the water-saute method. Just heat a small amount of water (about 60ml or 1/4 cup) and cook the veggies in it. It takes a bit longer than oil sauteing, you may have to add additional water, but the veggies soften beautifully. You can also use vegetable stock or wine to saute your vegetables.

wintersoup


WINTERY VEGETABLE, BEAN AND PASTA SOUP

Try to cut your onion, carrots, celery and pepper into same size pieces, about 1cm.

This is an Italian inspired soup, minus the olive oil and Parmesan. Instead of Parmesan I use the Nutritional Yeast Flakes, they taste great and are great source of B vitamins.

Serves 4 as a main meal

ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, de-stringed and chopped
1 carrot, chipped
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 heaped Tbs tomato puree
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin borlotti beans (drained)
1.24l (5cups) vegetable stock (I used 2 veggie stock cubes)
1/4 medium green or white cabbage (2cups), shredded
100g (3/4 c) small pasta
chopped parsley or basil for garnish
Nutritional yeast flakes for garnish (optional)

method
  1. In a large stock pot heat 60ml (1/4) cup of water and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and pepper, saute until softened, about 10min. Stir occasionally, to prevent sticking, add more water if needed.
  2. Add the tomato puree, stir around for about 1 min.
  3. Add the oregano, tinned tomatoes, beans and vegetable stock.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook gently for 30 min.
  5. After 30min, add the cabbage and pasta. Cook for about 10 min or until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta sticking to the bottom.
  6. Garnish with herbs, nutritional flakes if using and serve with crusty bread (wholemeal of course)
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Roasted carrot burgers with celeriac remoulad


Burger King introduced a new burger, 966 calories and 58g of fat. Exactly what we need, more fat, more burger, more bacon, I do hope it is served with a side order of statins and a syringe of adrenalin just in case the diners need to kick start their heart. New staff training manual should include how to use a defibrillator and every fast food branch rather keep one on site ready to go.

Here is one of my much healthier burgers, it is made with lentils and carrots. Doesn’t sound very exciting right? But behold my son said said it was LUSH and made me promise he can have the leftover one in his lunch box tomorrow. He wants it topped with the celeriac remoulade too. Better put a reminder into my phone....

Healthy veggie burger is a fantastic vessel for hidden vegetables, and if prepared in advance, quick and easy school night meal. They freeze great, before or after cooking, so think in advance or store the leftovers. If freezing from uncooked, line a tray that will fit into your freezer with a greaseproof paper or cling film, put the burgers on top, in a single layer. When frozen solid put into a freezer proof bag. You can cook the from frozen, add 5 min on top of the recommended cooking time.

IMG_0775

Roasted carrot burgers with celeriac remoulade
The size of your burgers will depend on the size of your bun, so shape them accordingly. Nobody likes a small burger in a large bun, and the other way things get a bit too messy. My burger buns were on the small size, therefore I ended up with 8 burgers. If you are making 4 burgers allow extra 5 minutes in the oven.

When cooking the lentils try to cook out all the water, towards the end of cooking make sure to stir if you don’t want to end up with lentils stuck to the bottom of your pot. I chop my onion in a food processor, quicker and no tears as with the grating. Change your blades and grate your celeriac in a food processor too.

The best thing about making these burgers is, that since they do not contain any animal products, you can always taste them for seasoning without the fear of food poisoning.

ingredients:
the burgers:
450g (1lb) carrots, cleaned
1tsp olive oil
200g (1 Cup) red lentils
550ml/21/4 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped very small or grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 TBS cumin
salt and pepper to taste
50 g bread crumbs
whole wheat burger buns
lettuce leaves torn into manageable pieces

the remoulade
1 celeriac, peeled and grated
1 heaped Tbs whole grain Dijon mustard
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 heaped Tbs dairy free mayonnaise
salt + pepper to taste

method
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Cut your carrots into 1 inch chunks. Add 1 tsp of olive oil and using your hands mix well making sure all carrot pieces are covered with oil.
  2. Line a baking sheet with grease proof baking paper, put carrots on top of it and roast them in the oven for 30-40 min, until the carrots start caramelising along the edges and are quite tender when pierced with a knife. Set aside to cool.
  3. While the carrots are roasting, cook the lentils. Bring them to boil (no salt) and reduce the heat. Make sure the lentils are just simmering, otherwise the water will evaporate before they become tender. This will take about 15min. Check on the lentils, if there is still too much water, cook a bit longer stirring constantly until most water is gone. Put into a bowl and set aside. Any residual liquid will be absorbed while the lentils are cooling.
  4. When the carrots are cooled chopped them in a food processor. Aim for a very small pieces, not a carrot mash, you do want some texture.
  5. Mix the carrots, lentils, onions, cumin, seasoning and breadcrumbs together. Shape into 8 burgers. You can refrigerate them at this stage.
  6. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof baking paper, place the burgers on top and bake for 30 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.
  7. While the burgers are cooking make the remoulade. Just mix all the ingredients together, taste for more lemon juice or seasoning.
  8. To assemble burger, put a little bit or remoulade on the bottom of the bun, some lettuce leaves, burger and top with a large dollop of the remoulade. Last but not least the top half of your bun. Serve.




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MOROCCAN INSPIRED TAGINE OF WINTER VEGETABLES AND DRIED FRUITS



After extremely warm December the winter has finally arrived, temperatures dropped, grass has a lovely frosty hue shimmering in the wintery sunshine. It is absolutely gorgeous ! Weather like this is perfect for something warming, comforting, something that will fill your house up with irresistible aroma. What can be better than winter veggies, warming spices, rich sauce slowly simmering on the stove...I am using up some of my dried fruit stash, chickpeas (again), the other half of squash leftover from making the hummus and lots of different spices from my spice cupboard. It may not be North African weather here, but the gorgeous smells sure do evoke a Moroccan souk.

tagine

MOROCCAN INSPIRED TAGINE OF WINTER VEGETABLES AND DRIED FRUITS

The quantities of individual vegetables depend on what is in your veg drawer, my butternut squash made about half of the mix, purely because I wanted the use it all up. This dish will freeze and reheat well. You can use mild or hot paprika whatever you prefer, I went for the mild version making the dish more kid friendly. Preferably do not use smoked paprika for this dish.

Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice mix, each mix is slightly different as traditionally this is a special mix from each individual spice shop. I love mine to contain rose buds to lend the dish lovely but not overpowering fragrance.If you cant find ras el hanout, use any Moroccan spice mix or omit all together.

When preparing parsnips it is a good idea to cut out the middle core.

Serves 4 hungry people

ingredients
900g mix of carrot, parsnip and butternut squash, cut into large chunks, about 11/2 inches (4cm)
1 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika (sweet or hot)
2 tsp ras el hanout or moroccan spice mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 heaped Tbs tomato paste
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of chickpeas
100g dried apricots
100g dried prunes
2 Tbs honey or dark agave syrup
2 1/2 c (725ml) vegetable stock
1 cup of barley couscous

method
  1. In a large pan on medium heat saute the onions in the olive oil till soft about 10min. Add the garlic and cook for further 1 min.
  2. Add all your spices, stir into the onions. Tumble in all your vegetables and quickly stir in to coat with the spices.
  3. Next add the tomato paste, let the cook about 30sec before adding the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, dried fruits, agave (or honey) and the vegetable stock.
  4. Bring to boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for about 1 hour, or till all the vegetables are tender and sauce is thick and rich. Season with salt if needed.
  5. Cook the couscous according to package instructions.
  6. Serve the tagine with couscous.

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MULTI ROOT SOUP WITH RED LENTILS


My weekly organic vegetable box delivery is usually marked by frantic attempt to use up what is leftover from the last one. Even if the temperatures and budding daffodils tell otherwise we are in the middle of winter and root vegetables seem to be the bulk of what gets left in my veg drawer. Now that calls for a warming root vegetable soup.

A very dirty knobby, wouldn’t win a beauty contest, celeriac was pleading to me. I must say I am not a big fan of celeriac, I like it raw, thinly shredded in salads or blended in soups, but that is it, don’t serve it to me mashed or gratineed or in a chunky stew. Celeriac is however very low in calories, good source of Vitamin K, some B vitamins, phosphorus, iron, calcium, copper and manganese. Of course, as all veggies, great source of dietary fibre. Recently few studies have shown its anti-cancer qualities due to its antioxidant content which makes me think it is time I started to love the awkward root a whole lot more.

Root

MULTI ROOT SOUP WITH RED LENTILS

This soup is made with no added oil making it very low fat, low calorie and highly nutritious. Red lentils raise the protein content. The soup is blended so there is no need to be precise with the chopping of the vegetables. The amount I made serves 6 people easily.

serves 4-6

ingredients

1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tbs mild curry powder (or your favourite curry blend)
1 celeriac, peeled and chopped
1 large parsnip, tough middle core removed, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled, chopped
125 ml /1/2 cup red lentils
1 litre or more of vegetable stock

method

  • In a large stock pot , on medium heat , saute the onion in 1/4 cup of stock (or water) till soft. If it starts to stick to the bottom of the soup pot add more water. This will take about 10 min.
  • Add curry powder and garlic and heat till fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add rest of the ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour.
  • Blend, check for seasoning and serve. You may need to add more water if the soup is too thick.

Soup 1

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