courgette

ROSEMARY SUMMER VEGGIE AND WHITE BEAN STEW

ROSEMARY SUMMER VEGGIE AND WHITE BEAN STEW

My lovely neighbour brought me a huge bunch of rosemary the other day. She was cutting her out of control rosemary plant and didn’t want to compost the lovely herb. She knew I would be a grateful recipient of such a gift. I do have grow rosemary in my garden but I admit any surplus produce from the neighbours is more than welcome in my household.

At college, one of my friends used to bring rosemary oil before exams. The tiny bottle was travelling around the room and we all had a good sniff to help our concentration and memory. I am not sure if it had any impact but research shows that blood levels of rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance.

Rosemary is beneficial for our brain health, it may prevent brain ageing and protect against neurodegeneration. Carnosic acid, a component in rosemary, is able to fight off free radical damage in the brain and promotes eye health thus protecting against macular degeneration.

The herb is high in antioxidants that neutralise free radical damage. There is also evidence that rosemary has anti-cancer properties. Research shows it may be an effective anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour agent. Cooking meat with rosemary reduces the formation of carcinogens associated with cooking meat at high temperatures.

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Rosemary is not one of those herbs you can just sprinkle raw over your meals. It is a very hardy, woody herb and needs to be cooked. I like to gently sauté it in olive oil first, this helps to release the flavour, but if you follow a strict no oil added plant based diet you can add rosemary to your pot of sauce or soup and still get the rosemary fragrance and flavour. I love adding it to roasted potatoes or butternut squash. The needle like leaves become very crunchy, it’s quite delicious.

I used 2 tablespoons of rosemary in my recipe, not an amount I would normally use but I am happy to say it didn’t overpower the delicate summer vegetables. Rosemary goes so well with the garlic and lemon in this light vegetable stew, it’s such a classic Mediterranean combination. Enjoy with some crusty sourdough bread or as I did with new season Jersey Royal potatoes (or any well flavoured new potatoes).

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ROSEMARY SUMMER VEGGIE AND WHITE BEAN STEW

1 Tbs of olive oil (I used extra virgin)
2 Tbs heaped fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, cut into bite size pieces ( I used thin skinned Romano pepper)
1 bulb of fennel, cut into bite size pieces
1 courgette, cut into bite size pieces
1 tin of artichoke hearts, cut in halve
1 tin of white beans, drained ( I like canellini)
1 cup of light vegetable stock (or white wine)
15 green olives, halved
lemon juice to taste (I used I whole lemon)


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  • Use a large lidded sauté pan or casserole. Heat the oil and gently sauté the rosemary, garlic and onion till softened. (For oil free version, use 1/4 - 60 mil of water, cover with lid and cook till softened)
  • Next add all the rest of ingredients apart from lemon juice, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice to taste, season and enjoy. I love the sauce that develops, it’s perfect mopped up with crushed potato or crusty bread.

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POTATO AND COURGETTE FRITTERS

POTATO AND COURGETTE FRITTERS


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This is my take on the very popular potato and courgette fritters. The recipe is close to my heart, based on the very traditional potato “pancakes” that my grandmother used to make. She would make stacks of them, sometimes using 5 kg of potatoes in one go. I still remember the endless grating (we did it by hand as using food processor would result in coarser texture)…. She used to fry them in a rather awful hydrogenated fat. But they did taste delicious. We ate them without anything, just stacks and stacks of potato pancakes. Delicious!!!

Courgette fritters is what I always order at The Terrace Cafe in Seaton, Devon. As I don’t do a lot of frying these days this is a real treat. Adding courgettes to the potato makes the pancakes more fragile and they will more likely fall apart. To prevent this you must squeeze as much water out of the courgette and potato mix. Use floury potatoes they will have more starch to help them stick together. You may have to add more buckwheat flour if the mixture looks too wet. Make sure you cook them as soon as you make the mix, leaving it stand will make the mixture wet again.

Enjoy with a lovely green salad, maybe a bit of sweet chilli sauce if you wish and a scoop of hummus on the side to make it a complete meal. They do taste delicious at room temperature making them perfect picnic food or take to work lunch.


beautiful mint from my garden
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POTATO AND COURGETTE FRITTERS
Makes 10 fritters (serves 2 -3 with a salad, or 6 as a part of mezze)

2 medium courgettes
2 large potatoes (about 600g)
Flax egg (1 tbs ground flax + 3 Tbs water)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tbs of fresh mint leaves
2 Tbs of fresh chives
1/4 cup (30g) buckwheat flour, or more if needed
salt and pepper to taste
Rice bran oil or coconut oil for frying

mixture before adding the flax egg and buckwheat flour
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  • Make the flax egg by mixing the flax seed and water. Let sit at least 5 min or till it becomes thick and gloopy.
  • Finely grate the courgette and potato. Place in a tea towel in squeeze all excess water.
  • Chop the mint and chives finely and add to the potato and courgette mix together with the flax egg and buckwheat flour. You may need to add more buckwheat flour if the mixture is too wet.
  • In a non stick pan (I use Green Pans) heat tiny bit of oil. Place about 1/2 cup of mixture into the oil, flatten and shape into a fritter. Cook on a medium heat till golden brown on both sides and cooked through.
  • Serve with a salad.

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COURGETTE NOODLES WITH PEANUT SAUCE

COURGETTE NOODLES WITH PEANUT SAUCE

After having visitors last week and making meals that were friendly for five children I really fancied something a bit more “out there”. Yes, making noodles out of vegetables is still very odd to so many people. There is however a shift towards healthier, more plant based diets. Small but sure steps. There are more and more people telling me about drinking green smoothies or buying juicers. I have also noticed that every time I show somebody the spiraliser there is a 50/50 chance they will be buying one.

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As you know I am addicted to peanut butter and use it in my cooking very often. You can also use almond or cashew nut butter in this recipe. It works well with either. You can make it as spicy or as mild as you like, you don’t have to use any chilli at all. I like quite a lot of lime juice, I added juice of 1 lime to the sauce but added another half a lime worth of juice to my portion. I didn’t have any fresh coriander, if you do, use plenty of it as a garnish. You can also use half courgettes half carrots for the noodles.

One important thing to remember about courgette noodles: if you let them sit (i.e. prepare in advance) mixed with sauce, they will release quite a lot of water. The lesson is, if you are planning to make this recipe and eat it later, use less water in the peanut sauce otherwise the flavours will be too diluted.

Enjoy!

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COURGETTE NOODLES WITH PEANUT SAUCE
Serves 2-3

3 courgettes
1/2 red pepper
3 spring onions
2 Tbs sesame seeds (I used black)
fresh coriander

Sauce
4 Tbs organic peanut butter
1 Tbs soya sauce (tamari or shoyu are best)
1/2 a mild chilli pepper
1-2 limes, juice
3-4 Tbs water

  • Using a spiraliser make the courgettes into noodles. I used the linguini setting. Place in a large bowl.
  • Slice the pepper into thin long strips, add to the bowl.
  • To make the sauce add all the sauce ingredients apart from water to a blender and blend adding water to achieve desirable consistency (see picture)
  • Pour the sauce onto the noodles mix well.
  • Serve the noodles garnished with slices of spring onion and black sesame seeds.

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BROAD BEAN AND COURGETTE WASABI DIP

BROAD BEAN AND COURGETTE WASABI DIP

What a gorgeous day! Sun is shining, kids’ teachers are on yet another strike so we have got to enjoy the sunshine together with their friends. After playing a game of tennis it was all about spending time lazying around (or inside) the paddling pool. With only one week before this school year is over I am hoping all days will be a bit like today.

Even preparing broad beans seems to be enjoyable when you can sit outside in the sun. I ended up with 2 cups of broad beans that further shrunk to 1 cup after cooking and removing the tough outer skins. And a large bowl of empty pods for the compost bin.

Inspired by the flavour of wasabi peas I decided to pair my broad beans with some prepared wasabi paste and turn them into a dip. I also used a courgette to bulk the dip up and to help make it smoother. I was tempted to add some tahini but broad beans can have a slightly bitter undertone and so does tahini paste. I used the sweeter cashew nut butter instead. Almond butter would work too.

When preparing my dip, my daughter called out to her friend. “Look, my mum is making something green again!” Very funny. I guess I am known among my children’s friends for green recipes... Unlike kids I do find green foods rather appetising and had to taste the dip straight away with a rice cake. The rest is in the fridge waiting to come out later possible with some carrot sticks or tortilla chips.

broad-bean-wasabi-dip

BROAD BEAN AND COURGETTE WASABI DIP

ingredients
1 cup cooked broad beans (weight of beans without their leathery outer skins)
1 courgette, raw
juice of 1/2 lemon (or to taste)
1 tbs cashew butter
handful of fresh coriander
1-2 tsp of prepared wasabi (or to taste)
salt to taste

1. Put all ingredients into the blender and process till smooth. Serve as a dip or spread.

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COURGETTE KUGEL

COURGETTE KUGEL

Foolishly I have trusted the weather forecast. Who wouldn’t want to trust the promise of summer’s last attempt to stick around? The reality is that the freshly washed clothes that I left (ok forgot) outside overnight got even wetter than they were from the washing machine. I guess I have to admit that the autumn has taking its rightful reign. At least last two days were mild enough to sit outside in the afternoon.

Autumn also means I will have to get myself organised for my final year of college. Exciting as it is I am also a bit nervous (understatement) about taking clients for the fist time. Last year we were the observers in the back of the classroom, this time we will be in the hot seat. My plans to revise over the summer didn't seem to materialise too well so I am trying to catch up now.

Part of the being organised is getting food prepared for the weekend so that it is easy for my husband and kids to cook a meal when I get back from college in the evening. My courgette kugel is such a recipe. You can make it ahead and just simply stick in the oven when needed.

Kugel is a traditional Jewish bake, pudding or casserole, usually made with egg noodles or potatoes, sometimes rice. It can be sweet or savoury. I like the comfort of such food. This is a vegan version of a kugel. It is creamy, rich and comforting as if made by a Jewish Grandmother.

I have also made this recipe with four courgettes instead of the 2 leek/2 courgette combo. It was as good. Nice thick tomato sauce complements the kugel perfectly. And of course salad and green veggies. This makes a big batch so any leftovers should be cooled quickly and reheated thoroughly. Enjoy!

kugel

COURGETTE KUGEL
Serves 6

ingredients
kugel
2 fat leeks
1 1/2 cup basmati rice
2 courgettes
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1 pack of silken tofu (300g, 10oz)
1 Tbs tahini
4 sun dried tomatoes
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste

method
  1. Thinly sliced the leeks and place together with rice into a large sauce pan. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Drain the rice and leek mixture and set aside.
  3. Grate the two courgettes and mix with the rice and leeks.
  4. To make the sauce blend together the water, cashews, tofu, tahini, sun dried tomatoes and nutritional yeast. Season.
  5. Place the rice mixture into a large baking dish, add the sauce and mix well.
  6. Bake at a 180C oven for 40-50 minutes, until set and golden brown on the top.
  7. Serve with a tomato sauce, salad and some green veggies.

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QUICK CHICKPEA TAGINE

QUICK CHICKPEA TAGINE

During my 100% raw food week I used half a bottle of olive oil, a whole cup, and about 3/4 cup coconut oil. Not something I would normally do. I am back to my low oil lifestyle now.

Last Sunday I had a sample of some lovely food from an Alkalising diet my friend is following and today another friend brought me some lemon and coconut muffins from her Ayurvedic diet. All very delicious! Yum yum! Aren’t friends who feed you the best kind?

Remember me saying I was fed up with salads last Friday? Well, it didn’t last that long. But having some cooked food has been lovely too. Especially pulses. That was one thing I really missed. I know you can have sprouted pulses on raw food diet but I just don’t like them... Sprouted seeds are yum but not sprouted chickpeas, they are not my cup of tea...

Inspired by my lunch at the Wheelwright Inn last weekend I decided to make a quick chickpea tagine for dinner tonight. Warming spices, veggies, chickpeas, tomatoes that were not getting any younger and of course some couscous. Perfect meal for this sudden change of weather. Yesterday we were enjoying gorgeous sunshine and today rain, rain and more rain. It is supposed to rain tomorrow again, I am glad to have some tagine leftovers waiting for me.

quick-chickpea-tagine

QUICK CHICKPEA TAGINE

Serves 4

ingredients
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbs tomato puree (paste)
4 tomatoes, chopped (skinned if you prefer)
2 courgettes (zucchini), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pepper (I had green), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 dried apricots, halved
1 tsp date syrup
1 tin chickpeas, drained
2 tbs parsley or coriander, chopped
1 cup of couscous

method
  1. In a large lidded saute pan heat 60ml (1/4cup) water, add the onion and garlic and saute till soft. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick.
  2. Next add the spices and tomato puree, cook for half a minute and add the tomatoes. Add some water if the mixture is starting to stick.
  3. When the tomatoes start to break down add the courgettes, peppers, apricots, date syrup and chickpeas. Add 250ml (1 cup) of water.
  4. Cook gently for 20 minutes or until the sauce is rich and thickens.
  5. Prepare the couscous. 1 cup of couscous, 1 and 1/2 cup just boiled water (or vegetable stock), cover with cling film and let sit for 5 min.
  6. Serve the tagine with couscous garnished with chopped parsley or coriander.


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COURGETTE SALAD WITH TOMATO SALSA DRESSING AND WALNUTS

COURGETTE SALAD WITH TOMATO SALSA DRESSING AND WALNUTS

Another great study weekend, this time we had our first client clinic. We observe, take notes, discuss, learn. What an amazing experience! I can’t wait till this is my job. Helping people and doing it through diet is a fabulous way to make a living (I can’t ever get tired about talking about food and nutrition!).

What struck me with our clients, and it is true with so many of us, was the lack of fruits and veggies in their food diaries. I am sure we all think we are eating quite healthy. However upon a closer look it may not be so. It is not uncommon to go through the day with one token banana and not much else on the 5-a-day front. A cheese or ham roll, packet of potato crisps and a can of cola is a very typical take to work lunch. Unfortunately this is not going to do a whole lot for your body. Out of a bag side salad sitting next to a ready meal for dinner is nothing to get excited about either.

I am lucky to be at home for lunch, this enables me a bit of planning and thinking about what I eat. Today it was leftover vegetable soup, couple slices of rye bread, an apple and an orange. I also sneaked in few kale chips. I do tend to cook soup in larger batches, freeze or just keep it in a fridge for a few days. I don’t see cooking for myself as a waste of time, cooking for one is cool, I can eat whatever I like. I can eat all the things rest of the family may not go crazy for. It may just be a sweet potato baked in the oven with some spicy greens and chickpeas on top. In my eyes, that is heavenly. And when I am pressed for time, I will have a hummus, grated carrot and seed wrap, or an avocado, lime and spring onion wrap with a bit of cayenne for some kick.

At college, everybody makes an effort to bring a very nutritious lunch. We are, after all, studying nutrition. There are quinoa salads, flasks of soup, pots of hummus, leftover veggie curries, lentils, rye breads. Everybody carries boxes of nuts and dried fruits, kale chips, fruits and veggies. We all plan ahead to ensure we eat well. It is all about getting into the habit and finding a little bit of extra time to prepare some yummy, healthy and portable dishes. Your health is surely worth extra few minutes a day.

This salad takes minuted to make and carries an amazing zing that is sure to wake up your taste buds.

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COURGETTE SALAD WITH TOMATO SALSA DRESSING AND WALNUTS
Make sure you to add the walnuts in just before serving. If left sitting in the lime juice they will taste rather unpleasant.

Serves 4 as a side salad but will do nicely for 2 as a “raw pasta” dish

ingredients
2 medium courgettes (zucchini)
1 medium beef tomato
pinch of salt
2 spring onions
1/2 red chilli
juice of 1 lime
1/2-1 Tbs agave syrup (to taste)
handful of coriander (cilantro)
1/2 cup walnuts

method
  1. Using a swivel peeler cut the courgette lengthways into long ribbons. Leaving the centre part with seeds behind. Place the ribbons in a bowl.
  2. Next make the dressing. Cut the tomato into quarters, using a sharp knife remove the seeds and skin. Dice the tomato finely, place into a small bowl and add a pinch of salt.
  3. Finely chop the chilli and spring onions and add to the tomatoes together with lemon juice and finely chopped coriander.
  4. Add the dressing to the courgettes and let sit for about half an hour in the fridge.
  5. Just before serving add the walnuts.

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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
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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).

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MISO TOFU KEBABS WITH LEMONY QUINOA

MISO TOFU KEBABS WITH LEMONY QUINOA

It’s 4th of July and everybody in the US is celebrating. No doubt barbecues and fireworks displays will be fired up. This got me inspired, I had 2 blocks of tofu in my fridge and some kebab skewers in a drawer. Tofu kebabs is the obvious way to marry these two.

Tofu and a kebab skewer don’t not always make a very successful combination. You see them looking perfect in a magazine, buy a block of tofu, cut it up into large dice and try to impale these on a bamboo skewer. And than disaster strikes, the tofu falls apart and you are left with a mess and have to make a stir-fry instead. I have been there before. My solution has been to bake or grill the cubes of tofu without putting them on a skewer.

Now, however, my kebab luck has finally changed. I found the perfect tofu that is easy to put on the bamboo skewers. While grilling them I turn the kebabs over couple of times and they stayed intact. How exciting!!! My superb very extra firm (and organic) tofu comes from my veg box supplier (Riverford). It is made by Dragonfly. I am sure me and Dragonfly tofu will become firm (forgive the pun) friends for years to come.


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MISO TOFU KEBABS WITH LEMONY QUINOA

I paired my kebabs with quinoa but rice, couscous even Asian noodle salad would be great. Baked sweet potato chips would work very well too. Or just a nice crisp salad. Next time I would thread some vegetables between the tofu cubes, small mushrooms, pepper, shallots, cherry tomatoes would all work really well. Pieces of pineapple would be great too.

If using bamboo skewers do soak them in water to prevent burning.

The quinoa was asking for a herb to be added to it but I thought it would overpower the kebabs.

Serves 3-4

ingredients

tofu kebabs
500g (1lb and 2oz) of very firm tofu (I used 2 packs of dragonfly organic tofu)

marinade:
3 Tbs brown rice miso
3 Tbs mirin
1 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs agave syrup (or another sweetener or just omit)
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar

lemony quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa
1 tsp olive oil
1 courgette, cut into 1cm dice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 spring onions, cut into half cm slices
1/2 cup of peas, I used frozen
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
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method
  1. Cut the tofu into large cubes, I got 12 from each block of tofu, 24 in total.
  2. Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl, mix well.
  3. Place 1/3 of the marinade on the bottom of a dish (I used a baking dish) that will hold all tofu pieces in one layer. Place the tofu pieces on top, pour rest of the marinade over. Cover the dish and let marinate in the fridge for an hour ( or longer).
  4. When ready to cook, thread the tofu on skewers. I used 6 skewers with 4 cubes each for 3 diners, if serving 4 use 8 skewers with 3 pieces of tofu each. (You can thread some veggies between the tofu pieces) Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with alluminum foil ready to be placed under the grill (broiler). Pour any remaining marinade over the kebabs.
  5. Cook your quinoa: rinse quinoa under running water, place in a sauce pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 min, drain.
  6. Half way through the cooking time place the kebabs under your grill and cook 3 min, turn over cook another 3 min, turn over again and give it 2 more minutes. The tofu pieces should start to caramelise on around the edges.
  7. While the quinoa and kebabs are cooking prepare your vegetables.
  8. Heat 1 tsp of olive or rapeseed (canola) oil in a frying pan. Add the courgettes and cook until they start to caramelise.
  9. Add the onion and garlic, for a minute.
  10. Add the peas and cook for a further minute until just heated through.
  11. Tip the quinoa into the vegetables and mix through. Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest and juice (to taste).
  12. Serve.
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WHEATBERRY PILAF WITH ROASTED TOMATO DRESSING

WHEATBERRY PILAF WITH ROASTED TOMATO DRESSING

This isn’t an advert for Merchant Gourmet, but it could be. I just love their products. They sell the best puy lentils, my daughter’s favourite whole wheat giant couscous, their sundried tomatoes are full of flavour and not preserved in in oil. Every Christmas I buy their chestnuts and I even used their products in a gift basket for a friend’s birthday.

The latest product I spotted was a box of wheatberries. If you are wondering, wheatberries are the whole kernels of wheat that are milled into flour.They are similar to spelt or barley and can be used interchangeably in recipes. Wheatberries are high in fiber, about 6g per 1/4 cup, they are incredibly filling. They are chewy which makes them perfect food to practice mindful eating as it will you take a while to get through them. This is a good news because it means that you will probably end up eating less.

My wheatberries were paired up with some gorgeous green veggies and a dressing made out of oven roasted tomatoes and garlic. Isn’t it amazing how roasting tomatoes concentrates the flavour? This recipe has no fat added.

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WHEATBERRY PILAF WITH ROASTED TOMATO DRESSING

Serves 4

ingredients
tomato dressing
6 medium tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic unpeeled
2 sprigs of thyme
Tbs of fresh oregano

pilaf
200g (1cup) wheatberries
1 litre vegetable stock
8 runner beans
1 bunch of asparagus
1 courgette
couple handfuls of peas

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking dish with some baking paper. Halve the tomatoes and put into the baking dish, cut side up. Roast for 10min.
  2. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves to the tomatoes and roast for further 20min.
  3. Next cook the wheatberries in the vegetable stock. Mine took about 30min , just read the package instructions as you may have a different product.
  4. Prepare your vegetables. Slice the runner beans diagonally. Snap the woody end off the asparagus and cut them in half. Cut the courgette in half lengthways and slice diagonally.
  5. In a large saute pan heat about 125ml (1/2 cup) of vegetable stock. Add the beans, cover with lid and cook for 2 min. Next add the asparagus and cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 min (depending on thickness). Last add the courgettes and peas and cook for 1 min. Vegetables should be tender and all the liquid should be gone.
  6. For the sauce, place the tomatoes and garlic squeezed out of its skin in a food processor. Whizz up into a smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning and add the chopped oregano.
  7. Mix the cooked wheatberries with your vegetables and serve with the dressing on the side.


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COURGETTE BREAKFAST MUFFINS

COURGETTE BREAKFAST MUFFINS

Last week I have fallen a victim to a horrible virus. It started on Monday evening, my legs seemed to weigh a ton, my head was about to explode and I felt incredibly tired. I thought a good night sleep would make things better. That didn’t happen, I couldn’t sleep much and woke up feeling drained. The headache was still there, and I spend most of the day half asleep on the sofa only to wake up for the school run.

As I found out later I wasn’t the only one who got attacked by this mysterious illness. Several of my friends and even the young man at the supermarket checkout complained about the same symptoms. I am glad to report that headache is gone and I don’t feel like I have kettlebells attached to my legs any more.

The day when I felt the worst all I craved was peanut butter and banana toast. My brain was asking for carbs and refused anything else. Sometimes you must listen to what your body is asking for, within reason of course. Therefore I ate fruit salads, potatoes, pastas and peanut butter and banana sandwiches to get my energy levels up.

Feeling better I wanted to utilise the UFO I found in my veg box . The UFO, as I discovered, was a bag of broad (lima) bean tops. I have never used them before, so I though I would try them in a quick blender soup. It didn’t work out that well. Now I don’t have anything against the taste of wheat grass but I don’t want a whole soup bowl tasting like it. Yes, the broad bean tops experiment was a disappointing failure. I am glad to report that my next experiment was much more successful. Healthy breakfast courgette muffins. Great for breakfast on the go but they will work served with a cup of tea in bed as well. (Hint to my kids...)


COURGETTE BREAKFAST MUFFINS

If you cannot find unsweetened apple sauce make your own: peel and core some apples, place them into a small sauce pan with few tablespoons of water and cook until soft, add more water if needed. Push the apples through a mouli. 3 medium apples will yield half a cup.


Makes 12

ingredients
225g (1 and 1/2cups) fine wholemeal flour
1/2tsp bicarb (baking) soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
50g (1/3 cup) coconut palm sugar
1 medium courgette(zucchini)
185ml (3/4 cup) almond milk (or another dairy free milk)
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
80ml (1/3 cup) unsweetened apple sauce
a handful of raisins
a handful of chopped walnuts

courgettemuffins

method
  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, bicarb of soda, baking powder and coconut palm sugar.
  2. Finely grate the courgette, place in a tea towel or a cheesecloth and squeeze out the liquid. Add to the flour mix.
  3. In a smaller bowl mix together the almond milk, apple sauce and vinegar.
  4. Add the wet mix into the dry mix. Combine well, do not over mix.
  5. Stir in the raisins and nuts.
  6. Put the mixture into 12 muffin cases.
  7. Bake at 180C oven for about 20min or until golden brown. They should spring back when you touch the top.


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MORE FRUIT AND VEG Part 2: Snacks - “CHEESY” COURGETTE DIP

MORE FRUIT AND VEG
Part 2: Snacks
“CHEESY” COURGETTE DIP

Have you noticed how snacking can creep up on you? After a long day, you get home, feeling slightly peckish or just outright starving, dinner won’t be ready anytime soon or you may be waiting for the rest of the family to come home for dinner. What do you do? Open the fridge or cupboards and scoff anything in your sight. That’s when we are most likely to eat to wrong stuff. Potato crisps, cakes, biscuits, chocolates...

Many times I heard my friends saying how they make themselves a cup of tea, open a packed of biscuits and just keep going. One is never enough. My solution is not to buy any biscuits in the first place but that will keep you feeling peckish. Keep in mind that 1 biscuit averages around 75cal and gives your body no nourishment whatsoever. Only cravings and unhealthy sugar spikes.

Why not snack healthily and work towards your fruit and veg quota while doing so? The obvious and easiest way is to have some fruit around, just grab and go. Cut up veggies are another easy option. With a little bit of planning you can make fruit and veggies even more sexy.

One of our favourites is keeping grapes in ziplock bags in a freezer. I buy a huge box in Costco, take them off their stalks and freeze them in batches. My son says they are better than sweets. Freezing intensifies the flavour and since they are frozen you will take a while eating them. Perfect when watching a movie.

Some of our snack staples include kale chips, dehydrator apple or banana crisps, Medjool dates, raw “balls” and bars, hummus with carrot sticks or linseed crackers (or good quality, sometimes homemade tortilla chips) with homemade guacamole (have you noticed shop bought one has double cream in it?!!!) or good salsa.

My snack recipe is courgette dip, it is raw and incredibly versatile, the pine nuts give it a cheesy texture, reminiscent of ricotta. You can use it as a dip, spread, or even stir it into your pasta “pesto” style. And of course it counts towards your 5(or 10)-a-day.


“CHEESY” COURGETTE DIP

courgettedipdetail

This dip will keep for a couple of days in the fridge, if you are making it ahead use 2 Tbs of lemon juice. When stored the lemon juice looses some of its power.

Makes about 1 cup

ingredients:
2 young crisp courgettes (zucchini)
70g (1/2 cup) pinenuts
1 small garlic clove
1 cup basil leaves, packed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
salt to taste

courgettedip

method:
  1. Grate your courgettes coarsely, mix in 1 tsp of salt. Place the courgettes in a collander that is set over a bowl. Put a small plate on top of the courgettes and place some full tins on top to weigh it all down. Leave for about half an hour.
  2. Place your courgettes in a cheese cloth (clean tea towel or a good quality paper towel will do the job), squeeze as much of the water out as you can. You don’t want a watery dip.
  3. In a high speed blender or a food processor combine all ingredients and process until the desired texture (see picture)
  4. Garnish with basil leaves and pinenuts and serve with vegetable crudites or crackers (preferably raw).
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