Archive for June, 2012

Oh the joys! Blueberry Smoothie

Sometimes you just need to stop, breathe and delight in the little things. Like berries that are dark blue

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which become a vibrant purple when blended:

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For heavens sakes. Too pretty for this earth! I have never actually made a smoothie JUST of blueberries and “millk” so I have only ever seen this beautiful colour on TV  on my Google Images search results. Thankfully, Spanish blueberries are on £1 a punnet in several supermarkets, and frankly I shall be treating myself to a purple drink this week. 

I signed up to a blog a while ago- it is called “The Vegan Chickpea” and naturally I simply had no choice but to subscribe, with a splendid name like that. Her latest post consists of a blueberry smoothie which consists of  BLUEBERRIES (1 cup of frozen berries) BANANA (1/2 cup frozen slices) ALMOND MILK (1 cup?) and a heaping (or “heaped” if you are British) tablespoon of peanut butter. Still not sure about the peanut butter and blueberries, but  I think I will try bananas and blueberries out. A little perplexed that her purple is so different:

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(Hello over-sized photo?! I cannot get it smaller.)

Perhaps it is the lighting. In any case, it looks beautiful. 

Make yourself a smoothie today. Go on!

 

PS Cooking blueberries destroys their anthocyanins  (a type of antioxidant) To quote wikipedia: “On a molecular level, berry anthocyanins were shown to turn off genes involved with tumor proliferation, inflammation and angiogenesis” (yes, I had to look that last one up too)  I am so in awe of plant-foods. The love affair deepens.

 

Worshipping at the Alter of Chia seeds (continued)

Busy busy busy. But “never” too busy for some brief plant-food homage, which today is directed at my dear friends the ickle chia seeds, which I posted about a few posts ago.

People who sell Chia tend to wax lyrical about how much energy it will give you. I generally distrust claims that the consumption one food in particular will keep you energised all day long (and so should you!)- physical energy is a combination of many things: what you eat and drink (plenty of unprocessed (and raw) Green Food and water), and what you don’t eat and drink (Beige Food and Beige drinks), exercise, clean air, sufficient sleep, managing stress levels and so on. However, that said, it IS an amazing plant-food, and is PACKED with soluble AND insoluble fibre, so eating them regularly does help to prevent diverticulitis (resulting from years of  constipation)  They also have a spectacular array of Green goodness which I am in too much of a hurry to document.

Because this is a brief worship, and I have already told you how to consume these seeds  raw in drinks and cereals, I am pointing you to a link about BAKING with your Chia gel. It can be used in baking to half the amount of fat you use, and I see on this web-page I am sending you to that there is a free cook-book- hurrah!

So without further ado, if you wish to bake with your chia seeds, Folllow this link to My Chia Seeds website

 

Amen.


Happy Monday, it’s another random list of 10 things…….

For want  of a recipe, thoughtful muse, or link to an interesting article by someone who knows more than me, here is a brief list of 10 random items, vaguely connected to eating well, leaves, and my love thereof.

1. I have been blogging for over a year now. I missed my “birthday”, which I suppose I  am happy about, as I was clearly busy with other more important things. But thanks for reading y’all.  🙂

2. Today I had views from the UK ,Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia, Peru, Italy, Kenya, Jordan.Yesterday it was read in the UK, USA, Australia, Finland and Canada. The amazing internet!! I was quite astonished.

3.I am addicted to Cosy Almond Oats, and love having alomnd extract in my kitchen. By the way fresh almonds are extremely rich in Magnesium. When there is enough magnesium around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, improving the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients around the body.

4. We did a cute thing with the watermelon on fathers Day- each plate had a beautiful round, thick slice, with a heart cut out of the centre, and a smaller water melon heart in the hole. I am always delighted at the beauty of a watermelon, the green, the red, and the black seeds. Because nature intended fruit to have seeds. Fruit was never meant to be impotent, for want of a better word.  🙂

5. The fam had spaghetti bolognese the other day. They all love it. I have to say, I hardly ever do them red meat, and they don’t seem to miss it, but here is why: Just washing up the dishes afterwards makes me heave!! Seriously, I try to make the blog more of an appreciation of good wholesome foods than demonizing less than great foods, but I have to say it- every time I see hardened animal fat, and I see my scourer after the pan is washed up, I just realise why I don’t want that stuff building up inside my/our arteries and around my/our organs. I had chickpeas. That is all.

6.If I was in Spain right now, I would be eating fresh local figs, massive (local) picota cherries, local peaches such as I never see in this country for flavour and size, gorgeous local watermelon…….I am glad I live in Wales, even in the rain….but sad that when we go to Spain (September) we will have missed the best of the harvest.

7. Ellie came into the kitchen. “Got any frozen grapes?” (Me: No, shall I buy some, and freeze them?)  “Yes please. Got any frozen cherries?”  (Me: A few….)  “Frozen blueberries?” (Me: sorry, not right now) “mmmm….what about some frozen raspberries, thawed under the tap, yes please!”…..pause….but my favourite thing of all is…(rummages…..I have my back to her….)

……frozen DRIPS!

Me: Frozen what?

Ellie: Frozen drips.

(repeat question/answer 2 more times) When I finally look she is breaking off miniscule frozen drips from the bottom of the freezer drawer and crunching happily away. ……  Sigh….what to do with this girl?!  😀  *Hurriedly makes shopping list*

8.  Pick your own season has begun!

9. It’s about to rain again.  Shame I didn’t plant anything this year….again……..

10. Due to complicated circumstances, our bees did not join us this year (frankly, fortunately, as I doubt they would have been able to even get out with all this rain and freezing weather)  In the absence of quality unpasteurised honey, we are still enjoying our substantial haul of of £1 organic maple syrups. I will be beyond sad when it ends and doubt I will ever be capable of paying for full priced syrup again….

 

That makes ten.

Have a great week!

 

Express Post: Cosy Almond Oats

Quantities for 1 adult. Half portions for children.

  • 1 cup jumbo organic oats 
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • a few dates and dried apricots, chopped
  • 1.5-2  teaspoons almond extract (this is what gives it the kick)
  • 1 cup of boiling water, poured over all of the above
Leave to sit for 1-2 minutes. Add a small chopped banana, a droozle of honey or syrup, and if you’re strange like me, some chia gel from the fridge.
Because when it is “Midsummer” and freezing outside with driving wind and rain, and your kids have eaten all the cherry-and-berry spelt pancakes, you need something cosy for breakfast!
DELICIOUS.

The sun is shining…

In fact it is ALWAYS shining, but I mean- I can feel it and see it today, and it begs a bike ride to a nearby farm. And so, once my bread has finished in a few minutes, I will hit the street with my little pal. By way of touching base, a brief post,  just to confirm we do actually re-do a lot of the recipes on this site:

SATURDAY

  • Raw broccoli salad, as well as Ensaladilla (Spanish potato salad- must post this recipe!!) and spanish potato omelette and a few other things- we had Spanish friends for lunch.  🙂
SUNDAY
  • Lentil stew (this one had chorizo in though!)
  • Also, as a sidenote- copious amounts of toasted sunflower seeds as mentioned in this post
MONDAY
  • Chocolate-cherry spelt muffins (Not a recipe on here, but it was my spontaneous creation for monday Treats and I am making the point that frozen fruit can be useful in many contexts!)

YESTERDAY:

TODAY-THURSDAY

  • Lentils for tea (Had some frozen)- am going to try a new almost-wholewheat ciabatta recipe later
  • Breakfast worthy banana bread in the oven  (sidenote- it is fat free, because we had no mild tasting oil, and the texture looks great! I added raisins)
  • Banana slices in the freezer for banana soft serve (yes- we have a lot of ripe bananas), and I would have done some banana pops but I didn’t have any lolly sticks
  • Amelia constantly helping herself to the easiest ice lollies in the world (one of my very first blog posts)

And with that- I wish you a great day. Remember, the sun IS always shining….

Chia Seeds (or “Gross looking foods need love too”)

I am here to tell you about a wonder-seed that doesn’t look so wonderful. To be fair, while dry, they are absolutely delightful little things.

Tiny….

but with beautiful markings. Behold!

Close up

So-far so good. I have nothing against grey foods, (Hello, mushrooms!) Only, when you soak chia seeds in water, something amazing  (and admittedly, potentially off-putting) begins to happen. Each seed begins to soak up water- up to 9-12 times it’s weight to form a kind of gel. Within about 15 minutes this can be seen to be happening, but left overnight, they can absorb maximum amounts of liquid. They now look a little bit like……..well, frogspawn.

(I know…..)

Chia gel tastes of….nothing. I mean- it really doesn’t taste of much. Granted, the texture and appearance may not be amazing (grey tapicoa pudding anyone?) But let me tell you why these teeny grey jellied seeds are so great.

  • Weight loss WONDER seed. These keep you full for SO long. I mixed some chia gel with my overnight oats and I was full from 8am till 2pm. (Strange for me.) the gelling action makes you feel full for ages, even though most of it is water. I don’t know how that works, but I can attest to it.
  • COMPLETE PROTEIN. All the essential amino acids. Yes, really!
  • NO cholesterol
  • Practically tasteless
  • Rich in fibre (both kinds- soluble AND insoluble, like oats. Insoluble fiber cannot be digested by the body and helps to keep food moving along the digestive process. Soluble fiber keeps the colon hydrated and aids in food movement)
  • Packed with calcium and other essential minerals, as well as a variety of B vitamins
  • Rich in OMEGA 3 fatty acids

To make CHIA GEL, mix your chia seeds in water, mix well to avoid clumping, and leave- overnight for maximum absorption, but after 30 minutes you will see a difference. (Suggested ratio 1-2 Tablespoons seeds to 1 cup water)  It is said that  the longer you leave it in soak, the more of the seeds nutrients become bio available.

Whizz some fresh fruits (eg an orange and some frozen raspberries) and mix your chia seeds in- enjoy your “chia pudding” for breakfast the next day. (I actually love the texture)

If you don’t like the texture, add some gel to a fresh smoothie or juice, mix briskly and thoroughly and drink immediately (all of the added nutrition, none of the frogspawn experience)

Add some chia seeds to soak with your “Overnight oats” (aka “Bircher Muesli”)

Chia gel keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

You can buy chia seeds online or in healthfood stores like Holland & Barrett.  If you want to buy them, try not to be put off by the price- while they are not really cheap, shopping around will show up some significant price differences or special offers. Holland&Barrett sell 100gram bags for about £2.19, and 1 Tablespoon of seeds works out at 20p. Ideal if you don’t fancy buying a huge pricey bag.

Plus a little really goes a long way. (Remember?  The grey gel? 9-12 times it’s own weight in water?)

I am not much of a seller. I admit, it doesn’t look very appealing. If anyone has tried chia seeds, or miraculously tries it as a result of this, I will be interested to know.

For now, excuse me while I go and sprinkle some on some oats for tomorrow morning. Because sometimes grey, on a Monday morning is a good thing!

Chickpea discovery (or “The small and simple things”)

Confession. The nation celebrated the Queens Diamond Jubilee this weekend, commemorating the 60th anniversary of her coronation. That wasn’t the confession. The confession was- we didn’t really celebrate it.. At all.  No reason actually. On Friday, it has to be said, we had red, white and blue pancakes (spelt pancakes with strawberries, blueberries and sweetened natural yogurt) the kids had a party at school, and I may have stuck union jacks on all their tupperwares in their special Jubilee lunch.

Over the weekend however, we were involved with various activities over the weekend that completely EXcluded the Queen (I repeat- not consciously, nor maliciously- God save the Queen…) and INcluded cinema, swimming, walking, jogging with my girls, family bike rides, paella, car boot sales, snuggling beautiful new nieces, hide and seek in a field of knee-deep grass in the pouring rain (nope, not me- I was (happily) busy making food!), and finally today (though Jubilee weekend is officially over) fun and games at Cheshire Ice Cream Farm. Nary a union Jack in sight. I never even heard a bar of Land of Hope and Glory. I think I may have heard them sing God Save the Queen in church on Sunday, though I was playing Lego with my delicious rambunctious son in the nursery at the time. Bless him. Please.

All of this to say….I should be posting an alternative “red,white and blue “cheese”cake or something , and instead I have a really lame offering, but only because I am busy having family fun.

Here it is. My lame offering: Home-cooked chickpeas taste waaaaay better than canned. I am sold. I am never using canned chickpeas again. I actually cannot believe the difference.

I threw a whole bag into the slow cooker WITHOUT SOAKING and left it cooking as we gallavanted over Cheshire. When we returned- perfect, tender chickpeas.

My Mum said “What did you cook these chickpeas in?”

Me: water.

Mum: But what else???

Me: Just water.Not even any salt.

Mum: You didn’t cook them in stock or something? They taste so….good!

Me (popping a chickpea in) Mmmmm! Wow! They taste good!!

Now I love chickpeas but I would never call them a two-exclamation-mark-worthy food (hyphen overkill). But these were. They really were tasty. And I realise that canned beans and legumes have something added to them called FIRMING AGENT, and that is the reason that canned chickpeas don’t even seem fully cooked when you take them out. They could almost pass as “aldente”, and I am not really keen on that.

So I felt like a domestic goddess today, because the brown rice chicken paella tasted AMAZING, my best one so-far, and so did my Vegetarian Alternative- Chickpeas and Spinach (featured on this website under maindishes. (My too-lazy-to-hyperlink)  Furthermore, I bagged up my ready-to-eat chickpeas in ickle freezer bags ready for a chickpea moment (Firming-Agent Free).

I have good memories of the Queen’s Jubilee weekend. None involve Union Jacks, but plenty of small, simple things, and these are the things I love. Oh- and some very tasty chickpeas.

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