Archive for November, 2011

Ten things from this week

1. Heavenly Juice is also amazing with frozen strawberries.

2. But don’t try to thaw them under a warm tap like frozen raspberries, you’ll be waiting a while. Take them out the night before.

3. Avocado sauce is still a winner on pasta, and Tesco had shedloads of avocados on the reduced shelf this week. And wholewheat pasta penne at 22p. All is well.

4. Roast chestnuts are darn good comfort food when it’s icy outside.

5.Ellie asked for salad for breakfast the other day. I have no idea how long she will continue to dig eating leaves, so let me tell you, when she asks for salad, the answer is always yes.

6. Pomegranate seeds look like little Christmassy jewels, and make me feel happy. Digging them out is also highly therapeutic and keeps your children occupied.

7. Sunita Honey Halva (Ingredients: Sesame paste (tahini) and honey) is a food rush in a box. I have tested it several times, and yes. It definitely is.

8. Dill smells of summer. I have some in my fridge and am going to make a cashew ranch dressing to go on new potatoes. Watch this space.

9. Washing up a juicer almost takes the joy out of that juice. Almost.

10. I didn’t know where all the decent spanish satsumas had got to this year. In our local supermarket they were not.  We happened upon a really random shop in the next town up that sold fruit, birthday cards, flowers, sweets, and groceries. It was a very incongruent looking display. But they were selling heavenly satsumas, 8 for £1, tahini, tiger nuts, of all exciting finds, and several other interesting finds. Hooray for random little shops!

 

Colds, the cold, and loving leaves in winter

Way back in Spain when Amelia was 1, Alfredo and I used to have a disagreement, it stemmed from my mother-in-laws concern that her grand-daughter would catch a cold if she came into contact with any out-door air. It went something like this:

Me: It’s a virus. It’s not air-born. You catch it from somebody.

A: Yes, but, you know. When you’re cold…….you can catch a cold more easily.

Me: (insistently) It’s a virus. It’s not air-born.

A: Yeah, but-

Me: It’s a virus!

Petty, I know.

 I am pretty sure one reason colds and flu spread more easily in winter is because we are all indoors more with closed windows breathing each others air/germs. Or it may be that the extra energy required to keep us warm slightly compromises our immunity? I have no idea. If anyone has the scientific answer, I would be genuinely glad to know.

In any case, another thing that can work against us is that the pull for stodgy comfort foods is greater, and fruit and salads appeal less.There seems to be something harmonious and logical that in a colder climate, the earth brings forth denser starchier foods like pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes etc Even winter greens are denser and more, well….wintery. Like winter kale crops, Brussel sprouts and other late brassicas. That’s all good. The problem is when the “comfort foods” are heavy fried foods, processed ready meals, chocolate, cakes, pasties, and pies.

Here are some ways to boost your anti-oxidant and vitamin intake in winter. Just my thoughts y’all, not trying to get all preachy, but I believe your body will be happier and stronger. You may still catch something, but you can get over it more quickly and painlessly if your immune system is stronger and more resilient.

  • Go for UNREFINED carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa,  wholewheat couscous or brown rice pasta.
  • Try for your plate to be 1/3 – 1/2 colourful veggies. Hello butternut squash!
  • Beans and pulses are filling and very nutritious.
  • Sugar is a tremendous immune suppressant. Look for alternatives especially when you feel something coming on. I have some ideas in my desserts section, which you may or may not fancy trying. You’re welcome.
  • Drink plenty of water and herbal teas.
  • EAT SOME RAW EVERY DAY. Yes, even when it’s cold. Here are some ideas.

-A fruit smoothie. Most supermarkets sell frozen mango/berries/mixed fruits quite affordably. I would highly recommend making them with real frozen fruit over bought smoothies, as the pre-made ones are pasteurised and you will get more vitamins in a home-made one. Though 100% fruit shop smoothies still trump Pepsi.

-A green smoothie. Add some raw green leaves to your fruit smoothie. Babyleaf spinach is almost tasteless. Have you drunk your greens today?

-Top your jacket potato with something raw. A crunchy salad is still delicious on a jacket potato in winter (I assume your house is warm inside, right?) Mash up some avocado and a pinch of salt for home-made guacamole (spring onions, bell pepper, chilli, lime juice etc) Even a coleslaw need not be swimming in mayo. Unroasted cashews make amazing mayo-type dressings. Follow this link.

-Make a raw salsa to go with your stew or curry. Like this one.

-Fruit that has been frozen and thawed takes on a cooked compote-like consistency. You can even gently warm them. Examples for your wholegrain pancakes/waffles: Thawed berry “compote”, or thawed frozen apple pieces, blitzed with cinnamon and unpasteurised honey.

-Top your wholegrain pasta with a raw sauce. My favourite is a blitzed avocado; add your favourite herbs and condiments such as basil, chopped chives, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon juice, nutritional yeast etc More ideas for healthsome pasta sauces here

-Buy yourself a juicer, it need not be expensive. Juicing need not be expensive either. Carrots are cheap as chips. But healthier.Carrot,apple and ginger juice with a touch of sparkling water? Yes please!

Enjoy the cold everyone. And do what you can to avoid the colds. Or at least, to nail them more quickly when they come.

P.S. This post is dedicated to flu-ridden Lindsay Burgess. Get well soon!  🙂

Nature’s Amazing Candy

No further comments needed.

Buckwheat

Not a compelling title to be sure. I am short on time. Buckwheat is a SEED and has nothing to do with wheat, so is suitable for gluten free diets. You can:

  •  sprout it  (Follow this link for instructions)
  • Plant it over winter on your raised beds- it’s an excellent “green manure”, it “fixes” nitrogen into the soil for your spring plantings. Just dig in your green buckwheat plants into the soil before spring planting.
  • Grind it into flour
  • Soak/sprout it and then dehydrate it, it makes for a great gluten free crunchy cereal, just add sweetness and other flavourings such as cinnamon before dehydrating. Here is a gorgeous snack I made once with buckwheat when I discovered I didn’t like it sprouted. You need a dehydrator though……….
  • Cook  it.

This time I cooked it. You can use it as a base for a grain salad, and the next day with the leftovers, I mixed it into Apple and Cinnamon Breakfast bowl instead of oats. I don’t know if I can express how addicted I have become to this breakfast bowl, and am loving these amazing flavoursome English apples every day.

P.S. Buckwheat has this amazing compound called RUTIN which serves to strengthen capilliary walls and reduce micro-haemorraging in people with high blood pressure.

P.P.S Isaac is throwing monkey nuts around the room. Time to sign off.

Giving Thanks

“Thanksgiving” day (with a capital T) is tomorrow for my American family and friends, and I wish to give thanks also. It goes without saying that the giving of thanks on a daily basis is essential for a happy soul. I also actually believe that inner peace and gratitude do much to bless the health of our physical organism, when they form part of a larger pattern of good habits.

The original “Thanksgiving day” as now celebrated by the Americans (though it wasn’t the first time that people have given thanks) gave thanks for food, and others sharing of their abundance.

I am so, so, so thankful for food to eat. I am so, so thankful, that thus far, I have never gone hungry, and thus far, neither have my children. I pray this was always be true.

I am grateful to live in a country with a temperate climate with plenty of rain, and sufficient sun and daylight also to grow an abundance of crops.

I am grateful for our seasons, though they seem a little wacky sometimes in the UK, they follow a cycle in perfect harmony with the cycle of the various plants we grow here.

I am also thankful for the seasons that teach us patience, and that all things come in their time.

That said, I am deeply grateful that we now live in a time that we can enjoy produce from other places also. Too right, yes! I am grateful for avocados, mangoes, passion fruits, bananas, coconuts, pineapples, medjool dates, pistachios, brazil nuts,  and other amazing foodstuffs that can reach my plate easily.

I am thankful that the produce of the earth is so varied and utterly beautiful, to please the eye, and gladden the heart, for taste, for smell, for delight. I am grateful for every colour imaginable, and sizes and textures inumerable.

I am grateful for all the things you can learn about yourself, and heavenly truths  when you consider nature, plants, and the growth thereof.

I am grateful for a blender and a food processor; I’m not kidding. It allows me to enjoy plant-foods in lots of wonderful ways that were previously unknown to me. Oh- and a dehydrator. Because I am seriously grateful for kale chips.

I am grateful for fruits, vegetables, leaves, roots, herbs, spices, legumes, whole grains, that all contain abundant and complex natural compounds that can heal our body.

I am thankful that when we look after our physical body, our mind is enlightened and our spirit blessed with inspiration and hidden treasures of knowledge.

I am grateful for how GOOD you feel when you eat of these real foods.

I am grateful that when you begin to eat more of these foods over other things, your gratitude is multiplied.

I am thankful for ickle sprouts on my windowsill that remind me of the miracle of life and faith.

I am thankful that people have worked hard to learn more about the healing properties of plants, and pass on their knowledge to those who will listen.

I am grateful to God, who has given us guidance about how to tenderly care for our bodies, and thus also, our spirits.

I am grateful that we can have a thankful heart any day of the year, and that counting my blessings helps me when I feel down.

Thanks for reading. Eat close to nature and give thanks daily.

 

Beetroot and Apple Juice

Okay, I am really aware that is a seriously lame attempt at a post.

Recipes for juices and smoothies don’t even count as “recipes” in my book, you just grab your blender or juicer and add fruits, veggies and/or leaves.

But….my head is elsewhere and I have 4 large beets sitting here, and more apples than we can possibly eat, even if you count a daily Apple and Cinnamon Breakfast Bowl nowadays.

I really love cooked beetroot as do 3 of the other 4 family members (not a bad ratio), but it was only in the last year I discovered I like it raw too. Grated beetroot and carrot salad with a slightly sweet orange vinaigrette, yum! But these are BIG beets, and just thinking about grating them is putting me off, and you know what? I’m not even going to cook them because they take a month of Sundays to cook and we buy them ready cooked normally (non-pickled kind. Lazy, I know.)

So I’m going to juice them, and see how many people want to share it with me. I am dubious….. Luckily, I really like it.

When juicing vegetables, I think it’s nice to add a little fruit such as apples.  While juicing large amounts of fruit and vegetables regularly might be a habit you don’t feel ready to embrace, don’t let it put you off doing it from time to time. It will always literally flush your system with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and anti oxidants to bless your immune system. Any freshly squeezed juice is better than no juice I say.

“RECIPE” that isn’t really a recipe.

  • 4 large beetroots, uncooked
  • 4 small to medium apples

Add to juicer. Wash your juicer BEFORE you drink your delicious juice, it tastes much better that way. Seriously.

Oh look. My juice has a head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. I don’t have a fancy pants juicer, it cost under £30 from Argos and it does the job just dandy.

P.P.S  One thing that clicked me onto raw food was reading a book one day called “The Good Health Garden”. It’s about how to grow about 50 different plants and the different health benefits of each, including natural remedies. On almost each and every page, the same five words kept jumping out at me: “For maximum benefits, eat raw”.

Peas and Thank You: Spicey African peanut stew

Autumn days seem so right with chickpeas, sweet potato, red lentils and curry spices all in the same bowl.  To me, anyway. So right, in fact, that I just ate a massive portion now (lunchtime) and am wondering what I can eat tonight when everyone else is eating this. It’s just that my hands were so cold, and Isaac was so…asleep, and I just wanted to reward my long walk in a cold wind.

This Spicey African Peanut stew is courtesy of Peas and Thank You so to reciprocate courtesy, if you want to make this, follow the link below for the recipe quantities. However, I will tell you, it’s a throw-it-all-in-the-slow-cooker dish, and it contains the following ingredients:

  • Chickpeas
  • Tinned tomatoes (I used tinned cherry tomatoes, she used “fire roasted tomatoes”)
  • Peanut butter (not that much)
  • Coconut milk (I didn’t have any; I added some coconut oil but you can’t taste it. Oh well…)
  • Curry powder, and a few other common storecupboard spices
  • minced garlic
  • minced fresh ginger
  • vegetable stock
  • red lentils
  • sweet potato

    Better than peanut butter sandwiches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No salt! Other than a little if you use it in the stock (I just added a little bouillon powder) 

I am proud to be thoroughly enjoying a meal seasoned only with spices, and me a salt-lover.

Here’s the link then:   Peas and Thank You: Spicey African Peanut Stew   (It starts with an anecdote of her children. Read on)

Really, click that link. It is one delicious stew.

As I mentioned at the beginning, autumn days and warm curried stews with pulses are a marriage made in heaven in my opinion.

Perfect. Almost…….I think I will just add a pinch …just a pinch….of sea salt  🙂

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