dates

BERRY TOPPED CHIA SEED PUDDING

BERRY TOPPED CHIA SEED PUDDING

There are not many things that get a teenage boy out of the bed on a weekend morning. Trust me I know. You can’t imagine my surprise when I heard his rather hasty steps down the stairs one Saturday morning. The reason? My rather loud announcement: Chia Pudding is ready!!! Yep he loves it!

Chia seeds maybe tiny but they pack a lot of nutritional value. Just one ounce (28g, about 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds delivers 4g of protein, 11g of fibre (the average UK intake is around 12g of fibre per day!!!). You also get 18% of your daily calcium, 30% of manganese, 30-50% of magnesium and 27% of phospohorus. Chia seeds also contain decent amounts of Zinc and Vitamins B3, B1 and B2. And don’t forget the omega 3 fatty acids, 4915mg in those 2 tablespons (omega 6 - 1620mg). Omega 3 to omega 6 in perfect ratio!

When soaked in liquid the outer layer of chia seeds forms a gel. 1tbs of chia (whole or ground) soaked in 3 Tbs a water for 15min is a great egg replacement in baking. This gelling property is what makes these seeds perfect for a pudding. Yes, your pudding will look a bit like frog spawn but it does taste delicious.

I like to top my pudding with berries. I tend to use frozen berries (because they are always in my freezer) and let them defrost. This creates a berry sauce that mixes through the pudding for a great fruity zing. You can leave your fruits to defrost in the fridge overnight, but if like me you tend to forget, you can just put them into a small bowl and sit it into a large bowl of hot (tap hot) water. The berries will defrost while the pudding sits.

While you wait for your pudding to thicken you can contemplate on how in 15 minutes you will tuck into a breakfast that can lower triglycerides, lower bad cholesterol, increase the good one, help reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation…and best of all it is called a pudding!!!


IMG_0153


BERRY TOPPED CHIA SEED PUDDING
serves 3 (or 1 portion for me 2 portions for the teenager)

300ml of almond milk
1 mejdol date or 1 tbs maple syrup
6 Tbs chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
berry topping:
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen strawberries

  • Combine berries in a bowl, cover with lid and let defrost overnight. Or place into a small bowl. Sit the small bowl into a large bowl filled with tap hot water, let sit till needed. Stir to help release the juices.
  • If using the medjol date, place the milk and mejdol date in a blender and blend till smooth and pour into a medium bowl. If using the maple syrup just stir into the milk in a medium bowl.
  • Add the vanilla and all the chia seeds.
  • Let sit for 15 minutes, stir from time to time to prevent clumps forming.
  • When pudding has thickened, divide between bowls and top with the defrosted food and the sauce they have created.


IMG_0007

0 Comments

BANANA DATE PECAN PUDDING SQUARES

BANANA DATE PECAN PUDDING SQUARES

Overripe bananas in the fruit bowl mean only one thing: cake time!!! As my kids both don’t like bananas (other than in a smoothie) this happens often. I love baking with bananas, they are a great substitute for butter or oil in a recipe and add sweetness without the need for added sugar.

Athletes often snack on bananas, they are a great source of low glycemic carbohydrate. They do however offer more than being an efficient pick me up. As a rich source of potassium they can help lower blood pressure. They also contain plant sterols, theses can block the absorption of dietary cholesterol thus could be helpful in keeping our cholesterol levels healthy. Bananas are a good source of fibre which, of course, helps to regulate our digestion i.e. keeping things moving. FOS (fruictooligosacharides) is another component of bananas, FOS is metabolised by bacteria, helping us keep our friendly microbiome healthy. Interestingly per weight, banana has more vitamin C than a peach! Who knew??!!

My banana date pecan pudding squares have the texture of Jamaican sweet potato pudding (hence the name). If you are looking for a texture of a cake than walk away now. If you like stodgy, you should enjoy these. I will admit that my kids are not keen but I have eating half of it already…No gluten, no refined sugar, no eggs, no oil or dairy. And they will keep moist, can’t tell you how long as they do not seem to last beyond the second day….

IMG_5425


BANANA DATE PECAN PUDDING SQUARES
makes 15 squares

ingredients
1 flax egg (see below)
1 cup dates
1 cup almond milk
3 overripe medium bananas
1 cup gluten free oat flour (I blitzed oats in a blender)
1/2 cup gluten free flour (I used Dove)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

method
  • First, prepare the flax egg by combining 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit till needed.
  • In a blender process the dates and almond milk till fairly smooth (few chunks are ok). If you don’t have a high speed blender you can soften the dates by soaking them in the milk first (at least 30min).
  • In a large bowl mash the bananas, than add the flours, date milk and flax add. Whisk till well combined.
  • Finally stir in the pecans.
  • Pour the batter into a 15cm x 25cm (6 x 12 inch) baking dish that has been lined with a nonstick paper.
  • Bake at 180C for 30 - 35 min to till set.


IMG_5412
0 Comments

KUMQUAT AND RAW CACAO TRUFFLES


KUMQUAT AND RAW CACAO TRUFFLES

Did you know there are videos online explaining how to eat a kumquat? Unlike other citrus fruits kumquats are usually eaten whole with the peel (you should spit out the pips). The inside flesh is rather sour whilst the peel is much sweeter. Eating the whole fruit should balance the flavours together.

These mini “oranges” pack a nutritional punch. From antioxidants like zea-xanthin and lutein to essential oils like limonene or a-bergamotene. Of course they are rich in Vitamin C but also have good levels of B vitamins.

I though they would pair up beautifully with some raw cacao and nuts in yet more truffles. I know I just posted a recipe for very simple basic chocolate truffles but I believe that one can never have enough chocolate recipes.

I have tested these on the family and I am afraid they weren’t too happy about me ruining the chocolate truffles with “orange”. However they were hit with a lot of friends. If you do like the classic orange - chocolate combo this is a recipe for you.

kumquats

KUMQUAT AND RAW CACAO TRUFFLES
Makes 16-18

ingredients
1 cup almonds
2TBS flaxseed, ground
1/2 cup coconut flour
8 kumquats
6-8 Mejdol dates, pitted

method
  1. Using a food processor process the almonds into coarse powder. Add the flaxseed, cacao, coconut flour and pulse to mix.
  2. Quarter the kumquats and remove any pips (there can be quite a few). Put into the food processor with 6 dates.
  3. Process till the mixture comes together, you may need to add extra Medjol dates. You should get a pliable sticky mixture that is easy to roll into truffles.
  4. Make walnut shape truffles, you should get 16-18 pieces.
  5. Refrigerate to firm up the truffles. Enjoy!

kumquat-truffles
0 Comments

RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

My cookbook library comprises several hundred titles. I will have to estimate (some are still in the garage in boxes since our May house move) but it could be somewhere between 500-600 hundred titles. I love looking through recipes, getting inspired but I am rather bad at actually following recipes. I keep telling myself I should plan better and maybe make couple of recipes a week from one of the many amazing books I own.

Last weekend I picked up
Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen, a book my husband brought for me from San Francisco. I was amazed to find a recipe that I had all the ingredients for. I made Ani’s garden pate and tested in on our friends who were coming for drinks and nibbles. Who would have thought that something made of celery and carrots could taste this good. I added some coriander and splash of tamari, because I simply can’t help myself. This will definitely be a mainstay in my repertoire. Yum!

Ani's Garden pate
Garden-pate

Another dish I made for nibbles were raw chocolate truffles. These were of my own recipe. I admit I have been craving chocolate and these really hit the spot. We made them disappear rather quickly. They are incredibly easy (just 4 ingredients) and have the potential to keep in the fridge for about a week but I doubt they will last more than couple days. I have been commissioned (by my son) to make more -
FAST.

raw-chocolate-truffles

RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
You may need more or less Medjol dates, this depends on their size and moisture. Mine were on the dry side and I had to add a few more than the recipe states. Simply keep adding dates and test if the mixture stick together when pressed.

ingredients
1 cup of almonds
1 cup of walnuts
6-8 Medjol dates, pitted
3 level Tbs of raw cacao powder

method
  1. Using a food processor, process the almonds and walnuts into coarse powder (you want few coarse bits to add texture).
  2. Next add cacao and enough dates to achieve the desired texture. The mixture should be moist and easily pressed together to roll a ball.
  3. Roll balls size of a walnut, you should get about 16-20 truffles out of this mixture.
  4. Refrigerate (this will firm the truffles up) and nibble when you fancy something sweet.

0 Comments

RAW CHOCOLATE ORANGE TART

RAW CHOCOLATE ORANGE TART

Three birthdays in a row can be quite challenging. We had a very busy week indeed. Family meal out, my daughter's birthday party and a rather noisy sleepover, dinner made for my husband, visit from the family and some birthday shopping (yay!!!).

My daughter’s birthday is two days before mine and my husbands three days after. I always felt that my son would feel left out but he relishes the fact that his birthday is in June and all attention is on him only. The three of us end up sharing the birthday magic... Just trying to decide which restaurant we want to have our triple birthday meal can be a challenge.

Every year I tend to make a three course meal for my husband. This year it all went badly wrong. Things just weren’t going right at all. My husband and our friend who was joining us were both stuck in gridlock traffic. My timing therefore was off. And in the end I managed to cook millet in place of quinoa (they just looked too similar at that point in time). I only find out when gooey slimy millet sludge started to bubble up in the pan. Yeah it didn't taste great. Luckily the dessert turned out fabulous.

As all inventions go I had my fingers and toes crossed that the tart sets, cuts into neat (ish) wedges and mainly tastes good. As you can see from the picture, the wedges were not restaurant quality neat but they did hold their shape. And the taste? Smooth orange and chocolate cream filling, intense tart shell ... do I need to say more?

I am sure I will not serve millet "pilau" (sludge) for a while but the tart is definitely going to make an appearance next time friends come for a visit. Well, I do need a better photo after all!

raw-choc-organe-tart


RAW CHOCOLATE ORANGE TART
serves 8-10

ingredients
the base
2 cups of walnuts
10 Medjol dates
2 tbs raw cacao powder

the filling
1 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 medium oranges)
1/4 cup water (or as needed)
4 medjol dates
2 tbs coconut oil melted (preferably in a dehydrator)
orange peel, grated (from 1 orange)

2-3 oranges to decorate

orange-tart-slice

  1. In a food processor combine the walnuts and pitted dates. Process till combined into a paste with the nuts retaining still some texture.The nut pieces should be about the size of breadcrumbs. Add the cacao powder and process until the cacao is mixed in well.
  2. Press the walnut date paste into a 25cm (10inch) tart tin , I used a silicon one. There is enough mixture to go up the sides. Place into the fridge while you prepare the filling.
  3. In a high speed blender combine the cashews, orange juice, mejdol dates. Process till smooth thick creamy texture, like thick custard. Add extra water in mixture is too thick (i feel that if the blender struggles extra water is needed). I needed to add the whole 1/4 cup of water.
  4. Stir in the coconut oil and orange peel.
  5. Poor the filling into the tart shell. Place in the fridge for several hours or till the filling sets.
  6. Decorate with orange slices.

0 Comments

ANYTIME FRUIT AND NUT BARS

ANYTIME FRUIT AND NUT BARS

Few years ago I read an article written by a mum who decided to take all electronic devices away from her kids during their summer holidays. She was astounded how quickly they started to entertain themselves (surprisingly no boredom). I am not as brave as this mum, but I have been setting limits on the screen time. I do it anyway, but during school holidays there are hours to fill unlike during school year.

It has been great to see, that on the days when we don’t have plans to go out, kids have found ways to enjoy themselves. We’ve had endless diving into the paddling pool to fish out toys, tennis rackets came out of their hibernation (my son spent three hand blistering hours bashing the ball against the house on one day), we had bobbing for toys in the kitchen sink (= flood) and numerous (very loud) games of UNO. Star Wars Lego has been spread all over my son’s floor (I forgot how painful stepping on a lego brick can be). My daughter has started her own “all about the human body” book and has put together numerous dance shows for me to watch. The best thing, they have been spending a lot time together without much bickering. The dreaded words "I am bored" haven't been heard much either.

The point is kids are pretty good at entertaining themselves when the push the button entertainment is taken away. It is noisier but happier without TV, Xbox or ipad. It is also healthier. And to fuel them I have made these anytime bars. I call them anytime bars because they can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack and they are also perfectly portable to take to picnics. They are rather open to variations, just swap the nuts and dried fruits for whatever you happen to have in your pantry :)

anytime-bars


ANYTIME FRUIT AND NUT BARS

makes 10 -12 bars

ingredients
1 cup porridge oats
1 cup spelt flour
1 banana
4 Mejdol dates
1/2 cup of non dairy milk
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 -1 tsp cinnamon
1 apple, finely diced

  1. First combine the oats and spelt flour in a large bowl.
  2. In a blender combine the banana, Medjol dates and the non dairy milk. Blend till smooth. Add to the flour/oat mixture.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
  4. Spread the mix into a baking paper lined 10x6 (15x25cm) baking dish, press down firmly. Bake in 180C oven for 30-40 min or until golden brown on the top.
  5. Let the bake cool down, cut into bars and enjoy. Store in an air tight container for up to 4 days.

anytime-bars-2

0 Comments

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.


raw-carrotchia-cookies

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... :)



0 Comments

TOFU WITH QUICK BBQ SAUCE

TOFU WITH QUICK BBQ SAUCE

It seems to me today will be one of those days I will do anything to distract myself from revision. I cleaned the kitchen, sorted out my vegetable drawer, folded the laundry that was hanging on the airer for couple of days. I put another load of wash on, hung it up to dry... and now I am writing a blog. You could say writing a blog about soya is partly a revision for my upcoming exam.

Apparently the sale of soya based veggie burgers, sausages and roasts have gone through the roof in response to the horse meat scandal. Horse meat seems to be everywhere, if you eat meat there is no escaping it but choosing the highly processed soya meat analogs may not be a healthy alternative either. The food writer Joanna Blythman, in response to the increase in soya burger sales, wrote a rather condemning article about soya. I do agree with her on the soya protein isolates (thats what you will find in the above mentioned products), these are not healthy foods. However soya isoflavones, the phytonutrient found in more natural soya products, have shown many health benefits. Isoflavones may reduce breast cancer risk (works best if given from adolescence), boost survival in breast cancer patients, lower cholesterol and they may also lower hot flushes and other symptoms of menopause.

When I choose soya I go for no GM preferably organic, I tend to stick to tofu, miso, tempeh, edamame and I do like a soya yoghurt, especially the vanilla one... YUM. Personally I don’t like the after taste of soya milk and the soya cream sold in shops is mainly vegetable oil. I choose the more traditional soya foods you would find in Asia over the processed Westernized soya products. My kids love tofu, and if I have a block in the fridge I can always come up with a quick and tasty dinner. Believe me
quick is the word of the moment. The recipe below is what I came up with the other day, the only downfall was I had to restrain the kids from eating ii all otherwise my husband would have gone hungry after getting home late from work :)

Here are two views on soya. The above mentioned Joanna Blythman article and a fab post from Leo Babauta’s Zenhabits blog.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2284435/Horsemeat-scandal-Think-soyas-safer-choice-meat-Think-again.html

http://zenhabits.net/soy/

BBQtofu-detail

TOFU IN QUICK BBQ SAUCE

Serves 4

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 medjol dates
700ml (about 3cups) passata
120ml of water
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
2 Tbs soya sauce
1 Tbs coconut nectar sugar (or maple syrup)
1 x 400g (just under 1 lb) block of firm tofu

In a deep wide saute pan heat 60ml (1/4cup) of water, add the onions and garlic. Put the lid on and let the onions and garlic soften. Add more water if they start sticking.
Next add all the rest of ingredients (apart from) the tofu and simmer for about 20-30min, you should get thick rich sauce.
Drain your tofu, dry with paper towels (I wrap the tofu in several layers and press on gently to squeeze the water our). Cut into bite size pieces.
Place the tofu into the sauce, and simmer for further 10 min. Shake the pot occasionally, stirring might break the tofu.
Serve with brown rice and a large green salad.

BBQ-tofu
0 Comments

KALE KOFTAS WITH SPICED TOMATO SAUCE

KALE KOFTAS WITH SPICED TOMATO SAUCE

As a parent I have an incredible urge to protect my children from all the bad things that happen it the world. On the other hand I do believe that knowledge is power. Macmillan Cancer Support have conducted a survey of 500 children aged 9-16 to find how much they knew about cancer. They found out that children in the UK are lacking cancer knowledge, for example 97% didn’t know that sunburn causes cancer, and a small number (4%) believe that a person can contract cancer from another person.

This made me conduct a survey of my own. My kids know quite a lot, they are aware that alcohol, smoking, high red meat consumption, sunburn and also obesity increase chances of contracting cancer. They can explain that cancer is caused by rogue cells dividing uncontrollably. They can also name several vegetables that offer the best protection against cancer. My son said concluded: “Of course we know quite a bit, we live with you!”

Unfortunately it is not only me sharing my acquired knowledge that makes them more informed than the average, sadly their Grandad died from cancer last summer. They, like many children today, have experienced the impact cancer can have on a person’s life. Not only children but most adults find cancer extremely frightening, but knowing what lifestyle changes can reduce our risk of getting this disease can be empowering.

You couldn’t do better than adding the fantastic kale to your diet. Kale contains isothiocyanates which induce cancer destroying enzymes and inhibitors of carcinogenesis. Unfortunately these amazing facts don’t necessarily mean kids are going to love the rather acquired taste of this green leafy vegetable. Made into koftas, however, kale is transformed into a child friendly meal. Lycopene rich spiced tomato sauce complements these koftas perfectly, enhancing the anticancer properties of this dish even further.

kalekofta2

KALE KOFTAS WITH SPICED TOMATO AND APRICOT SAUCE

Can be oil free.

Serves 4

ingredients

Kale Koftas
200g (1/2lb) shredded kale (tough stalks removed)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
50g (1/2cup) walnuts
60g (1/2cup) cashews
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs tahini sauce
2 Tbs gram flour
(you will need 8 skewers)

Spiced Tomato and Apricot Sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Tbs tomato puree
1 Medjol date, chopped
8 dried apricots, quartered
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tins of tomatoes

kalekoftas


method
  1. First make the koftas.
  2. If using bamboo skewers make sure you soak them in water for half an hour.
  3. Steam the kale for 5 min or until wilted. Cool the kale down.
  4. In a small frying pan heat the 2 teaspoons of oil and gently fry the onions until well caramelized. (You can saute the onions in water for oil free version, they will not get caramelized the same way though)
  5. In a food processor combine the kale, onion, garlic, walnuts, cashews, spices, lemon juice, tahini and gram flour. Process till all well combined with some texture still remaining.(I prefer to pulse the mixture so I can keep an eye on it)
  6. Divide the mixture into 8. Mold each mound of the mixture around a skewer into a kofta shape. Place onto a aluminium foil lined baking tray. Chill in a fridge for half an hour.
  7. While the koftas are resting start on your sauce.
  8. In a medium sauce pan heat 60ml (1/4cup) water and add the onions and garlic. Cook until tender.
  9. Next add the tomato puree and cook for about a minute.
  10. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer gently till ready to serve.
  11. Preheat the grill (broiler) and cook the koftas for about 3 minutes on each side.
  12. If you prefer a smooth sauce blend it in a blender.
  13. Serve the koftas (they slip of the skewer easily) with the sauce alongside some veggies and couscous.


0 Comments

SMOKED TOFU SAUSAGES WITH SMOKEY KETCHUP

SMOKED TOFU SAUSAGES WITH SMOKEY KETCHUP

The big health news today is definitely the UK Government’s plan to vaccinate healthy children against flu. Most articles say “children are to be given” others talk about “being offered” a free flu vaccine. Whether offered or being given the way BBC reported this news tonight it looks a sure thing.

I know there are three camps when it comes to vaccinations:
1. No worries, feel vaccines are necessary to protect children, happy about it
2. Not comfortable but will do ahead with the usual childhood vaccines
3. Vehemently against it
I have always been in the second camp, I feel uncomfortable giving this horrible cocktail of dead or weakened viruses mixed with chemicals to my kids. On the other hand I felt that I would rather they wouldn’t contract diseases such as polio or diphtheria...

When it comes to flu vaccine I am leaving the “in the middle” camp and I am making my way to camp 3. We have managed to eradicate polio and diphtheria in most countries due to vaccination. We will not be able to do that with flu. This fellow is clever, not only there are many strains, the influenza virus can mutate to keep us guessing, therefore vaccines have to be reworked each year. Nobody knows which strain of flu may be rampant during a particular year therefore there are no assurances.

Most of the articles state that children very rarely suffer complications from the flu. Last time I had flu I was out for several weeks, my son (who was around 4) just fell tired and had no appetite for just one day. That was all. This vaccine is meant to reduce the spread of flu via kids, ensuring what is called herd immunity. This makes me very uncomfortable.

We should look for a voice of reason and that, for anybody in health field, is Cochrane Database of Systemic Review. Dr Fuhrman (in his book Super Immunity) mentions Cochrane review of flu vaccine: “The Cochrane review also looked specifically at the vaccination for children against the flu. After reviewing the data on fifty-one studies addressing the effectiveness and safety of flu vaccines for children, the Cochrane reviewers were shocked with our government’s (USA) policy of universal vaccination“. In the USA the scientist behind Cochrane review noted that most of the 15 members on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices had financial ties to the vaccine industry. Not a big surprise is it?

In no way, I would belittle how dangerous flu can be, and the vulnerable need to be protected. But I do wish for an independent research, careful consideration and when this scheme is rolled out, I want parents to be given an option to opt out and without being pressured by both government and surgeries.

SMOKED TOFU SAUSAGES WITH SMOKEY KETCHUP


smokedtofusausages

ingredients

sausages
4 spring onions (scallions)
8 sun dried tomatoes
2 tins of canellini beans
225g (1/2lb) smoked tofu, cut into large pieces
2 heaped tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
Cornmeal

smokey ketchup
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbs cider vinegar + 1 Tbs water
1 or 2 Medjol dates (to taste)
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 and 1/2 cups tomato passata


method
  1. First chop the spring onions, I used food processor to do the job.
  2. Next add the sun dried tomatoes, chop roughly.
  3. The beans go in next and process until mostly smooth.
  4. Add the tofu, paprika and nutritional yeast to the food processor and process till well combined but not completely smooth.
  5. Remove the blade from the food processor. Pour some cornmeal into a shallow bowl.
  6. Make 8 sausages out of the tofu mixture (wet hands before each sausage) and roll them in the cornmeal.
  7. Place the sausages in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  8. Prepare the ketchup.
  9. In a small saucepan place the vinegar, water and shallow, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the shallot is soft and the liquid is gone.
  10. Add the paprika, dates and tomato passata, cook on low heat for about 30min until rich and thickened. Let it cool down.
  11. Place the sausages on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake at 180C for half an hour, turning half way through. The sausages should be golden brown.
  12. Serve with a crisp green salad and the ketchup on the side.


0 Comments

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

Imagine this: you pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee if you prefer and you get that niggling feeling to have something sweet with it. Do you reach for a biscuit jar, a slice of Victoria sponge or a brownie? Or do you decide to be good and have nothing at all? What if there is a solution that gives you a well deserved treat without the butter, refined sugar and even flour. My chocolate raw bars are right on the money.

There has been a bit of an explosion of raw bars on the market lately. I am partial to Naked Bars, they taste great and are a perfect portable boost of energy. They are very popular in my nutrition class they seem to come out when we need a lift from that mid afternoon slump. As much as I love them I thought I could do better and cheaper myself.

Results were excellent, I must say Naked Bars have a competition, my son prefers mine and takes them to school. My friend who had one today asked for a recipe and to take some home with her. Another friend coming tomorrow... I am thinking I should start to package these. Enough of this self indulgent praise. Fire up your food processors and make these bites of indulgent gorgeousness too.


chcorawbar

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

I do apologise for using American measure only but I got carried away (twice already) and didn’t weigh my ingredients, using cup measure is so much easier. 1 cup = 250ml.

Makes 10 bars

ingredients

1 cup walnuts
1 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened
10 Medjol dates
2 Tbs raw cacao powder
1 Tbs Maca powder (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 goji berries
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (each nut into about 4 pieces)

method

  1. In a food processor combine the walnuts and coconut, process till you get reasonably fine texture, it will not be as fine as ground almonds.
  2. Add your cacao and maca powders and whizz around shortly, just until mix trough.
  3. Next add the dates into the mixture and process until it all starts coming together. To test it take a bit of the mix and press together between your fingers. If it sticks together and holds shape you are ready. If the mixture is not sticking together you may need to add another date.
  4. Tip the mixture into a bowl and add rest of the ingredients. Mix well so the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  5. Line a 10x6 inch baking dish with a grease proof paper. Tip the mix into the baking dish and press down to get a compact rectangle.
  6. Chill in the fridge for at least couple of hours before cutting. They will keep a several days in the fridge easily.
0 Comments

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

Imagine this: you pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee if you prefer and you get that niggling feeling to have something sweet with it. Do you reach for a biscuit jar, a slice of Victoria sponge or a brownie? Or do you decide to be good and have nothing at all? What if there is a solution that gives you a well deserved treat without the butter, refined sugar and even flour. My chocolate raw bars are right on the money.

There has been a bit of an explosion of raw bars on the market lately. I am partial to Naked Bars, they taste great and are a perfect portable boost of energy. They are very popular in my nutrition class they seem to come out when we need a lift from that mid afternoon slump. As much as I love them I thought I could do better and cheaper myself.

Results were excellent, I must say Naked Bars have a competition, my son prefers mine and takes them to school. My friend who had one today asked for a recipe and to take some home with her. Another friend coming tomorrow... I am thinking I should start to package these. Enough of this self indulgent praise. Fire up your food processors and make these bites of indulgent gorgeousness too.


chcorawbar

CHOCOLATE RAW BARS

I do apologise for using American measure only but I got carried away (twice already) and didn’t weigh my ingredients, using cup measure is so much easier. 1 cup = 250ml.

Makes 10 bars

ingredients

1 cup walnuts
1 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened
10 Medjol dates
2 Tbs raw cacao powder
1 Tbs Maca powder (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 goji berries
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (each nut into about 4 pieces)

method

  1. In a food processor combine the walnuts and coconut, process till you get reasonably fine texture, it will not be as fine as ground almonds.
  2. Add your cacao and maca powders and whizz around shortly, just until mix trough.
  3. Next add the dates into the mixture and process until it all starts coming together. To test it take a bit of the mix and press together between your fingers. If it sticks together and holds shape you are ready. If the mixture is not sticking together you may need to add another date.
  4. Tip the mixture into a bowl and add rest of the ingredients. Mix well so the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  5. Line a 10x6 inch baking dish with a grease proof paper. Tip the mix into the baking dish and press down to get a compact rectangle.
  6. Chill in the fridge for at least couple of hours before cutting. They will keep a several days in the fridge easily.
0 Comments

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.
0 Comments

APPLE STRUDEL MINIBITES

APPLE STRUDEL MINIBITES

header-tea and strudel



In my opinion there is no better drink than a nice cup of tea. My favourite, without a doubt, is green jasmine tea. I love its heady floral scent and gentle flavour. My cupboard is full of different teas, green and white, plain and flavoured, there are some with fancy names, teas in bags and loose leaf teas. Some have been tied by hand into intricate flowers that magically open up when introduced to hot water.

We all know the antioxidant rich tea has lots of health benefits. In UK tea is the number one source of flavonoids in the diet. I thought I would do a little experiment and search through some tea stories to see what health claims newspapers come up with. I must say I was overwhelmed.

These are some of the claims I found:
Drinking tea just may

  • reduce chance of brain tumour and stroke
  • help fight infection
  • slow down weight gain and prevent obesity
  • cut risk of throat and oral cancer
  • help prevent breast cancer
  • lower LDL cholesterol levels
  • prevent flu better than vaccination
  • alter gene expression and improve cholesterol metabolism
  • lower diabetes risk
  • extend lifespan
  • prevent fatal autoimmune diseases
  • fight ageing and free radicals
  • cut risk of heart disease
  • help to halt luekemia and other blood cancers
  • block lung cancer
  • prevent eye disease and glaucoma
  • halt prostate cancer tumour growth
  • treat/or prevent dementia, brain disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • fight lung cancer and pneumonia
  • prevent and treat osteoporosis

A very impressive list indeed. According to these claims, drinking tea could help solve the world health crisis and we all should have green tea coming out of our water pipes. As amazing as all these claims are, tea is just one small part of a healthy lifestyle, drinking tea will not have a significant affect if the rest of person’s diet is poor. However based on this my daily cups of green tea will taste much sweeter (without sugar of course).

Most people associate tea with a piece of cake or biscuit so I though a perfect sweet treat will go down well with my today’s blog. A classic slice of apple strudel I grew up with is transformed into a much healthier bite size version. All the familiar apple strudel ingredients minus the sugar and pastry. The dates may not belong to a classic strudel but they are a fantastic glue to keep the bites together. One or two are enough to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.

APPLE STRUDEL MINI BITES

tea and strudel ingredients

ingredients
100g (2cups) soft dried apple rings (not apple crisps)
100g (1cup) walnuts
70g (1/2cup) raisins
4-5 Medjol dates
1tsp cinnamon

method

  1. In a food processor chop the walnuts. The nuts need to retain some texture not turn into nut flour.
  2. Add the apples, cinnamon, raisins and 4 dates. Process until the mixture starts coming together. If needed add another date.
  3. Tip the mixture into the bowl and roll into 18 walnut size balls.
  4. Keep in the fridge, this will firm them up a bit.

  1. tea and strudel

0 Comments

ALMOND AND BANANA PORRIDGE

ALMOND AND BANANA PORRIDGE

Yesterday I ran into a friend of mine and somehow we ended up talking about porridge. She mentioned topping hers with brown sugar and was keen to know about alternatives. And yes there is a healthier way of sweetening her breakfast. So this recipe is for my beautiful friend N.

Sugar. It may be delicious but good for you it is not. According to scientists sugar is as damaging and addictive as tobacco and alcohol, there have even been calls for its taxation. I believe rather than taxing it we should be more aware how much sugar we consume and make a conscious decision to cut down. Our health is indeed in our own hands.

The less sugar you eat the more sensitive you become to its taste. You will find the sweet things you used to enjoy just taste sickly and you will prefer the natural gentle sweetness of food. And if you do want something more intense, there is always my favourite nature’s candy; the mighty dates. Unlike sugar and its empty calories, dates will give you whole host of vitamins, minerals and fiber. That is sweetness worth seeking.

ALMOND BANANA PORRIDGE
There are many different porridge oats so check the ratio to milk/oats and cooking instructions of the packet for best results. I used only one Medjool date for my portion of porridge, I did find it sweet enough but you can use 2 to get you started.

Serves 1

dateporridge

300ml (1 1/4cup) almond milk (unsweetened)
1-2 Medjool dates, stones removed
55g (1/2 cup) organic porridge oats
1 banana
1Tbs flaked almond, dry roasted

  1. In a small sauce pan start heating up the milk.
  2. In the meantime, chop your date(s), it will become a sticky mess, but don’t worry the dates will dissolve into your milk.
  3. Add the dates and porridge to your milk. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down.
  4. Simmer for about 7 min.
  5. Pour into a bowl, top with sliced banana and almonds.

0 Comments

VALENTINE DAY CHOCOLATE POTS

VALENTINE DAY CHOCOLATE POTS

I will admit I am not big on Valentine’s Day. It is like baked beans on toast, you have to grow up with it to really appreciate it and in my case Valentine’s Day was not something that was ever celebrated when I was growing up. On the other hand I really love my orchid and the massage my husband bought for me. Kids were really excited and loved helping me with decorating the table. They also made a special red smoothie that they enjoyed drinking from wine glasses.

Admittedly today was the perfect opportunity for me to play with chocolate. Out of 70% dark dairy free bar I made everybody’s initial to put on their plate (we ate it for our starters!) and a heart to decorate my chocolate pots with. Perfect day spent with the people I love the most in the world.

VALENTINE DAY CHOCOLATE POTS
This is such an easy recipe, takes minutes to make and taste great. You don’t need Valentine’s Day as an excuse to make these. They are nearly guilt free, cashews, dark chocolate and no added sugar, just dates for sweetness. They are much lighter than traditional chocolate pots made with double cream.

Soaking the cashews overnight (or at least for 2 hours) this will ensure smoother cream and less work for your blender.

Serves 4

chocpots

ingredients
1/2 cup (125ml) cashew nuts soaked in 1/2 cup (125ml) water
2 Medjool dates, stones removed
100g (3.5 oz) 70% dark chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
to decorate:
50g (2oz) of 70% dark chocolate

method
  1. In a blender whizz up the cashew nuts, dates and water until smooth. Strain the mixture to ensure a smooth texture, the dates can leave few gritty bits behind.
  2. Place a bowl with broken up chocolate over a pot of simmering water (makes sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water and the water doesn’t boil rapidly). Melt the chocolate.
  3. Stir the chocolate and vanilla. Make sure the ingredients are well combined leaving no streaks in the mixture.
  4. Carefully pour (or spoon) into expresso cups and let set in the fridge for at least an hour.
  5. To make decorations, melt chocolate as above and pipe heart shapes onto greaseproof (parchment) paper. Let them set in the fridge. Be careful handling them as they melt readily when touched.
  6. Serve the pots decorated with the chocolate hearts or raspberries.
0 Comments

FENNEL, ORANGE AND DATE SALAD


Nigella says: “When I am in the kitchen I am happy.” I do wholeheartedly agree. I so love to spend time in the kitchen when there is no rush, when I can indulge in long list of ingredients and processes. However these days are a bit of a luxury (that’w what makes them special).

On the other hand I love using just few ingredients and making a dish in minutes. Sometimes simplicity is the king. So what can you make with just three ingredients, namely fennel, orange and dates? A salad I say. I love the sticky ultra sweet dates with juicy oranges and the crunch of fragrant fennel. Raw fennel is a real revelation, it is rather sweet you could easily think this salad is a dessert. And it may come as a surprise but a portion of this salad will give you around 10% of your daily calcium. Tasty and good for you.

IMG_0914

FENNEL, ORANGE AND DATE SALAD
The dates I used are the big juicy Medjool dates, if using the smaller variety you will need to increase the number by half.

Serves 4

ingredients
2 fennel bulbs
2 -3 oranges
6 Medjool dates

method
  1. Peel any damaged layers of the fennel, cut of the tough stalks and cut out the core. Cut into pieces about 1/2 inch (1.5cm). Put into a large bowl.
  2. Zest 2 oranges, add the zest to your fennel.
  3. Using a sharp knife ( I find a serrated bread knife works great) peel of the orange peel and the white pith. Cut into bite size pieces. I try to match the size of the fennel. Collect any juice and add together with the oranges to your fennel.
  4. Now cut up the dates (again similar size) and add to the bowl. Add pinch of salt (optional). Toss together.
  5. The juice of the oranges will self-dress the salad however if your oranges are not very juicy add the juice of the third orange to dress the salad.
  6. Let it sit for about half an hour for the flavours to develop.
0 Comments

RICE PUDDING WITH BLUEBERRY COMPOTE

RICE PUDDING WITH BLUEBERRY COMPOTE

Today a headline in Daily Mail caught my eye: The white stuff: Drinking just one glass of milk a day could boost your brain power. Apparently a study shows that drinking at least a glass of milk a day will improve your memory. Now I am sure I was going to say something about that..... oops can’t remember.... must be my non-milk drinker’s brain ....fried. By the way the journalist forgot to mention this study was sponsored by the MILK BOARD (USA). Very reputable, independent study indeed.

It took me quite a while to figure out why I couldn’t ever eat porridge, rice pudding or even muesli made with milk without feeling nauseaous, I couldn’t get through the bowl. Yes it was the milk! I never drank the stuff on its own, even when in nappies I found the taste utterly repulsive. I don’t have an allergy, maybe just a slight intolerance, but there are many more reasons while I took a step back from dairy.

With non dairy milks I can finally enjoy porridge, rice pudding and muesli. No memory loss so far. My kids never took to drinking milk either, but they did like it in their cereal. Now they enjoy almond and coconut (not tin) in their breakfast, and they actually prefer it. The only problem is when a guest wants an proper English cuppa I GOT NO “NORMAL” MILK at home...
rice-pud

RICE PUDDING WITH BLUEBERRY COMPOTE

This rice pudding contains no refined sugar, it is sweetened with date syrup and the blueberry compote with the Good Taste award winner Sweet Freedom. Both are available online or in health food shops. The date syrup has a very concentrated date flavour hence a bit overpowering for the blueberries. Beware it will turn your rice brown!

The non dairy milk of choice here is oat milk. I find that is compliments the rice beautifully. Make sure to shake the carton first.

We do like to eat our rice pudding warm, not too stiff, if you prefer less creamy and runny consistency just cook it a few minutes longer.

Serves 4 (very filling!)

ingredients

rice pudding
100g (1/2cup) sushi (or arborio) rice
3-4 Tbs date syrup
750ml (3cups) oat milk
blueberry sauce
500ml (2 cups) blueberries
juice of half a lemon
1-2Tbs Sweet Freedom (or agave)
2 Tbs water
pinch of cinnamon
garnish
toasted almond flakes
lemon zest

method

  1. In a heavy bottom sauce pen, combine the milk, rice and date syrup. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer gently for about 30min, or until desired consistency. Make sure to stir every so often, and very often towards the end of cooking time.
  2. For the compote, in a sauce pan, combine blueberries, lemon juice, sweet freedom (or agave), cinnamon and the water. Gently bring to simmer, cook just a few minutes, until some of the blueberries pop and create deep purple sauce.
  3. In a serving glass, put in some rice pudding top with blueberry compote and garnish with the lemon zest and almond flakes.
0 Comments

DATE AND ALMOND BALLS



After eating at a new all you can eat buffet restaurant (yummy curry!) I didn’t expect my friend D would want to hold me to my promise that next time she’d come over I would make her my date/almond balls. Promise is a promise and that is why even with a full tummy (while my Earl Grey was brewing) I put a batch together.

To be honest these morsels of yumminess have been my most requested recipe. Those who taste them want to make them. They are perfect snack if you fancy something sweet. Dates are after all nature’s candy. With the help of a food processor they are incredibly easy and quick to make. I always have a huge bag of almonds in the freezer and Medjool dates in my pantry so there is never an excuse not to roll a few up.



DATE AND ALMOND BALLS

If you are using almonds from your freezer do defrost them first, it takes about half an hour, not only this will make the work easier on the food processor but the balls seem to come together better too. I store the balls in an airtight container in the fridge, they firm up a bit. If you don’t like coconut you can also use sesame seeds to roll the balls in.

ingredients

1 cup /250ml almonds
7-8 Mejdool dates, stones removed
1/2 cup/125 ml shredded coconut

method

  1. In a food processor grind the almonds, make sure the pieces keep some texture (about bulghur wheat size). You don’t want to end up with almond flour.
  2. Add the dates and process until mixture starts to come together. Test it but squeezing some of the mixture together, it should hold its shape.
  3. With wet hands make walnut size balls and roll them in the coconut.
  4. Chill in the fridge if you can wait.

Date Balls

0 Comments