Salads…definitely not boring

I overheard someone the other day saying that they found salads boring. This made me feel a little sad. With such a diversity of flavours and endless possibilities of combinations how can salads become boring? I thought the days of  salads comprised of iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato had long since passed. Seemingly not.

I have a simple formula for my salads: green leaf, 3 or more additions – ideally different colours and a dressing – preferably with one ingredient that is a fermented food. Often one ingredient that is hot e.g.roasted butternut squash

Different dressings I make:  (a splash of each in to a small jar and shaken)

Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), apple cider vinegar and olive oil

Tahini, apple cider vinegar and tamari

Peanut butter and apple cider vinegar

Avocado oil drizzle

Lime juice and olive oil

Here are a selection of the salads we have eaten over the last couple of weeks:

A                                                        B

A: papaya, roasted butternut squash, watercress, olives, tomatoes and olive oil and lime dressing

B: Beetroot houmous and chia seed oatcakes with avocado, tomatoes, olives and watercress

A                                                          B

A: Apricot, pomegranate seeds, mange tout, houmous, tomatoes, olives and rocket with avocado oil drizzle

B:Tomatoes, mange tout, yellow pepper, watercress and houmous – no dressing

A                                                         B

A: peas shoots, watercress, avocado, tomatoes and mange tout with olive oil, tamari and apple cider vinegar dressing

B: shredded carrots, red and white cabbage, hen and quail eggs, avocado, tomatoes and houmous with drizzle of olive oil

A                                                         B

A: rocket, watercress, avocado, apricot, roasted butternut squash with peanut butter and apple cider vinegar dressing

B: carrot sticks, houmous, mango, tomatoes, avocado, beetroot and avocado oil drizzle.

…definitely not boring!!

What is your favourite salad combination?

Kefir – an acquired taste

My friends are probably tired of me ‘banging on’ about the wonderful benefits of kefir … but I won’t stop because more and more research is highlighting the health benefits of eating / drinking fermented foods. Dr Michael Mosley has been in the press recently talking about the importance of a healthy gut and the links with depression and anxiety . Kefir and Kombucha (future post) may be a recent health craze but have been drunk for a very long time…before trendy was even a word!

I have passed both milk and water kefir grains to many of my friends for them to start fermenting their own kefir.

Milk kefir is definitely an acquired taste and I recommend to all of my friends that they will drink it much more easily if they increase its palatability (not sure if that is a word but I like it!).  In fact people’s comments have ranged from hmmm…? to yuk! and…how do you drink that?!

So to ensure that they do benefit from the wonderful bacterial cultures I do say, ‘Disguise it!’  My husband is my barometer. I can drink it neat but I have to completely disguise it for him. So, for him, when each batch is strained I add coconut milk and a generous dollop / or two of a flavoured organic yoghurt / coconut yoghurt / soya based yoghurt. This ensures that he has a glass every day 🙂  The adult equivalent tactic to hiding vegetables in food for fussy children!

If you really cannot enjoy the milk kefir then water kefir is a really good runner up. Not as diverse a range of beneficial bacteria but still very good for you.

How do you flavour your kefirs?

Banana, peanut butter and oat muffins

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Perfect use for the sad  and unwanted banana left in the fruit bowl!  These muffins are both gluten and dairy free. In the unlikely event that they are not devoured by the descending hordes, these are best kept in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4   Muffin tin  Makes 18 Cooking time: 15-20 mins

Ingredients:

250 g gluten-free self-raising flour     1 1/2 tsp baking powder

75 g coconut sugar (muscovado would work equally well)    30 g rolled oats

100 g crunchy peanut butter               30 g coconut oil

125 ml almond milk / oat milk            3 eggs (2 if not using gf flour)

2 ripe mashed bananas

Method:

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Put all the other ingredients in another bowl and when thoroughly mixed stir in the dry ingredients. Spoon in to the muffin tins and place in the centre of the oven. Check after 15 minutes. Cooked when skewer comes out clean.

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4 bean and sweetcorn chilli

A really speedy dish using store cupboard ingredients. If large tins are used…serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 tin pinto beans               1  tin cannellini beans

1  tin kidney beans           1  tin butter beans

1 tin sweetcorn                 1 onion chopped

1 carton passata                1 tsp paprika

1 tsp mild/hot chilli powder ( depending on preference)

1 tsp ground cumin         Olive oil for frying

Method:

Fry the onion until soft. Add the spices and stir thoroughly for 1 minute. Rinse and drain all the pulses. Add pulses,  sweetcorn and passata. Cover and leave on a low heat to heat through and allow spices to infuse.

Spinach and grain loaf

Delicious as ‘bread’ or toasted.

Preheat oven to 180 C/ gas mark 5    Prepare a 1 lb loaf tin
Ingredients:

8 eggs                                    1/2 cup coconut oil – melted

1/4 cup chia seeds              1/4 cup linseed

1/4 cup sesame seeds        1/4 cup coconut flour

3 handfuls  spinach           1-2 tsp chilli flakes

Method:

Blend eggs and coconut oil for 1 minute. Add all other ingredients  and blend until thoroughly mixed. Pour in to the loaf tin. Cook for 30-40 minutes – skewer comes out clean. Once cold refrigerate.

Oat, chia and flaxseed breakfast muffin – gluten and dairy free

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I have combined ingredients that have a real benefit for the body – some of which I have listed:

Flaxseed – high in fibre aiding digestion and helping to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels, omega 3, vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium

Chia seed – high in fibre, omega 3, potassium, omega 6, calcium, copper, phosphorus and  zinc

Coconut oil – healthy saturated fat

Oatmeal – rich in fibre, high protein, low fat

Spices – ginger and cinnamon – both anti inflammatory

Oat milk – lactose free, low in fat, vitamin E, vitamin B, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium

The combination also chosen to keep me feeling fuller for longer 🙂  I have used coconut sugar as the sweetener — very little.

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4       Muffin tin – 12 bun

Ingredients:

1 cup of gluten free self raising flour                            2 eggs

1 cup of oatmeal                                                                1/2 cup of oat milk

1 tsp ginger                                                                          1/4 cup coconut oil – melted

1 tsp cinnamon                                                                   1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 tbsp chia seeds                                                                 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp flaxseed

Method:

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs, milk and coconut oil and stir until mixed. Divide between 12 the muffins.

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Place in the centre of the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes – until skewer comes out clean.

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Cheesy leeks / kale

I have two different methods to make this…both incredibly quick and equally tasty. Which method I use depends on what is in my fridge. I use leeks and / or kale.

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Cheesy leeks and kale served on gluten-free toast with sweet piquante peppers

The quantities given serve 2

Recipe 1:

Ingredients:

2 leeks – sliced / 1 leek – sliced and large handful of kale – torn away from the thick stalks / 2 large handfuls of kale

Knob of butter

3-4 tbsp of water

4 tbsp cream cheese

Method:

Melt the butter and toss the prepared vegetables in the hot butter. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the water, cover and leave on a moderate heat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the desired texture. Add the cream cheese and stir until thoroughly dispersed and heated through. Serve.

Recipe 2:

Ingredients:

2 leeks – sliced / 1 leek – sliced and large handful of kale – torn away from the thick stalk / 2 large handfuls of kale

Knob of butter

3-4 tbsp of water

4 tbsp creme fraiche

handful of grated cheese

Method:

Melt the butter and toss the prepared vegetables in the hot butter. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the water, cover and leave on a moderate heat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the desired texture. Add the creme fraiche and grated cheese and stir until thoroughly dispersed and heated through. Serve.

 

 

 

Vegetarian /vegan pie – ‘cottage’ pie made with mushrooms

Don’t let the title deter you if you are a meat eater. My husband, who thoroughly enjoys eating meat, really likes this dish – always goes back for another helping – and frequently requests it.

Preheat oven to 190C / Gas mark 5

Ingredients:

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1 large onion – coarse chopped

1 large punnet of Chestnut mushrooms – chopped in half

2 cups of red lentils

1 large can of chick peas – drained

5 tbsp red wine vinegar

Small jar of sun-dried tomatoes

5-6 sweet potatoes

Coconut oil for frying

3/4 – 1 pint of vegetable stock

Grated dairy / vegan cheese – optional

Black pepper – optional

Method: 

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes – cover with water and boil until cooked. Drain and mash.

Fry the onions in the coconut oil until soft. Add the mushrooms, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, lentils, vinegar and stock and simmer gently until the lentils are soft adding more stock if required. The mixture should be of a thick consistency.

Put the mixture in to an oven proof dish and top with mashed potato.Sprinkle with grated cheese and black pepper. Place in the oven for 25-30 mins until heated throughout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raw cranberry sauce

No cooking involved.

Ingredients:

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300 g fresh cranberries    1 large orange        grated nutmeg

80 g muscovado sugar     1 tsp mixed spice

Method:

Peel and coarsely  chop the orange. Put the orange pieces and cranberries in to a food processor and blitz.  Add all the remaining ingredients  and mix thoroughly .

This freezes well. Delicious with hot turkey, pork and also with cheeses.

Orange, cranberry and nutmeg gf bundt cake topped with an orange drizzle 

Am a little bit in love with my bundt tin…transforms any cake in to a pretty cake needing very little extra adding in the way of icing.

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 5 / 180 C    Prepare a Bundt tin (no need if you use a Prestige tin) or 18cm round cake tin,

Ingredients:

170 g gluten-free self-raising flour        1/2 cup dried cranberries

115 g muscovado sugar                              rind and juice of one orange

140 g butter – softened                             heaped tsp of nutmeg

4 eggs (3 if using non gf flour)

3 tbsp granulated sugar (combine with the orange juice to make the drizzle)

Method:

Put the flour, muscovado sugar, butter and eggs in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the nutmeg, cranberries and orange rind and stir until combined.

Put in to the bundt tin ( or cake tin) and bake for 20 – 25 mins.

If you have used a cake tin then spoon the drizzle over the top whilst the cake is in the tin. If you have used a bundt tin then tip the cake out on to a cooling rack and spoon the drizzle over the fluted top.