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FENNEL AND CABBAGE SLAW WITH CASHEW LEMON DRESSING

FENNEL AND CABBAGE SLAW WITH CASHEW LEMON DRESSING

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

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

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

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

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FENNEL AND CABBAGE SLAW WITH CASHEW LEMON DRESSING

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

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

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


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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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WASABI KOHLRABI APPLE SALAD

WASABI KOHLRABI APPLE SALAD

After numerous bowl of courgette (zucchini) noodles I thought I should use my spiraliser on something else. Apples in a fruit bowl and a green kohlrabi in the fridge, I thought why not? Making apple noodles was very easy with a firm apple (not so easy when I tried it with a softer one...). The kohlrabi was easy until I got about 2/3 of the way and the spiky part of my spiraliser decided it didn’t want to cooperate any more. I did managed to get to the end with sheer determination... and without spiralising my own fingers...

Of course you could use a grater or one of those julienne peelers to prepare the kohlrabi and apple if you don't have every kitchen gadget going like I do. I love the long thin noodles spiraliser makes but the salad will taste fab whichever way it is prepared.

Apple and kohlrabi turned out to be a fantastic combination. The sweetness of the apple combined with the tart apple is a marriage made in heaven. The crucial thing is that the apple is tart and crisp. I have made this salad with a sweeter apple and it didn’t work as well.

Make the dressing first as the apple may discolour if left standing waiting to be dressed (or sprinkle with half the lime juice). You want to preserve the crisp colour of the salad. Garnished with black sesame seeds it looks quite striking. And will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Serve it as you would coleslaw, or with a hunk of soya and ginger marinated baked tofu.


kohlrabi-apple

WASABI KOHLRABI APPLE SALAD

1 medium to large kohlrabi
1 large firm apple, preferably tarter one
juice 1 lime
1-2 tsp wasabi paste (according to taste)
1-2 tbs water (or more if the dressing seems too thick)
1 Tbs tamari
1 tsp coconut sugar (or coconut syrup)
2 Tbs almond butter
black sesame seed for garnish

  1. Combine the lemon juice, wasabi paste, water, tamari, coconut sugar (or syrup) and almond butter to make a dressing.
  2. Peel and grate the kohlrabi. I used my spiraliser for this job but a grater or food processor will work great too.
  3. Next spiralise or grate the apple.
  4. Place together in a large bowl.
  5. Pour the dressing over the apple and kohlrabi and mix well.
  6. Garnish with black sesame seeds.

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CAULIFLOWER TABBOULEH

CAULIFLOWER TABBOULEH

We have had glorious weather last weekend, apparently the UK is warmer than Spain! It was wonderful to be able to have lunch outside in the garden for a change. Yesterday we went to the garden centre and got some seeds and plants for our garden. Red and yellow currants, red and golden raspberries are in the ground, herbs in pots and flower seeds scattered. I hope the plants will survive our rather enthusiastic dog who has been digging holes all over the garden. Fingers crossed.

With the weather warming up there will be more salads and raw dishes appearing on our table. I though I would continue with the cauliflower theme from my last post and use this undervalued vegetable in another raw recipe, a herby cauliflower tabbouleh.

I love Mediterranean mezze (or bits and bobs as my daughter calls it) style eating. Many plates with gorgeous dishes, simple yet very flavoursome. Hummous, salads, olives, flat breads... Tabbouleh made from cauliflower is a perfect dish for a mezze spread. And if you are following a gluten free diet this is the recipe for you.

cauliflower-chopped
CAULIFLOWER TABBOULEH

ingredients
1 small cauliflower
1 large tomato (or 2 if you prefer)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3-4 cups of herbs (parsley, coriander and/or mint)
1 tbs olive oil
juice of 1-2 lemons (depends how lemony you like it)
salt and pepper to season

method
  1. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Place these into a food processor fitted with a blade, and pulse till the cauliflower is chopped small enough, resembling bulgur wheat. Place it a large bowl.
  2. Next finely chopped the tomato, I like to remove the seeds. You can do this in the food processor.
  3. Add the finely chopped onion.
  4. Next chop the herbs, I like to leave some of the herbs in larger pieces. Add to the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.


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SWEET AND SOUR CAULIFLOWER PICKLE

SWEET AND SOUR CAULIFLOWER PICKLE

Cauliflower maybe one of the most underused vegetables around. In the UK it is usually prepared a side dish for a Sunday roast, and almost always smothered with cheese sauce. You may be able to find it in a vegetable curry in an Indian restaurant. Even in the vast number of my cookery books, cauliflower hardly features in 1 or 2 recipes per book.

This is a shame, as cauliflower is such an incredibly nutritious vegetable. This is hardly surprising as it is a close cousin to the more popular broccoli. Cauliflower has been link to cancer prevention, especially bladder, breast, colon, prostate and ovarian. Cauliflower, like all cruciferous vegetables, will boost your liver detoxification process helping to clear excess hormones or toxins out of your body. It contains many antioxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene, querceting, rutin, kaempferol to name a few, these help to reduce oxidative stress. Cauliflower also contains anti-inflammatory nutrients that make it incredibly useful in maintaining our cardiovascular health. Sulphoraphane in cauliflower has been shown to help prevent overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori in your stomach.

I love raw cauliflower, I find myself stealing florets from my fridge for a snack but my very favourite part is inside of the stalk, a treat for the chef. Cauliflower pairs up beautifully with sweet and sour flavours and as I love anything pickled I came up with the following recipe. If you want to it on the day of preparation it will be more a salad, but leave it in the fridge overnight (or even 2 days) and you get a lovely pickled cauliflower, as is soaks up the sweet vinegar dressing.


cauliflower-pickle

SWEET AND SOUR CAULIFLOWER PICKLE

ingredients
1 tbs coconut sugar
3 Tbs cider vinegar
1 half red chilli, finely chopped
2 cups small cauliflower florets
2 small onions
2 small red onions
4-6 large green olives, sliced
2 tbs raisins or sultanas
1 tbs capuchin capers
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbs parsley

method
  1. In a medium size bowl combine the coconut sugar and cider vinegar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add in the finely chopped chilli.
  2. Slice the onions as thinly as you can into rounds. Add to the bowl together with cauliflower, olives, raisins, capers and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Chill for at least couple of hours or up to 2 days. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
  4. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.

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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!

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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.

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KERMIT THE SMOOTHIE

KERMIT THE SMOOTHIE

My attempt to detox has hit a wall today. I have been really good avoiding all the things I wanted to avoid - wheat, sugar, alcohol. Today however I took my daughter to the cinema and a lunch of her choice (a girls day out). Unfortunately on top of wanting a pizza she also chose a restaurant. The only dairy and meat free item on the menu was a tomato and olive pasta. My daughter was laughing saying “ detox no more” while I was crying into my far too oily overcooked plate of wheat (!!!).... I think if you break your detox you really need to do it with something that is worth it like Jamie Oliver’s spaghetti alla Norma not this pile of rubbish.

Never mind I am back on track. And as my fridge is jammed packed of veggies this shouldn’t be a problem. I have been eyeing the celeriac and beetroot in my veg drawer so hopefully they will come together into a delicious salad tomorrow. Earlier today I was going to make some kale chips today but I noticed a large caterpillar was swimming in the water as I was washing the kale. The green creature was saved but left me with some rather unappetising deposits of “recycled kale” among the dark green leaves. I thought dehydrator just won’t do and kale will have to be cooked at much higher temperature. That recipe will be coming soon.

Today I will give you a kale smoothie I had a few days ago. It was so neon green that my friend who saw it on my personal Facebook page exclaimed: “What have you done to Kermit???” Hence the name. Delicious it is and rest assured no frogs (or caterpillars) were harmed in making of this breakfast.

kermit-the-smoothie

KERMIT THE SMOOTHIE

Serves 1-2

ingredients
2 cups kale leaves
2 cups frozen mango
2 Deglet Noir dates (or 1 medjol)
1 slice of lemon (with skin)
2 tbs ground flax
1/2 tsp probiotic powder
1 1/2 cups water (or coconut water)

Just put all ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth.
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BABY PEPPERS WITH CASHEW CHEESE

BABY PEPPERS WITH CASHEW CHEESE

One more day to go before we see the year 2013 off and welcome the new and exciting year 2014. By now I am ready for a detox! Yes, I have overindulged and under-exercised. There was chocolate, or shall I say there were chocolates, wine, meals consisting of several dishes (even though healthy they were rather gargantuan). And than there were yesterday’s cocktails provided by my friend. She makes cocktails by emptying her bar contents into a jug and topping this concoction with some juice. I do admit they were unassumingly lethal yet delicious.

Do I feel a degree of guilt? Sure I do, but no point dwelling on this, I am detoxing starting the 2nd of January. And recording what I eat on this blog will definitely help the cause. But first, we have our New Years Eve celebration ahead of us. We always have lots of nibbles like sushi, dips, olives, little sandwiches and lots of other things. The aim is to fill up our plates with stacks of bits and bobs and keep going back for more.

My baby peppers with cashew cheese look indulgent and are (of course) dairy free. They are very easy to make. You can even play “guess what’s in the filling” with your guests (just make sure they don’t have a cashew nut allergy!). If you feel brave you can use some mild chillies instead of baby peppers.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! MAKE YOUR YEAR 2014 FILLED WITH LOVE, LAUGHTER, HEALTH AND DELICIOUS PLANT BASED FOODS.


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BABY PEPPERS WITH CASHEW CHEESE

1 cup cashew nuts
1/4 (60ml) + 1tbs water
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
salt
lemon juice
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
10 olives, chopped into small pieces
small handful of basil, chop finely
14 small sweet peppers

  1. Soak the cashews in water for about 2 hours.
  2. Drain the soaked cashews, place in a blender together with 1/4 cup water and the nutritional yeast and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Blend till smooth (or as smooth as you can get it). You will have to scrape the sides of the blender few times. If the mixture is too thick you can add extra tablespoon of water.
  3. Put the cashew cheese into a bowl. Season with salt, add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil.
  4. Cut the tops of the baby peppers and carefully scoop out the seeds. Using a small spoon (or if you fancy a piping bag) fill the peppers with the cashew cheese.
  5. Chill before serving.

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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.

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SUN DRIED TOMATO KALE CHIPS

SUN DRIED TOMATO KALE CHIPS

There are not many people who are willing to cook for me. I can actually count them on the fingers of my hand. I know this is familiar to anybody who eats differently than what is seen as the norm. Whether you are gluten free, vegan or raw you will find yourself being invited to very few dinner parties. You will be seen as the awkward. Hopefully one day the awkward will be the norm and the norm will become awkward.

My friend J is my dinner party buddy (that sounds way to posh! We just like to cook for each other). We have a very similar food philosophy. Nobody else gets excited about kale coming to season the way we do. We will text each other about organic kale’s appearance on the shelf of the Better Food Company. She has even brought me a bag of kale as a present before. She knows me well.

kale-chips-sundriedtomato
kale pieces stripped off the stalks

I have been trying to convince other non believers into embracing the humble yet amazing kale. I would say my success is about 50/50. Kale chips are the ace card in my pocket. Most people who try them fall under their spell. In one day I had 2 friends on the phone asking for my kale chip recipe :) Yesterday another friend announced they were eating kale chips all last week. I couldn’t be happier.

Brendan Brazier’s “sour cream” and onion kale chips still are the most popular in our house, but these seem to be close second. I think anything tastes better with sun dried tomatoes. If you still are a kale chip virgin please have a go. Even if you don’t have a dehydrator, they taste great made in the oven too (both methods are in my recipe). They will loose their RAW tag but they will still make an incredibly healthy and tasty snack.


SUN DRIED TOMATO KALE CHIPS
1 bag of kale with stalks (350g, 12oz)
2/3 cup cashews (soaked for half an hour and drained)
1/2 cup water
4 sundried tomatoes, soaked for 30 min
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1/2 tbs brags aminos (or tamari)

kalechips-sundried-tomatoes
the sundried tomato sauce

  1. Strip the kale leaves from their stalks.
  2. Wash thoroughly. Rip any larger pieces into bite size pieces.
  3. Dry will in a salad spinner. You will need to do this in three batches. Place the kale into a large bowl (you will need the largest bowl you have)
  4. In a high speed food processor blend all the remaining ingredients into a smooth sauces.
  5. Pour the sauce over the kale leaves and massage it into the kale so that all the leaves are cover with sauce.
  6. If using a dehydrator, place the kale onto your mesh dehydrator sheets (I use 3 in my Excalibur). Dehydrate at 115F (46C) for 12-14 hrs. Crunch test after 12 hours, if the kale chips are not crunchy enough dehydrate for couple more hours.
  7. If using an oven preheat it to 300F (150C). Spread your kale evenly on 2 baking trays and bake the chips for about 25 minutes. After the first 10 minutes keep checking on our chip every 5 minutes. Every oven is different and the kale chips can burn quickly.
  8. Store in an airtight container.
  9. Enjoy!

kalechips-sundried-tomato
crunch time
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FERMENTED CABBAGE

FERMENTED CABBAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

fermented-cabbaga-kilner

FERMENTED CABBAGE WITH CARROTS

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

1 litre preserving jar (Kilner)

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

Day 4
fermented-cabbge-detail

Day 14
fermented-cabbage-2weeks
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RAW CARROT COOKIES


RAW CARROT COOKIES

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

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

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


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... :)



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100% RAW: DAY 7

100% RAW: DAY 7

Today I have reached the summit, I have raised the flag like a brave mountaineer. I feel a real sense of achievement.

My menu today was another, this time from the book, mango and spinach smoothie ( I do like my version better). For lunch a salad with pineapple with a dried pineapple dressing. Shame my pineapple wasn’t very ripe, sweet juicy pineapple would have made the salad much better. My dinner was very delicious olive and seed falafels, warm from the dehydrator and tahini sauce, with (yes you guessed it) another salad.

pineapple-salad

How do I rate my experience? I do have mixed feelings. Let’s look at the positives and negatives.
Negatives
  • this plan was very very very expensive, all recipes were for four, some were easily scaled down but some like the quiche, almond bread, cookie bars I didn’t scale down and ended up with too many leftovers. I had to alter the plan so I didn’t create too much waste
  • time consuming, I don’t mind preparation and planning but I am not used to prepare 3 meals a day from a recipe, this can make it time consuming. Some recipes need 2 stints in a dehydrator, which means you better be available to do it, not a plan for anyone with a full time job. I had to do make myself a plan to make sure I soaked, dehydrated foods as needed
  • inconsistent portions, some were huge! The quiche served 6, the burgers on the other hand were so tiny I could have eaten all 4!
  • I do like salads, but by tonight’s dinner I felt I couldn’t eat another one!
  • unfortunately I didn’t get the renewed energy the plan promised, maybe I already have enough energy...

oliveseedfalafel

Positives
  • I tried lots of great new recipes that I might not have otherwise
  • I realised that cutting out wheat did not make me feel miraculously better (meaning I can happily eat bread and pasta and it is not the cause of my IBS)
  • I wasn’t hungry and had no cravings, not even for dark chocolate, proving how good this diet is for anyone who needs sugar balancing
  • raw food is going to stay but in mix with cooked, I realised that I do well on mixture of both. I am listening to my body to find a balance that suits me.
  • several people have told me I have lost weight, I shall hop on the scales tomorrow just to check (my smallest jeans felt really comfy)
  • I have loaded on lots of vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients, always a good thing
  • this gave me understanding of how difficult it is to follow a plan step by step and reinforced that change of lifestyle is the way to go

book-cover

Would I do this again? I will happily do a long weekend the better way is to make raw food part of everyday, which I do most of the time. Some days only a hot bowl of soup and veggies sausages and mash will do for the day, and there is a place for that too. Today I went food shopping and bought some sweet potatoes and ginger in anticipation of a warming soothing dal. Eating 100% would make me miss out on some of the foods I love but this week has also been very inspirational. Raw food doesn’t just mean salads (there are loads of them) but there are some incredible dishes. I am planning a raw dinner party for friends to show off a bit. I think a raw chocolate cake will be on the menu. ROCK AND RAW!
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100% RAW: DAY 6 / MANGO SPINACH AND LIME SMOOTHIE

100% RAW: DAY 6 / MANGO SPINACH AND LIME SMOOTHIE

This morning I made a smoothie (recipe below), my own concoction and later I realised it very close to the smoothie from my plan that I should be having tomorrow. I guess great minds think alike. With my smoothie I had a small piece of chia coconut bar. This one has been dividing the audience, my son loves it, my husband had a bite and handed it back and I am somewhere in between. At least they are filling and give a quick energy boost. The recipe made a big batch so I shall chow through.

coconutchia-bars

hempsalad

Lunch, the last piece of the lovely asparagus quiche, with “all you can find in the fridge” salad sprinkled with some hemp seeds. Yum. While preparing the dinner I sneaked in some olives and capers. Dinner was fabulous tapenade stuffed marinated mushrooms, they spent some time in the dehydrator which made them rather moorish. Another salad on the side. This time some simple baby leaves, rocket, beetroot and avocado with a splash of balsamic. This was a surprisingly satisfying dinner.

tapenade-mushrooms
Here is my morning smoothie recipe:

MANGO SPINACH AND LIME SMOOTHIE

Makes 2 large glasses

ingredients
flesh of 1 large mango
1 banana
3 handfuls of baby spinach
250ml (1 cup) coconut water
1/4 lime
1 tbs of ground flaxseed
handful of ice

1. Put in a blender and blend till smooth.

mangospinach-smoothie
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100% RAW: DAY 5

100% RAW: DAY 5

It is day 5 already. Time flies when you are busy preparing raw foods. Today breakfast was incredibly easy, a pomegranate, berry and banana smoothie. Good thing is both kids enjoyed it, the bad thing is I had a much smaller portion than anticipated. This left me scrambling for a few nuts later and an orange later.

superfruitssmoothi

Lunch, eaten outdoors in the beautiful sunshine, was a leftover quiche and salad. Afterwards I got busy with sorting out my pantry and found out I could feed a small country with my supplies. I do admit seeing all the different lentils I did get bit of a craving for a creamy spicy dal. Instead I made chia coconut and mango bars for tomorrow’s breakfast. It made loads! I may be taking samples to friends.

In the late afternoon I was feeling I couldn't face any more raw foods but the courgette and carrot pasta with pepper and walnut sauce was absolutely delicious. Any doubts were gone. The sauce would be perfect on regular pasta too. Another recipe that will become a staple. Yum yum.


raw-pasta
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100% RAW: DAY 4

100% RAW: DAY 4

The day started with an indulgent peach parfait. It was lovely, but a bit rich for breakfast more. I would have been happier with a bowl of peaches and raspberries. Energised by the breakfast I managed to make a quiche crust before the school run.

peach-parfait

Lunch was a bit of a disappointment. No, it was a big disappointemnt. Avocado and cucumber soup just didn’t rock my boat. It didn’t really love me back either. The homemade tortilla chips were fabulous and I will make them again. My son said they were addictive.

I was meeting a friend at a coffee shop after lunch, halfway there I realised I didn’t put the dehydrator on! I had to turn the car around and get back home. I did set a timer to remind myself to turn the dehydrator on. Indeed it was beeping madly when I walked through the door. Quiche was saved and so were the dogs from the non stop beeping.

avocado-soup

My friend T and I meet at the local coffee shop regularly for lunch. However no jacket potato and veggie chilli today. Instead I had some camomile tea and a banana. In my bag I had a pot of cinnamon and lucuma nuts (minus the lucuma that I forgot to put in) in case I was getting peckish.

Dinner was my nearly forgotten asparagus quiche and big salad, me and my sun gave it thumbs up, my husband found it salty and my daughter simply refused to even try it... Can’t win them all. I guess good news is there is plenty for my and A’s lunch, I wonder what his friends think about it tomorrow :) My only problem with the quiche was the wastage. The recipe called for asparagus tips only which left me with a bag of perfectly edible stalks. I will make a soup and put it in the freezer since I am not allowed to eat it this week. It would be a shame not to use them up!

asparagus-quiche

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100% RAW: DAY 3

100% RAW: DAY 3

This morning, before the school run, I whipped up some sunflower burgers, that needed to be in the dehydrator for 10hrs. That is the beauty of raw “cooking”, it takes minutes to prepare (well most of the time...). Breakfast, I had some more of that delicious granola.

My lovely friend came over to give me a fresh summer hair style. I tested some of my raw goodies on her. She was very impressed by the granola and nut cheese. Most people, when they hear raw diet, imagine just bunch of raw vegetables. I should carry samples with me :)

I realized it was 2pm when I finally found the time for lunch. Luckily there were leftovers from yesterday. The tomato apple dip, courgette bread, some salad... I was planning to follow the plan in the book to the letter, but life gets in the way and I had not time to prepare something from scratch. As you may know I also hate waste so using leftovers was perfect.

Dinner? The sunflower burgers I whipped up in the morning accompanied by fennel and apple coleslaw. The burgers were a bit too salty for our taste, but still very nice. More than the salt I found the portion rather meager. Good thing the coleslaw was there to fill me up.

sun-flower-seed-burgers-

fennel-and-apple-coleslaw
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100% RAW: DAY 2

100% RAW: DAY 2

My IBS has eased off and I was actually hungry by lunch time. Great I can fully enjoy my food now. First things first, what was for breakfast? Maca and coconut power smoothie. It called for green superfood powder, I opted for spirulina. This made the smoothie a rather unattractive colour and made the kids run as far as they could. Looks can be deceiving, it was rather tasty.


superfood-coconut-smoothie

Lunch a college. I brought a portion of creamy tomato & apple dip with some carrot sticks and a salad both put together in the morning. A slice of my courgette and almond bread and some fresh fruit. The dip was a hit with everyone who tasted it.


apple-and-tomato-dip


salad-with-sprouts-

The day was finished with vegetable chilli with cauliflower rice. I was very impressed with the cauliflower rice, and the chilli sauce was fab, my only problems were the mushrooms in the chilli, if I eat them raw I do like them marinated.

Another great raw day, I am enjoying this experiment. I was afraid I was going to feel hungry but so far this has not been the case. Bring on tomorrow :)

raw-chilli
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100% RAW: DAY 1

100% RAW: DAY 1

raw-food-diet-book


Irritable Bowel Syndrom flare up and raw food are not the best friends. This is not the best start for day 1 of my raw week. I had to make a few changes to the plan to suit my tummy. Day started with warm water and lemon juice and the amazing berry granola, delicious and very filling. Success all around, this is a recipe that is here to stay. It makes a great big jar and apart from breakfast will make a great snack. Lunch boxes will never be the same. May try to shape it into bars next time.

RAW-granola

College weekend today. In my lunch box a very fruity tomato and mango gazpacho with a slice of courgette and almond “bread”. Very refreshing. My husband sent a text: “My RAW lunch was super!”. Later a chocolate and apricot cookie bar for snack. But I couldn’t eat it all, tummy was not happy. It was delicious though, my friends enjoyed the samples.

As I arrived back home and opened the door I was greeted by my son and a very authentic pizza smell coming from the dehydrator. Deep rich tomato sauce, cashew/macadamia cheese, veggies, pistachio pesto and rocket to finish it off. It tasted even better than it smelled. What a perfect meal! My husband doesn’t like to cook but seems to be enjoying this “uncooking” and judging from this pizza he is pretty good at it too.

RAW-pizza


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100% RAW/MARINATED MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH WALNUT AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO PATE

100% RAW/MARINATED MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH WALNUT AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO PATE

One of my college assignments is to go on a diet for a week and do a presentation to the rest of the class. This is going to be quite an exciting experiment I can’t wait to see how we all get on. We have several liver detoxes, juicing and alkalising and ayervedic diet, and many more. My choice was quite easy. No, it is not Atkin’s because I do value my life :) I am going 100% raw for a week. I love raw food but have never done 100%, maybe for a day, but not for a week.

The purpose of the exercise is to pick a plan and follow it. I was originally going to follow Matt Amsden’s Rawvolution but the breakfast required 2 young Thai Coconuts per day which is not something I have readily on hand. Quite frankly I could not see myself wrestling 2 coconuts every morning. Not on a school day! Kids breakfast, lunch, coconuts... too much to handle.

I am starting the 100% plan tomorrow and will report everyday (or that’s the plan). I am using The Raw Food Diet by Christine Bailey, this means her recipes not mine. Not something I am used to doing, not three times a day. There is lots of planning and preparation, I have shopped, soaked, chopped, processed, dehydrated and I am ready.

Before I start my exciting endeavor here is my own raw recipe for marinated mushrooms stuffed with walnut and sun dried tomato pate. Enjoy.

yum yum
veggies

MARINATED MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH WALNUT AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO PATE
Serve these with a green salad for a light dinner. They are also fab as canapes.

Serves 4 as a main dish with a salad, or 8 as canapes

ingredients
300g (10oz) small portobello mushrooms
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Braggs Liquid Aminos (or Tamari or Shoy)
100g walnut
handful of parsley
30g (1oz) sun-dried tomatoes not packed in oil
2 spring onions (scallions)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt

stuffed-raw-mushrooms

method
  1. First prepare the mushrooms. I like to peel the outer skin, it allows the marinade to penetrate easier.
  2. Put the mushrooms into a glass bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and Braggs Liquid Aminos.
  3. Cover with lid or cling film and leave to marinate for 24 hrs in the fridge. Make sure you gently shake the mushrooms now and than.
  4. Make the pate. I used my own “sun-dried” tomatoes made in the dehydrator. If using regular sun-dried tomatoes, soak them for half an hour.
  5. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and process till ti comes together to a coarse pate. You may have to add 1 or 2 Tbs of water. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. Remove the mushrooms from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Divide the pate among the mushrooms and serve.
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YELLOW CARROT SALAD

YELLOW CARROT SALAD

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

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

yellow-carrots

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

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

yellow-carrot-salad

YELLOW CARROT SALAD

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

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


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GRANDMA HANA’S SAUERKRAUT SALAD

GRANDMA HANA’S SAUERKRAUT SALAD

It is the 1st of January 2013. The first day of the new year. After a night of celebrating many of us are making new year’s resolutions. Weight loss will and exercise will be at the top of the list for sure. The papers are already rating diets and introducing new ones. Manhattan diet anyone? This morning I have received an email suggesting I hold a detox party!

Eating healthy shouldn’t be reserved only for January. It should be something we simply just do. I have a big appetite. My mum in law asked me how come eat as much as I do and don’t put weight on. It certainly is the foods I choose to eat, and the foods I choose not to. And I don’t always have a New Year’s Eve buffet in front of me.

So for a healthier 2013, let’s eat real food. Cook from scratch more. Eat more raw foods. Let’s realize our health is in ours hands. Move, smile, love more and stress less. Make time for yourself, the people you love. Make choices right not only for you but for the planet. Live with compassion. Be a part of the big picture.

And if you have over indulged the last week or so, try my grandma’s cleansing salad. Three ingredients, minimum effort and it is incredibly healthy. One of the salads ingredients is the super sauerkraut. It only contains 27 calories per cup, while being full of Vitamin C and probiotics. What a perfect start to the new year!

Saurkrautsalad

GRANDMA HANA’S SAUERKRAUT SALAD
You may notice carrot in my salad, this was part of the sauerkraut that I bought from my Polish shop. If you can, get some unpasteurised raw sauerkraut to get the beneficial bacteria. If you can’t find it you can use sauerkraut from a jar too.

Serves 4

ingredients
3 cups sauerkraut
2 medium apples, diced
1 medium red (or sweet white) onion, finely chopped

method
Just add everything together and enjoy.
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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.

courgette-salsa-salad

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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CELERIAC AND PEAR SALAD WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

CELERIAC AND PEAR SALAD WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

This study weekend we more or less scratched the surface of our body’s biochemistry. Everybody’s head was spinning. Complicated it is indeed but also unbelievably fascinating. As I comfortably sit here writing this blog thousands of biochemical reactions are happening in my body. DNA is zipped and unzipped, transcribed and copied, proteins are formed, enzymes are working hard at speeding up chemical processes, energy is being produced and stored... We are quietly unaware of the amazing work happening beneath the surface.

To do all this efficiently your body needs the right type of fuel. Just like a car. Luckily the damage may not happen as quickly as when you put unleaded into your diesel car. It is never too late or too early to make improvements to our eating habits. Healthy balanced diet will make for a healthy efficient body. That’s what I keep telling my kids (and they occasionally make that pretend yawn when I do! GRRR!).

Getting kids eat a balanced diet can be a challenge at times. My son did mention one of his friends survived school camp eating plain pasta and chips (oh and one chicken leg). As I have mentioned in my previous blogs my daughter is not great with her vegetables. Therefore I jump for joy whenever she takes liking to something she previously didn’t like or refused to try. She helped me make todays recipe. During the preparation I encouraged her to try the pear (she always “hated” pears) and the celeriac (she has never even attempted to try it). To my surprise she exclaimed she loved the pears! And indeed she ate a whole one the very next day. The celeriac was not such a raving success but when dipped into the cashew cream it went down rather well. I am happy to say she ate a portion of the salad with her dinner. Another step forward:)

celeriacpearsalad

CELERIAC AND PEAR SALAD WITH CASHEW LIME CREAM

The recipe for lime coriander cashew cream will yield more than you need (it is difficult to process smaller amounts), it will keep in the fridge for couple of days, great as a topping for a soup.

Serves 4-6 as a side salad

ingredients

250ml (1 cup) cashews soaked in water for at least 30min.
125ml - 160ml (1/2-2/3 cup) water
juice of 1 and 1/2 limes
handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
1 small celeriac (celery root) - or as in my case half of a very big one, peeled
2 asian pears (or any other pears that are not too soft), peeled
salt and pepper

celeriacpearsalad2

method
  1. First make your dressing. Drain the cashews from their soaking liquid. Put cashews and 125mo (1/2 of water) into the blender. Blend till smooth. If the mixture is too thick add more water.
  2. Transfer the cashew cream to a bowl and add the lime juice and coriander. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare your vegetables. You can just grate the vegetables in a food processor or using a box grater. I used my mandolin to slice the celeriac into super thin slices and julienned these with a knife. The pear I sliced with a knife and julienned. :)
  4. Mix with some of the dressing. I used about 2/3 of the quantity.
  5. Chill until ready to serve. The salad taste even better the next day.

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VERY VEGGIE RAW CRACKERS

VERY VEGGIE RAW CRACKERS

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

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

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

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

ready for the dehydrator
veggierawcrackers

VERY VEGGIE RAW CRACKERS

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

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

Makes enough for 2 Excalibur dehydrator trays

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

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

veggierawcrackers2
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MAGIC ONIONS AND KACHUMBER

MAGIC ONIONS AND KACHUMBER

It would be hard to imagine cooking without onions. They are a based of so many dishes lending great flavour but there is so much more to the humble onion. We are constantly bombarded with the latest exotic superfoods like goji berries, macca powder, chlorella... the onion may look rather ordinary and unimportant.

Onions are one of my food superheros. They may not be trendy and exotic but they rightly deserve their superfood label. Onion cell walls contain alliinase, the enzyme that is released by chopping or crushing. The alliinase than catalyses the release of organosulfurs, hence the sulfuric acid smell and tears when we chop onions. The onion uses this as a protection agains herbivores. These chemicals are what makes onions so special.

The above mentioned compounds are what makes onions such a great cancer fighting food.
Dr Fuhrman in his book Super Immunity (a must read!!!) states that “epidemiological studies have found increased consumption of allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancer at all common sites.” The numbers he mentions are staggering, just 80g portion of onions 7 times a week has provided these stats:
56% reduction in colon cancer
73% reduction of ovarian cancer
88% reduction in esophageal cancer
71% reduction in prostate cancer
50% reduction in stomach cancer.
Amazing right?

redonions


Onions are not just a cancer fighter, they have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in chromium that helps to balance blood sugar. Onions are the richest dietary source of quercetin (not in white onions) which may just reduce your hay fever or asthma symptoms, but can also raise the good HDL cholesterol and ward off blood clots.

The best thing about onions? Apart from being delicious they are cheap as chips and very available (no excuse!). I know that not everybody likes to eat them raw but in this Indian recipe they mellow out while they meld with all the other flavours creating a delicious salad/salsa/relish type concoction. Serve it traditionally with curry but is fab with veggie burgers, burritos or even on top of a veggie chille.


kachumber

KACHUMBER

ingredients
1 large tomato
2 red onions (medium) or 1 large
1/2 cucumber
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
juice of half a lime
2 Tbs coriander leaves

method
  1. Deseed the tomato and chop quite fine (think salsa). Put it into a medium bowl.
  2. Next chop the onion and cucumber into roughly the same size pieces as your tomato.
  3. Add the salt, cayenne pepper, lime juice and coriander leaves (I like to leave these whole).
  4. Rest in the fridge for half an hour for the flavours to develop. Bring to a room temperature before serving.


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STRAWBERRY MILKSHAKE

STRAWBERRY MILKSHAKE

Kids have been asking for a strawberry milkshake for couple of days. Today I picked up a crate of strawberries so there wish was fulfilled. The result was a gorgeous pink milk, just like the one Lola of Charlie and Lola loves to drink. Carrying the glasses to my kids I said: “Delivery for Lola”, to my daughter’s delight.

This made me think of the Charlie and Lola’s pink milk that I spotted in the supermarket a while back. I am not sure if that particular brand is still available but I did some searching on the internet and found information about the ingredients. The ingredients list is not much different from other strawberry flavoured milks that can be found on supermarket shelves. Milk first of course, than sugar, strawberry juice concentrate (about 1%) and some preservatives. There is also beetroot red colouring.

My pink milk has a cup of strawberries and half a banana, the strawberries is all you need to achieve the perfect pink hue. There is no added sugar and no preservatives or colours. And, of course, no cow's milk either! My son exclaimed this was the best strawberry milkshake he has ever had as he proceeded to spear the garnish with his straw (boys!). Hang on is that why they call them strawberries??? :)) My daughter’s glass was empty so quickly that I have no doubt she loved it too.

pink-milk


STRAWBERRY MILKSHAKE
RAW if using homemade almond milk.

Makes 2 tall glasses.



375ml (1 and 1/2 cup) unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
2 cups strawberries
1 banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
handful of ice

  1. Place all ingredients into your blender.
  2. Process till smooth.
  3. Serve garnished with a strawberry.

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PEAR AND LETTUCE SMOOTHIE

PEAR AND LETTUCE SMOOTHIE

There has never been a better time to eat a plant based diet. According to latest research, correlated by the fabulous Dr. Greger, it can help prevent, treat or even reverse the leading causes of death. It will not prevent you from a freak accident but all the other causes may just be in your plant strong hands. Check the bellow talk by Dr. Greger and all of his other brilliant videos on his website.

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/

Wouldn’t it be great if we could slash our chances of getting heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s or kidney failure? Especially in the light of today’s articles about chemotherapy, we need more prevention rather than treatment. According to new research chemotherapy seems to undermine itself making tumour cells treatment resistant. The BBC article noted that: “ around 90% of patients with solid cancers, such as breast, prostate, lung and colon, that spread - metastatic disease - develop resistance to chemotherapy”. Wouldn’t it be better to slash our chances of ever being in need of such treatment?

The report on chemo maybe some scary stuff but not a huge surprise, the 2004 Australian study showed : “The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the USA.” See link below.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15630849

Nobody can guarantee plant based diet will definitely work in preventing cancer and other diseases but as far as research goes it is the best tool we have. And the only side effects are that you may just feel a whole lot better. Why not start with this great smoothie?

pearandlettucesmoothie


PEAR AND LETTUCE SMOOTHIE

Makes 2 refreshing tall glasses

2 pears
half a cucumber
1 baby gem lettuce
100ml unsweetened almond milk
thick slice of lemon
slice of ginger
I Tbs ground flax seeds
cup of ice

  1. Put all your ingredients into your food processor. I don't bother with removing the core or stalks from my pears.
  2. Blend till smooth.
  3. Enjoy!
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KALE AND MANGO SALAD

KALE AND MANGO SALAD

As I am writing today’s blog my kids are working on a word search from the brilliant Summer Plant Strong Challenge from Rip Esselstyn (of Engine2 Diet). You can go on Rip’s website and print out the activity sheets. The activities include colouring, word search, scavenger hunts and kid friendly recipes from some fab plant strong chefs.The first week focuses on plant strong protein, week 2 on calcium and week 3 on the importance of sleep (I so hope this will make my kids go to bed a bit earlier). More weeks of activities to come.

This morning we went to do our weekly shop, my daughter had her first scavenger hunt sheet and looked for all the green veggies and fruit on the list. We bough most of what was on the list and are eating and ticking our way through it. Another challenge for week 1 was to find a kale recipe and of course make and eat it. My son suggested massaged kale and mango salad, I am sure he saw a similar recipe on tv. I was happy to go with the idea. Massaged kale is one of my favourite ways of eating this queen of greens. It went down really well, my son had a double serving.

Why not try this challenge too? It may inspire your kids to try new fruits and veggies. And while you at it check out Rip’s website too. Fab recipes to try. The link below will lead you to the week 3, link to weeks 1 and 2 are on the same page.

http://engine2diet.com/the-daily-beet/plant-strong™-summer-kids-series-week-3-plus-tips-for-teens-by-teens/

kalemangosalad

KALE AND MANGO SALAD
My mango was very yummy but rather stringy that prevented me cutting it into perfect dice. Still it didn’t take away from the flavour.

Serves 4

ingredients
200g kale, stalks removed, leaves shredded
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 small red onion (I used 1/4 of medium red onion), sliced very thin
1 large mango
3 Tbs sunflower seeds


method
  1. Place the kale into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and salt. Rub the leaves between your fingers, a bit like making pastry. Do this for about 2 min, the kale will collapse and feel more tender. The salt and lemon will help tenderise the kale.
  2. Cut the cheeks off the mango, cut the flesh into bite size dice. Toss with the kale leaves. Squeeze the flesh that is left on the stone over the kale, you should get a good amount of mango juice to dress the salad.
  3. Add the onions and seeds. Toss and serve.
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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.
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MANGO ICE LOLLIES

MANGO ICE LOLLIES

Georgia Davis has become a media celebrity, over the last few days there has been more written about her than s Kim Kardashian or Simon Cowell. Georgia has become a household name due to her size and the 8 hour operation to get her from her bedroom to the hospital. This included 40 people, breaking down walls, impromptu ramp, crane... Reports differ on how much Georgia weighs, nobody knows for sure, but it is anywhere from 56-68st (784-952lb).

Georgia has not had it easy, she lost her father when she was 5 to heart attack, her mother has been suffering from heart desease and arthritis, she is also obese. Georgia has been her mother’s carer since age 10.

Several years back she lost half her body weight in a weight loss camp in America but on her returned she encountered no support. Not from her mother, not from her social workers or her doctors. She was left alone, surrounded by what she knew. Now she is in a hospital with reported multiple organ failure.

As a mother I feel heartbroken for this beautiful girl, who has not been allowed to blossom, to have a boyfriend, to go out shopping with her friends, to have a life. She has instead been smothered by a 13000 calorie a day diet provided by her mother who just doesn’t know better. I know her mum loves her but at the same time I cannot understand how she could allow it to go this far.

Many people think she should have been taken away from her mother but I think that Georgia would have only been heartbroken. The whole family should have been given support, education and opportunities. As it stands Georgia has got the label of Britain’s fattest teenager but she is not alone. The statistics are staggering, in Wales (Georgia’s home) according to walesonline.co.uk, the prediction is that 89% of adults will be obese by 2019!

My heart breaks for children like Georgia who are victims of a vicious circle of cheap calorie dense unhealthy addictive food, no hope and help. This is a problem that will take generations to fix, but we have to start now before more children are taken to hospital with fatty liver, diabetes Type 2, damaged hearts, organ failure and cancer.

We have to start education lead by people educated in nutrition, not by those who are sponsored by junk food producers. Unfortunately it seems to be a loosing battle. We live in a world where McDonalds pay musicians for mentioning them in their songs, where the same company promises gifts and incentives to bloggers who will write positively about them. Golden Arches are also recruiting people to take part in a new trial, for payment of $3500 these people will be asked to eat fast food only for 3 months. We all know what it did to Morgan Spurlock (Supersize me) in one month only...

I hope that Georgia will receive a lifeline and beat the food addiction for good and have the life she so desperately wants and deserve.


mangoicelollies

MANGO ICE LOLLIES
If your mango is sweet you won’t be needing to use the agave.

Makes 5 small ice lollies

ingredients
2 ripe medium mangos
1 lime, zest and juice
1 Tbs of agave syrup (optional)

Cut the cheeks of the mango, score inside, turn cheeks inside out and cut away the flesh. Cut away any remaining flesh from the stone.
Place mango into a food processor together with the lime juice and agave if using. Process till smooth.
Stir in the zest.
Pour into small ice lolly molds and freeze.
To remove from the mold stand for 10-20seconds in warm water and gently remove.



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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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MORE FRUIT AND VEG, Part one:Smoothies and Juices - BEETROOT AND SPRING GREEN SMOOTHIE

MORE FRUIT AND VEG
Part One: Smoothies and juices
BEETROOT AND SPRING GREEN SMOOTHIE

Sad sad numbers, only 1 in 5 people in UK get their 5-a-day! The latest polls have shown that here, in the UK, people are still not getting the recommended minimum. Have a look at the article that was published on BBC website today. It is a rather depressing read.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18032209

We all know that 5-a-day is not enough we should be getting closer or rather above 10. Daunting? I don’t thinks so. If you do little bit of planning ahead it is very easy. I find that a rough meal plan helps, being stocked up with great produce and having plenty of yummy recipes.

Making healthy juices and smoothies can easily become a daily routine. Juicing takes a while, so a bit more planning needs to be in place, getting up half an hour may seem a bit difficult for most people but it is well worth it. Juices are a fantastic way to start a day. They are refreshing, cleansing, wake you up and energise you for the day. Juicing removes the fibre but you do get all the minerals and vitamins. To make the best out of your juices add plenty of green veggies like kale, spinach, celery or cucumber.

Smoothies are much quicker, they can easily be a meal replacer, they do fill you up. I find them the easiest tool for getting kids eat (or rather drink) their fruit and veg. My daughter won’t touch pineapple, papaya, spring greens, avocado, cabbage.... but she will happily drink them in a smoothie. We always play: ”guess what’s in the smoothie today” game. Lots of great healthy things can be added to your smoothie: linseeds, macca powder, goji berries, hemp seeds, nut milks....You can easily get your 5-a-day in a large glass of smoothie.

In my opinion you should drink your juice or smoothie as soon as you make them ( I am talking within 15 min) as they do start loosing their vitamins rather quickly due to oxidasation. There are different opinions whether to keep juices or smoothies, but form my experience they always taste and look their best when made fresh. If you do want to keep any for later, fill up a glass jar all the way to the top and secure with a lid, the least contact with the air the better.

Here is the smoothie I made today for my midday snack:


beetrootsmoothie

BEETROOT AND SPRING GREEN SMOOTHIE

If you don’t have a high speed blender you may have to chop the beetroot and orange into smaller pieces. The flavour the macca root gives this smoothie reminds me of vanilla. You could think you are having a dessert.

Makes 2 large smoothies

ingredients
1 small raw beetroot
couple handfuls of spring greens (collards)
2 handfuls of red grapes
1 orange
1 cup of coconut water (or plain water)
1 Tbs ground flax seeds
1 tsp macca root powder (optional)
1 small piece of ginger (about 0.5cm slice)
handful of ice cubes

method
  1. First scrub the beetroot clean and cut of the root end. You can peel it, I kept the skin on.
  2. Remove the hard stems of the spring greens, and tear them into pieces. I had 2 massive leaves.
  3. Peel the orange but keep the white pith on. I use a swivel peeler to do this, only works on fresh oranges.
  4. Put all your ingredients into your blender and process until smooth.
  5. Add more water if the smoothie is too thick.

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CZECH STYLE CABBAGE AND APPLE SALAD

CZECH STYLE CABBAGE AND APPLE SALAD

There is something very exciting about eating seasonal produce. It is so exciting to get first asparagus, spring/summer greens (collards) or green pointy cabbage (also known as hispi). I have grown up eating lots of cabbage, mostly braised sweet and sour style, or fermented (sauerkraut) but than Czech restaurants came up with the idea of serving cabbage salads as a side to pretty much anything. Cost effective but very delicious. I am not sure how this craze started but these salads spread like garden weeds, even now lots of Czech restaurants will adorn your plate with one or two different cabbage salads. Usually one is made with white cabbage the other one with red.

I have always wanted to recreate a good cabbage salad and finally cracked it. The sweet and crisp cabbage, juicy apple, spring onion for a bite. Simple yet tasty, quite frankly you can’t go wrong with cabbage/apple combo. The best thing is this salad is even better the next day, the cabbage collapses a little, soaks up the dressing. I find myself a new favourite.

The key is to slice the cabbage finely, I used a sharp knife because I wanted nice long pieces. Food processor with slicing (not shredding ) attachment will do the job. The apples were professionally cut by my son. I sliced them into thin discs and he proceeded in cutting them into matchsticks. If you have a hard time finding the pointy (hispi) cabbage use regular white cabbage or even red cabbage, they will work great in this salad.
applecabbagesalads

CZECH STYLE CABBAGE AND APPLE SALAD
This salad will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.

Serves 4-6 as a side salad or a part of a buffet style meal

ingredients
220g (1/2lb) spring pointy (hispi) cabbage, thinly shredded
2 juicy eating apples, cut into thin matchsticks
2 spring onions, white parts only, finely chopped
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs sweet freedom syrup (or agave)
salt

method
Just mix all ingredients together, let sit for at least half an hour. Serve.

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RAW BANANA AND BRAZIL NUT COOKIES

RAW BANANA AND BRAZIL NUT COOKIES

Weight Watchers are coming to our high street. With shops in the USA, Australia and China, we shouldn’t be surprised that UK, the fattest nation in Europe, would be next. Honestly I really want to like this idea, having accessible shops for anyone to pop in for a one to one consultation, get weighed, be advised, buy their low calorie lunch. I am not sure how much WW will charge but they are a multi-billion business so I am sure sound financial forecasts are in place to make this a monetary success.

We all know if you eat less and move more weight loss should follow. It is not a rocket science. Last September a study came out claiming that weigh-loss courses such as Weight Watchers were more effective than the national standard care weight loss. Sounds good right? The participants who took part in a year long study were either assigned WW program or the standard care weight loss program. Those on WW lost on average 5.06kg as opposed to the 2.25kg on standard care.

Any weight loss is a good thing, however to me 5.06kg in a year is a rather small number, especially if you have a lot of weight to loose. At the raw food seminar I met a man in his 60’s who lost about 20lb in 4 months of his raw food journey and he is feeling fantastic. Plant based diets (raw or not) have a great record in helping people loose weight without feeling hungry whilst ensuring superior nutrition.

There are many people who loose loads of weight on programs like WW and that is a good thing. The one element that really worries me is the low fat meals that Weight Watchers are selling. They may be low calorie low fat but far from healthy. They may remove the fat but add lots of other stuff (I so want to say c..p) that in no way should be part of a healthy diet. Here I present to you Heinz Weight Watchers Banoffee Dessert:

Water, Toffee Sauce (12%, Glucose Syrup, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Dextrose, Condensed Skimmed Milk, Invert Sugar, Water, Butter, Stabiliser - Pectin, Emulsifier - Polysorbate 60, Flavouring), Sugar, Skimmed Milk Powder, Banana Puree (6%), Wheat Flour, Glucose Powder, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Vegetable Oil, Inulin, Whey Powder, Brown Sugar, Curls (1%, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Whey Powder, Cocoa Mass, Emulsifier - Soya Lecithin, Flavouring, Colour - Paprika Extract), White Chocolate (1%, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Whey Powder, Milk Sugar, Emulsifier - Soya Lecithin, Flavouring), Pork Gelatine, Stabilisers - Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Sodium Alginate, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Dextrose, Sorbitol Syrup, Egg Powder, Fructose Syrup, Barley Starch, Modified Potato Starch, Egg Albumen, Caramelised Sugar Syrup, Flavourings, Dried Glucose Syrup, Colours - Curcumin, Paprika Extract.

Do you really want to eat that??? Or how about some of my raw banana cookies minus the added rubbish.

RAW BANANA AND BRAZIL NUT COOKIES
I have used my dehydrator to make the cookies, if you don’t have one you can use your fan oven, turn it to the lowest setting, keep the door open and bake for about 2 hrs, just keep checking on them. These cookies will not be classed RAW but still delicious.

To make the orange powder: Peel an orange using a swivel peeler, taking only the zest off, none of the white piths. Dehydrate at about 125F for about 2-3 hrs until dried enough to make a powder easily. Store in an airtight container. You can also use fresh orange peel in the cookies or replace with dried ginger.

Makes 14

brazilcookies2

ingredients
130g (1 cup) Brazil nuts
60g (1/2 cup) raisins
1 tsp orange powder (or 1 tsp dried ginger)
2 medium bananas
1 Tbs sweet freedom syrup (or agave)

method
  1. Place the Brazil nuts in a small bowl of a food processor. Process till quite fine with some bigger pieces for nutty texture.
  2. Add raisins, orange powder, bananas and agave to the food processor.
  3. Process till the mixture starts coming together.
  4. Using a American tablespoon measure, place mounds of mixture on top of a dehydrator Teflex sheet.
  5. Dehydrate for 1 hr at 145F.
  6. Turn the dehydrator to 125F and dehydrate for further 3-4 hrs. Turn the cookies over and place on a dehydrator sheet without the Teflex sheet after 1 hr.
  7. The cookies are done when they feel quite dry on both sides. They will still be moist inside, if you want crunchier cookies dehydrate for another hour.

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RAW FREEDOM

RAW FREEDOM

There is no doubt that eating as nature intended is good for us. We all know that including more fruit and veggies in our diet is the key to good health. Eating the majority your fruit and veggies raw can further amplify their magic health giving powers. I have been trying to incorporate more raw foods into my daily menus. I love green smoothies and raw desserts, make my raw crackers, but I still wanted to know more. The obvious solution? A raw food seminar!

Saskia (Raw Freedom, the wonderful raw food coach) runs her classes from her house. Not only you will find out about why and how to eat raw, you will also have plenty to taste. Wonderful raw lunch is included and rest assure she makes sure you leave with a tummy full of delicious raw goodness. I wanted inspiration and that is what I got. As you may know I already use cashews to make creamy cheesy sauces, but having raw courgette “pasta” with it was a new discovery ( I need to invest in a spiraliser). All the food was amazing from the guacamole mushrooms to the zingy purple salad. And if you think that you will lose out on your favourites when eating raw there was a cheesy tart and 4 different amazing raw ice-creams.

The best thing about Saskia was her infectious enthusiasm for raw food and her enviable vitality. She is not trying to persuade anyone to become 100% raw, that would be daunting, she inspires you to have a go and discover what raw food can do for you (less wrinkles anyone?). If you need a bigger push and support she offers one to one coaching, which is tailored to your individual needs.

I have several raw cookbooks and when I look at the recipes they seem very daunting. Long lists of ingredients, some of which are extremely difficult to find in my immediate area and too many steps to get through. I love my cooking but those kind of recipes make me give up before I start. Saskia’s recipes are nothing like that, they are easy and very doable. I left very inspired, raw chocolate ice-cream in the freezer, I feel poised to embark on the quest of including more interesting raw foods in my family’s diet.

To get inspired and well fed check out Saskia’s website, go to her next seminar or book one to one coaching. I am sure you will feel amazing.

http://www.rawfreedom.co.uk/#

To inspire you even further here is a couple of Saskia’s recipes (with her permission) that I just had to make for my family today.

Saskia's-fruit

GINGER & MINT FRUIT SALAD WITH CASHEW CREAM

Saskia presented this as a special treat for breakfast, I think it would make a perfect dinner party dessert!

Serves 1

Make a delicious fruit salad for one from a selection of the following fruit:
banana, papaya, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, mango, grapes, nectarine, dates, pineapple, orange, apple, plums...

Add:
4 mint leaves, chopped
1/4 inch ginger, finely chopped or grated

cream
handful of cashew nuts
1 orange, juiced
2 Medjool dates

Blend the nuts with the orange juice and dates, adding water if necessary to get the right consistency. Pour over you fruit salad and indulge.

Saskia's-soup


SPINACH SOUP

Watch Saskia making this recipe on her website.

Makes 1 large or 2 small bowls of soup

3 handfuls young spinach
1 avocado
1 spring onion, white part only
1 cm ginger
1/2 tsp mineral salt (pink Himalayan salt)
1/2 water

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

To make the soup warm, use 1/4 pint boiling water mixing with 1/4 pint cold water to make the 1/2 pint water in the recipe.
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COLD BEETROOT AND APPLE SOUP

COLD BEETROOT AND APPLE SOUP

Another gorgeous sunny day, hubby working from home and some beetroot in the fridge. That got me thinking about making a cold soup for our lunch. I haven’t had many cold soups in my life, actually as far as I can remember only twice. A fantastic gazpacho (this coming from me who doesn’t like raw tomatoes) and a chilled berry soup. My husband though it tasted a bit like a sorbet, which is a great idea for next time...

Cold soup can be an alien prospect to some but once you try it you may get hooked. The flavour is so vibrant and zingy, it really makes your taste buds dance. My beetroot was cooked but next time I will try the same recipe completely raw .

One thing about this soup is that it is better eaten in smaller portions. The flavour is so strong that a whole soup bowl is very overwhelming. This however makes it a fantastic starter for an elegant dinner party, or even better served in shot glasses as an amuse bouche at a cocktail party. I can just see them lined up in a row, the gorgeous deep colour, topped with a head of young alfalfa and radish sprouts, who could refuse...

COLD BEETROOT AND APPLE SOUP
If you have a high speed blender (Vitamix or Blendtec) this soup will be a child’s play to make. If using a less powerful blender or food processor please see my tips below.

Make this soup ahead and keep in the fridge before serving.

Serves 4 as a starter portion ( I will have to see how many shot glasses I could fill next time....)

coldbeetrootsopdetail

ingredients
1lb beetroot (cooked or raw)
2 tart apples ( I used Granny Smith)
1 slice of ginger (roughly 4mm thickness)
pinch of chile flakes (or 1/4 of fresh chilli pepper)
1 lime (if using high speed blender half of a small lime will be enough)
3 spring onions
1 cup of apple juice
cupful of ice
pinch of salt (or to taste)
alfalfa and radish sprouts for garnish


beetrootcoldsoup

method for high speed blender
  1. In your blender combine the beetroot, 2 halved apples, slice of unpeeled ginger, chilli, half of a small lime, spring onions, apple juice, salt and ice.
  2. Process till smooth (don’t let it heat up), this should take about one and half minute.
  3. Serve topped with the alfalfa and radish sprouts and a slice of lime.

method for other blenders or a food processor
I am not sure how well other blenders would deal with the rather hard raw beetroot, so experiment or maybe use the cooked one to be on the save side.

  1. Cut up the beetroot, core and cut up the apple.
  2. Place in the blender together with the ginger, chilli, zest of 1 lime and juice of half (or one whole lime - to taste), sliced green onions, apple juice and ice.
  3. Process till smooth.
  4. Serve topped with the alfalfa and radish sprouts.
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Kitchen Gadgets

ASIAN STYLE CARROT AND CUCUMBER SALAD

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

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

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

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

julienne peeler
juliennepeeler


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

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


carrotcucumbersalad

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

MIGHTY 4 SALAD

Everyday we are advised to eat new exotic superfood, acai or goji berries, chia seeds, noni juice, Indian gooseberry and many others. How did the generations before manage to survive without these?

No I don’t dispute the health benefits of the above foods, but in my opinion all plant foods have their own super powers. The quick and simple salad I put together today is made of everyday ingredients and according to studies can protect you heart and eyes, lessen tumour growth, help reduce blood pressure, lower risk of asthma and help regulate your blood sugar.

What are these mysterious superfoods? The humble beetroot, apple, celery and walnuts! Combined together in a refreshing salad dressed only with raspberry vinegar. There is a reason why I don’t use any oil in this salad. The walnuts are rich in Omega 3 oils, the kind we all need to get more off. Olive oil, on the other hand, is rich in Omega 6 oils and we tend to have far too much of these in our diets. We need some fats to absorb vitamins from our veggies efficiently, in this salad the walnuts take care of that rather efficiently. Perfect balance.

You do have to put up with the beetroot colouring the rest of your food pink, no surprise there. If you don’t have raspberry vinegar any other fruity mild vinegar will work well. White balsamic would be great. The apple should be crisp and juicy, not too sweet, it needs to offset the sweet mild beetroot.

beetapplesalad

MIGHTY 4 SALAD
I used 1 large beetroot that I cooked till soft (about 45 min) you can use precook beetroot, as they are usually small I would use 3. There is no need to be too precise with the ingredients if you like more apple add more apple...The recipe can be easily doubled, tripled....

Serves 2

ingredients
1 large beetroot
1 large juicy apple
2 celery stalks
handful of walnuts
2 Tbs raspberry vinegar
salt and pepper

method
  1. If using raw beetroot, wash it well but don’t cut of the ends as this would expose the flesh and make the colour leach out. Put in a saucepan cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook till soft. Large beetroot will take about 45 min.
  2. Cool the beetroot and peel, this skin should slide off easily. Cut into 1/2 inch dice.
  3. Cut the apple into 1/2 inch dice.
  4. Using a vegetable peeler or knife remove the strings from the celery stalks. Slice quite thinly.
  5. In a dry frying pan toast the walnuts, take care not to burn.
  6. Mix all ingredients together, dress with the raspberry vinegar, season with a pinch of salt and plenty of fresh black pepper.

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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

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KALE AND GINGER SMOOTHIE

KALE AND GINGER SMOOTHIE

Do you drink green smoothies? If the answer is no than start now. They are nutritious, delicious, quick to prepare, satisfying and the easiest ways to pack some healthy vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients into your body.

When I had my first home made green smoothie, I wasn’t quite sure about the quantities and ended up with a litre of thick yummy goodness. And yes I drank it all. When smoothies are left (even in the fridge) they oxidise and become rather unappealing. I didn’t want to waste it that way. So yes I drank it all, the whole 1 litre. To my surprise I experienced kind of a “smoothie high”, a very strange dizzy floating kind of feeling. I didn’t know this was possible. Than I saw a video of a young cancer patient who had the same experience when he had his first green smoothie. Due to raw food diet his cancer is gone, and like me, he has got used to having green drinks without the feeling of a “high”.

greensmoothie1

Kale and ginger smoothie
You will need a good quality blender to deal with the kale efficiently. My blender can take the apples and pears with pips, stalks and all. Depending on your blender you may have to core them. Instead of making a smoothie you can juice the ingredients to make a green juice (omit the water and ice).

Makes 2 large wine glasses

ingredients
1/3 of a cucumber
couple handfuls of kale
1 pear, quartered
1 apple, quartered
slice of ginger
squeeze of lime juice
handful of ice
100ml water

method
1. Put all ingredients into your blender and blend till smooth. If too thick add more water. Serve.


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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.
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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

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