parsnip

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


IMG_5896

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

IMG_5889

  • 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.
IMG_5883

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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 :)

IMG_5302


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
IMG_5297



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CHUNKY VEGETABLE AND BARLEY SOUP

CHUNKY VEGETABLE AND BARLEY SOUP

Lately I have increased the amount of juicing I have been doing and have been enjoying their fresh zing in the mornings. Lunches, possible due to the awful relentless rain and wind, have been largely soups. Warming, soothing and a wonderful way to use up odds and ends in the fridge.

This soup is exactly that. Many odd pieces of veggies rescued from the vegetable drawer cooked in flavoursome broth with the addition of barley to give the soup more body and sustenance. You could of course any veggies you find lurking around, swede, turnip, courgette, celeriac, peppers, peas, sweetcorn....anything goes.

Add some herbs or different grain, quinoa or brown rice would be lovely. I wold cook these separately and add to warm up just before serving. Which ever way you go this will warm you up in this wet wintery weather.

barley-soup

CHUNKY VEGETABLE AND BARLEY SOUP

serves 3-4

ingredients
1 onion
1 celery rib
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 large potato
1/4 cauliflower
half broccoli
1/2 cup barley
veg stock

method
  1. Peel the onion, peel the potato and parsnip. Cut all the vegetables into fine dice (about 1 cm/1/3inch).
  2. In a large sauce pan or stock pot add all the vegetables and barley.
  3. Add enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables by about 5cm (2 inches).
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 20min or until the barley is cooked. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Enjoy.
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ROASTED VEGETABLES, SPICED CHICKPEAS AND CASHEW CORIANDER SAUCE

ROASTED VEGETABLES, SPICED CHICKPEAS AND CASHEW CORIANDER SAUCE

Yesterday I watched BBC program about insect eating. Stefan Gates, the culinary globetrotter, explored the idea whether insect eating could save the world. We are all aware that the worldwide meat demand is becoming rather insatiable. In addition to the meat centric Western diets, new emerging economies are abandoning traditional ways of eating and consume more and more meat. We are faced with rising prices and incredible cost to the environment. Insects on the other hand are plentiful (in warmer climates), cheap, low methane producers, high in protein and apparently tasty. Insect farming would definitely be better for the environment than cattle farming.

Stefan in another BBC report tried to convince some students (yes they will try anything once!) to sample his meal worm burgers. He added nuts, vegetables and spices... he basically made a veggie burger with the addition of some ground up meal worms. Needles to say students didn’t think insect eating will become the next big thing in our restaurants.

Do we really need to find more animal protein sources? It is easy to get enough protein in our diet from plants. No need to bite on insect shells, ant eggs or grinding worms into burgers. And no, the though of tarantula bottom tasting very creamy (as the Cambodian children described it) is not appealing at all. I will stick to my veggie diet :)


roasted-veg-spiced-chickpea

ROASTED VEGETABLES, SPICED CHICKPEAS AND CASHEW CORIANDER SAUCE
There are a few steps in this recipe but it is worth it. Great dinner party dish.

Serves 4

ingredients
roasted veggies
2 red pepper
2 medium parsnips
2 sweet potatoes
2 onions
2 aubergines
1/2 tbs rapeseed oil

spiced chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
1/2tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam massala
2 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and diced
1/2 c water
2 tin of chickpeas, drained
lemon juice to taste
salt to taste

cashew coriander sauce
1 cup cashews (soaked for at least 30min and drained)
60-90ml (1/4-1/3 cup) water
1/2 tsp dried garlic powder
1 tsp dried onion powder
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbs fresh coriander, finely chopped

250ml (1 cup) couscous

method
  1. Cut up all the vegetables into bite size pieces place onto a roasting tray, mix with the 1/2 of oil and roast at a 200C oven for about 30-40 min or until all vegetables are cook through and start to caramelise
  2. While the vegetables are roasting make the spiced chickpeas. In a medium saucepan heat about couple tablespoons water, add the garlic and chilli and cooked till softened, adding more water if needed.
  3. Next add the turmeric and garam masala. Cook briefly for about 30seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the spices and cook for about 5 minutes until they become soft and pulpy.
  5. Next add water and the chickpeas. Simmer for the rest of the cooking time of the vegetables, about 20min. Add lemon juice to taste just before serving.
  6. Prepare the couscous. Put the couscous in a large bowl, pour just boiled water over it, the water should cover the chickpeas by 1 cm. Cover with cling film and let it sit until the rest is finished.
  7. Finally prepare the sauce, put cashews, water, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon juice and process till smooth. Add in the chopped coriander.

coriander-sauce
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FIERY PARSNIP CURRY

FIERY PARSNIP CURRY

Parsnips. I have to admit I have not tasted a parsnip before moving to the UK. It is not a vegetable you find on the Czech table. I do admit there are many vegetables I would rather eat than parsnips. I don’t hate them but they do not excite me very much. If you put and aubergine and parsnip in front of me I know which one I would choose.

This is where my vegetable box comes to its force, I don’t get much of a choice what is delivered. And as I like to eat seasonally I do have to give even parsnips a chance. They sure deserve it, these roots are rich in fibre, Vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6 and B1, they do contain good amounts of minerals such as iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. This sure make parsnips much more interesting.

What is the best way to cook them? I love them roasted (see I said love!!!), with spices and some maple syrup. This definitely brings out their natural sweetness. I am not keen on a parsnip mash, but a soup can be delicious, especially with plenty of warming curry spices thrown in.

Last time we found ourselves in Sweet Mart supermarket we decided to buy some gorgeous Indian savoury snacks. My husband bought a portion of fiery parsnips, not something I was drawn to. I made an aubergine curry that night and we had the parsnips on the side. Beyond all expectations I must admit we were hooked instantly, the tender sweet parsnips went so well with the heat of the chili and the acidity of the tomatoes. Delicious!

No surprise that as soon as I found myself with a few parsnips, I had to try to recreate this amazing dish. I only had a Scotch Bonnet pepper in the fridge which is not a typical Indian ingredient. It worked really well, lending the dish not only its fiery heat but also its lovely fruity flavour. My husband called it a close match. When he had the leftovers next day he than admitted it was a
very close match. Rested for a day and being gently reheated the sauce got even better, stickier and more intense. Parsnips have never tasted this good!

fiery-parsnip-curry

FIERY PARSNIP CURRY

Serves 4

ingredients
1 Tbs rapeseed (canola oil)
1 tsp nigella (kalonji) seed
15 curry leaves
1 onion, sliced
1 inch ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Scotch bonnet (Habanero chilli), left whole and slit with a knife. (chop up finely for an extra spicy curry)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
5 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunky batons
375 ml water
fresh coriander

fiery-parsnip-curry-2


method
  1. In a large saute pan heat the oil. Add the nigella seeds and curry leaves. Wait for the seeds to start popping. Take care not to burn them.
  2. Add the onions and cook them on medium heat till they are soft and brown.
  3. Next add the ginger, garlic and the Scotch Bonnet pepper. Cook for a minute.
  4. Add the spices, cook for about 30seconds.
  5. Next add the tomatoes, cover and cook for about 5min.
  6. While the tomatoes are cooking prepare the parsnips.
  7. Add the parsnips to the tomato together with water.
  8. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down. Cook gently for about 30min until the sauce it reduced and parsnips are very tender.
  9. Uncover the dish and turn up the heat for about 5 min. You should end up with a very reduced, sticky sauce.
  10. Serve with some fresh coriander and rice. Yum!

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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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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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